Brent Walsh Discusses ‘Are You Even There At All?’: I the Mighty Frontman Tells Us About His Forthcoming Solo EP, Track By Track

Brent Walsh recently premiered ‘The Way You Seem’ – the second single from his sophomore release ‘Are You Even There at All?’. ‘The Way You Seem’ finds Walsh exploring new territory as he delicately balances hip-hop beats and R&B melodies with lyrics focused on the insecurity of falling in love. The track initially took shape conceptually when Walsh found inspiration in a beat that his I the Mighty bandmate, guitarist Ian Pedigo, was creating on his computer. This presented the unique opportunity for these long-time bandmates and friends to collaborate in a new way, and the result is a bold creative direction for Walsh that exemplifies the tremendous range he shows on his latest EP. You can stream ‘The Way You Seem’ now on YouTube or Spotify. Now Walsh is here to tell us what we can expect from the new record, which is released on 2nd November, track by track…

“First, a little overview:

The album title, taken from track two on the EP ‘Cloud’s Song’, is in reference to a child questioning the existence of God. Each song on the album is an example of existential introspection and expression. From a child traversing the “how” and “why” of being abandoned by their father, to a man sorting through his guilt (or lack there of) after murdering his wife’s lover, to my own trials and tribulations attempting to find (and hold onto) love and how that pays a toll on our own perception of ourselves.

My first solo release ‘7′ had a lot of sadness and self-deprecation. ‘Are You Even There at All’ was written and recorded more so from a place of joy. Pain can be an incredible motivator. However, so can love.

Like ‘7’, I decided to write in whatever genre felt best for the song’s message. Ranging from acoustic singer/songwriter to rap/R & B, a cappella, and pop. The end result plays out almost like a Neapolitan mixtape. One that I hope everyone can find their own flavor in.

Track 1 – Moon Creep:

I’ve always been such a huge fan of harmony. This can be heard on essentially any ‘I the Mighty’ record but mostly on the last track of my first solo album ‘7’ when I first started playing around with writing a cappella. I thought it could be cool to start this album where the last one left off and open with an a cappella track, but whereas the last one was inspired by Queen, I wanted this one to feel more modern. I took a lot of influence from modern pop acts like ‘Penatonix’ and tried to keep the vibe danceable and light. Though, like most of my writing, there’s a pessimistic twist when it comes to finding and holding onto love.

Lyrically the song centers around how difficult it can be when you’re just starting to see someone and as soon as the honeymoon stage sets in, you leave for months of touring. In the end, “the burn is worth the flame” – which was originally the name of the song, but I changed it once the concept of the artwork started to come together.  

Track 2 – Cloud’s Song:

The beginning concept of ‘Cloud’s Song’ was inspired by a fan who had written to me about a potential Song Shop.

Zoom out

A Song Shop is something I do every once in a while when I’m not on the road. Essentially, you choose a level of production/instrumentation, write to me what you’d like the song to be about and what it should sound like, and I write and record a song specifically for you.

Zoom back in

She had written to me about how she would always stare at the clouds and they would tell her stories. I’m sure what she intended was something probably more light-hearted, but as I started loosely writing with that idea in mind, I think I started reflecting back to when I was a child and going through my own dramas, family dramas, and subconscious thoughts.

The story developed as a young boy whose father had just left him. Every afternoon he’d stare at the clouds and they would tell him stories through their shapes.

However, they always had a recurring theme:

  • A dog who’s leash disappears and he runs away
  • His father standing on the beach with him until a wave comes and swallows them both up

He can’t seem to escape his own subconscious thoughts about his father’s abandonment and this leads him to start questioning God, his existence, and the meaning or purpose of everything. I connected so strongly with this character and the song that I decided to name the album the main tag-line in the chorus.

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Track 3 – More Lucky Than This:

As strange as it sounds, this song was inspired by the relationship between my ex-girlfriend’s aunt and her husband. I had written this for them as a part of my Song Shop but connected so deeply with it that I re-wrote it so that the details closer resembled moments of my own love life. However, as opposite as it seems, that ended up making the song feel more disingenuous to me. The song that made the record is pretty much what I wrote for them when I fully immersed myself into the intimate details and love of their incredible relationship. In other words, this song is basically my #goals

Track 4 – Alone but Contently:

This track is actually just an iPhone voice memo I made while writing the song on my out of tune living room piano. I had originally intended on re-recording it with more instrumentation like cellos, and vocal harmonies in the studio, but after listening to the voice memo a handful of times, I kind of fell in love with the rawness and purity of the take. I liked that the inspiration was still so fresh that you could hear the emotion in my voice even without the pressure of “performing” the song. I liked that you could hear me scratch my beard halfway through and the way the piano being slightly out of tune matched so beautifully with the melancholy vocals.  

I’d been trying to convince myself so often to be ok with leaving instrumentation more simple, yet constantly adding layers of cello or harmony or rhythm to every song I wrote. This song was a good opportunity to accept its unique simplicity as a strength.

Track 5 – The Way You Seem:

On my first solo release, there is a hip/hop track called ‘Sea of Thoughts.’ As nervous as I was to put it out, I was surprised that it became one of the fan favorites of the record. I knew I wanted to do another rap track for this album, but where the last one was a long “free flow” style rap with no hook, I wanted it’s successor to feel more modern, with a big hook.

I live with I the Mighty’s other guitarist – Ian, who I’ve been making music with since we were 15. One day I was walking by his room and heard him working on the beat that would become this song. I loved the vibe he had created and immediately heard the melody to the chorus in my head.

Lyrically, this song is about the thread of insecurities that can weigh down the beginning of a new relationship due to the baggage of your priors. It’s about having trouble accepting a love into your life that feels too good to be true. Something I’ve had to practice working on at times.

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Track 6 – Confession/Repentance:

This song is essentially two songs in one. It starts off with a man confessing to a police officer that he had just murdered his wife’s lover. As he recounts the night’s events, the perspective switches from him talking to the officer to him being back in that room, roses in hand, discovering the adultery. After the song’s ‘Death Cab For Cutie’ inspired intermission, part two begins as they’re in the courtroom and the judge reigns down his grim sentence.

This song was originally intended to be on my band ‘I the Mighty’s last release, but I think it was determined that it felt a little too singer/songwriter-y to fit in. I’m happy to have it close out this EP, though. It’s sort of a nostalgic flashback to much of my older writing that consisted mostly of storytelling and less introspective self-therapy.

I think as I’ve gotten older and tried to hone in on what makes my writing uniquely “me”, it’s that the lines between imaginative, sometimes even folk-like story-telling and relatable relationship driven introspection are natural for me to blur. As well as the number of different genres I’m inspired by and love to combine onto one release. This album, much like my last, is a good example of that, and I’m thankful to anyone who takes the time to read this or to have a listen.