BY NOW, most everyone who’s tuned in to the local music scene has heard the name Jason Bible. As part of The Train Wrecks, Bible has woven himself into the fabric of the Savannah music community and continues to thrive over a decade later.
One thing that seemingly keeps him going is doing more ambitious projects like Anicca, the book and companion album he’s set to release on March 1.
The project - featuring a book co-written with Athens writer William Sackler - is layered, emotional, and thoughtful and tells a gripping tale of addiction. He’s accompanied on the recording project by many local favorites, collectively calling themselves The Rights.
Bible and his bandmates are set to celebrate the release of Anicca three times - once during an intimate in-store at Graveface Records & Curiosities on March 2, again later that night at the Sentient Bean, and once more the following night at the Tybee Post Theater on Tybee Island.
- Photo by Geoff L Johnson
Ahead of his marathon weekend celebration of Anicca, we spoke to Bible about the genesis of the project, what the experience of writing a book was like, and the new challenge of writing a record from character perspectives.
Where did the idea come from of doing a project this unique?
Bible: Well, it originated around current events. I talked to William about it, and we discussed doing a project. It took a couple of years to get things really moving towards the completion of it. There were a few points where it really didn’t seem like it was going to happen.
The songs kind of wrote themselves. It was nice having the characters to go off of, instead of “I” or “we.” It was kind of a freedom to not sing from my own personal experience. I guess it came about just really after losing people from overdoses. I got tired of that, man. It’s not rock and roll anymore. The idea was to make some good art and just put it out there.
So did it start as a book, and then the album came later?
Bible: I think it was conceptualized all in one. We’d done a tentative thing with another story, and it didn’t quite have the weight. It was very similar subject matter, but that never saw the light of day. The goal with this one was just to get to the finish line and go from there.
There have been works in the past about addiction, of course, but I feel like this really views it through an interesting lens.
Bible: The story is about a pill mill, which are very profitable things, and the experiences of seeing that side of life. There’s desperation, there’s addiction, and there’s all kinds of things involved with these characters. The intent was to tell a kind of grittier side of it and not really candy coat it too much. Just make it true to these people’s lives and make it relatable.
Essentially, it’s entertainment. But at the same time, I wanted to make something that was important and get something across to people about the perils of [addiction]. The last line of the last song, there’s this idea of the dopamine hitting - whether it’s drugs or not, there’s so many people being bombarded daily with that type of thing in our brain. There’s all kinds of vices waiting.
You talked about the freedom of writing from a character perspective. Talk a bit more about what that was like. It must’ve been a very different approach to songwriting? Do you feel like you had to sit down and embody these characters?
Bible: I think what really started it was when we were working on naming the chapters. Once the chapters were named and we had a couple of different endings, I waited until the last minute to really dig on [writing lyrics]. I had tendonitis in my right arm, and to make a chord on the guitar was brutal for about three months.
When I had everybody over to do the recording, I couldn’t play the guitar so I just did vocals at that point. The week before that, I’d formulated a bunch of phone memo demos and had printed everything up that had been written. The song “20 Years On Paper” was something that I had three or four different versions of, and I had to settle on one version.
People came over and then we worked out the final stuff for most of the record from there. It was fun to write from the point of view of not having to think about whether it was any sort of topical subject matter for me personally. I think the songs just really happened. I can’t say I can recall really trying. It was almost like doing a thesis paper during that last week of crunch time. Once I saw everything on paper, it was a lot easier to get an idea of what we were looking at.
It’s a great piece of art, truly.
Bible: I appreciate it. I did most of the stuff here at the home studio. I wanted to make sure I could get something from my house that was releasable. We did three days of sessions, and then over the next year I added things. I threw so much stuff at the wall with this thing. I’d do a piano track and then decide to do another on top of it and pan it. I kind of revisited stuff after a year and realized that sometimes in order to get it right, you just have to abandon songs for a while.