Our previous record had come out not that long ago, and it really wasn’t on any of our minds to sit down and write another record so quickly. I just think seeing the xenophobia with the way that Trump was talking about asylum seekers in Central America and Mexico, obviously with the separation of the children from their parents [and] keeping children in prisons and cages and the religious discrimination with the Muslim ban caused it all to snowball to the point where the songs were starting to be written. We just felt like when we look back on history, we wanted people to know during this time where we stood and that we didn’t just stay silent. And we also wanted an opportunity to write our own future, you know? Our record is not just a criticism of Donald Trump, although it’s definitely that, but we also try to offer a lot of optimism with the record. When we organize against these things that are obviously crimes against humanity and crimes against our planet, we can write to share them, and we can point things in a positive direction. So when you look at our songs like “Unbreakable” or “20/20 Vision,” you know that “20/20 Vision” is a song about where we could go. And it’s a very different direction than the current administration.
“You realize, like, lives are literally being destroyed. Whether it’s LGBTQ people seeing their suicide rates going up in that community — you’ve seen obviously what’s happening with undocumented people with kids being put in concentration camps, so, it goes on and on,” Sane says when voicing his frustration and dismay with how the United States is currently operating under Trump’s administration.
I think that led into this acoustic piece perfectly because we find ourselves chasing our tail with Donald Trump where the story changes every fucking minute. It’s hard not to be knee jerk reactionary to them because they are all vital and important things that are happening. There are still kids in fucking cages. The narrative has changed. How do we let our art not become just as much static and noise as everything else? This was a way for us to revisit some ideas and themes over the last two records that got lost in the shuffle because we have to talk about so many different things and so many different moments.
The 10-song set features the quartet’s unplugged takes on seven tracks from its last two albums — 2015’s American Spring and 2017’s American Fall — as well as plugged-in covers of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth,” Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” which takes on a more expansive meaning in the context of the charged topical fare that precedes it.