Did it take a global pandemic for The Breakup Society to finally release Before the Intervention Ruined Everything, three years after it was recorded? Mostly, yes.
It’s not like the record (on local label Onus Records, which, full disclosure, was founded by Phoenix New Times contributor Serene Dominic) was a secret. The band have been including several of the album's 12 songs in their live set for quite some time. So, what gives?
“The coronavirus was an impetus, for sure,” says band founder Ed Masley. “I started seeing so many bands doing livestreaming performances, and it seemed like people were really thirsty for music. People are living these weird, isolated existences and I thought, ‘Well, I’ve been sitting on this record that I am very proud of, this might be a perfect time.’”
Flip that coin, and deeper reasons emerge, ones that took a little longer to present themselves to the singer and guitarist. “I think a lot of songs on Intervention hit a little closer to the bone than previous Breakup Society recordings,” he says. “There are a lot of songs out there about getting to a certain age in life where you kind of have to take stock of the ways you’ve disappointed yourself and the people in your life and trying to come to terms with that.”
Sending the record out into the world conjured up some of the feelings he had when he was writing it, Masley tells us. “I got chills listening to it because it took me right back to the emotions I was feeling then, and that’s not something that’s happened before," he says. "I’ve enjoyed hearing a previously written turn of phrase or something, but I’ve been like, ‘Oh fuck, that was some heavy stuff I was writing freely.’ I don’t recall ever feeling like that before.”
Whether it’s a swagger-filled fast number or a slower offering, the band’s hook-threaded, pop-driven songs are always smart — lyrically sharp and sonically crisp.
And, as with previous Breakup Society records, you get to the laughter by tripping over some tears, and vice versa.
Dark humor is one of the things that Masley, who is also the pop music critic for the Arizona Republic, finds essential to getting through the hard times. Can you even read a title like “Don’t Let the Hipsters Catch You Crying” without chuckling? For the songwriter, there’s even some of that necessary humor in the record's title track.
“Part of the song,” Masley says, “was inspired by seeing someone who had gone through an intervention and seemed much happier with this life after that, but also there was this undeniable air of sadness around him. You could see his gratefulness in overcoming this thing that was ruining his life but, at the same time, kind of missing the way his life was."
“In no way do I think self-help attempts or interventions are funny,” he adds, clearly hoping that no offense will be taken. He’s just aware that sprinkles of dark humor or cynical lines come along with dives into self-awareness and change, and that a laugh here or there can be a lifesaver.
Another reason he decided to push the go button on the record finally is that the band at that time — Jason McGraw (lead guitar), Chris Adams (bass), Nick Pasco (drums), and Joe Golfen (keyboards) were a great team and he wants people to hear their skills. (The current lineup now features keyboardist Andrew Jemsek and Dan Tripp on lead guitar).
“This is the only Breakup Society album that documents that version of the band,” Masley says, “including Jason, whose guitar work on it is pretty damn phenomenal to my ears. I was blown away by a few of the solos all over again. All four of those guys really rose to the challenge on those sessions — recorded and engineered by Bob Hoag — and it shows.”
Masley says that while he may jump on the livestream bandwagon and rock some songs, he is going to wait to play these songs live with the current members, who he is equally as thrilled about being in the group.
While we’re all social distancing as best we can, Masley’s writing new songs for the band to play when we all can once again safely congregate.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.