You, Me, And Everyone We Know’s music, like many artists, paints a picture. But the picture doesn’t start and finish with a “before” and “after”—of a blank canvas on the left and a finished product on the right. No, this band’s music represents that small line between before and after—the part of the process that represents work, struggle and the challenges to overcome to get from the beginning to the end result. And, for frontman Ben Liebsch, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We love to see the before and after picture in life,” Liebsch says. “What people don’t realize is that in the meat of that, the beauty, is in the tiny little line between those two pictures. That’s where it’s all that. That’s where life is.”
The idea of life being “the tiny little line between those two pictures” is what resonates most with You, Me, And Everyone We Know’s latest record, Dogged. The EP is brash and aggressive the way longtime fans expect it to be, whilst still harnessing a punk rock rostrum of utter transparency. It’s a soundtrack for the struggle from before to after.
“The process of everything is ignored,” Liebsch says. “It’s the middle—that’s where all of it is. If you zoom [the picture] out to life…there’s a shot of you as a baby and you as an old person, when it comes down to it. [It’s captioned] ‘this is before life happens, and this is after.’ Life is that sliver in-between. That’s where all of it exists.”
For Liebsch, finding where his voice fit in the world wasn’t easy. He admitted that his mental state came to a point last year that he sought professional help. “[I was] working with a lot of people who were pretty toxic and I got really stressed out at the job and I went to record four of these [Dogged] songs and was kind of like, ‘What am I doing with my life?’” he says, reflecting on his low point. “You’re this adult and you’ve been working at your life and your existence for X amount of years and you’re still dealing with the same shit you were dealing with when you were a kid. It feels very…defeating.
“It’s the equivalent of working out your whole life and still only being able to lift 10 pounds off the ground,” he continues. “It got really frustrating and I got a little depressed and I got a little suicidal. But then as soon as I got a little suicidal I went, ‘Hey, that’s a new and bad feeling. I gotta do something about that.’”
When Liebsch did something about his suicidal thoughts is when he truly found his balance. “Essentially, my counselor was like, ‘I don’t know why you think you’re going to be happy doing anything else,’” he said. “She said to me, ‘The only time your mind and your body seem congruent is when you talk about making music and playing it.’ And I think I just needed an impartial person to tell me that.”
Within all of the internal reflection, there are still moments on Dogged that hold a mirror up to societal imperfections. The record’s staple track, “Does It Amaze Thee?” contains the line “Too much everything, everywhere, all the time.” Its delivery is smooth and it sticks in the back of your head the way any infectious melody should stick. It’s ambiguous—but not so ambiguous that it’s a complete mystery. It’s like he plants the idea in your head, but wants you to draw your own conclusion. But where exactly is Liebsch coming from with this notion of “too much everything”?
“There’s just too much of all of it…of anything,” he said, when asked about the lyric. There’s clear animation in his voice. “Too many options. Too much goddamn temptation in the world. Too many opportunities to fall short. We’re at a point where we’re oversaturated as a people. We’re paralyzed by options.”
Abrasive lyricism and struggle to actually make the six-song record aside, Liebsch said he is happy with the response of Dogged. When we speak before YMAEWK play a show in Salt Lake City, he says he “genuinely couldn’t be happier for the response” the record received in the short time since it dropped. “I’m grateful for all the opportunities that have been set in front of me for the last eight months,” he says.
It appears the opportunities won’t end at eight months—the band recently embarked on a U.S. headlining tour with support from Daisyhead and Future Crooks. For Liebsch, he just wants to keep doing he does best—filling in that space between before and after.
“Your life might feel like it’s shit sometimes, but it can get better if you want it to,” he said. “The biggest tragedy is getting knocked down in life and not getting back up at the end of the day.”