True life transpires, and music results.
Cold always documented memories and moments in song, etching them forever in diaristic lyrics, cinematic production, and airy guitars. Since their 1997 self-titled debut, the group fronted by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist SW consistently converted pain into poetry consumed by a legion of diehard fans affectionately dubbed, “Cold Army.”
At the turn of the century, the band unveiled the seminal 13 Ways To Bleed On Stage, which went gold and yielded hits such as “Just Got Wicked,” “No One,” and “End of the World.” The 2003 follow-up, Year of the Spider, marked their highest chart position, bowing at #3 on the Billboard Top 200, receiving a gold certification, and spawning the smash “Stupid Girl” accompanied by Rivers Cuomo of Weezer. 2005’s A Different Kind of Pain illuminated melodic strides to the tune of 37,000-plus copies sold first-week and a Top 30 debut. Meanwhile, 2011’s Superfiction continued this streak, crashing the Top 10 of the Top Rock Albums Chart upon arrival and extending a growing legacy.
After a dormant two-year period, 2017 saw SW turn his attention to Cold through once again surveying the events of an ever-changing journey and relying on the same internal compass responsible for his catalog thus far.
A period of respite and an overwhelming challenge set the stakes high for his next creative development.
“I needed life to happen to be able to create,” he admits. “There were probably around 15 years where all I did was live and breathe the band. I needed to separate from that to remember what it was like to not have it anymore. It was extremely important for me to spend time with my family. I did experience writer’s block for the first time in my life during the process though. It was brutal, because the one thing I’ve always had—left me. It seemed the series of events in my life had taken away my soul. It turned around. I’ve remained adamant about evolving a bit with each record. Approaching every chapter as a new beginning is paramount and necessary for it to be a true Cold album.”
That’s exactly what he made with his 2019 debut for Napalm Records, The Things We Can’t Stop. In order to overcome the drought, he returned to his “alternative roots,” spinning favorite records from The National, Interpol, and Placebo in addition to reading musician biographies. Discovering Nick Cave’s One More Time With Feeling documentary proved eye-opening. Not only did he watch the film over twenty times and develop a deeper appreciation for the artist, but SW credits “him for breaking my block.”
He recorded the album in multiple locations. Drums and bass would be cut in Phoenix with Jeremy Parker at Equinox Studios joined by Nick Coyle [guitar, keys, backing vocals], Lindsay Manfredi [bass], and Aaron Fulton [drums]. The rest of the material came to life at SW’s home studio in California and in the woods of Pennsylvania at Nick’s.
With instrumentation in place, his vision unfolded in classic Cold fashion.
“Every time we begin a record, I wait for the music to tell me what the songs will be about,” he explains. “I can never start a record with a preconceived notion of how it will end. The notes from the piano dictate the stories within the songs. I needed this to be an album with elements from all of the past albums…along with a new sound. As songs started forming, I felt they helped me deal with things happening in my life. They were therapeutic. It seemed powerful in that it took all of the bad things going in my head and gave me hope.
This uplifting spirit courses through the songs. Thick drums and a feedback buzz unlock the opening track “Shine” backed by an encroaching guitar riff. SW’s voice builds from evocative verses into an immediately hummable hook, “I want to see you shine.”
“It’s about dealing with physical abuse at home and becoming triumphant over bullying,” he says. “I faced bullying throughout my early formative years.
I’m hoping it helps someone feel not so alone if they’re going through it right now.”
Meanwhile, the musicians faithfully pay homage to Snow Patrol’s “Run,” adding rich harmonies while preserving the original’s integrity.
“I used to listen to that song every time I had to leave my family to go on tours or away to make albums, and I’ve always been such a fan of the band,” he goes on. “‘Run’ is everything to me, so we really stuck to the script.”
In the end, The Things We Can’t Stop shines a light on life’s tragedy only to color it with beauty as Cold have always done.
“When you listen to this, if you’re going through something tragic, maybe you can take a small bit of hope that you’re not alone,” SW leaves off. “To me, Cold means family. The fans who have stayed with us throughout the years and the people who have worked with us and are all connected through the music. The shows are reunions. These people have become my life. I’m extremely thankful.