Interview: Finding Light Behind the Shadows of The Mourning

All photos by Clinton Pollan.

If you missed my initial introduction to The Mourning toward the end of last summer, I loosely described their shoegaze-influenced but not-truly-shoegaze two-song debut, Time Well Wasted (find it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and so on), as "dream pop for the dark and depressed." As you'll learn below, however, that's not entirely true—at least with regard to the group's generally lighthearted demeanor when discussing their work. In fact, The Mourning's shroud of mystery may soon be lifted, with plans for a possible vinyl release—not to mention live shows—as the band's momentum continues to build. When a few members recently expressed interest in chatting about where they're at as well as where they're heading, I certainly took the opportunity to oblige. Our conversation follows...

Some of the "evidence" has been erased, but I feel like you all were teasing the existence of The Mourning for quite some time before you started tracking your first songs. When did the project get started, and what was the general impetus?

Adam: Yeah, we did. I started messing around with some of that on my own at first, and Dweeb was my biggest supporter. We started talking more and decided to try to make something out of it together. The first time we all got in the room together as a band, I think we all knew we had something pretty special going.

Dweeb: As Adam started making his way back into music in mid- to late-'21 after a several-year hiatus, he began sending me clips of songs he was messing around with. Just personal stuff here and there, you know? We're constantly texting about gear [laughs]...

Side note: Adam and I are in a friendly gear competition! We're always trying to one-up each other on gear! He'll send me pictures of something he's just bought, and I'm like, "GODDAMNIT, now I'VE gotta buy something!" between us waging a gear war, he'd slip me something he had been working on—sometimes including the visual along with it. I immediately LOVED it. I was blown away. A lot of it sounded like Low, some like Slowdive, another's like early Cure. I was immediately sold on it. After I'd seen where it was going, that's when I immediately pitched it to our bassist and drummer. I knew if they could be locked in, this thing would instantly start to take shape, and it did.

Along the same lines as those early teasers, I kind of appreciate that you all downplay the "importance" of who's in the band and what they may or may not have been involved with in the past. The "popularity contest" aspects of gaining traction with a band drive me crazy, because the music should do the talking. It kinda seems like the mysterious approach has been working out for The Mourning, so share a bit about your thinking behind that.

Dweeb: That's one of the HUGE things that we all discussed on the front of The Mourning. We're not going to mention our past or present projects or take stereotypical band photos. We're not promoting vanity, fashion, or any other projects of ours, etc. It's all about the artistry. We'd rather a person connect with the songs 1,000% vs. what we look like. Fuck us. It's not about us. That's why I go by a fake name a dead guy gave me, for fuck's sake [laughs]! I wanted to completely divorce myself from any other thing that I've been involved with. I wanted to start over, and genuinely feel like I hit the reset button. It was extremely freeing when I decided to go that way with myself. I don't need the personal credit. Definitely don't need to be validated, either. My thoughts are: I'm IN The Mourning. I know what I do there. I'm there when things are coming together, I'm there when things aren't gelling, and so on. I'm living in the moment for once in my life. I'm in the now. An insider, if you will. That's good enough for me.

I can safely say, none of the guys in this project care if they're ever seen. It's not about that. Period. Plus, we'd rather give people more interesting things to connect with and look at [laughs]. Personally, I can't think of anything more awkward than taking "band photos." I mean, come on, it's lame. I see it ALL the time, man. Bands that obviously took more time dressing up for a photo than they put into their material. Truth is, it doesn't matter what someone looks like, what matters is they are there. That's the important part. I'm blessed to be creating with the most talented, loyal people in the world, to me. Simple as that.

Adam: Oh, for sure. Not that I'm ashamed of what I've accomplished in the past, but I don't even want to be associated with that in relation to The Mourning. Sometimes guys will kick things back into gear years later and they'll always talk about or refer to their old bands when talking about their current project. Realistically, who in the actual fuck cares? Unless you were in The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, or some huge, massively influential band like that, nobody gives a crap about your "other" band that you used to be in. Let it die and concentrate on your current goals. If people love it, great! If not, that's cool, too. At least you're doing what you want to be doing.

