DATE: FEBRUARY 2023
FROM: MARCEE RONDAN/MITCH SCHNEIDER
SONG-BY SONG INTERVIEW
WITH THE BOSTON-BASED BAND’S
ABOUT THEIR ‘LIFE…IS A FRACTION’ ALBUM
Read a song-by-song interview with below with ELSEWHERE’s frontman and guitarist Michael Aroian about the tracks from their musically adventurous and evocative concept album LIFE…IS A FRACTION out late last year.
The group’s latest video for “Realization” was released in late February. It’s a compelling clip that seeks to capture the essence of the song and question how organized religion impacts life amidst a personal crisis. It was directed by Bill Fulkerson and features live performance clips and haunting religious imagery. It follows last year’s release of the album’s three singles: “Call You Out” and “The Pledge” and “Diagnosis.”
For their third album, the Prog-leaning alt/power-pop/new wave group–led by frontman and guitarist Aroian who writes the songs with drummer Adam Soucy–worked with producer and long-time collaborator David Minehan (Replacements, Aerosmith) for the new album. LIFE…IS A FRACTION weaves together a fascinating, semi-autobiographical narrative about how our perception of time shifts as we grow older. Days, months, and years seem to speed up…until a frightening, life-changing diagnosis–and being forced to face mortality–changes everything once again. The record is based on the cancer diagnosis Aroian received several years ago which served as a defining point in his life.
As the protagonist wanders through life before being brutally confronted with his own mortality, he explores various options–face it, embrace it, defy it. Through it all, LIFE…IS A FRACTION teeters precariously on the edge of sanity. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, I experienced this first-hand,” says Aroian. “My denominator was reduced. I now literally live it every day. Time is indeed fleeting and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can take control and live each day to the fullest. The tragedy is not that this is happening to us, but that we might not learn from it or do anything proactive or meaningful about it.”
LIFE…IS A FRACTION shows the band reaching a creative zenith (all in a hard-hitting 34 minutes); it’s an original rock epic that shakes the foundations not only of what everyone’s come to expect of the New England trio, but also of the lives of everyone who listens. Musically, it was influenced by front man Aroian’s lifelong passion for Rush and particularly their 1978 classic album Hemispheres, as well as the early Genesis catalogue. After the main 10-song cycle, the album ends with ELSEWHERE’s most recent singles from 2020-21, “Call You Out” and the aforementioned “The Pledge.”
Elsewhere: “Life…is a Fraction”
By Michael Aroian
In the intro of the whole epic, the character is just kind of going through the motions. But there are hints that he or she is noticing that time is passing them by quicker than it used to. It’s a gateway to the whole concept of what “Life…is a Fraction” is about.
II.) Origin Story
“Origin Story” finds our protagonist essentially at the beginning of his/her mid-life crisis. However, instead of anxiety and bitterness, there is more of a sense of contemplation and resignation. Perhaps certain goals have yet to be attained and may never be, but in a weird way there is peace.
III.) In Search of the Unknown
This track is basically an instrumental with only a dozen words give or take in the lyrics and this is by design as we felt that the urgency of the music was what was really telling the story here. I think on some level, when we are going through this life journey, we might have a moment or two or three when we are literally speechless (which is why a mainly instrumental track fits here).
IV.) Rolling On
The unknown on some level leads to aimlessness and borderline disillusion. A weary middle-aged traveler of time grows tired of the daily rat race. What’s happening with that character is they’re just kind of going through the motions again.
This installment of the album follows our protagonist from the streets of indecision and disillusion to the hospital, where they learn that they have contracted a potentially fatal disease. At that point in time, this “diagnosis” changes their life forever and crystallizes the notion that time is moving incrementally faster each day as their denominator (the number of days in a lifespan) is jarringly cut short.
Following our protagonist’s initial shock from their diagnosis and the realization that time is now rapidly running away, they are filled with indignant rage. For years, they tried to do in their life what society dictated as they were told that as long as there was compliance, everything would work out. You can trust in God unequivocally. At the end of it, the protagonist decides to take control of his own situation and not depend on religion per se.
VII.) It’s Happening Now
The protagonist believed they are no longer an idle “passenger” but a “messenger” that’s uncovering something new. In this section of the epic, the protagonist almost fashions himself/herself as a prophet and is euphoric with their near discovery and new sense of purpose…but not in an egotistical or self-important way. They really want to try and help people.
This track is one of contemplation and the understanding that the wider concept is ultimately beckoning our protagonist to fully grasp it’s meaning. It’s almost like the notion of a butterfly. Like being born.
IX.) Interlude 8-9/Transformation
By our protagonist accepting that every day is faster than the next, they are in essence gaining full mastery of the concept itself. And while on some level, there is abject powerlessness, there is also power. The power of knowledge that fractional time perception is happening to the protagonist and to all of us.
X.) Finale/The End of Everything
In this conclusion the protagonist has finally self-actualized within the notion he/she has discovered. What they can do is now live their life the way they want and not waste any more time. And at the end of all of this for us is of course…the unavoidable. The message: take the knowledge you have and use it so you can live your best possible life and actually affect positive change.
Describing themselves as a “prog leaning alt/power-pop new wave band,” Boston based power trio Elsewhere’s single “Don’t You Believe Me Baby”–a dynamic cover of a long overlooked, previously unrecorded early 80’s Police song–has scored hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, and streams on Spotify and landed the band a full page story in the Boston Herald. Their 2018 EP Multi-Man includes three equally fiery originals penned by frontman and guitarist Michael Aroian. The EP was followed by the “banthem” (ballad/anthem) “The Pledge,” which broke important ground by tackling the often-taboo subject of Alzheimer’s Disease; the song was mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Pink, Elton John). Elsewhere initially achieved notoriety for their now out-of-print album Outbound, which earned them slots at the College Music Journal (CMJ) Marathon and numerous showcases in NYC where major labels showed interest. The band later achieved an international breakthrough with their widely acclaimed 1981 album in 2010. In addition to Belgium, where they received a write-up in one of the country’s biggest rock magazines (Rock Tribune), they became popular and received great press in Germany, Denmark, Norway, UK, Italy, Czech Republic and other countries—all while continuing to hold court at top clubs in their home base of Boston and NYC.
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