With the release of his debut album Counterglow, the young alternative-pop artist, Reno McCarthy, is closing a chapter of his life. It’s the end of a coming of age. Written between 2013 and 2017, the record addresses the impact of the passage of time on living with fear and anxiety.
Thanks for chatting with Music Update Central! What's the story behind your debut album Counterglow? The main theme of Counterglow is fear. Fear of growing up, fear of responsibility, fear of love, fear of time, fear of dumb trivial stuff like my stomach rumbling in a silent classroom. It’s an album about anxiety, as well as a coming of age story. It’s not a concept album, there is no all-encompassing underlying lyrical intention, each song is just a simple representation of what I was feeling when I wrote it. Some are rooted in fleeting and undefined dreams, some in harsh truth and dull realism.
The oldest song on this extravaganza is Still. I wrote it in 2013, the best and worst year of my life, during which I discovered both the power of romantic love and the shittiness of the panic attack - two excellent sources of songwriting fuel. Still came out of feeling the inevitability of anxiety, and of the repetitive, seemingly inescapable waltz with the Made-up Monster. It’s slightly ironic too, written from the perspective of a guy who thinks he’s the first ever human being to have a panic attack, the Neil Armstrong of stress. Ironic, but also honest; my generation knows that we’re fucked up. We’ve known for years. We face that fact one way or another pretty much every day, yet I think most of us feel isolated and misunderstood. I don’t think we’re very good at assessing our own feelings, much less each other’s, or at understanding how much we actually share. Four modestly stable years later, I wrote Deep Dive, the last song penned for the album (I’m still stuck on the one topic!). I was in a completely different state of mind, yet still driven by the specter of past and present struggles. For that, Counterglow is cool: it offers perspective on how the passage of time impacts living with fear.
What can fans expect while listening to the album? What I’d call a pretty complete listening experience. There’s a lot in there. I think it’s a record you can listen to in many different ways: you can focus on the vocals and connect with the introspection and emphasis on melody, you can dance to it, you can listen to it from a more sound-design/sonic exploration standpoint. I personally like focusing on the bass, my favourite parts on the album are probably the bass parts.
When did you know that you wanted to make a career out of music? When I was around 10, I started recording music in my uncle’s basement. He got annoyed with me and got me the same cheap gear he had and taught me how to do it at home. Haven’t looked back since!
What can fans expect in the upcoming months? Shows! We’re launching Counterglow at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal on May 15th and then at Avant-Garde in Ottawa on the 30th and Maelstrøm in Quebec city on June 1st. I should be playing in Montreal a bit this summer and hopefully by the fall we can get something together that’s a little more tangible.
The albums main theme is fear. Why did you choose that? I write mostly from my own life and thoughts and emotions, and fear dominates most of that, so it’s natural and makes sense for me to express myself through that lens. I also think it’s an interesting and strong way to relate to people, specifically those of my generation.
Connect with Reno McCarthy by visiting renomccarthy.com or by Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.