"Shoegaze" is such an overused buzzword right now, and for me, so many contemporary bands that fall under that umbrella—even some that could be considered rather "popular"—are disappointingly boring, with one-sided songwriting and dull vocals. Subjectively, though, I do realize that many listeners are really into the more droning and atmospheric side of such influences. Something that I think The Mourning does really well is walk that line, where you're executing those types of elements within a wider context that has enough ebb and flow and energy/emotion to leave a mark. You're also not at all relying on the textural characteristics of effects pedals as a core device of your compositions. What's your songwriting process like?

Dweeb: Oh, man, thank you for your kind words. We ALL bring ideas to the table. Everyone. There's not a "sole writer" in this band AT ALL. We all write, and sometimes finish or rework each other's initial ideas. The door is wide open in this. Which is insanely cool. It's sort of a rarity. Absolutely nothing is off limits. No prima donnas here. We just do what feels good, if that makes sense? I'm not sure what's "big" in music right now. I haven't a clue. This is just what we sound like when we're in the room together. I mean this in the nicest way possible with the utmost respect/humility when I say: we create for ourselves. We're creating sounds that make us all feel a certain way, but when someone else finds those sounds comforting as well, it's absolutely amazing. When that happens, those songs no longer belong to us. I love that. There are no words for having your feelings felt 100% by a complete stranger. That's the payoff right there.

Adam: Definitely, thank you for the kind words. Like Dweeb said, we all write. That's something I'm not used to. I've almost always been the only songwriter in any past bands. I like to think that we have our own sound, as well. I'm old school, so I definitely love all the old shoegaze stuff—and some of the current bands in that genre, too! But, I have a lot of different influences, and everyone in this band does as well, so it kind of mixes into whatever we are when we get together and turn the amps up nice and loud.

All photos by Clinton Pollan.

You're pretty laid-back and laughing a bit here, but lyrically the material is quite somber. Some of what I can make out seems fairly specific, too. Without necessarily going into too much detail, talk about the lyrical content or tone a bit.

Dweeb: Yeah, I'm just having a good time here! It would be a complete lie if I were to sit up here and act like I'm some sort of bummy-ass dude, like I'm some tortured artist that's debilitated by their own sadness addiction. I'm not doom 'n' gloom, man! I just so happen to create super sadboy music [laughs]. Even in rehearsal/studio, LOTS of laughing going on.

To be fair, judging by the music alone, people would probably think we're a bunch of sad fucks, BUT that's not the case AT ALL [laughs]! That's why it doesn't pay to judge. Period.

As far as the lyrical content, these songs are about losing people you love prematurely. I wanted to keep it as honest as possible for future listener(s). I didn't want to put a fake spin on it or make it seem like something else. With that being said, it's still wide open for someone to make theirs, you know? I don't set out to write about X or write SUPER dark things. The music tells me what needs to be there, I do what's asked of me. It's another reason the vocals are so oversaturated with reverb and slightly buried. I want people to get lost in the melody and not completely focus on the words, what they mean, and so on. The words are secondary to the melody. Get lost in the melody.

Both tracks on Time Well Wasted also open with pretty intense samples. Was that a coincidence or something specific to the approach for this EP, or do you feel like that could wind up being an ongoing characteristic of your material?

Adam: It kind of happened coincidentally, really. Dweeb can tell you about his thoughts behind the one on "Mood Swings," but the one on "Bottoming Out" was my doing. I wrote the main parts to that song when I was having a very difficult battle with my depression. I titled it "Bottoming Out" because, to me, that describes a low that can't get any lower, and that's definitely how I was feeling at that time. For the intro piece, I thought it might be fitting if I could find some sort of movie quote or something that truthfully describes how depression feels. I know there are so many people that deal with this same issue, that there just had to be something I could use to introduce that song. I searched forever until I found that quote from Christina Ricci that ends with, "That's how depression hits. You wake up one morning afraid that you're going to live." To me, that was perfect. It described being so down that you didn’t have the ability to beat it, even if you wanted to. And I love how that quote also touches on anxiety, which is something else that I battle daily, as well as so many others do.

Do I think quotes and samples will be a permanent fixture in our recordings? Probably not; but when it fits or we feel it's needed, we'll do it. Whatever fits the song.

Dweeb: Man, it just happened. No extreme thought went into it. If I remember right, I think I mentioned the Scent of a Woman sample in the room after we knew "Mood Swings" was done? In that same moment, Adam was like, "I've got a sample, too!" Which happened to be from Prozac Nation. It was super simple. We ALMOST didn't use them out of fear that it could make it harder to have vinyl pressed WHEN we do go that way. Finally, we were like, "Fuck it, they need to be there." We couldn't hear the songs without them.

