BY LYDIA RIVERS
The very first lyrics of Every Sun, Every Moon, are from the viewpoint of singer-guitarist Kelley Bader looking out from the back of an ambulance. The album starts by bringing the listener back to July 5, 2017, the day of the car accident on tour that took the life of Bader’s friend and mentor, Chris Avis. Recording Every Sun, Every Moon, was the first time I’m Glad It’s You has come back together since the accident, and it’s a powerfully stunning work that celebrates life and traverses a deep, aching anguish. The album is a dynamic collection of upbeat and solemn tracks that grapple with loss, healing, and a bygone path to a former feeling of normalcy, all coming together as a beautifully vulnerable way of healing.
I had the chance to talk with Kelley Bader, the lead of I’m Glad It’s You about the process of writing, recording, and putting out their most deeply personal album, Every Sun, Every Moon, that dropped today, May 15.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity]
What’s it like being on the other side of such a personal album?
It’s hard to explain, but for a couple years I had this thing I felt really compelled to do. I had been really anxious about it, because I didn’t want to mess it up. Right when we were done, I instantly felt this huge wave of relief — I feel like the word relief doesn’t really even cover it. Almost immediately after that though, I kind of crashed and hit this really weird, new sort of depression. I had this mission to accomplish that was really weighty, but it gave me a lot of purpose and motivation. Without it, I felt really lost. We had our tour coming up, but it wasn’t for a few months, so I was just kind of down in the dumps. It’s kind of a weird question to answer right now with COVID, because on one hand I feel really, really excited that we’re finally sharing it. I feel so excited that it’s been really meaningful or helpful to people, that’s really encouraging, and it makes me really, really happy, but at the same time, I’m obviously kind of frustrated like everyone else. I’m focusing on being grateful that people are hearing it.
How did you decide on the name Every Sun, Every Moon?
That song was a turning point for the album when I wrote the lyrics and I found the concepts that really became the unifying theme for the album. It really shaped how I was writing the album. Metaphorically, it was tying these ideas of constancy, like, all the time I’m remembering, day and night. It describes the experience so well to me, the image of the sun and the moon, of light and darkness, of pain and joy being fully present together. I was trying to talk about the memory, my friend, and how I would oscillate between feeling so bereaved and just so torn up, and then also so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that I got to know this person at all. The symbolism explained it well; what made me a whole person again was accepting that life is really beautiful and really tragic at the same time, and if you learn to be present for both, you can really find peace.
What was it like coming together as a band to record the album?
For me, it was really emotional. For them, I think they were just really stoked to get back in the studio and make the record. Everybody that recorded the album was there during the accident. So, having them contribute and make this thing with me made it feel so meaningful. Just to like, see other people go through what they went through, and then come back and say, yeah, we’re, we’re still going to do this with you. It just meant an insane amount to me. It was kind of the first thing we all did together in a couple years, and I mean, it was incredible, but it was also fun. They’re like my closest friends, so we just got to hang out again and travel to a new place — all the little things like get on each other’s nerves, eat shitty food and not sleep enough.
I saw in the interview you did with Stereogum that people were telling you to write about music about the accident to cope. How did you feel about it then, and how do you feel about it now?
It changed a lot. Not even a full hour after we crashed, the first responders were just asking questions like, what are you guys up to? What’s your normal life? They were trying to get us to talk, to try to get us out of our head and distance us a little bit from the impact of the trauma. I said we were in a band, and we’re heading to the first show of our tour. Every single one of them said, keep going, you guys gotta write about this. That’s what you guys do as people and musicians, and that’s what’s gonna help you out. I remember I couldn’t really believe it. That sentiment knocked the reality into me, and also kind of infuriated me too, because I was like, okay, so this definitely happened, and I’m supposed to make an album about this? I can’t even comprehend the weight of what just happened. This isn’t for making music about. Despite being like really, really, kind of mad, I felt like I had to still. I need to memorialize my friend and I need to find a way to work through this. It might even be relatable to someone. I think some people might not ever get to the point where they want to share what they went through, but if they’re ready to, I think it really helps them. I needed time to let go of my anger, because I realized they were just trying to help, and at this point, I feel like they were right.
I saw your Instagram post explaining where the idea for the song “The Silver Cord” came from. When did you encounter this silver cord?
Part of what was so hard in the two or three months after finishing the album was the feeling of trying to come back from something. I’ve felt so off for so long. I felt like I had gone so far down the road of grieving, and writing the album took so much emotional energy and so much of my attention away from real life, I was hyper-aware and hyper-focused on all the pain I had been holding on to, that I felt really separated from myself and my normal life. From a day-to-day emotional state, I felt like feeling normal was gone. I felt really lost. When we got back from recording, I was writing about this thing wondering, really wondering if I could ever come back from this process. Not only the event really changed me, but the process of writing about the event, severed a tie with reality for me. When I came home, I felt like I couldn’t really go back to the way things were. I don’t think anybody really can. You just find ways to exist in your new reality.
STREAM EVERY SUN, EVERY MOON, OUT NOW!
EVERY SUN, EVERY MOON TRACKLIST
1. Desert Days
2. Big Sound
3. Ordinary Pain
4. Lost My Voice
5. The Things I Never Said
6. Death Is Close
7. Silent Ceremony
9. The Silver Cord
11. Every Sun, Every Moon