09’s track-by-track guide to Lost Years – Pt.3

With their debut album officially out there, we caught up with 09 to take us behind the lyrics of tracks 9 – 12 of Lost Years.

Read part 1
Read part 2

Rough Dreams

Digital Vagrant (ft. Days to Waste):

EJ: Digital Vagrant was the last track we wrote for Lost Years, and we really came at it with the intention of doing something totally different for us. Chance had this vision for a really edgy riff-driven song that also featured a creepy electronic undertone. Juxtaposing those things with a sickly sweet chorus just felt perfect. Ben (Days to Waste) brought a whole different attitude to the track, which let our producer, Justin Abel, really lean into the electronic vibes. Lyrically, I wrote this song to just be an anthemic ‘f*ck you.’ It has this sass to it, but at the same time is able to hit these more serious tones in the bridge that make you go ‘damn, that’s dark.’ Working with Ben was dope. I had done some work for his other band (6 Acre Earth) the year prior, and I knew right away that we had to get him involved with the record somehow. Days to Waste is such a versatile act too, and he was able to show off his range on Digital Vagrant.

Chance: This was the last track we wrote for the album. EJ and I felt like we had really scratched all the itches we’d wanted up to the point, so we decided to do something a little off the beaten path and just not be afraid to get a little weird. Justin added a lot of really neat electronic parts that fill the space of the song nicely. It was fun to just turn up the sass and have another guitar solo, leaning into the edgy sounds. I wanted to write the verses with a really eerie minor feel to it, because I’d been listening to a ton of Billie Eilish at the time.

Ben: As a solo artist, I’ve done a number of collaborations and features, so it’s just something I am very comfortable with. I always love working with other artists and mixing my ideas and sounds with others, so I was very compelled from the start about working with a band like 09.

American Disease (ft. Kellin Quinn):

EJ: Kellin came to us with the original premise of the song, which is about how addiction blinds us and makes us numb to the real world. As the song came together, I really started to think about this song through the lens of the political divide we saw in 2020—I wrote additional lyrics using some of the other themes of the track to explore that fanaticism, and how it can grow into radicalism as we blindly cling to our ideals. I love bringing the dual metaphor to this track and hope people can sort of extract their own meaning from the lyrics as they listen.

Eidolon (ft. Justin Abel):

EJ: Eidolon reflects on growing up, and the relationship I have with my mother. It’s the only positive song on the record—sometimes it’s easy to fall into focusing on the negative, but this was the one track I set out to do differently.

Justin’s influence is all over every one of these songs, and as mentioned above, he sang almost all of the demos we pitched to other artists. It made so much sense to have him feature on his own song. I especially love the juxtaposition of some of the lyrics we wrote for this one—it ebbs and flows between these sort of arcane, mysterious lines, and then some upbeat, modern pop/rock sections. It’s a weird mashup of styles that ended up working really well, all thanks to Justin pushing us to think outside of our comfort zone a little bit.

Chance: This is probably one of my favorite songs on the record. It was largely influenced by one of my favorite bands, Silversun Pickups. The guitar tone in the intro is one of my favorites on the record. When the chorus hits, it’s a great representation of our entire sound all at once— just a wall of sound with the rhythms, with ambient leads over the top, and the vocals perfectly glued in the mix.

Impermanence (ft. Malia Endres):

EJ: To me, the first and last songs on a record are the most important—how do you wrap up the story your album is trying to tell? With this song, I wanted to explore love, loss, and how that impact to perspective can be a catalyst for growth. It takes the themes of the album and looks to the future, ending on a hopeful note.

 A few years back, my long-time partner fell suddenly ill—we had been going through a rough patch in our relationship, but being faced with such sudden and traumatic change really forced us to be honest with ourselves and with each other. It was scary, but strengthened our relationship in the long run.

This was only the third track we wrote and tracked for the album—like some of those other earlier songs, I came to Malia with a premise and let her run with it. Seeing how she breathed life into this song really helped inform how I approached the other songs as my own lyric-writing responsibility grew through this whole process. Not only is this song the most important to the album’s arc, it’s also one of the most important to me personally. Malia’s influence changed our trajectory in the most positive way, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to collaborate with her.

Malia: EJ had the idea of what he wanted the song to be about, then I placed myself in the situation to write the lyrics. I definitely went in with the excitement of getting to write in a different way and from a perspective that wasn’t my own. I usually write lyrics from a personal place while I’m working out chords and structure for the song, but with “Impermanence” I wrote the lyrics over a basically completed structure, channelling the experience and feeling of someone other than myself. In this w a y, I feel like I was more conscious of the specific words I was using and the way I was telling a story.

Listen to Lost Years in it’s entirety!

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