Well, since you brought up vinyl, I have to ask: what are the hopes or plans for tangible physical releases? As an old fart who doesn't use streaming services, I'm all about hard-copy music that I can hold in my hands and house in my collection!

Dweeb: Yeah, that's the plan! Near the end of '19, I began working on my own label AGAIN (Yellow Fever Records). I began messing around with the idea of a label originally in '14, but lost the drive to fuck with it. I'M BACK! My close friend, Joe Alvey, designed the logo. Just seeing it inspired the fuck out of me. Basically, I wanted to house ANY project that I was affiliated with, you know? Now, it's not even JUST about my bands anymore. I've been working closely with a Memphis, TN hip-hop artist named P.MAC recently. My plan is to begin releasing his material, maybe a book for a close friend of mine, along with The Mourning, and more. I'm spinning a lot of plates [laughs]. I've always wanted to have my own label. The biggest motivator behind it was, I very seriously dislike being at the mercy of someone else—especially when it comes to my/our art. I like to move a lot faster than most "label owners" like to move. I'm looking forward to the future.

You debuted with the two-song EP last summer, so what's shaping up in terms of new material?

Adam: We're always writing. Lots of cool things are coming up that I can't wait for people to hear. We're also on a steady diet of bell peppers, so things are about to get weird as hell.

Dweeb: We're ALWAYS working on something, you know? As soon as we finished Time Well Wasted, we started writing new material. We've got a few songs in the bag now, each being about six or seven minutes long.

On the other hand, I feel like people are just now finding Time Well Wasted—judging by our recent jump in the past few weeks, which is great. We're all overly flattered by it. We want to share our art with EVERYONE that is equipped to receive it. I'm hoping we'll end up back in the studio soon. That's where I come alive, man. But, we're taking it slow as far as releasing material. We did just finish the video for "Mood Swings." That'll be the newest thing making its way to the surface. We don't want to overwhelm ourselves and/or anyone following the project. Definitely don't want to ruin our welcome before we've even earned it. I personally don't think it's necessary to crank out a single a month or anything like that. I mean, why? Especially for a project that doesn't have a built-in audience yet. No one cares about that. I don't think anyone would be interested to see photos/videos of a still-unknown band each month, holed up in a studio somewhere, working on the next single or whatever. It's like something a "dad rock" band would do—that, and take out a ton of sponsored ads on Instagram [laughs]. Plus, It doesn't give anyone time to get familiar with anything with that approach. What does a band do after that? Rebrand all the singles as a full-length? Imagine the sales pitch on that.

Do you plan to set up some live shows at all, or does that potentially clash with the ​more ​enigmatic aspects of where you've been heading? I wouldn't be surprised were you to be aiming for The Mourning to remain a semi-secretive studio project, for example.

Dweeb: Oh, no, we have full intentions to play live shows. It's a REAL band. It's not some bored studio musicians. People need the flesh and blood element, for sure. We're planning the set now—along with the live show itself. Our identities aren't THAT big of a deal! Like, to the point where we wouldn't play a show [laughs]! Fuck all that. The art, the music is first. Anything else is secondary, not necessary, OR nonexistent. We're not going to work extremely hard to conceal our identities or anything of that matter. It just doesn't fit what this project is about, is all; but also, we aren't going to actively work to incorporate them into our artistry. It doesn't feel right to us. Again, we're not interested in promoting an "image" or whatever it takes to be considered satisfactory these days. It's irrelevant. Fuck us and what we look like, how we dress, whatever. What does it matter, anyway?

It WOULD matter if we all dressed up like bell peppers or some shit [laughs].

Goodnight, sweet prince...

Adam: Yes! We are absolutely going to be playing live. We're working on some visual content so people can really feel what we're playing at shows. Lots of bands do this, so that's not some new, groundbreaking idea; but we're really going to try to make it something that people will be able to fall in love with along with the songs. We plan on having lots of emotions come through to the crowd at our first show, and every show. It's taking some planning, but we will get there.

Thank you so much for this opportunity! We're really honored that you took the time to talk to us!


Find Time Well Wasted on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc. Follow The Mourning on Instagram. Look for more from Yellow Fever Records there, too.