When faced with death and loss, we often make changes, take on new outlooks on life, and seek comfort. For singer-songwriter Quinn Erwin, losses in his life and in the lives of others close to him, encouraged a change of direction musically, one that turned towards celebrating this undeniable part of life.
Afterlife Parade was born out of a song inspired by the band’s bass player/producer, Jeremy McCoy’s, mother-in-law who was battling breast cancer. Despite the fight and fear that came with it, she remained positive and even comforted others through it all. Erwin was moved by the idea of taking a positive outlook on death rather than mourning it. He described that the song, “came from the perspective of someone who is ‘marching’ from this life into the next and telling others not to worry about him or her.”
When the same theme found in that first song started to come up in a number of other new songs, Erwin decided it was time to start tracking them with the band. All they needed was a name. Looking back on the creation of Afterlife Parade, Erwin explained, “I started looking for a name to call this new thing, only to realize it was staring me in the face the whole time.”
According to Erwin, the name has come to mean much more than it originally did. “It is a literal thing, but it is also a metaphor for change and growth in our decision to celebrate the harder aspects of life, as well as the triumphant aspects of life.”
The indie-rock band based in Nashville blends honest wisdom with a sound that is sometimes somber, dark and haunting and other times contrastingly triumphant, upbeat and electronic. The lyrics remind us that life is fragile and should be celebrated and that death should be no different.
In 2011, the band created a two-part concept album – Death (January 2011) and Rebirth (August 2011). The tracks on Death explore fate, the end of the world and comfort offered by the dying to their loved ones, while Rebirth is made up of songs filled with messages of hope and the beauty of a new life. Tracks like “Death” are complex and build in contrast to the subtle, beautiful imagery found in “Nothing But Love Can Stay.” On Rebirth, the celebration of death is played out, both lyrically and musically. Erwin’s vocals offer a raw and driven sound that is perfectly matched by the band’s often anthem-like performance – especially evident on tracks like Black Woods, White Beach and Cincinnati.
Since the release of their two-part album, Afterlife Parade has started to focus on their next project. With a new concept and collection of tracks to demo, the band is currently performing the songs during live shows to get a feel for people’s response. The band is more of a “collective” than a band per say, which as Erwin puts it, means that, “every show is going to be such a unique expression of the Afterlife Parade sound as we rotate players within that context. We’re hoping to create a different experience each time we play beyond just a different crowd or venue.”
Afterlife Parade has also started sharing live videos of a few of the songs on YouTube in an unplugged series. They hope that sharing these songs early will get fans and new listeners excited on the front end of this project before recording begins this summer. Erwin and the rest of the band have always had a passion to make their listeners as much a part of Afterlife Parade as they are, and sharing the songs in the early stages is just another way they are achieving that.
Afterlife Parade is something much more than a group of musicians playing songs – they represent a message of hope and celebration for the journey through life and death alike. Erwin put it best, saying, “we are constantly going through the process of letting go of the ‘old’ and reaching out for the ‘new’ as we journey through life. Afterlife Parade chooses to look positively on that process.”
If you haven’t already, you’re going to want to join this march towards everything ahead with Afterlife Parade.