Singled Out: The End Of America's Break Away

The End Of America

The End Of America recently kicked off a series of singles they plan to release this year with the track "Break Away". To celebrate we asked Trevor Leonard to tell us about the song. Here is the story:

"Break Away" came about during a writing session in a cabin we rented in the Cherokee National Forest. Lots of great ideas were coming, but some felt too forced and we were searching for something to really inspire us. We wanted to kind of be pushed. So we had our instruments set up in the living room - piano, tambourines and shakers, electric guitar. I sat down at the piano and started playing some chords till we found a tempo we liked. Then James started percussion, playing along on his lap. We were like, "This is the sound we want for this beat," and so we layered in some rhythmic tambourines with the slaps, stomps and shakers. We started to build a pulse with energy while still remaining kind of ballady.

The song was built from some simple chords and an organic percussive loop. We let it breathe and from there just started to sing and formulate some melodies. The inspiration for the lyrics seemed to stem from the question of, how do we push ourselves to explore new ground? How do we be productive, remain inspired and find the impetus to keep moving forward?

We all went off to write some lyrics for verses and I remember Brendon coming back after a half hour or so with the lines that became the chorus and it was perfect. It really captured the essence of what we were trying to do - get out of the city and get imaginative. We wanted to push ourselves. It's not always easy and there are a lot of frustrations involved. But his line nailed it, "Oh run away, tell me what you never could say. It's not too late for you and I to break away from this place." The song started to become a conversation almost, between the verses and the chorus. Our unison vocals brought the message out stronger, more defined and more intentional as we started singing it together.

We kept layering more instruments. Mandolin strings played with a pencil. Banjo lines that riffed off the rhythm and tone of the percussion. We filled wine glasses up to find the right notes and played them to create more textures and melody. We tracked electric guitars while crickets and spring peeper frogs sang outside. They are in the tracks. We love that ambience and the environment that it encapsulates.

We got back home and let it sit for a while. We were a little intimidated by the song - how to approach it live and where it fit with our Americana aesthetic. But as we revisited the recording and started to build more on top, it became clear that we couldn't give up on the song. We all have home studios and each took the reins to add layers - my acoustic guitars, James soaring bridge melodies. His melody inspired my bridge vocal that asks, "Are we gonna break?" The next night Brendon had a dream about a vocal line, which became his bridge part. It amplified the energy in such a powerful way and kept the song moving. It's like a mantra - "Are we gonna break, break away, break away? It's not too late to break away, breakaway."

We started committing to seeing this idea through and knowing that he would figure out how to translate the song, which has taken on several different versions and that's exciting in itself. In the end we pushed ourselves to try new textures, new arrangements, new instruments and ultimately, what we came out with is something that we're proud of and has helped to move our band forward.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself right here!

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