Following the release of his debut EP Billy Is Dead (out now via all DSPs) earlier this fall, Tearing Up (the brand new project of musician Graham Caldwell) returns with the announcement of his debut LP, Heavy (out January 27, 2023).
The forthcoming record is not “easy listening” — “I wanted this record to hurt,” as Graham wrote, and that motivation was largely inspired by a series of personal struggles that he experienced from late 2017 to early 2020, including the loss of his father. In those hard times, the people around him helped push him forward, and writing this record, in all honesty, gave him something to do aside from grieving. “October of 2017 to January of 2020 basically felt like one very, very, long year. But even before that, the record was always going to be called Heavy,” he wrote.
In addition to finding solace in human connection, Graham also found himself turning to music in less of a “this album saved my life”-sense, but more so in recognition of the way music can heal, but can also hurt. Heavy came from his personal place of pain and loss, and it became his version of hard, but necessary truth-telling via making art.
“Billy Bragg’s ‘Sexuality,’ Dixie Chicks ‘Wide Open Spaces,’ Andy Shauf’s ‘My Dear Helen,’ Cindy Lauper’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’… Even writing this list makes me misty. At the real root of it, I think I just wanted to write music that could make someone cry. Just something that would make a person feel something, realize something, or remember something they thought they’d forgotten. I hope I’ve done that with this record.”
Today, Graham introduces Heavy with its first single, “Your Flame.”
Speaking on the track, he wrote:
“This is the oldest song on the record. We recorded it in February of 2018, I think I had written it in late 2016, maybe 2017. Honestly, I can’t even remember now.
There are people that we call during times of crisis because we know they’re going to say the thing we need to hear, but can’t quite say to ourselves. Never judging, always able to listen, and for some reason, never refuses to pick up. That thing that you need to hear, is never really ‘the answer’ to the problem. It’s pretty much always: ‘you already know the answer,’ or ‘you are capable of handling this,’ or ‘I believe in you.’ They always seem fake when you say them to yourself, but in the times when I was the lowest, hearing them from that person made me really believe they were true.
This song is for my 77-year-old step-dad, Rob Robson.”
Graham Caldwell’s previous project, Billy Moon — namesake from 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.
In addition to his musical work, Graham also just directed the new video for Zoon‘s track “Giizhig” (taken off his A Sterling Murmuration EP), showcasing the visual, graphic, and animation skills he houses under his creative arts hub, YammaNamma.
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.