Americana Highways is hosting this video premiere of Alright Alright’s song “Over The Edge” from their recently released album Crucible. The album was produced by Ben Wysocki (The Fray).
“Over the Edge” is China Kent on vocals, piano, keyboards, synth, and mellotron; Seth Kent on guitars, baritone guitar, and vocals; Ben Wysocki on drums, percussion, synth, and acoustic guitar; Ted Hudson on bass; Chris Mears on percussion, guitars, found sounds, and synth; Brittany Hensley and Spencer LaJoye on violin; Mary-Cathryn Zimmer on cello; Rhianna Fairchild on viola; and Ben Waligoske on pedal steel.
The video was directed and edited by China Kent, with camera work by Fender Kent, China Kent and Seth Kent.
We chatted with China and Seth Kent about the song and the video. The video premiere appears just beneath the interview.
Americana Highways: What inspired you to write this song?
China: Seth and I were in a soundcheck in Cincinnati a while back, and as the mix was getting dialed in, Seth started playing this riff, and it was such a gorgeous building with swimming acoustics that I felt very inspired, and just started singing, free associating, really, about a woman named Sheila. Seth turned on the voice memo app, and we captured the nascent version of this song.
Seth: Yeah, fortunately, one of us took a voice recording of it, where it remained until it was time to build up content for our new album. Ben, our producer, heard the little snippet we had from that soundcheck, and encouraged us to try to develop a song out of it. Together, we imagined a few stories of people, possibly later than they would prefer, choosing or being forced into a life change and what that might look like. Our own Colorado mountains worked out as a fitting metaphor for just such a thing, and we put together a couple of little imagined stories of our main characters, Sheila and Ron.
AH: What is the story behind it? What is it about?
China: This song is about escaping, but I don’t think of it as an escapist song. It’s more about that point you get to when circumstances, a relationship, a job, become so untenable, so wrong, that you come to a tipping point. The need to get out and seek something new begins to outweigh the comfort of known dysfunction. I know I’ve experienced this, and at times, I’ve not followed my gut and gotten out soon enough. This song is the first track on our album, Crucible, and it sets the stage for that whole body of work. The album is, essentially, the working out of a really tough spot that Seth and I found ourselves in several years ago, after he got fired from what we thought was his dream job. In hindsight, we wish that he had quit way before he got the axe, and this song in some way helps us deal with that regret.
Sheila was the first character that appeared for us as we wrote this song, but soon thereafter, Ronnie arrived. I think I have a pretty solid idea of what these characters look like, their inner lives. At first, we had Sheila working the grocery store and Ronnie working in the sugar mill, but I thought, “How boring and stereotypical is this – writing a song about another jilted woman, and a guy who works in a factory?” So we switched it up, and that’s when our characters really took on a new life.
AH: Do you consider this song — and your music in general — a place for you to work through things that are weighing on you or that you are trying to process?
China: Oh, absolutely. I find myself on stage regularly working through grief, regret, shame, being super pissed off. Something about creating vibrations through sound, and coupling that with the heady work of lyricism, of literally singing or saying the things that have brought me great joy or great pain — it really is a level of therapy. This song is also so scenically evocative for me. I picture I-70 and the mountain passes we’ve driven, the old haunts and the familiar towns, and I live in the lines “I’m gonna let these wheels take me over the edge of that Rocky Mountain range” each time I sing it.
AH: Do you find songwriting therapeutic? Did writing this song bring you solace or peace in any way?
China: I think this song really did bring me some solace and peace because we were creating the characters, their conflicts, and we got to solve them! Ronnie left town with his kid in his van – he stopped waiting around for his deadbeat ex to stick around. And Sheila? It’s so awesome to imagine her getting in her truck and driving off with her last paycheck, maybe flipping her boss off and taking herself somewhere else – somewhere that she will be appreciated and celebrated.
AH: What do you hope listeners hear in its music and lyrics?
Seth: Perhaps the best thing we hope comes from this song is that it’s not too late, and it’s not hopeless. Our marriage therapist likes to encourage us that he was not much younger than we are now when he had to go back to square one and start over completely. So, if everything we have worked for, or even just some of it, were to go away tomorrow, we would still be able to find our way forward and find a new goal and something new to hope for.
AH: Tell us about the video. Whose idea was the video treatment? Who directed the clip?
Seth: This video was more or less entirely China’s idea. I had purchased, probably 20 years ago or more, an old Canon Super 8 film camera at a thrift store. China was thinking it would be fun to somehow find a way to make a video and then treat it to look like a home movie, and I sorta said in passing, “Too bad you can’t get 8mm film, or something close that looks old right away.” But, it turns out that you can. We found a place in LA that makes 8mm film (Pro8mm) and will also process and digitize it for you. We purchased three rolls of film, each of which is about five minutes of footage, so we had a really limited supply to shoot on. China, our son, Fender, and I all shared camera person duties, and China directed and edited the whole thing. We were able to call on some friends (Lady Justice Brewing and the Maness family) and a neighborhood grocery store (Leevers Locavore) as settings for the little mini drama.
AH: What was the shoot like? Where did you film?
China: We filmed most of the video while we were camping with friends on their land way up in the nooks and crannies of the Rocky Mountains. It was truly spectacular; wildflowers all around. We took an afternoon and had all the kids help us – our son, Fender, did some filming and his friend, Oliver, took over at times. We couldn’t keep our dog, Bolt, away from the activity, so he is featured in it a few times. The whole experience was beautiful. Then, for the city scenes, we asked local businesses if we could come in and shoot. This was in the thick of the summer of 2020, so we had to navigate COVID safety precautions, and our friends at Lady Justice Brewing Company let us take over their facility for a morning to film Sheila’s scene, and our favorite local grocer, Locavore, let us come in super early on a weekday morning to shoot Ronnie’s scene. We love our local businesses!
AH: Any great behind-the-scenes stories from the shoot?
Seth: So many! Like, as I was driving, 75 MPH on I-70, mind you, China was hanging out the window while the kids used a stopwatch to make sure we got a long enough road shot for the time in the song that we needed. The kids were yelling the seconds out and then shouting, “STOP!” when the timer was done. Also, this was shot in the heart of the pandemic, so balancing the shots and masks and trying to be subtle with those sorts of details was interesting. As well, we took the shots in Glenwood Canyon on I-70 not long before there was a large fire there, and part of the road very close to where we filmed has since been severely damaged due to flash flooding.
With an easy arrangement that traces the feeling of escape that a relationship can provide, Alright Alright hits the bullseye of longing on this one. The video does a great job of capturing that blurry, timeless nostalgic feel too. Find the music here: https://smarturl.it/msqhkp
Find more music coverage by browsing around our website, for example here: Interview: James McMurtry and the Impact of Musical Mileage
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