WA alt-rockers Foam ask all the right question with their eclectic new LP Coping Mechanisms, and as they venture into new territory, frontman Joel Martin gives us a detailed look at the underlying themes surrounding the solid effort.
When we first started writing this album we knew we wanted to experiment with sounds outside what our guitar/bass/drums archetype had allowed us in the past. The intro to this song went through a bunch of iterations before we decided it would be a good opportunity to break out the synth. Lyrically this song sets the tone for the record, introducing the idea that despite the unfathomable amount of people you share the world with, you’re always going to be alone in your experience. You only see through your eyes, and you’re a drop in the ocean.
GET ON BOARD
Get On Board is maybe my favourite song from the record to play live. The angular guitar riffs and interplay between it and the bass is a nod to our influences from bands like Shellac and The Jesus Lizard. It just rolls along and builds and lacks any kind of real chorus. This one’s decidedly more light-hearted and sarcastic, taking a dig at lazy people who let their lives slip away without taking any real risks (people like me). When the song premiered it was labelled as a hit against millennials, but that’s not how intended it. Sheep have been around forever.
BODY INTO MINE
I always liked the way Drive Like Jehu would have these riffs with a 5/4 or 7/4 beat that managed to feel really smooth despite a pretty jarring time signature. With this song I was playing around with that and the concept of staying on a single level of intensity instead of resorting to the loud-quiet-loud template we would fall back on so often. You can hear Jane, Rhian, and Ashlyn from Childsaint and Ellen of Oosterbanger shouting along the words in this one.
THE GIFT OF GUILT
Sometimes people who were at one time really close and important to you drift away, often for no real reason, maybe circumstances just carried them further from your day to day. On the other hand, sometimes you and they will change in ways you never anticipated, until the things that brought you together in the first place fade entirely. This song is about the latter. But really it’s all about Harley’s bassline in the outro. Boy did he nail that goddamn bassline.
The first (expect more) instrumental track we ever recorded. Our songs always start with the music, we’ve generally been jamming the song for a while before I start writing lyrics. In this case, the song felt like it was conveying the message and emotion we were trying to get across before it ever got to that point.
I COULD MILK MYSELF
Yeah, it’s a metaphor for masturbation. But the idea of masturbation here is meant as a metaphor for going it alone. It’s metaphor inception. There’s a bodily fluid thread running through the chorus. Nothing sexual at all. It’s about how, for the most part, things are more worthwhile with people you love around you. At the very least, they can be a great distraction from whatever you may be struggling with internally.
WE DON’T LIVE IN THE USA
This track is pretty tongue-in-cheek. Lyrically it’s a reaction against that self-loathing, mopey grunge aesthetic, with a ‘get over yourself, are things really that bad?’ kind of message. Musically though it’s easily the most ‘grunge’ track on the album. Which is why we threw in that stupid whistling solo.
EAT YOUR FAMILY
Probably don’t actually eat your family, guys. The moral hurdles you’re jumping there would surely be AT LEAST matched by the logistical ones. This track is kind of all over the place, much like the psyche of someone who would actually go through with it.
One day on the way to the studio, which is in the foothills of Perth, there was a sign by the road letting us know that a ‘snake warning’ was in effect. I’m not sure what it was about the snakes that justified a written warning, but I didn’t see one. Listen closely for some dirty trap hi-hats towards the end.
WHEN DOES IT GET BETTER
You grow up (or at least I grew up) with this expectation that once you’re an adult and out in the ‘real world’ you’ll hit some kind of tipping point where you feel like you’ve figured it out. I’m still waiting. It’s a naïve idea, no doubt, but when the same questions keep occupying your mind, the same bullshit keeps cropping up in the world around you and the same baggage keeps weighing you down it can be difficult to see or even hope for a bright future. Things may never get better, but for the love of all things good, never stop trying.
Foam tour Coping Mechanisms around the country this month. Check out theGuide for all dates and other info.
Bank Hotel, Newtown
Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar, Melbourne
Crown & Anchor, Adelaide
Prince of Wales, Bunbury
Miami Tavern, Miami
Amplifier Bar, Perth
Badlands (formerly Devilles Pad), Perth