It takes until the latter half of Aspiga's "Welcome to the Sympathy Party" for the otherwise frantic, panting track to slow down and catch its breath.
During this breather, Ray Solowij calms his drumbeat into something more tranquil and controlled and Kevin Day, strumming long chords on his Telecaster, grumbles, "I discovered I hate myself, I hate myself." And then the song shatters. Though its tempo doesn't change, it swings recklessly; Solowij's drums collapse, crash onto Alec McVey's clanking bass. And, buried beneath the rubble and his guitar's anxious, cringing chords, Day repeats, "I hate myself" in a full, ferocious scream.
"It's funny because we did a music video for 'Sympathy Party'," Day explains with a snicker. "I showed a rough cut to my mom and, when she heard the last line with me shouting, 'I hate myself," she said, 'Why would you say this? Why do you feel like this?' And I was like, 'No! No! I don't feel like that now!' I wrote that song at that time and those words clicked. That's how I was feeling. And then the song was done. I got it out."
In many ways, "Welcome to the Sympathy Party" epitomizes Every Last Piece, Aspiga's second EP. Released by Paper + Plastick in 2012, the seven-song record captures a dark era in Day's life and songwriting. "It was kind of a weird period for me," Day admits. "I had just ended a really long relationship, and it ended in a really bad way. I didn't feel good about that, and I didn't feel too great about myself."
Though the song "Welcome to the Sympathy Party" and the others that make up Every Last Piece document the emotions that Day felt during this difficult time, they were also written as a means of overcoming this turbulence. "A lot of that album is just trying to figure out where I go after this, what kind of person I want to be," Day explains. And, while his sorting process gave him content to write about, it also provided him the space to write. "It ended up being a really good push for the music because I just had so much free time. I was like, 'I'm just going to keep writing and see what happens.' And that's kind of when the band started doing more and more things."
Songs like "Users" seem to capture Day's personal and music exploration. In a comparatively slower track—its cautious verses are contradicted by driving, dramatic choruses—his lyrics capture one of life's most intimate moments, those ones when people are at their most fragile, fraught with nervous excitement. During a second verse, Day sings, "Clothes pulled from floor, you've seen right through me / I fumble with my words, you choose not to speak / Cylinders and pistons, this engine breathes / Drive slow, drive slow, I'll take you home". "Users" is a song that does more paint this picture; it also attempts to make sense of such moments.
For reasons like this, Aspiga is a pursuit that provides meaning in Day's life, even though it carries costs and occasional stresses as well. For one, the band is buried in school debt, and each tour costs Day and bandmates more money that they don't have. Money has become so tight that Solowij and McVey moved in together to consolidate costs. Add to this the fact that Aspiga occasionally plays shows that make them doubt what they do. "We played last Friday about forty minutes from our hometown," Day recounts. "And, you know, it was really late and there was like twenty people there and they didn't really care so much. But we were like, 'Well, you know, whatever. We're just going to play and do our thing.'
"But we're fine with that," he continues. "We'll play bad shows and no one will come out. But then, next week, we're playing Stay Sweet Fest with a bunch of bands that are really good, and we'll probably play to a couple hundred people. You gotta be okay with the ups and downs."
It's easy to see the happiness—and fulfillment—that Apsiga provides for Day, though that won't stop him from writing sad songs. "As happy as I am right now," he concludes, "I still kind of like to write about the things that bother me, to get that out." And, of course, that's the point, and what makes Aspiga's most recent record so remarkable: Every Last Piece is more than the expression itself—its as much a means of sorting through life, of searching for meaning, as it is the meaning itself.
Day recorded these songs from his parents' house in Collingswood, NJ on a cold spring Saturday. A couple of hours before the session, while he was rehearsing, Day broke a string on his acoustic so he had to perform the songs electric.
"Welcome to the Sympathy Party" appears on Aspiga's 2012 EP titled Every Last Piece. At the time of its recording for the Switchboard Sessions, "Good Thoughts" was unreleased, but intended for Aspiga's upcoming split with Broadcaster.
Visit the band's Bandcamp page for more music.
To download these tracks, click on the song titles and download them from the player at SoundCloud.com.
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