Massachusetts emo band Born Without Bones have just released their new album Dancer on Pure Noise. It was produced by Long Island emo vet Mike Sapone, and it finds the band blending emo with power pop and alternative rock in a way that recalls anything from Bleed American-era Jimmy Eat World to newer bands like Oso Oso. Along with today's release of the album, we're also premiering the new video for "Get Out," and vocalist/guitarist Scott Ayotte gave us a track-by-track breakdown of the whole thing. Read on for the new video, full album stream, and for what Scott had to say...
I took a few trips to Arizona and southern California while we were writing for the new record. I really fell in love with the desert and found myself wanting to live out there one day. I wrote the lyrics sort of fantasizing about moving to the west coast and eventually coming back home if things got tough. I ended up flipping the narrative for the lyrics to someone else’s perspective. I had this rough premise that this Dancer character grew up out west but had moved out east to get away from her family. She hadn’t found acceptance in her new environment so she was moving back home to either confront her demons or succumb to them. I don’t think the lyrics necessarily convey that story perfectly but that’s who I was writing about for Dancer. I get to tap into my southwest desert fantasy life a little bit in this song.
"Don’t Speak" might be the oldest song on the record. It’s a song about self reflection and taking responsibility for your low vibration behavior. It’s about how we invest our time and energy into those we love and how it can all burn up in an instant if you don’t get right with yourself. Even good memories can fade and the people in your life can end up feeling like a dream if you let it happen. Jonathan calls this song “Muscle Two” which I think is funny. It reminds him of our song "Muscle" from our last record. In a way I think he means it’s one of our songs that checks all the boxes for our like, rock vibe. "Don’t Speak" was on the chopping block many times along the way making this record but I’m glad it stuck around. It feels like a Born Without Bones song to me.
FISTFUL OF BEES
Jim came over one Sunday with a riff and a few lyrics. “Fistful of bees, mouthful of honey, the second for love and the first one for money” I was really inspired by those lines. I’ve been really into gardening for the past few years and the bees are my buds. To me, Jim's words had me thinking about the difficulties of being a provider for your loved ones and how that responsibility gets heavy sometimes. I ran with the bee theme a bit and threw in some flowers. I scribbled a lot of the lyrics on the flights to and from Joshua Tree for a fall camping trip. This song is a really good example of a song that flowed together really naturally at band practice. This is the type of song we might be best at making. All of our individual parts felt like they clicked together like they were retrofitted to make a rockin' song.
HEART AT HOME
I wrote the idea for "Heart At Home" the same day as "Bother You." Honestly, I think it was one of those times where writing a lot of bad songs leads up to writing good songs. The first few lines reference the house I’ve been living in since 2015. When I moved in, the yard had gone untouched for nearly a decade. Weeds and vines had completely taken over and it took me five summers to get it all under control. That was how I got into gardening. I attribute a lot of my personal growth during those years to working around the yard, fighting wisteria vines and taking care of my flowers. The song reflects on those years I spent trying to be less impulsive and really process the idea of getting older and being more responsible and hoping for that summer of love as a reward for that growth.
"XO" came close to the end of the writing process. We were thumbing through our demos to see if there was anything worth revisiting. I had sent Tyler from Save Face a few song ideas for their record, Another Kill For The Highlight Reel which they were working on at the time. Most of what I sent over didn’t get used so I showed the band and everyone felt like we could make a song out of it. We probably had the whole thing finished in an hour. Originally the whole chanting of “XO Skeleton” in the chorus was a placeholder but it stuck. I wrote the lyrics about living with depression and the work it takes to get your spirits up when you’re always at a deficit.
"Lurkin'" was one of the first songs we worked on once we started getting into recording ourselves. When we initially recorded it, it was more rockin' and wasn’t really hitting a vibe. Jim showed us a bossa nova drum loop on YouTube and we made another demo around that. I still really love the demo. We had some jazz elements in some of our old songs, especially the song "Stone." I think "Lurkin’" hangs on those influences a bit and makes it stand out on the record. I thought it sounded like old R&B. I wanted to sing something crooning like Paul Anka or Dion over it. It’s a song about not going out because you’re trying to avoid running into a certain someone. Maybe an ex is in town for the weekend and you don’t want to run into them at a bar and feel that zing of anxiety.
Every time I sing "Get Out" I think about all the friends I toured with in my early 20s. It all felt so magical and adventurous at the time and I really thought it would last. I wrote the lyrics from the perspective of a volatile relationship on its way out. I found it easier to sing about missing my youth and forgotten friends through the lens of some fictional characters. I don’t know that I’ve ever put more writing work into a song. It evolved so much over the course of about 2 years before it was finally finished. I came up with the guitar solo on the first demo of "Get Out" and that kept me inspired to keep chasing the song. It was almost surprising when the record was finished being mixed and this song really hit for all of us.
I wrote this song as a birthday present for my partner a few years ago. It was one of those really special songs that fell in my lap one afternoon. I was really hesitant to make it a Born Without Bones song. It was meant to be a special song, a gift for one person. Once you put a song on a record it’s for everyone. It’s a song about being accepted, the good and bad, all the same by the person who loves you.
SHOW ON THE ROAD
I went down to Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with my partner last year, sort of on a whim. It’s sincerely such a peaceful and beautiful place. We spent a few days driving around aimlessly, camping, hiking and cooking together. It felt so good keeping it low key on vacation and not packing the days with plans. I wrote Show On The Road when I got home from the trip. I wanted to make a song for roadtrippers and young lovers getting their first Airbnb together.
If "Show On The Road" is a couple's first Airbnb, "Bother You" is when they move in together or even buy a house. It’s about committing to a relationship and getting in each other's business. You’re going to irritate each other when you’re close like that. This song was in the “no” pile for about a year after we first demoed it. There was definitely something cheesy about it but it also felt nice? We brought it back into rotation right before we went into the studio. I’m glad it ended up making it! It reminds me of wholesome '90s TV show music.
On the day we released our last record, "Young At The Bend" we all went up to Acadia in Maine to celebrate and unplug for a weekend. Acadia is the closest National Park to us in Massachusetts and we all really love the outdoors so it’s a band favorite location. Jim brought this riff over to my house one day and the first verse lyrics came instantly. The guitar reminded me of "Blackbird" by The Beatles, I’ve loved that song since I was 10. We probably couldn’t come up with anything to add to it for about a year. It was a very frustrating song to get to that breakthrough moment with. I wrote it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really know where they’re going. Someone hiking the woods trying to find the answers. Wondering what went wrong and thinking about who they lost along the way. I found myself thinking about the Dancer character again. I thought maybe Dancer left someone behind in Bar Harbor to go back out west. It made the album feel more whole for me, having this little narrative going in my head. When I listen back to this record I hear the story of someone trying to find their place in this world. Desperately seeking peace of mind and real love.
Dancer is out now on Pure Noise. Pick it up here.