Fans have been waiting for a while for Newcastle-upon-Tyne up-and-comers GroundCulture to deliver their full-length record, and just a few weeks ago it was finally released unto the world.
Titled ‘How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?’, the record continues to showcase the band’s lack of hesitation to experiment and dip their toes into other genres to help them stick out from an increasingly overflowing crowd of contemporaries.
Wanting to know more about the stories told through the album and how the songs came together, we spoke to vocalist Roy Watson to get a track-by-track rundown to help us really know ‘How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?’.
01.) LIFE WON’T WAIT
The first line you hear during this track being “How well do you really know yourself?” is obviously the album title, but for me it’s also a very important question that we wanted to ask those who actually listened to our band. It’s important to understand yourself and get to know the skin you’re in, on the deepest levels, even darker sides that we tend to avoid and be shameful of.
‘Life Won’t Wait’ is a reminder that regardless of whether we take action at any given moment, time itself continues to run away from us if we don’t get after the things and changes we want in life or within ourselves, ultimately leaving us stuck and dissatisfied. At the same time, it’s kinda pointing to the fact that there’s a completely different reality for us on the other side of taking that step, and that step starts within that mind of yours.
This track follows on from the concept of ‘Life Won’t Wait’, although it’s more of a focus on the subconscious mind rather than time and overall life. Imagine it being the case that this song puts our self-awareness under the microscope. We all have moments of weakness and a diminished level of confidence, it’s inevitable. ‘REALEYES’ is about tuning into yourself and bringing that awareness out onto the surface. When we’re present or let’s say focused on the ‘now’ (in the chorus I’m referring to the ‘now’ and not a person), we’re automatically less effected by the negatives around us and are more motivated to get shit done. When we ‘REALEYES’ this and work to make it habitual, it’s powerful.
The title for this track doesn’t actually hold any specific meaning, apart from the fact it was the 18th song we wrote during the process of the album demoing phase. This song, ’18’, is about purpose, or rather being relentless in pursuit of yours and even more relentless when you find it.
We all have a calling in life. Something that, when we align with it, everything around you just evaporates and you become a vessel for positivity and change. Unfortunately, this ultimately requires great sacrifice to bring to its pinnacle, although when we make it out the other side there’s great value in short term sacrifice to achieve the best version of yourself.
04.) TAKE MY BREATH AWAY
This is definitely the least positive song on the whole album, although it’s meant to have a dualistic positivity. ‘Take My Breath Away’ is about depression/anxiety, and how it can literally feel like you’re suffocating when you’re deep down that rabbit hole of dark, negative emotion.
I’m trying to say that I’ve experienced it years ago, and in life I’m kinda reluctant to admit all the shit, but to get to where I am I had to come face-to-face with it and stop running. There are people all over the world who lock themselves in a dark room all day and can’t bare the thought of even dealing with anything outside of that bubble. This song is for those people.
05.) TRAUMA CAN TEACH
‘Trauma Can Teach’ obviously revolves around the whole life trauma concept, and the inspiration for this song actually came from an experience Mattie [Turner, guitarist] went through a few years back, but I’ll not go into that here. What I can say is having been by his side throughout, I got to witness what true strength, determination, and heart could do for a person who was faced with the kinds hurdles he was, physically and mentally. Mattie could have easily turned to drugs, alcohol, or anything else detrimental, but actually used it.
He had came out the other side with the realisation that life is short and it can be snatched away from you at any moment, from out of nowhere, so why not stand up and take positive action? This track is for anyone who has experience things in life that’s made them feel like they want to rage quit. Step into your trauma, and accept it as part of who you are. There’s power there.
06.) BLUE MINDS
So, ‘Blue Minds’, for me, was inspired by a phase of my life around seven or eight years ago when I was locked in a cycle of substance abuse and on a slippery slope where my mental health was taking a constant beating. At this point in my life, nobody around me could get through to me, and my levels of denial that anything was wrong were through the roof. All of this ended up where I lost the closest person to me, and it honestly was one of the biggest shocks to my system.
‘Blue Minds’ is basically me talking to both of us and verbally giving myself a kicking. Obviously there’s a multitude of people around the world (‘Blue Minds’) who have experienced this and can’t pick themselves out of that space. This track’s aim is to get through to anyone in that category. You can take that step, I did.
‘Unbreakable’ was actually wrote by me and Mattie during the writing of our EP, and was one of the first songs to materialise for ‘How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?’. The funny thing about it as well is that in 2017, before our bassist/producer joined GroundCulture, we actually tracked a version of this in his studio that was then tweaked and rewritten for the album.
‘Unbreakable’ is about finding that unparalleled power inside of yourself that comes with realising that you’re not made of glass and when your mind is right, the possibilities are actually endless. We can all be the mastermind of our own reality when we inject fire into our passions and put your mental wellbeing first. We as people can’t sip from an empty cup. This track is for anyone who’s feeling helpless. Believe in yourself, you’re a genius in your own right. We’re blessed.
08.) FREE FALL
I think ‘Free Fall’ was something like the 22nd song that we demo’d for the album. We kind of didn’t want to stick to any specific sound for the album as you’ve probably realised. We wanted to try our hands at different genres, and this track’s a good indication of a properly chaotic mix of aggression and fluffiness.
‘Free Fall’ itself is all about surrender, and how your intentions/actions get carried away by the powers of cause and effect. I want people to hear this song and find an element of faith in the fact that we’re armed to the teeth with anything we will ever need to thrive on an energetic level or cognitive level. It’s literally just about falling back into life and letting things unfold as they will. Try not to judge it, just balance it and what you seek will find its way into your path.
09.) DREAM LIKE A CHILD
This is another track that’s focused on the subconscious and the deeper mind, as with ‘Free Fall’. Although, rather than surrender, it’s about blockages and time spent in a negative space that ultimately stops you from getting to where you want to be. It’s kind of also about how our fear of change ends up holding us back, mentally, physically, and any other way you can imagine. This life we live is fluid, it’s forever adapting and pushing us into situations that we’re not comfortable in, but I guess that’s how growth happens, otherwise I guess we would go nowhere. I write this from experience as I myself have at times been petrified to break the mould and just ended up being blinded by that fear.
Obviously, Phil [Strand, vocalist for Normandie] features on this track too, which I feel gives it an insanely lovely touch. He’s also a super switched on dude, so I think this track was a perfect fit for him on this album. It was truly a pleasure to get to work with him.
So, this one’s quite hard for me to touch on as it’s probably the most personal song I’ve ever written, let alone on the album. As I said before, we wanted this album to have no specific set genre, while trying to keep up that GroundCulture aura.
1974 is my mother’s birth year. She’s an insanely strong woman and a force in my life. I was born when she was 17, and for years she suffered abuse and neglect off partners, which kinda lead to her losing her fire and falling into low self-esteem and what not. We’ve lost both my grandparents to cancer and it weakened her even further; all this combined with a son who slipped into substance abuse and deep depression. At times she even thought she was going to lose me, it was that bad. ‘1974’ is partly my open letter to my mother basically prompting her to find her fucking fire, because she is a tremendous woman. As with the start of the album, I end it on a question… “Can you love yourself?”.
The band’s debut album, ‘How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?’, is out now via Hopeless Records.