Graham Caldwell is a longstanding creative force whose previous musical endeavor, Billy Moon — aka Christopher Robin’s nickname as accounted in A. A. Milne’s Now We Are Six (or When We Were Very Young) — saw him release a number of acclaimed, multi-genre’d singles and eclectic full-length LPs such as Punk Songs (2018). Over the years, he additionally shared the stage with acts such as Nada Surf, Day Wave, Will Butler, Born Ruffians, July Talk, and Ty Segall, among others.
Today, Graham feels as though he doesn’t “have the energy to dress up as anyone besides [himself] anymore,” leading to the “death” of Billy Moon, and the rebirth of Graham Caldwell as Tearing Up.
Graham explained the name choice: “Growing up, I loved punk bands that sneered in the face of authority, demanding their voice be heard. They made me feel like I was stronger than I was. I was the kind of person who avoided conflict since I’d lose every fight I’d end up in, but there’s still a part of me that itches to get its hands dirty, hence the name: Tearing Up.”
Today, Graham shares his brand new project’s first single, “Running,” alongside the announcement of his first EP, Billy Is Dead (due October 14). Of the track, Graham wrote the following:
“‘Beauty Is Embarrassing’ – Wayne White
‘Running’ is a song that I wrote years ago and is finally seeing the light of day now. Sometimes, you just gotta be willing to embarrass yourself in the act of loving something, or yourself. When I first wrote it, I thought: ‘Man, did I just write a Christian rock song?’
I grew up going to a couple Christian camps so all that stuff leaves a really sick taste in my mouth. Kind of like the first couple seconds of biting into a fruit, finding yourself wondering if it’s gone bad or not. The good news is: this time, it’s not.
I just wanted to write some wholesome, earnest, cringe-as-fuck song about feeling joyful, powerful, and strong. It’s a good feeling, I like it. Put it on and go touch some grass.
My cousin is a really talented filmmaker and FVX artist so I told him I needed a hand in making a video. I used my own camera and rented a spotlight. I met up with my cousin, he called two of his friends who had no idea what we were doing, and we just went for it. We drove out to the country road where I grew up in the middle of the night and I ran for as long as I could. The crew was one person sitting on the back of my minivan with the tailgate open, another guy driving it, and the other holding the spotlight. My one friend who ran marathons saw it and immediately commented on how bad my form was. I’m not surprised since I do not run, I bike. I bike a lot, but when we shot this I realized that it had been a very, very, long time since I had actually run. Really felt it in the legs the next day.”
Over the course of the pandemic, Graham Caldwell found himself feeling itchy.
Something about the character he had created didn’t seem to fit anymore. Burnt out from a year of touring and recording multiple records, he found himself reflecting on what it was he was trying to accomplish as a musician. What were the things that actually mattered to him? Where was the drive to create coming from? Where did it go? After some time of reflection, he decided that if his goal was to make music that was honest and meaningful he would have to shed the character that he had created along with their name: Billy Moon.
Prior to the pandemic, Caldwell and his brother had been living and caring for their father while he was struggling with cancer. This would eventually to one of the many funerals Caldwell and his family would attend over the year. During this time, he found himself deep within the grieving process, grappling with some of life’s biggest questions. Heavy is a record that goes deep into grief, exploring its many different phases and faces. It’s a record that laughs in the face of “easy listening” and takes the listener along moments of life, death, loss, love, and meaning. The birthing of Heavy, like many births, was a painful and emotional one; maybe that’s the reason why Caldwell is releasing it under the new moniker: Tearing Up.
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