Skymonk’s “To Have And To Hold” blends the plea of a failing marriage with an apocalyptic backdrop of guitars. The song is ensconced in smart clatter with call and response guitars, which suggest the circular questioning of the lyrics. The second verse picks up with Kelly Nash’s wooly images of America and post modern melancholy, “Now we need assistance / we can’t run in this car alone. / We’re so tired from the road”. The four-piece band's smart counterpoint balances out the anxious message with Nash’s closing provocation “come on truth and dare”. Nash joined me for a brief chat about friends, early morning writing, and finishing songs.
You can listen to To Have And To Hold here.
SC: I hear a call and response between the guitars in the song. Can you tell me about how that relates to the message of the song?
KN: The call and response is an element representative of the speakers in the story, the conversation between the two lovers. We imagined it as the way an argument works, people talking over one another, spilling into each other's speech with moments of brief silence then bursts of volume and expression. Granted, there is only one perspective from the lyrics, we wanted to represent the other party musically. The story of this song is a snapshot of a marriage falling apart.
SC: Tell me a little about this lyric in the second verse “Now we need assistance / we can’t ride in this car alone. / We’re so tired from the road”.
KN: This lyric is further explaining the struggle at hand in the second verse. 'Assistance' refers to family support. The car is representative of the family. The "we can't ride in this car alone" also refers to the children that are part of this picture, referenced again later in this verse with "But we're alive and we're doing fine". "We’re so tired from the road” is describing that you can't combine certain chaos with family. The speaker tried for a while but the chaos one person brings makes the whole family "so tired from the road".
SC: Tell me about writing “To Have and To Hold”
KN: This song was hard to write. Its inspiration comes from a dear friend of ours, his very real turmoil and ultimate end of his marriage. This song, he wrote all the lyrics in their entirety, I only helped edit. We wrote "To Have and To Hold" in late 2015 and started playing it live to test the water. The song is different from the rest of our work and I wasn't completely sure it fit. However, we loved playing it because it's a challenging piece of music and the ferocity behind the lyrics that drive the tune and the energy. I love that quality about the song.
SC: Can you tell me about your writing process? Do you wait for inspiration? Or do you write on a schedule?
KN: I write consistently in the early mornings, whether that's guitar riffs/ideas or lyrics or record on my phone chord patterns or melodies. There are roughly 80 something ideas/riffs currently sitting in my phone. That certainly doesn't mean they're all good, hah. My problem is finishing songs, always has been. Some days, a couple really great ideas make their way to the page or recorder that can be reworked and tweaked to become something really worth working on. Other days, nothing shows up and I end up noodling. But over the past year or so my writing process has gotten much more disciplined. I take one idea and compile an arrangement, then bring it to the band. We then work on them together as a group and everyone writes their own parts. We look for feedback from each other as we move through a tune to ensure we're serving the song best. Everybody has to feel the song if we're going to continue pursuing it, otherwise it ends up getting thrown out.
SC: How does your community of songwriters inspire you?
KN: I'm blown away by some of the talent and musicality we have here locally. I find myself humming a melody line from one of the groups in town and I aim to try and create something like that, an infectious melody or idea that finds it's way into your head when you're doing something else. That inspires me to write better and makes me very much aware I need to step up my game. I can always write better and I have much to learn. We're excited to play a small part in our songwriting community and continue writing and releasing new material, maybe in the process, inspiring others to do the same.
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