Massachusetts emo group Born without bones just released their new album Dancer on Pure Noise. It was produced by Long Island emo veteran Mike Sapone, and he finds the band blending emo with power pop and alternative rock in a way reminiscent of anything from bleed american-era Jimmy Eat World to newer bands like Oso Oso. Alongside the album’s release today, we’re also featuring the new video for “Get Out,” and vocalist/guitarist Scott Ayotte gave us a track-by-track breakdown of the set. Read on for the new video, full album stream and what Scott had to say…
I took a few trips to Arizona and Southern California while we were writing for the new record. I really fell in love with the desert and wanted to live there one day. I wrote the lyrics while fantasizing about moving to the West Coast and possibly coming home if things got tough. I ended up switching the lyrical narrative to someone else’s point of view. I had this rough premise that this dancer character grew up in the west but moved east to get away from her family. She hadn’t been accepted into her new environment, so she was returning home to face her demons or succumb to them. I don’t think the lyrics necessarily capture that story perfectly, but that’s what I was writing about for Dancer. I tap into my fantasy life in the desert southwest a bit in this song.
DO NOT TALK
“Don’t Speak” might be the oldest song on the record. It’s a song about self-reflection and taking responsibility for your low-vibration behavior. It’s about how we invest our time and energy in those we love and how it can all burn in an instant if you don’t get along. Even good memories can fade and people in your life can end up feeling like a dream if you let it happen. Jonathan calls this song “Muscle Two”, which I find funny. It reminds him of our song “Muscle” from our last record. In a way, I think he means it’s one of our songs that ticks all the boxes for our rock vibe. “Don’t Speak” has been on the chopping block many times throughout the process of creating this record, but I’m glad it stuck. Sounds like a Born Without Bones song to me.
HANDLE OF BEES
Jim came on a Sunday with a riff and some lyrics. “A handful of bees, a sip of honey, the second for love and the first for money” I was really inspired by these lines. I’ve been really into gardening for the past few years and bees are my buds. For me, Jim’s words made me think about the difficulties of being a provider for your loved ones and how heavy that responsibility sometimes becomes. I ran around with the bee theme a bit and threw in some flowers. I scribbled a lot of lyrics about flying to and from Joshua Tree for a fall camping trip. This song is a very good example of a song that flowed very naturally during the band’s practice. It’s the type of song that we could be the best at. All of our individual parts seemed to fit together like they had been modernized to make a rock song.
HEART AT HOME
I wrote the idea for “Heart At Home” the same day as “Bother You”. Honestly, I think it was one of those times when writing a lot of bad songs leads to writing good songs. The first lines refer to the house I’ve been living in since 2015. When I moved in, the yard had been untouched for nearly a decade. The weeds and vines had completely taken over and it took me five summers to get it all under control. That’s how I got into gardening. I attribute much of my personal growth during those years to working around the yard, tackling wisteria vines, and tending to my flowers. The song reflects those years I spent trying to be less impulsive and really processing the idea of getting older and being more responsible and hoping for that summer of love as a reward for that growth.
“XO” came near the end of the writing process. We were going through our demos to see if there was anything worth revisiting. I had sent Tyler from Save Face some song ideas for their record, Another kill for the Highlight Reel they were working on at the time. Most of what I sent didn’t get used so I showed the band and everyone thought we could make a song out of it. We probably finished the whole thing in an hour. Originally, the entire “XO Skeleton” chant in the chorus was a placeholder, but it stuck. I wrote the lyrics about living with depression and the work it takes to lift your spirits when you’re always in deficit.
“Lurkin'” was one of the first songs we worked on once we started recording ourselves. When we first recorded it, it was more rock and it didn’t really hit. Jim showed us a bossa nova drum loop on YouTube and we did another demo around it. I still really like the demo. We had elements of jazz in some of our old songs, especially the song “Stone”. I think “Lurkin'” grabs a bit of those influences and brings it out on the record. I thought it sounded like old R&B. I wanted to sing something that crooned like Paul Anka or Dion on it. It’s a song about not going out because you’re trying to avoid running into someone in particular. Maybe an ex is in town for the weekend and you don’t want to meet them at a bar and feel that zing of anxiety.
Every time I sing “Get Out” I think of all the friends I toured with in my early twenties. It all felt so magical and adventurous back then and I really thought it would last. I wrote the lyrics from the perspective of an unstable relationship on the way out. I found it easier to sing about my youth and forgotten friends through the lens of certain fictional characters. I don’t know if I’ve ever put more writing work into a song. It evolved so much over the course of about 2 years before it was finally finished. I found the guitar solo on the first demo of “Get Out” and it inspired me to keep pursuing the song. It was almost surprising when the record was finished being mixed and this song really hit home for all of us.
I wrote this song as a birthday present for my partner a few years ago. It was one of those really special songs that came to me one afternoon. I was really hesitant to make it a Born Without Bones song. It was supposed to be a special song, a gift for someone. Once you put a song on a record, it’s for everyone. It’s a song about being accepted, good and bad, all the same by the person who loves you.
SHOW ON THE ROAD
I went to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with my partner last year, kinda on a whim. It is sincerely such a peaceful and beautiful place. We spent a few days aimlessly riding, camping, hiking and cooking together. It felt so good to keep a low profile on vacation and not pack the days with plans. I wrote Show On The Road when I got back from the trip. I wanted to make a song for roadtrippers and young lovers who are meeting their first Airbnb.
If “Show On The Road” is a couple’s first Airbnb, “Bother You” is when they move in together or even buy a house. It’s about engaging in a relationship and meddling in each other’s business. You’re going to freak out when you’re close like that. This song was in the “no” pile for about a year after we first demoed it. There was definitely something cheesy about it, but was it also nice? We put it back in rotation just before entering the studio. I’m glad he ended up doing it! It reminds me of wholesome music from 90s TV shows.
The day we released our last record, “Young At The Bend”, we all went to Acadia, Maine to celebrate and unplug for a weekend. Acadia is the closest national park to us in Massachusetts and we all really love the outdoors, so it’s the group’s favorite spot. Jim brought this riff to my house one day and the lyrics to the first verse came instantly. The guitar reminded me of “Blackbird” by the Beatles, I’ve loved this song since I was 10. We probably didn’t find anything to add for about a year. It was a very frustrating song to get to that defining moment. I wrote it from the point of view of someone who doesn’t really know where he is going. Someone walking through the woods trying to find the answers. Wondering what was wrong and thinking who they had lost along the way. I found myself thinking back to the Dancer character. I thought maybe Dancer left someone in Bar Harbor to head back west. It made the album more whole for me, having this little story in my head. When I listen to this record, I hear the story of someone trying to find their place in this world. Desperately looking for peace of mind and true love.
Dancer is now available on Pure Noise. Pick up here.