Crywank was started in Manchester in 2009 by Jay Clayton as a solo project despite having no previous experience playing guitar. The project started the night Clayton learnt their first two chords and wrote the songs (Welcome to Castle Irwell and Thomas Saunders Gang Chant). Lyrically focusing on the end of their first relationship and musically heavily influenced by American folk punk and anti-folk, their first album ‘James is Going To Die Soon’ became a cult favourite on the internet, both for its charm and many flaws.
After their first release Crywank began to play with and subvert the role of singer songwriter. Shifting the focus from self-pity to self-criticism and fluctuating from hard-hitting confessionals to tongue-in-cheek deconstructions resulted in Crywank’s ‘sad-but-fun’ sound. Dan Watson (ex-GNOD, Denim & Leather, Prangers) joined the band in 2012 on percussion and began to implement approaches and influences not often seen within ‘anti-folk’, at points going into d-beat and blastbeats.
Crywank have since self-released eight records and have amassed a dedicated following online. Despite being self-managed, unsigned and their name getting in the way of radio play or press coverage, Crywank have had over 100 million streams and have toured internationally. Crywank announced they would be breaking up in July 2020 following a world tour, but this was cut short after five continents due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After two years of hiatus and an impromptu solo album following a housefire, Crywank are back performing live again, both as a solo project and a full band.
Brandon Williams makes resonant songs that capture isolation and resilience. As the songwriter behind Chastity, the
Whitby, Ontario musician has made three unrelentingly perceptive albums culminating in the cathartic Suffer
Summer, which is out January 13, 2022 via Deathwish and Dine Alone Records. The LP caps off an album trilogy
that showcases both Williams’ emotional range as a lyricist but also his boundless love of outsider music. His 2018
debut Death Lust pulled from Unwound and The Smashing Pumpkins as he grappled with mortality while 2019’s
Home Made Satan dealt in world-weary anxiety and Hum-like atmospherics. But Suffer Summer is a meditation on
happiness, channeled through powerhouse riffs and undeniably potent choruses, sung with Mineral and Jimmy Eat
World worn on his sleeve. It’s an album that shows how healing and staying content is hard but necessary work.
Williams mostly wrote Suffer Summer throughout 2019 while he and his band joined acts like Fucked Up, DIIV, and
Alexisonfire on tour. It was a fruitful and exciting period for Williams, who whittled down 24 new tracks to 10, taking
several new creative leaps while penning these songs. Take “Happy Face,” the first song Williams wrote for Suffer
Summer and his most autobiographical offering to date. Written as a tribute to his longtime friend who died of an
overdose, Williams sings, “You and I were alive at the same time / I’m lucky for it / You showed me the Misfits and we
sang Out ‘Last Caress’ / I’m lucky for it.” It’s raw and gutwrenching in a way that Williams has never allowed himself
to be but writing about grief proved to be cathartic for him. “Until now I’ve always tried to keep an arm’s length away
from the real-life content of my songs but on that song, I couldn’t,” said Williams. “It was just a needed tribute to him.”
For any artist, taking risks, trusting your intuition, and relinquishing control is a delicate balance but for these songs,
Williams knew he needed to step out of his comfort zone by making his writing more collaborative. He enlisted one of
Chastity’s earliest and most vocal supporters PUP frontman Stefan Babcock to co-write opener single “Real World”
and LP highlight “When You Go Home I Withdrawal.” Both songs find Williams stretching his voice for surging
choruses that are anthemic and immediate. “It was so great to work with Stefan: just his attention to detail, song
structure, and everything,” said Williams. “He’s a legend and has pumped my tires so much in an actual practical way
that has given me courage throughout Chastity.”
Babcock isn’t the only surprise collaborator on this LP. Alexisonfire and City and Colour’s Dallas Green appears as a
guest vocalist on “Vicious Circle,” the emotional centerpiece of Suffer Summer. The song, which Williams co-wrote
with his partner Ellis’ Linnea Siggelkow, boasts some of his best writing (“Borrowing an old feeling to cover the pain /
Can’t keep memories of only the good things,”) and when Green joins to sing the second verse, it makes for the most
transcendent moment on the LP. “After we put strings on this song it was just too damn beautiful for my voice,” said
Williams. “Dallas’ voice reached right into that beauty. Recording this was the single most surreal and sentimental
moment of the project for me I think, with how formative Alexis was for me.” Green also collaborated on the
shimmering single “Somersault” in an unexpected way. “He sent me a voice memo called ‘Pumpkins?’ and offered it
as a Chastity riff,” said Williams. “It was sludgy but we sped that up into this up-tempo, brighter verse riff that’d
become this song: it went from ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ to ‘Today.’”
Suffer Summer was recorded throughout 2020 in fits and starts, with Williams returning to the studio to hone the LP.
One song that came together during this time was the single “Pummeling,” another exercise in Williams expanding
his creative palate. His touring guitarist Scott Downes sent him a deceptively simple guitar riff that required an
uncomplicated melody. “‘Pummeling’ was a place I was afraid to go,” said Williams. “I’ve been so focused on my
music being challenging, technical, and correct. But on this, I wanted to allow myself to go simple, out of my comfort
zone.” The result is undeniably accessible but look below the surface of the welcoming hooks and you’ll find some
impossibly dark lyrics. “Same thing every day / I run from feeling fucked til it’s jumping me,” sings Williams. This
juxtaposition is where Chastity thrives.
Chastity started as a way for Williams to find community in his suffocating and isolating suburban life, his songs
serving as an outstretched hand for the like-minded people on the fringes. The long-lead single “Dying to Live,”
encapsulates this ethos when Williams sings, “Another sick person just trying to get well / You, me, everyone I know.”
Like all of his music, this song comes from his hometown, in these places graffitied with memories for him: pain, loss,
grief, but ultimately acceptance. “We’ve all been sick this last year and a half: Everyone I know is feeling fucked,” said
Williams. “We survive through each other, through being close with each other and finding community and a sense of
purpose in our friendships.” Suffer Summer is both a validation and comfort that while the world might be irrevocably fucked, you’re not alone.