Ben Barlow, the singer of Neck Deep, digs down to the heart for their latest record The Peace And The Panic. He says, “I kind of wanted it to be dynamic and we wanted it to be dynamic. We all have quite similar, but different musical tastes as well and different elements that we wanted to incorporate into our music.” This record takes you on a ride through the band’s emotional healing, but they’re not “emo.”
The theme of the record is evident long before the closing track “Where Do We Go When We Go.” Barlow says, “I lost my Dad a couple months before we started writing the record. At that point we already had a little bit of the material, but then that happened. And it got me thinking a lot about death. From that point as well, what you do in life can have a play on where we go after this you know. And how important life is now, ‘cause if we do go somewhere, that’s amazing. I feel like if you live a good life, you live a good afterlife.”
Deep stuff for pop punk, but Barlow is a well composed lead singer and his thoughts are well articulated in person and on the album. Such a clear theme still took the band lots of work.
Barlow expands on the process of writing The Peace And The Panic by saying, “it was still a struggle. It always is, it is always, writing lyrics especially. Lyrics is my thing that’s were I put all my effort into and it is — It’s like a big puzzle that you’ve kind of, one piece out of place and the whole thing just doesn’t make sense. Get it all together and it all perfect and you’ve got this vivid picture. That was a battle sometimes, some songs were great.”
They’re expanding their own definition of pop punk with this album. Barlow says, “I think that was probably the biggest change in this record was us kind of breaking out of the pop punk mold a little bit and staying pretty true to our roots in a lot of areas. Pushing in a few ways as well. The last was let’s write a pop punk record and let’s try and do it really, really well. And this was like, ‘let’s try and be dynamic.’ Let’s be smarter with our songwriting, explore the genre a little bit and not say ‘no’ to things. That manifested into The Peace and The Panic.”
The Peace and The Panic has a great pace. It starts hard with “Motion Sickness.”Barlow says, “I remember for “Motion Sickness,” the chorus for that song, it was like the second day in the studio and the chorus for that song — ‘I’ve got this melody guys and what do you think of it?’ Alright, that’s kind of cool, what about these lyrics and just like bouncing stuff off each other for like ten minutes, ‘wow we have this banger of a chorus.’”
“Motion Sickness” leads right into “Happy Judgement Day.” It’s seven minutes of expectation. Fast, passionate screaming, awesome choruses, then exploration happens. Neck Deep gets into it up to their ears. Barlow says, “It’s a deep record, it means the world to us, it really does. When I’m writing songs I’m not just writing them so they can be songs, and hope that they be catchy, I want them to mean something — to me and to the person listening. Every song we’ve ever written has a personal meaning to me and I can say that’s exactly what that song is about because I wrote it, but every song as well, and that’s a part of the big puzzle of writing songs.”
Getting into the center of the record, songs like “The Grand Delusion.” You begin to really hear some depth. Some profound thinking and examining of human condition. It’s a buckle your seatbelt song. The album is about to take you for a ride. Barlow says writing it gave him trouble, “kind of took that whole stress and anxiety and pressure, you know turn my life had taken kind of thing and put all of that negative energy into “The Grand Delusion.” Which is kind of song just about everything I was feeling. So I had this whole, I wrote this song about, ‘blah, blah, blah, blah.’ I was like, ‘just let it out, just let it out.’ You know, however you’re feeling at the time. Put that down. That’s always how it’s been for me, but definitely I knew as soon as my Dad passed away, I knew right away, I know where I’m going to be coming from on this record. As soon as you go to put pen to paper, you can’t — you can control it in a way, but in a lot of ways you can’t. It’s just whatever comes out, comes out. In a lot of respects, yeah, it was flowing out of me.”
This record goes up, takes you down, pulls you around like a long straight road that suddenly opens to hills and curves. Barlow says, “then there were songs like “19 Seventy Sumthin’” which was a super heavy personal song for me. That took a little time, but I was fine with that. I was fine to let that have it’s time, ‘that’ll come to me.’”
When the record came together, The Peace And The Panic is a keeper. Barlow and Neck Deep took a chance. They put an incredibly honest, personal family story into the world for punks and music lovers of all identifications to enjoy. It’s a worthy chance, the risk pays off both to the band and the fans.
Barlow should feel pride and it seems he knows he did good on this, “Family has always been a huge thing for me. Losing my dad, yeah it had an impact on us and our world massively changed forever. My outlook on things changed forever. It allows you to kind of put all that into the music. Yeah it had a huge impact on me, man. But it’s the music. The music, putting it into song is kind of therapy as well. See, I think if I didn’t have this outlet I would still be really beating myself up over it. I think our family would be really still struggling quite heavy with it, but we’re all strong minded people, but I think the fact that I’ve had this outlet. When it happened everyone was so supportive. Not everyone gets, it’s quite a unique thing when your parent dies. You don’t expect the world to help you out. Give you so much love and support after it. That being there. Again, it’s the unique position that we’re in. It didn’t just help me, it helped my family as well.” They’re bringing a well composed, introspective message across in way that leaves you feeling touched by his truth.AlertMe