The Oxford Coma Contemplates "Smack & Temporary Enlightenment" (premiere)
The Oxford Coma has a penchant for blending heavy music in the vein of Neurosis with post-rock sensibilities, flashes of grunge and doses of noise, as heard on "Smack & Temporary Enlightenment".
Vocalist/guitarist Billy Tegethoff offers a detailed explanation of the track's origins and evolution, saying, "Doug Staples, our bassist, and I wrote this song with our band in high school. We never played a show. We were just a group of friends who got together at my parents' house and jammed. Not all, but some of us, myself included, got heavily into drugs while we were doing this. It was a symptom of wanting desperately to be able to have some kind of depth and credibility as an artist...or at least that's what I tell myself in retrospect. I was probably just a dumbass kid who got completely lost while trying to fit in and have a good time."
He adds, "On one hand, I got really lucky. Not only because I didn't die, but also because I got really fucked up while I was young, and had no choice but to sober up early in life. I just turned 32 (five years past my teenage goal of hitting the 27 club) and I'm watching some of the people who fared better back then struggle with slower-progressing addictions and all manner of mental illness now. Finding someone whose life hasn't been directly affected by one or the other is very rare in my experience."
As for the musical origins, one can hear them very much alive and at work in the completed rendition of the song. "We always called this song 'Harmonics' because of the main guitar part using fourth and fifth fret harmonics extensively. We may have done well to leave the title as it was, but I changed it for the final proof of the album artwork to the perhaps-a-little-too-on-the-nose 'Smack & Temporary Enlightenment.' The song is a reflection of a time that was filled with absolute extremes of experience. We used to take ritualistic trips to Empire Ranch National Preserve near Sonoita, Arizona and eat psilocybin. These trips stripped away a lot of layers of learning and certainty and put me outside the normal subjectivity of my life. They left me with a feeling of incredible fulfillment, peace, and understanding. But, I was also on the edge of full-blown heroin addiction; a swamp into which I descended fully shortly after this time period and from which I didn't emerge for several years. Swinging from one extreme of drug experience to the other was jarring and confusing. It had the obvious and inevitable effect of alienating my closest friends and destroying my closest relationships. The song is representative of the cognitive dissonance required to feel genuinely enlightened while at the same time being so incredibly naive, harmful, and heartbroken."
For the video, the members returned to the sight of their previous psychic explorations as well as "a scorched patch of forest up by Flagstaff", Tegethoff continues. "I think the dichotomy is appropriate. The aerial shots are alternately jarring and revealing of a beautiful landscape. There is no central narrative. It's just kind of a bunch of loosely connected scenes that (I think) form a coherent whole once it's over. I didn't really plan for this video to turn out the way it did. I had limited footage from one trip out with our friend Aiden Chapparone, who is a legitimate filmmaker. The rest I had to cobble together myself. It was fun though. I learned how to pilot a drone and learned a lot of matting and animation techniques in post. Most of the video itself was inspired by editing accidents or just messing around and finding something cool. I hope this gives it some context that might make it more interesting to watch."
Everything Out of Tune was recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago and mastered by John Golden at Golden Mastering. The record also features guitar from Intronaut's Sacha Dunable on the lead track, "Trauma (Maybe I'm Forgetting Something."