Berwanger - Sound In The Signals Interview

Kansas City's Berwanger, led by Josh Berwanger of Radar State, The Only Children, and The Anniversary, will release his new album, Watching A Garden Die on June 28th via Wiretap Records. He says, "I’m constantly writing. I try to write a song or part of a song every day. It’s not always good, but it’s not about it being good or bad. It’s about pushing yourself to create each day. It’s definitely one of the most, if not the most, personal albums I have written. There were a few times I didn’t even want to release it. But if some of the subject matter can reach another person and help them deal with something they're going through, that's what music and art is for." Check out our interview below.

First, thanks for the interview.

Thank you.

Your new album ‘Watching A Garden Die’ comes out this month. Can you tell me a little about the writing and recording process for the album?

The title of the album is an analogy of how I view life, love, and myself. I was going through a lot, getting older, not being where I wanted to be, and some other personal things I'd rather not get into. You plant a garden, what you want to grow in it, you water it, tend to it and it gives back. If you ignore it, it slowly dies.

In order for me to change the things I wanted to do in my life, and who I want to be as a human I needed to take better care of myself and make necessary changes.

I started recording it just over a year ago. We had 11 songs recorded. After listening back multiple times those 11 songs they were just too sad as a whole album. So we went back and recorded 3 more that had a little more bounce to pace the album better, and took a few of the previous ones off.

I was reading that you said some of the music on the album deals with social anxiety and awkwardness. When you’re a musician you’re often judged or “reviewed” in one form or fashion. Has being an artist and putting yourself out there to the listening audience helped with the anxiety?

2 years back I started seeing a therapist and got put back on a medicine that is really helping. So this is one of the things I needed to do to make a change with myself. It has helped a lot.

I don't have anxieties while performing, it's more leading up to the performance or going out to see a band or movie. These things would lead me to drink to feel somewhat normal but really it just made me feel bad. Now I'm on a medicine and have some other tools that sometimes help with this. So instead of having 6 beers, 2 or 3 is fine.

I encourage anyone who feels they have any sort of mental illness or even if it's the slightest of depression or anxiety to go and seek help. It's amazing what talking to a professional you don't know and doesn't know you will do for you. But again, YOU have to make that first step, no one is going to do it for you.

I read how the album is really personal. How important is it for you to share these personal aspects of your life with listeners? What do you hope the listeners take from it?

I think storytelling is the most important thing in writing a song. No matter what the subject matter is, It can be a depressing song, a love song or even a tongue in cheek song. I think Tom Petty was really good at this. He'd have a song like "I Won't Back Down" and then have a song like "Zombie Zoo". Like I said in the earlier question, when I recorded the first batch of songs it was just a bit too heavy, so I went back and recorded "Friday Night" and "Bad Vibrations".

But songs like "I Keep Telling Myself", Even Darkness Doesn't Know" and "New Guitar" are some of the most personal songs I've written.

I hope the people who take time to listen enjoy the music. If they are going through something similar I hope they can relate to it or that it can get them through a tough time or, even a fun time if that's how they hear it.

You were one of the main songwriters in The Anniversary and those albums continue to really be loved. Within the last couple years they were repressed on vinyl. How do you feel about those albums all these years later and are you surprised at how they’ve stuck with people?

It's strange listening to them. We were all learning so much every day in that band because we were so young. Whether it was about new (old) music, gear, how to record, or mainly how to write better songs. I'm not really surprised by it. If I think on it, I'm more surprised we put out the first album in 2000, and the second album in 2002 and broke up in 2003 and all we accomplished in that time.

 Has your songwriting process changed since those days at all?

Yes. It's even changing as we do this interview.

What’s one new song on your upcoming album you’re really excited for people to hear and why?
Honestly I'm excited about every song on this album. I took a lot of time figuring out which tunes to cut and which to place in what tracking order. I think If a artist isn't doing that they are into the "releasing a single" every so often, which is totally cool as well. But when releasing an album you should be sure there is no filler. One song I have been playing a bit while pacing around my house is "Even the Darkness Doesn't Know."

I guess that wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Would you like to add anything else?

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and all you do for spreading the word on new bands and music.

Follow Berwanger:

Upcoming Shows:
June 27th - The Rino, KC
June 28th - Ellis St. Motto, Wichita, KS
June 29th - Replay Lounge, Lawrence, KS
July 1st, Henry’s, Lawrence, KS (Josh solo)

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