I Prevail are an anomaly. It’s quite common these days for a band to achieve viral status with a cover, but it’s rare that they confirm the buzz, as I Prevail did, with follow-up material. The band’s debut album Lifelines, which followed in the footsteps of their cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’, was met with thunderous applause.
The band are now beating to quarters in the lead up to the release of their second full length album, Trauma. I Prevail announced the news with two singles – ‘Bow Down’ and ‘Breaking Down’. If the reception of these is anything to go by — which it totally is — the buzz around I Prevail is yet to plateau. A long way from it.
Australia had prime real estate in the album release plan, with I Prevail coming Down Under as part of Download Festival 2019. It was here that Music Feeds spoke with guitarist Dylan Bowman.
Bowman has fond memories of the band’s first Australian sojourn off the back of Lifelines. It’s no surprise why, considering the whole damn tour sold out. I Prevail were making waves the world over, but it was Australians who caught them the hardest. “We were here about two years ago and we fell in love with the culture and how people accepted our music here, it’s just such a fun place to be. We’re happy to be here,” he says.
“That’s definitely the first time that’s happened to us, where an entire tour has sold out. That doesn’t happen in the U.S. We have some cities in the U.S that definitely sell out every time we go there, but nothing like Australia brought it. They’ll always have a special place in our hearts. Just because it was the first time that we had really crossed over to a different part of the world, and to hear people singing our words back, it was so surreal.”
The concept of the difficult sophomore album is cliche, but in cases like that of I Prevail’s sophomore, it certainly applies. The band achieved with one album what few do with several. Fortunately, when it came time to writing Trauma, the band had a master plan, albeit a somewhat loose one.
“To try to get in the right headspace to write a new album that you hope is going to be as successful or more successful is definitely a daunting task. But when we sat down to write it,” Dylan recalls of the Trauma sessions, “You could tell from all of us that we wanted to push our sound a little bit further in both directions, you know, we wanted to be able to get to the softer, electronic, poppier side of I Prevail, but we also wanted to get to the bottom of how heavy it could be. I think that shows.
“I think the biggest story of all is going to come from Brian who, I don’t know if you know this or not, suffered a vocal injury, and went through a lot of therapy to get back and now, as a fan and his friend, I listen to him and I’m just blown away by how far he has come. I listen to his tapes on the new record and I am just like ‘Holy crap, man, like you’ve really set your expectations of yourself high enough to just push through this whole issue that affects so many lead vocalists’.”
Even with the experimentation, Trauma still makes sense within the universe of I Prevail. One of many parallels is the overt and underlying theme of mental illness, whether in the songs or titles. Trauma’s, ‘Bow Down’ and ‘Break Down’ hark to titles such as Lifelines’, ‘Scars’ and ‘Alone’. But this may have been more of a subconscious decision than a tactical one, according to Bowman.
“Lifelines was about what happens in the wake of getting popular off of the cover we released on our current album. Lifelines is a continuation of that, and how it affects our lives. Trauma is more along the lines of the things that have happened since we have been touring and relationships that have been severed because of our lifestyle and how we’re away from home. A lot of people don’t realise how hard it is to keep a relationship when you’re gone nine months out of the year.”
The flux and flow of life on the road affects most musicians, even those at the dizzying heights of the tops. A common issue faced by travelling musicians is the deafening silence that follows a sold out tour, much like I Prevail’s 2017 Australia one. “It’s enough to drive you crazy,” says Bowman of this crushing silence.
“You have to pull yourself out of bed every day and tell yourself, ‘Okay I’ve got to work on this’ I don’t have anybody pushing me, it’s just me. How do I get back to that feeling that I had on tour. Well that’s getting up and creating music and setting yourself up for success.”
And with Trauma, that’s exactly what I Prevail have done. So far, off the back of two singles, the album rocketed the band back to the forefront of the scene’s attention. The fans are thrilled, and in turn, the band are centred.
“Just releasing the single that we’ve put out so far has been so therapeutic,” says the guitarist.
”Because like I said, that silence, it messes with you. But it’s nice to have the reception of fans that will freak out over ‘Bow Down’ and ‘Breaking Down’ and it just kind of like brings everything back to centre. Even though I was tired for two years from touring, I’m ready to go do it again…
“I’m ready to go tour for four years now, now that I’m playing a song, I’m just ready for it.”
‘Trauma’ is set for release Friday 29th March. Pre-order, here.