With the release of their debut album What It Is To Be, The Comfort have kindly shared the inspiration behind the music with us! Though both Liam Holmes and Dom Harper have already shared some elements in our interview, it is a pleasure to hear more from the guys about these beautiful and meaningful songs, as well as the album title. They take us track by track.
What It Is To Be
Liam: I’d been thinking for a while during the writing process that I either wanted to have this album be self-titled or that we needed the perfect over-arching statement that managed to sum everything up, but I couldn’t think of anything. I don’t think I’d even mentioned this to Dom but one day he messaged me saying “How about ‘What It Is To Be’?” and it was perfect.
I think the title fully encapsulates what we are trying to do on this album which is to come to terms with and understand the human experience.
Liam: Even though you could point to this song as proof we’ve changed our sound for this album, I actually started writing this song musically well before our Love EP but just couldn’t get it to work as well as I wanted. It’s been around for a long time and I’ve changed it quite a lot, but we finally got it to work.
I love the massive intro to open the album, it’s potentially my favourite part of the album. I always wanted a song like this as the first track. Almost every song I write starts with a long intro but I have to control myself and cut it off as I don’t think everyone enjoys them as much as me. It stems from my love of U2, Angels and Airwaves, and Coldplay.
This song describes the start of the journey that has changed my life forever. Like a lot of this album it’s me trying to figure myself out.
Liam: The working title for this song was “The Coldplay”. It’s about trying to process seeing the world in a whole new way. Western society doesn’t really provide any framework for understanding anything that is slightly left of centre, so it’s a struggle when you’re interested in things that are deemed taboo. A lot of time when trying to come to terms with everything, you’re left stranded out in the deep end with thoughts that you can’t bounce off many places.
Liam: I think this is the most important song lyrically on the album. I’d long grown tired of the “you have a chemical imbalance, here’s some pills” way of looking at mental health. I think as a society we need to grow and be better and support one another properly. The verses look at what I think is happening to us as a whole. The chorus is about my personal journey of becoming ‘fit for service’ and wanting to know what I can do to better people in my pocket of existence.
Marcus wrote this one 99% by himself musically as one of the first things he brought to The Comfort and I was in love with it straight away, I felt it perfectly suited the lyrics I had with the more sombre verses and uplifting chorus.
Dominic: “Reach Out” I wrote the lyrics and melody for a long time ago on a piano with slightly different chords. I recorded it in to my phone and just let it sit there for a while. I had always intended to use it as its own song at some point, but Liam came to practice one day with a basic idea and after jamming through the whole lot for a little bit, I decided to try the vocals over the top and it worked perfectly. Lyrically, while being somewhat self-explanatory, is about being okay with whatever someone needs from you when they’re struggling. Whether that be stepping back totally or embracing and helping hands on. I wrote it for someone I love to let them know that if they want me to help all they’d need to do is say something and I’ll be there.
Liam: When I started writing this song it sounded like something off Jimmy Eat World’s Futures album so that was what I saved the demo as. The song changed a bit from there and it became a bit less dark, and Dom and Marcus wrote the massive ending but the lyrical content ended up suiting the title so we kept it. It’s a song about relationships ending, but not in a bad way, just an observational sense. Nothing is permanent. This is one of our favourite songs collectively on the album, and I think it shows off the different styles of songs we can write structurally.
Dominic: “Always Tired” is written about the most intense and scariest moment I’ve ever experienced. Though it’s a deeply personal story for several people, I think people can feel the love behind it and understand how deep that runs through the song. The general idea is that although love and mental illness are so very draining, we will always do our best for the ones we love. Musically I wrote this while being heavily inspired by live videos of a then unreleased song by Now, Now called “Yours”. We eventually fleshed it out together and it was then referred to as “the worst song on the album” by everyone. I wasn’t a huge fan of that, as you could imagine.
Liam: To be 100% honest we were all a bit skeptical on “Always Tired” in the writing phase. It was the most different from everything else we had and were wondering if it fit completely. Dom also didn’t get the chance to demo out any vocals before we went into the studio, so we’d heard no lyrics or vocals at all. The first time we heard Dom’s ideas for the vocals was on the first day in the studio doing pre-pro for all the songs. I think there was a collective “oh shit this is something!” moment between myself, Marcus, and Isaac when Dom was in the vocal booth. “Always Tired” is a song I couldn’t write and don’t think Marcus could either and I think it makes for a really special moment on the album. Lyrically it is incredibly sad but beautiful at the same time. I think we all almost cried listening to it the first time.
Liam: I think “Die Alone” was the last song written for the album. We had one spot left to fill in my mind, as there were a couple of other songs floating around that I didn’t love. Marcus went off and did his thing and sent us through a demo of a song that would end up being “Die Alone”. I loved it straight away and knew it was the last piece. I basically wrote my lyrics on the spot, as the music gave me such a strong feeling. Dom was also able to get on the same wave length and wrote some of the lyrics. To me the song feels like walking alone at night completely isolated in your own world. Die Alone along with Dissolve are probably the two songs I’ve listened to most from the album since we recorded it.
Liam: Fun fact: The first half of the first verse was originally the bridge to “Mesada” before I fully fleshed out what “Mesada” was about. We played it live that way a few times while we were still road testing “Mesada”.
Solus means ‘alone’ and is the root of Solipsism. It is the idea that everything outside of our own minds may not be real, it is a very lonely place to be.
I was stuck in a lot of negative thought patterns and I don’t like to put that burden on other people. I’m the only one who knows.
Dominic: “Breathe” came about while Liam and I were tracking the demo for “Dissolve”. Marcus started playing this one little riff through a guitar that wasn’t plugged in and I picked up another guitar and started jamming lead over the top. We all had this moment where we realised “Hang on, we need to pause on dissolve for now, we’ve got something working here”. We wrote most of the track that night. Lyrics came later.
This was a weird one lyrically, because I had written these lyrics over a long period of time. The first lot of them came about immediately after the Love studio sessions, and the last of them were about 2 weeks before we recorded this record. I started writing in a very negative headspace and every time I revisited the lyrics, I had a different perspective. What started as a negative experience of existentialism with an almost nihilistic tone to it, ended up being a very positive song for me as I’d learn to overcome the negativity through the use of meditation. The line in the bridge “sit down, observe your mind” was inspired by Anagarika Munindra, a meditation teacher who noted “if you want to understand your mind, sit down and observe it”. This resonated with me and ended up forming the entire motivation behind finishing the song.
“Sanctuary (La Búsqueda Del Espíritu)”
Liam: If you know The Comfort, we like our big closing songs and this was another attempt at that. The bridge and ending is one of my favourite parts on the album. A lot of this album for my part was influenced by the time I spent at a Shamanic Sanctuary in Peru and this song is a nod to that. I’m proud at how optimistic this song is as I’ve often struggled to think about myself in that way up until my time at SQ. I credit that place, the people there and the work I did with Ayahuasca and Huachuma with saving my life.
Stream What It Is To Be now: