Growing up I had a friend named Clint. He was the drummer for a hardcore band in Central Florida (which is where I grew up). He was my first "musician friend" and one of my favorite people to share music with on the planet. We weren't the kind of best friends that hung out incessantly, but when we spent time together at shows or playing music for each other it was like it had been mere minutes not months since we last saw each other. As #teens living in a state notorious for its plethora of retirees, we were huge fans of all things Fueled By Ramen because it felt like there was a glimmer of hope that Florida wouldn't suck forever. People used to tease him a lot that he looked a lot like Patrick Stump, singer of Fall Out Boy, which as a huge fan of Take This To Your Grave at the time he wore as a badge of honor.
Clint and I stayed in touch after I headed to Nashville for college, reuniting during holiday breaks to share the records we had discovered while we were apart. Just before I headed home for Christmas in 2005, he excitedly called me to play, "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage", from Panic! At The Disco's debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out. Just like him, I was hooked within seconds. I made sure to grab the record before I headed south so that when we hung out we could sing along to the record together driving around - a thing we always did.
Even after I moved to New York in 2006. Our ritual stayed the same. Any time I was in town we hung out and played music for each other. In 2007, homegrown label Fueled By Ramen became an imprint label of Warner Music Group and yours truly was called in as a temp executive assistant to help them set up their New York offices. That Christmas I came home with the latest FBR releases to give him, including the deluxe box set version of AFYCSO. We continued to keep in touch despite going back to Florida less and less, checking in when a band we both loved released new material to share our critiques of it. Most of the time it was us gushing to each other about our favorite songs on the records.
In the fall of 2009, Clint very abruptly passed away. It was a very sudden thing that literally no one could have seen coming. He was my first close friend to die, so it hit me incredibly hard. I was so upset that I had to leave work early and could barely walk to the subway to go home. I wasn't able to attend his funeral, so I mourned in the most fitting way - by listening to the music we shared with each other: hand crafted mixes I made him and vice versa, records that I knew were his favorite, anything I could get my hands on.
Despite it being almost 7 years since Clint's been gone, my habitual desire to talk to him about records from artists we both loved hasn't gone away. About a month after his passing, Paramore released their third studio album, Brand New Eyes. That first time I felt the kneejerk reaction to text/call him but couldn't was hard, but it has gotten easier to acknowledge as a beautiful learned behavior that I hope I have somewhat successfully both demonstrated and inspired in others. Memorizing and publicly lauding an album is a wonderful thing, but the level of intimacy that comes from very intentionally sharing music with someone is something that no algorithm can reproduce (not yet anyway).
This past New Music Friday, PATD released their 5th studio album, Death Of A Bachelor. Of all the FBR artists that have released albums since he passed, I'm always the most anxious to hear their albums immediately. I think it was because of that eager phone call in 2005. Either way, the trail of singles leading to DOAB's release had me anxious to feast my ears on it. It's been fun to watch this band evolve over the years. Singer Brendon Urie's voice continues to blow my mind just as much as it did with that first taste in '05, if not more. I'd like to think that Clint would share this sentiment.
Like I have with all of their previous records, I've carefully poured over every word and note, taking a mental inventory of sorts of what I think Clint would appreciate. I'm fairly certain that this would have been his favorite of the ones that have been released since his passing. It's been an equally difficult and exciting few days binge listening to the record, especially with all of the recent deaths that the music community is still recoving from. Even still, I hear songs like, "Victorious" and can practically see him air drumming in his red pickup truck with carefully chosen band stickers. I think of how we'd laugh at the absurdity of our attempts to falsetto as well as Urie during, "Emperor's New Clothes", "Death Of A Bachelor", or "Hallelujah".
At the time of publishing this, I'm still unable to get through the entire record without crying a little bit because I know he would have appreciated this record as much as I do. This usually happens during, "Golden Days", which appropriately enough features a line that Urie's voice soothingly reassures that, "time can never break your heart but it can take the pain away", which to an extent it has been the case of missing one of my favorite music comrades. That said, knowing that even after someone is gone that it's possible to still feel connected to them through music both old and new is something that will always be priceless to me.
Death Of A Bachelor is in stores worldwide. Panic! At The Disco is heading out on tour with Weezer this summer. You can head here for dates.