“Just rest your head between my shoulder and the seams / where selfishness and selfless meet” –The Weak Days, “No One Can Live Forever”
It was a phrase that became an obsession for Dustin Reinink, drummer/vocalist of indie punk trio The Weak Days–a thread that they pulled at until it wove all the way through the band’s upcoming EP, The Fabric of Our Lives. “‘Between your shoulder and the seam’ was something that someone said in the van one day on tour, and I just attached to that line,” they say.
Coming October 30, the project is a low-fantasy rock opera about the stitches that bind people together, the forces that threaten to sever them, and the difficult choices it can take to keep them intact. Reinink plays a bard in a failing, once-loving marriage with a botanist (played by bassist/vocalist RB Roe). Along with guitarist/vocalist Alex Ryan and guest singer Jessica Knight-Carnes of Looming, they weave the band’s most creative and ambitious effort yet.
Reinink says in addition to their fixation with “the shoulder and the seams,” the introduction of Knight-Carnes in the role of The Seamstress helped solidify the EP’s sewing motifs. She appears at the story’s climax in “The Seams,” which The Weak Days recently released as an advance single.
“On the night [The Bard and The Botanist] decide to get divorced, The Seamstress knocks on their door and drops off a tapestry she once made of the two of them when they were kids,” Reinink explains. “She offers them the chance of immortality together if they want it, like she once had. And then their decision on the matter; the catch is that they can only see each other for one hour a year. So what will they choose?”
It forms the midpoint of the EP’s story, and from there, the songs follow their struggle with decision and the aftermath–the band gave an in-depth track-by-track breakdown in an interview with Ear Coffee. The in-character songwriting style marks a serious departure for The Weak Days, who previously focused on their own perspectives. But The Fabric of Our Lives is no less personal and cathartic, and Reinink says while it was a unique twist on the typical writing experience, it came more or less naturally.
“It was pretty easy just writing from the two perspectives ‘cause most of it was dialogue-based. We could adapt the way that we would normally write a song, using ‘I’ and ‘you’ a lot and talking about feelings, but it was an interesting challenge to work in the story, make that story make sense through the characters, and have it sound natural. Some parts executed better than others in that respect, and I think more the issue is that there were too many things omitted, but it’s all a learning process.”
Still, they see it as a successful first foray into narrative writing, and it won’t be their last; Reinink says The Fabric of Our Lives will be followed by a full-length album with a connected story. Going forward, they hope to either work with Knight-Carnes again or enlist other artists to play new characters.
To accompany the EP, the band is publishing the story of The Fabric of Our Lives online and as a hardcover book with illustrations by Maddison Chaffer. Visuals played an important role in telling the story, even in the album art, which features embroidery by Ashley Wong, who Reinink met through Twitter.
“I had been searching for a while to find someone with really detailed embroidery work, and Ashley seemed like a perfect fit. The idea initially was to have something close to a tapestry that maybe The Seamstress character would make, ya know? Maybe closer to a quilt type of thing? But then we wound up thinking more embroidery ‘cause it gets the point across still and is very tactile as an image.”
The texture and depth mirrors that of the record itself; like the band’s performance, it’s delicate and detailed, with fine points of color and emotion. In the cover’s imagery, Reinink also sees another stage for the story to play out.
“The blank space of the canvas on which it was embroidered also lends to focusing on just what is in front of you, a lute that’s overgrown with plants and flowers. Almost like, contextually, it takes place much after the story of our bard and botanist, but maybe is a foretelling of what is to happen with them. Who knows! Either way, I think it is a fun way to have form and function showcase in the cover to illustrate literally the story you’re about to experience, and/or are experiencing.”
You can stream and download “The Seams” now, and pre-save the next single, “Your Shoulder,” available October 16. The Fabric of Our Lives will be released October 30 digitally and as a cassette by Deep Sea Records.