- by Tom Dumarey
As the bassist for Face To Face and frequent touring guitarist for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Scott Shiflett already has plenty on his plate. But since 2001, he has also been working on his most personal project, Viva Death, whenever he had some free time. Up until now that has led to three albums, 2002’s self-titled debut, 2006’s ‘One Percent Panic’ and 2010’s ‘Curse The Darkness’ as well as a line-up that at one point or another included his brother Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters), drummer extraordinaire Josh Freese and producer Chad Blinman (Face To Face, Saves The Day, The Get Up Kids,…).
After eight years, there is now a fourth chapter being added to Viva Death’s story. And it turned out to be quite the lengthy chapter with plenty of plot twists. Throughout these fourteen songs, which often reach the 5-minute mark with seeming ease, there is a lot to take in. You might experience a slight case of paranoia in the bleak post-punk sounds of ‘Don’t Box Me In’. There are David Bowie-influenced songs like ‘Two Hands’ as well as Pink Floyd-ish, almost hypnotizing moments like ‘Seasons’. And 'New Terrors' has a classic rock feel going while opener ‘Ready To Go’ and 'Slipping Away' come with downright catchy, arena-sized choruses. Whatever route they choose to travel down, Shiflett and Blinman take you on a 76-minute long trip that will make your head spin.
To make it easier for you to find your way through 'Illuminate', we caught up with Scott to give us some guidance.
Scott: I’ve always had mixed feelings about explaining one’s own art (if I may be so bold) and the inherent difficulty in narrowing down a simplified explanation to what can be seen as an amorphous collection of anxieties, fears, desires and paranoias (all set to music). In attempting to sum up the meaning behind Viva Death lyrics i’m forced to admit they can’t so readily be defined, rarely do I take a linear approach where the narrative is easily understood, my lyrics have always enjoyed the benefit (and forgiveness) poetic license affords. (sure they mean something to me but that meaning is varied and compounded by multiple factors, even changing over time) I feel it’s more important the listener find their own meaning in the lyrics (even in the case of an obvious narrative) rather than attempting to explain vague and opaque wording (an ultimately subjective experience even for the writer) Some may be attracted to the feel of the words on an aesthetic level while others may find a deeper meaning in them (Viva Death lyrics are an absolute treasure map through my scattered psyche, full of clues and inside references, hard to decipher but seemingly making a point) thinking that a few like minded people may instinctively “get” you has the feeling of sifting through a vast sea of different personalities, intellects and points of view and finding who you resonate with.. the like minded out there.. the ones who don’t need explanation.. it’s simply understood.
That being said..
Ready to Go
You’ve had your turn, and made a mess of it, don’t completely destroy our future on your way out..
Alienation, dislocation, feeling life in geologic time, I may be lost but it’s a helluva ride, care to join?..
Sound the Alarm
That childhood friend you don’t know anymore, did we really change that much?..
They say eyes are windows to the soul, don’t close your eyes..
Don’t Box Me In
Clearly I don’t take it very well..
Snapshots of a frightening vacation..
Change is in the air, am I changing too?..
Petitioning the Black Wall
Snapshots of an even more frightening vacation..
Just the banality of it all, being led by the lowest among us, and somehow having to pass muster with this lot..
He sounds sad, is he sad?
Insecurities working overtime, am I good enough, am I strong enough, can I pull this off, and who am I trying to impress?..
We have less time than we think, this ride moves quickly, hold on to someone you love..
Man In The Street
Every last person you see is trying to get somewhere, just like you..
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, let’s not get all hung up about it..
(to anyone whose grand plan didn’t work out, you’re in good company, most peoples grand plans don’t work out.. give it a few thousand years, you’ll feel better.. I promise)