Interview: Chase Atlantic on What "Beauty in Death" Means to Them
They've also been playing a lot of video games...
When Chase Atlantic got stuck in Los Angeles last March, they decided to make the best out of a bad situation and get cracking on a new album.
The Australian-bred trio, comprised of Christian Anthony and brothers Mitchel and Clinton Cave, was gearing up for a world tour when the pandemic indefinitely grounded them in LA. To cope with their collective unease, they hit the studio and frantically started creating. Beauty In Death emerged, a glossy collection of alternative pop songs that is by far the band's most cohesive record.
The album's predecessor, 2019's PHASES, felt gluey and rushed, a record birthed from a looming deadline that didn't give the boys enough time to creatively expand in the ways they wanted to. "We were a bit younger and naive then, and we thought the deadlines were more important than they really are," Clinton said of their last record. "What's important is the music, and what's important is getting it right."
For Beauty In Death, the band trimmed its trappy hedges and instead embraced the pop sensibilities that had always circled their music. The album's title track, for example, is one of Chase Atlantic's catchiest songs, full of infectious rhythmic buoyancy that makes it suitable for any dance floor. "It was a fight or flight type album," Christian said of the record. "We could have either made a bunch of songs terribly because we weren't feeling so hot, or we could have doubled down and at least made a solid piece of work. It was important to channel all these negative emotions into our workflow."
I feel that as a culture we've become so desensitized to death as a result of this past year. What does it mean for you guys to find "Beauty in Death?"
Mitchel: I definitely wouldn't say [we've become] desensitized. I'd say it's a little more frequent, which people aren't used to. I would think that [we can't really become desensitized to it], but [people might be feeling] emotionally numb or more comfortable with the idea. However, we like to throw optimism into the mix as well. Trying to find the good in the bad, basically. Trying to find the silver lining of horrible situations when they're completely out of your control. This [past year] was something that no one had any control over whatsoever, so the best thing that you can do is find the good in the bad.
There are a lot of mentions of not only depression but pretty heavy drug use and partying and kind of burying your anxieties in partying on the album. So I'm curious what your relationship to your vices is like right now, and how that relationship helped fuel the album.
Mitchel: Everyone has their own vices, and everyone's relationship is a little different. You can either use that vice to your advantage, which I say is what we did with the album, or you can let it take hold of you. It doesn't necessarily have to be substance abuse, but [it could be] falling into toxic relationships, or just your own mental health and struggling to deal with it. It's never a good idea to use drugs to numb your senses or numb yourself to the world, but it does happen. We are human beings, but it's about not getting carried away with it and letting it get to a dangerous place that can be detrimental.
Christian: Also the topic can be used as such a beautiful metaphor. Like "Molly" is about a toxic relationship, and you can take what you want from that song, but it's not just simply about a drug.
How has your relationship to these vices changed over the years? Have you ever had to take a step back from any of these? I can imagine the temptations are everywhere.
Christian: There are gonna be temptations wherever we go.
Clinton: We are kind of relatively reclusive. We don't really go out and hang with artists. We're not really party people.
Mitchel: We all kinda keep each other in check as well, which is important.
Christian: If there is anyone around us we see kind of going down that path, we show them love and support but that we cannot go with you down that path.
How did you guys find that middle ground and keep that optimism afloat? How have you been navigating the stressors of just merely existing right now?
Clinton: Music, that's our outlet. We're lucky to have that outlet. Oh, and gaming as well. I was speaking with someone yesterday about how Call of Duty can really relieve a lot of stress.
I've been playing a lot of Warzone myself.
Clinton: Honestly, it's a good way to relieve some stress.
Mitchel: You get immersed! It's a form of escapism, which we feel is similar to our music as well. You kinda wanna get lost and taken away from reality a little bit, cause reality is pretty harsh at the moment. I feel like that's an important thing to try and channel.
What other games are therapeutic? Have you just been playing Warzone?
Christian: Valhalla. I was loving it but then I saw Mitchell's version, and he's got the new PS5 and now I feel like I could never play my version ever again *laughs.* I also just finished Ghost of Tsushima, which I think is probably one of the best games I've ever played after Red Dead.
Clinton: Spider-Man, too.
Christian: I suppose Spider-Man.
Clinton: We've been killing Spider-Man.
Sounds like you guys have kept busy with the games. No Animal Crossing?
Christian: It was crazy hyped up!
Mitchel: It was really calm and therapeutic, I guess. It's a control thing, subconsciously. That's why games help.
Clinton: It helps in a situation when you don't know when something's gonna end which, to this day, more than a year later–
Mitchel: Right! Things are getting better, but you still don't really know when this will be over.
Christian: There is a light at the end of the tunnel though.
There's optimism. Are you guys gonna try to leave LA anytime soon?
Christian: Towards the end of the year we're set to do an American tour, actually. But then I think we're finally gonna be able to go home and lay low and just hug our families and go "that was a scary one, eh?"
BEAUTY IN DEATH