A Fragile Tomorrow releases their third album, "Generation Loss," this Friday at El-Rocko.
The five-piece band consists of brothers Brendan, Dominic and Sean Kelly (who is also Connect’s Arts and Entertainment Editor), Shaun Rhoades and Josh Kean.
We spoke with Brendan Kelly last week.
How long did the writing process for the album take?
It went for quite a while. We started it as Sean was working on his solo record and Dom was working on his. The writing process was stretched out, probably over the course of a year.
What inspired you while you were writing?
There was lots of political influence, and the loss of our mom was a big thing too.
That’s kind of a running theme of the balance of the power and money in politics, which is sort of where the title comes from. “Generation Loss” as a term refers to the loss in quality of media. It’s most commonly used in relation to VHS, but it’s the loss of quality. We took up that term and Sean was really thinking politically as he was writing lyrics. When that term came up as a potential title, it felt like it really applied. There’s been a kind of deterioration in the political system over time. We definitely didn’t want to make an outright protest record, but it was hard to avoid touching on it.
What’s your writing process like? Do you write music first or lyrics?
The music was definitely where it all started. We typically will have the songs fully written musically before Sean even visits vocals. But after the last record we started talking about leaning into this more groove-based sort of thing. A lot of what we were listening to was in that wheelhouse—krautrock, hip hop, a lot of late 70s early 80s Bowie records. I think naturally, we started leaning more towards groove-based stuff, synthier sounds, stuff like that. We started thinking about all that, and every once in a while Sean and I would come into the studio and we’d pick up guitars or I’d go sit at the drums and then just play. We had a reference point of, “Let’s make this sound. What happens if we try to come up with something that sounds like it could be on OK Computer?” We would go from there a lot of times.
The whole process was very experimental. Once we got into the actual recording process, that was a bit quicker, but it also sort of stretched out over time. I would say it was about four months of recording; we did it in pockets.
This time, because Dom had moved to L.A. basically in the middle of the album recording, we made the best of it. We decided to all go out to L.A. because he had just moved there. We did all his keys and vocals there, and we got to check out a different studio. We did the synths at a studio owned by the bass player of Rilo Kiley. That was a really cool studio; we just took a day there and basically spent a good twelve or thirteen hours playing vintage synths.
What’s it like being in a band with your brothers?
It’s great. It’s kind of weird because we almost don’t know anything else. We’ve all played with other people, but this has been such a part of our lives that it’s kind of weird to imagine not playing with each other. We’ve had so much time since were kids. All the early days, it was us messing around on a bass playing Green Day songs. We had all this time growing up to get to know what it’s like to play in a band. Obviously, we drive each other crazy on tour, but it’s great. I think there’s a connection that a lot of people don’t have that we have just by being brothers. I don’t know if the same writing process would’ve worked if I was trying to do the same thing with someone else who wasn’t Sean.
This is the debut of “Generation Loss.” What’s it like to play the album live for the first time?
We did a handful of shows over the summer and some in November, but that was our first test run of playing these songs. I think this show will probably be the first time playing the whole record. It’s a little nerve-racking, but I think right now we’re all really excited about it. There’s a definite excitement to debuting new stuff. There’s a little bit of a feeling that everything could go wrong at every second, but that fuels the excitement.