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I never learned how to swim.
In years of sailing, I never let the water touch me. The ocean was an abstract dread, an obliterating void as untenable as outer space.
In January 2018 we went on tour. After years of scraping by, we found our footing with our fourth record Yours Conditionally. It was a commercial success that set us up to to play the biggest rooms of our career. But three shows in, I developed a raging case of influenza. Each night I dragged myself onstage and croaked out the set in a delirium. After a particularly bad soundcheck, Patrick asked me if we should cancel the show. I couldn’t imagine giving up the thing we’d work so hard to achieve. “I’ll be on stage even if you have to mic my coffin,” I joked.
The next morning I fainted and had a seizure while grocery shopping for breakfast. Patrick carried me through the check-out lanes screaming for a doctor. I woke later in a hospital bed. Patrick leaned over me, crying. “That’s it,” he said. “I’m canceling the tour. I thought you were dead. We’re quitting the band. I’m going to be an accountant.” But I was on the mend. We missed two shows and pressed on.
During sound check at the 930 club, Patrick stepped out to take a phone call. His father had been in the hospital all week, but he had cancer and brief hospitalizations were routine. Back at the hotel that night, Patrick poured two shots of whiskey and handed me one. “I’d like to toast my dad.” He said. “The doctors offered to put him on life-support to give me a chance to fly out there, but I didn’t want him to suffer. Instead I said goodbye.”
Patrick went home to grieve with his family and rejoined us on the road two days later. I couldn’t believe how quickly our lives had unraveled in the midst of what was supposed to be a milestone in our career. As the tour continued, we found refuge in playing music together. Songwriting had always been an extension of our inner-world. Now we retreated to that world every time we stepped onstage.
After the final show of our tour in Austin, we received another phone call. Patrick’s mother Karen was in the hospital on the brink of a stroke. We got on a plane and went straight to her bedside. Her recovery took weeks. In the hospital waiting room, I wrote the opening line of “Matrimony II”: I only have certainty when you hold my hand.
On a hot July day, after Karen’s return to good health, we sailed as a family into the Pacific and scattered Edward’s ashes at sea. I marked our position on the chart with a small x. The album was already well under way. In that moment, I realized what I wanted to call it.
Swimmer is a tour of the darkest time in our lives. But it is not a dark record. Named for the feeling of suspension and upendedness that characterized this period, it is the story of deep-rooted companionship strengthened by pain and loss. These songs carried us through our grief. It is us at our most vulnerable, so we kept a small footprint, recording everything ourselves in our home studio. I set out to describe the love I have come to know after ten years of marriage, when you can no longer remember your life before that person, when the spark of early attraction has been replaced by a gravitational pull.
Swimmer is available everywhere February 14, 2020.
In a small-town South of Austin, Texas vocalist and songwriter Molly Burch is relaxing in her sunny country home. The 27-year-old is enjoying the calm before the storm that will kick start when her much anticipated sophomore album First Flower hits the public. The Los Angeles native has found tranquility in the outskirts of Texas, appreciating time on the front porch as cicadas sing in the distance behind her.
Burch burst onto the music scene in 2017 with her debut album Please Be Mine, a ten-track ode to unrequited romance that she wrote after studying Jazz Vocal Performance at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. Please Be Mine earned praise from critics for her smoky, effortless vocals and bleeding-heart lyrics.
“I was really blown away with how many people told me that the music has helped them through their own break-up,” she says of Please Be Mine. “I was just so moved by that. I never expected it. I was aware that people were actually listening to my music and having a positive experience, so [with the next album] I wanted to reveal my own struggles with fear and anxiety.”
After a year of touring Please Be Mine all over North America, Europe and the UK, Burch returned to Texas to decompress. All of a sudden, she was devoid of stimulation with nothing but time on her hands.
“I was scared of not being able to write a great follow-up album,” Burch admits. “I was in that state, but I had so much time that slowly I was able to get some music out of myself. I would force myself to write every day. I gave myself a regiment. Once I got a few songs, then I had the confidence to keep going.”
Higher Ground Ballroom
1214 Williston Road
South Burlington, VT, 05403