July 23, 2020 Interview – Brian Wille of Currents
Want to hear a band on fire? Check out Connecticut’s Currents, who released their sophomore LP, The Way It Ends, in early June. The follow-up to 2017’s The Place I Feel Safest, their newest venture sees the quintet waving the flag of gut-wrenching emotion, one with a vulnerability and sincerity that is show-stopping. Alongside this, undeniable earworms and all things heavy blanket the album in flawlessness, making it one of our favorites of 2020, so far.
So to discuss their exceptional effort, talented Vocalist Brian Wille recently sat down to talk about his recent career highs, writing The Way It Ends, the existential search behind the record, and much more.
Cryptic Rock – Currents has been a band for nearly a decade now. What have been some of the high points over the past nine years?
Brian Wille – It’s definitely been crazy. I think one of my high points was kind of recently: we had this show with August Burns Red; they had us do a Christmas special show with them. We were just like, oh, that’s cool. We got to tour with them in Europe before. So that was really cool to get that offer, and we show up and it’s this massive room and there are like 3,000 people. We had a really good time, and just played to this crazy, full room. That was awesome and that was definitely a high point of the last few years.
Cryptic Rock – August Burns Red are definitely the hometown heroes in this region of Pennsylvania. That aside, clearly we are here to discuss The Way It Ends, which arrived on June 5th. Amidst a global pandemic, did you ever consider, hmm, maybe we shouldn’t title the album The Way It Ends? (Laughs)
Brian Wille – (Laughs) Not really. I didn’t think too much about it. This is something that has been a concept already for a long time, and it kind of coincides with the craziness going on. I don’t see this as the end times, I see it as more of a transitional period for the United States and for the world, really. It’s kind of insane, but I don’t really see it as the way it ends, so I don’t see it as an issue in that way.
It best describes the album, it best describes everything that we’re talking about and what we have been going through with our journey with this band. So that’s the terms I think about it in and other people have their own interpretations—and what do you do?
Cryptic Rock – There is no issue with title whatsoever, but surely that there is a troll somewhere that will make that argument if they haven’t already.
Brian Wille – Oh, I’m sure! (Laughs) It’s going to be like, “Pretty insensitive of Currents.” I feel for those people, absolutely, but that was not our intention, man. Sorry! (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) “A Flag to Wave” is very much an anthem for anyone who is still searching for meaning. Was this kind of the mantra or the concept going into the writing and recording of the album?
Brian Wille – Yeah, it was exactly that. We put it as the first track because it is. We want to give an introduction about ourselves and do that with the intro. So it’s like, hey, this is the lowest spot that we’ve been in, but then you go right into “A Flag To Wave” next. We have our darkness, we have our struggles—everybody has their own struggles—but we’re here, we are ready to get music out to everybody; we’re ready to get our name out there and to continue to tour and travel. That’s kind of the idea of what “A Flag To Wave” is.
Cryptic Rock – It is a great song. To continue discussing more of the songs, there are some socio-political leanings and commentary on the album, especially with “Poverty of Self.” When you sit down to write in a time like 2019 or 2020, how do you even begin to process everything that’s happening in the world?
Brian Wille – I feel like the struggle is ongoing. These are times that we’ve been in for years: these are not new issues, they’re just arising in a larger than life way. Which is great—we need to make sure that people are heard, and that we actually come up with real change. The ideas that are in “Poverty of Self” are over-arching and there’s always people being oppressed; there’s always suffering, there’s always people who can’t speak for themselves or defend themselves. The problem is much larger than something that they can handle on their own. So that’s “Poverty of Self,” and it’s not just here, it’s everywhere.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. Now for a lot of the lyrics, there is an almost existentialist element; like you are desperately searching for answers. Is that the place that your head has been at lately?
Brian Wille – Yeah, absolutely. I feel like it’s kind of that age, too. We’re all trying to find our way around and figure out what we stand for, what we want to represent, and what we want to present to the world as our thoughts and opinions. That’s definitely where I am at now: always trying to find a lesson or a meaning in things, even if it feels like there is none. Yeah, that’s definitely true.
Cryptic Rock – Have the fans latched onto that and has it opened up discussion among your listeners?
Brian Wille – I’m not sure yet, I feel like it’s kind of early. We’ve definitely been hearing some positive feedback, so far, and I think that a lot of what people are taking from the album is just a lot of the first impression stuff, just ‘cause it’s so early on. A lot of it is, “Oh, the mix is really cool. I like this song, I like that song. I don’t like this song.”
