To Die On Stage By Your Side
by Adrienne Fisher, edited by Erik van Rheenen
The night before Hostage Calm announced the release of their new record, they cryptically took to the Internet to tease the big news, tweeting/Instagramming out “One last time. Die on stage.” No context offered, no explanation provided – just the indication that something climatic was nigh. And the Internet, hungry as ever for drama, took this futile message to heart and began to speculate; this surely couldn’t mean the looming dissolution of the charming five-piece band from Connecticut, could it? Considering that Hostage hadn’t toured or even surfaced their heads in almost a full year, it was all too easy to jump to the conclusion that a lack of activity, combined with the “one last time” declaration, was a sign of the band’s demise. But as it turns out, the mantra behind Die on Stage isn’t as much a death rattle as it is the core of their artistic expression, the centerpiece of the Hostage Calm spirit, and moreover, the complete opposite of an imminent breakup.
“The ethic behind Die On Stage is one of giving yourself to the art,” vocalist/songwriter Chris Martin explained in a recent phone interview. “The concept of that first word, ‘die,’ is that death is the finale of effort. It’s the last time, the last of your material existence, the last of your life’s big push. And then after you’re done, whether it’s a band or a human or a relationship, all that survives of it is the memory. And that legacy is what we are constantly chasing, the concept that we would go and make art so bold, so powerful, and so singular that it could live on long after we do.”
Die On Stage is Hostage Calm’s fourth studio LP and the follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed Please Remain Calm, a record that was pointedly focused on bringing forward the unspoken disillusionment and heartbreak of American youth amidst the economic downturn. An enduring portrait of the times told through thoughtful, contemplative metaphors and propped up by a lively kaleidoscope of vintage rock n’ roll influences, PRC pulled the curtain back to reveal the widespread societal unrest of an entire generation. But if PRC strived to converse about the embittered attitudes of American youth at large, the stories told on Die On Stage zoom in on a much smaller microcosm of that unrest by depicting the daily manifestations of it. “On a lot of the songs, there’s this sense of carpe diem, of shedding the chains of subdued social life and not being afraid to do what you want,” Martin pointed out. “But other parts of the record are terrified, and they feel guilt, and there’s this sense of disillusionment. Both are very much at work. And that’s something that I think connects with as many people, if not more, than the nuanced political speak that flows more heavily across some of our prior records.”