Rock band Welcome Center, the duo of Jesse Smith and Aaron Sternick, has a new EP called Talk Talk Talk out on July 16, mixing iconic indie influences like Death Cab For Cutie and Phoenix. Today we’re premiering a video for the latest song from the album, “Parasite City.”
Instantly Smith’s vocals are reminiscent of Ben Gibbard, giving “Parasite City” a welcome (no pun intended) and familiar quality. The song features has a slightly electronic-influenced influence, with cinematic instrumentation layered over the top. What is “Parasite City?” Smith explains that it can be a literal place but is also more a state of being.
“Parasite City is every shit town you grew up in,” he said. “It’s the dead-end job/relationship you can’t escape. It’s the sad state of your country because of crooked leadership. It’s the thing you want to hide from but can’t. It’s also the most optimistic Aaron and I have felt in a while– as sparse as those moments may seem lyrically. After a year like 2020, the list of reasons to feel defeated is never-ending. Comparatively, Aaron and I got by okay, and we’re still catching our breath.”
“Parasite City” is being released along with a video directed by Richard Krause. The video is set at a bizzaro casting session, with Scout Smith playing the “demon” who is auditioning. As she sits in the waiting room, her black and lifeless doll eyes making it clear she’s not of this world, she reads the script, which is the song’s lyrics. When she gets in the room she dances along with the song, giving an emotional, intense performance, freaking out the casting team – with good reason: she doesn’t take rejection well.
“I’m not a musician that can push through and keep writing when I’m struggling mentally,” said Smith. “Aaron can do that a lot better than me. I could barely touch an instrument for a good handful of months in 2020. Luckily, Aaron kept sending me musical ideas though. Every now and again, I would record a vocal demo on my phone and then not even have the mental energy to send it back to him.”
“And then Aaron sent me a demo of what would become “Parasite City.” In its earliest form, it was a bit more of a ballad than it is now. But there was one element that really stood out to me: The weird, pitch-shifted harmonica/sax sample in the pre-chorus. You can’t miss it when you listen to the song. It’s our Skrillex/Bieber ‘expensive sounds,’ dolphin sample. I felt like Aaron had channeled “Born in the USA”-era Springsteen. I was so drawn to it. Twain said to write what you know. I knew what any sane person last year knew: 2020 sucked. So I wrote about it. It’s easy to complain, and it’s easy to give in to that dark part of your mind that tells you things are never going to get better. I’ve done my fair share of both many times in my life. It’s a lot harder to say ‘Everything feels pointless today/this month/this year, and I can barely get out of bed- but I am going to keep pushing through and hold onto the hope that one day it will get better than this.’ Parasite City is our ‘glass is half-full’ song about everything we experienced in the last year.”
Photo Credit: Andrew Ryan Shepherd.