I haven’t seen a lot of in-depth interpretations. I see people are starting to, like, if somebody doesn’t like it, someone else will pop in and be like, “Dude, just listen to it again.” (Laughs) We’re getting the defenders coming out, but I’m hoping to see some more less first impression reviews and more in-depth opinions going forward.
Cryptic Rock – Sometimes it takes a few weeks for people to start hating on a new record and for all the negative critiques to come out. (Laughs)
Brian Wille – Yeah, exactly. The people who have been sitting with it for a while, and they don’t want to feel like the outlier and get attacked. (Laughs) Two, three weeks from now someone’s going to be like “This is every reason why I hate The Way It Ends,” and it’s going to be some crazy-detailed list. (Laughs) It is what it is. I’m ready for it! We’ve only had one kind of bad review recently, but it’s funny. We have our own opinions, and it’s fun to agree and disagree and see what they thought about it. Even bad reviews are interesting.
Cryptic Rock – Right. If someone can be passionate about disliking something, then you know that you struck a chord with them. People don’t get upset about things that leave them indifferent, so in a way it’s sort of a positive.
Brian Wille – Right. I don’t think you should seek out to be hated. If you make somebody feel intensely enough about something they’re going to have a reaction, whether it’s positive or negative. The negative is always worth checking out, you know?
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. Playing off that, you have a series of tracks that dip into issues of mental health, such as faking a smile to get by in “Kill the Ache,” the identity crisis of “Second Skin,” and the blatant “How I Fall Apart.” Is there catharsis in sharing feelings that are so raw or is it ever difficult to be so vulnerable, especially so early on in your career?
Brian Wille – I don’t know. “Kill the Ache” didn’t really make me nervous. It’s a song where I feel weird listening to it, just because it is kind of risky and it is something that I would not normally do in my comfort zone. So I am putting myself out of my comfort zone on the track, and sometimes it’s hard for me to go listen to “Kill the Ache.”
“Let Me Leave” did that in a cool way. That track, in particular, I just love it, I think it came out so cool. It’s vulnerable but I can also sit there and just listen to it. Having that emotional bridge like that, I just cannot wait to do it live! That’s going to be awesome. So some of the more risky songs are some of the more fun ones in my opinion.
Cryptic Rock – Also, when someone is willing to be vulnerable on a record and to share a piece of themself, that makes the best music.
Brian Wille – Yeah, absolutely. I want to hear somebody’s emotions coming through. The kind of music that I enjoy is Balance and Composure, Touché Amore, Acres, Thrice. That’s the world that I come from and that I resonate with the most—more emotional music. So that stuff is really where I get to do my thing, you know?
Cryptic Rock – Well, it works well. You have quite a few darkly poetic lyrics on the album. Do you have a favorite at the moment?
Brian Wille – I think some of the more straightforward ones are my favorite. I think “Split” has some of the coolest lyrics. There’s some cool little details that I think make it kind of interesting and that’s always been another favorite of mine. I’m always pushing “Split” to everybody—“Go listen to that song, it’s my favorite!”
If I had to pick a favorite lyric, it’s the second section of “Origin”—it’s the last little piece of the song. It starts from “We’re dying in the storm” and then onward, that’s probably my favorite. It’s one of the last lyrics that made it; those were the last written lyrics for the album. When I think of that section, I think of the closing of the writing process.
For me, that whole section is kind of loaded. It was right at the high point of us finishing the writing portion, and moving into recording the vocals and the guitars. That was one of the last lines I was stuck on. One day I was just sitting on Ryan’s porch and listening back to the track, because it changed a lot. It just kind of came to me, so we put it out. Everybody dug it and we were like, alright, cool. Let’s move on to tracking! So I love that line and it’s one of my favorite lines on the record.
Cryptic Rock – It is a great record. In fact, front to back, The Way It Ends is pretty flawless. Is there a recent album by another artist that you believe is flawless?
Brian Wille – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere (2016) by Thrice. It held my attention all the way through. Alien (2019) by Northlane was another one. If I had to think of anybody else I’d have to go deep dive into my Spotify, so I’m just going to say To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, Alien, and then If I Should Go Before You (2015) by City and Colour.
Cryptic Rock – Okay, last question. If you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi films, do you have any favorites?
Brian Wille – Yes, actually. Not so much recent Horror, a little further back: I love the old ‘80s Horror and Sci-Fi movies. Silver Bullet (1985) is one of my favorites, it’s a werewolf movie. I haven’t seen it in years, but I always thought it was so cool. I loved werewolves, that was my jam. Then, if I had to say recently, I thought Midsommar (2019) was really cool.