Portland, Oregon’s Soft Kill are taking post-punk and alt rock to new heights on new album, Savior (Profound Lore). Previous album, Choke, met with rave reviews from fans and media outlets alike, calling tracks like “Whirl,” “Wake Up,” and “Lost,” the next best thing since The Chameleons were in their heyday. Certainly, Soft Kill’s influences have played a major part in frontman Tobias Grave’s approach. Bands like The Chameleons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (check out their cover of “Insider” HERE), The Replacements, and U2 are blended into Grave’s palatable sense of imagination and realism.
For new album Savior, Soft Kill continued to write from the heart, particularly Grave’s near-tragic loss of his son last year. In fact, it was this incident that informed and then sparked the writing sessions for their fifth studio album. With strife, uncertainty, sorrow, and frustration swirling in Grave’s head, he wrote. And wrote more. Soft Kill would still be touring for Choke, but with Savior on the horizon, the Oregonians are now laser-focused on their upcoming album.
Decibel is pleased to present new song “Missing” and five questions with Grave.
What do you think are the main differentiators between Choke and Savior?
Tobias Grave: Choke is a band redefining its comfort zones with no real studio experience or confidence to ensure full realization of our songs. We were pretty much (unbeknownst to us) at the mercy of Jason (engineer) and Ben (mixer). Vocals are buried due to insecurities about how they sound and the lyrical themes, the same guitars are used on every single track… it’s safe to say we are simultaneously happy with it but also studied it to not repeat past mistakes, guaranteeing some growth. Due to the subject matter and conditions of the writing process for Savior, there is a cohesiveness that Choke lacks and Ben Greenberg stepped up as producer and really guided each song to its perfect final form. I could never have envisioned an album that is sonically so varied while feeling like one body of music, he really acted as fifth member and made the recording experience the most memorable time we’ve had as a band.
The primary motivators for Savior were life experiences, particularly nearly losing your son. What’s it like to put that kind of personal information out there? Cathartic or maybe a bit of therapy?
Tobias Grave: Writing these songs in the hospital while he fought to survive for the first month of his life was therapy. This is how I kept from completely cracking or relapsing. Essentially this is his record, inspired completely by his story and how I felt processing everything surrounding the pregnancy and his troubles during and after. It’s actually been cool to have so many strangers come ask about him at shows and I’ve distanced myself from feeling like anything I’ve put out there is subject to curiosity turned invasiveness because it doesn’t really feel like I own those lyrics anymore. Savior is really a separate being from this band and myself.
Savior starts off with “Swaddle.” Great track. Was this the first song written?
Tobias Grave: That song came fifth, if I remember correctly. It definitely was a leap in a different direction, opening the doors to me feeling more comfortable pulling from the Gun Club, Tom Petty, and the Replacements. I love the polished grit of 80’s American rock that borders on new wave, “Swaddle” was the first experiment at trying to harness that and paved the way for other songs like “Hard Candy.”
What track on Savior is your go-to track, personally?
Tobias Grave: Ironically this song, “Missing.” It’s my favorite Soft Kill song ever.
What’s next for Soft Kill? Last time we talked for Choke you were nearly done with Savior. Is there another Soft Kill album near? Or will you slow it down a little and tour/support Savior?
Tobias Grave: There’s about eight or nine finished songs for the next record but that won’t be coming anytime soon. Savior was obviously brought on by a nearly tragic set of circumstances and needed to exist now. Otherwise we’d still be supporting Choke so the current plan is endless touring till at least the end of 2019.
And with that, here’s “Missing” off Soft Kill’s upcoming new album, Savior.
** Soft Kill’s new album, Savior, is out May 11, 2018 on Profound Lore Records. Pre-orders are available now (HERE) on Vinyl, CD, and Cassette. Don’t pose ’cause it’s easy. Get Soft Kill’s Savior today!