Portland rockers, Forty Feet Tall, dropped the second single, “We Can’t Go Back to Normal” from the upcoming EP. Released on January 20th, 2023, “We Can’t Go Back to Normal” is a rage-fueled political statement that reflects the band’s aggressive, riff-based sound. Written amidst the 2020 social protests sweeping the nation, lead singer Cole Gann turned to music as a way to shed light on specific events that occurred in Portland at that time. Gann commented,
“We fell into this mantra, ‘we can’t go back to normal’, which seemed to synthesize it all into a sentence. Whatever so many of us considered “normal” was brutality.”
Read on to see what else the band had to say about the single, tour, the creative process, social responsibility and more.
What can you tell us about the creative process for WCGBTN? How does it differ from your other work?
- Forty Feet Tall: This one came about similarly to our other stuff – all of us messing around at rehearsal, someone sinking into a riff and everyone gathering around it. For a while it was a fun, punk song that we’d just mess around with and even when we decided that we wanted to record it it still didn’t feel fully fleshed out. Cam, our producer, was really the one that put the final touches on it, gave it a little more body so that it wasn’t just energy and speed.
What inspired you to go heavy on the rage-fueled political statement side?
- Forty Feet Tall: It was written on the heels of the major protests and in the midst of the Covid. Things were no longer just academic or viewed from a phone screen. We’d really been experiencing the brutality of police and lack of empathy for people struggling within a global pandemic. Our music has always had a political aspect to it, but the climate just amplified it and honed it in a lot of ways.
As an artist, do you feel a sense of responsibility in terms of social awareness?
- Forty Feet Tall: There’s always room for art for art’s sake, but as four white men we definitely feel that we need to be using the platform we have, however small. This track tries to tackle a lot and hopefully succeeds. If some of the lyrics make one person more socially aware, we’ll take it. It’s obviously not the end of the road, but it’s a start.
Any plans for a music video?
- Forty Feet Tall: Not currently, but we’re always scheming up different ideas to put to the big ol’ silver screen.
What message do you hope WCGBTN carries to your listeners?
- Forty Feet Tall: Hopefully that the themes the song touches on – the wealth gap, policing, the climate disaster, etc. – are all systematic. It’s not small fixes here and there, but a restructuring of society. We’re not trying to say “we have the answers, follow us!” – that’s when you run the other way – we just want to call attention to this scary and pivotal time. It’s not all doom and gloom though; we’re seeing a stronger class consciousness, mutual aid, a realization that work isn’t the end all be all and late stage capitalism is really showing itself as the monster it is.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
- Forty Feet Tall: It runs the gambit of artists and genres, but here’re a few for right now: Metz, Parquet Courts, Andy Shauf, Television, and always, The Beatles.
Any funny tour stories?
- Forty Feet Tall: One that comes to mind is when we were driving through middle-of-nowhere Texas and stopped at a gas station. Tumbleweeds, gun store, the whole thing, and as we’re finishing up fueling, this guy rolls in on a lawn mower, sidles into the store, comes out with a rack of beer, and zips off. I have a video of it somewhere. Strong energy and hopefully we feel that confident in our sixties.
What can you tell us about the EP?
- Forty Feet Tall: We’re very proud of it. We originally recorded this EP and the last one as a full album, but being that attention spans are miniscule, our team decided that it’d be best to have more releases. This one is more varied than the first for sure; it covers a lot of ground from more pure punk, to very psyched out prog rock.
Any words of encouragement for upcoming artists?
- Forty Feet Tall: It’s tough all over, no doubt about it, but just get in that garage or basement and just write and write and play and play. A lot of bands get caught up in the image or “brand” which is unfortunately super important, but if you don’t have good music that you believe in and love, you don’t have anything. Focus on the things you can control; make connections, make community, go to friends’ shows, play with people you love. It’s easier said than done, but if you have that it will go where you need it to go.
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