“It won’t be easy, you’ll think it strange when I try to explain how I feel.”

Okay, so The Smith Street Band didn’t write those lyrics (thanks, Julie Covington), but the band are totally feeling it on it their upcoming record, More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me via SideOneDummy Records— a bare bones album about the punk encompassing essentials: heartbreak, politics, mental health and just trying your best, man. At his lowest, singer Wil Wagner found peace in the little things–like sneaking off in the middle of the night to write “horribly mean songs” about his destructive relationship and enjoying time overlooking an Australian night sky. In the midst of this, depression and existential dread, Wagner found piece of mind just hangin’ with “the lads” (aka friends, for you Americans out there). With the help of bands like AJJ, Jeff Rosenstock, The Menzingers and the tunnel vision of punk rock vulnerability, The Smith Street Band have emerged from the other side onto a beach of self-worth and rumination.

Wagner has heard people call this album depressing, but others have said it’s uplifting and–dare they say–even happy. He laughed and said that “it wasn’t intentional to make a less depressing record” just like it wasn’t intentional to make one “just depressing as all the other ones.” When the album was in the making, Wagner was under a wave of self-destructive behavior in a relationship, which “took it’s toll” on him emotionally.

“I am someone who feels things quite strongly and I’m someone that gets disproportionately sad,” Wagner said. “I’m trying to deal with that in a more positive way than just wallowing in it like with every song on Throw Me In The River.”

The record is polished, poised, reckless and defiantly upbeat. During what seems like the most depressing and absolute shit time in Wagner’s life turns its cheek halfway through to find comfort in the present, proving all is not lost in the throes of depression. With lyrics like, “oh God, if only it was that easy/to run from what I’ve achieved, I’ve let it define me/I’m having panic attacks on German TV/this is not work ethic, it’s survival technique,” it’s as plain as day Wagner has painted snippets from the collection of moments since Throw Me In The River. The tracks “25”, “Young Once” and “It Kills Me To Be Alive are honest, showcasing two sides of one depressing coin Wagner was living in.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok-FfhZ6MvA]

“I know this is my most honest and personal record, bare-all, warts-and-all record,” Wagner explained. “That’s coming out of the confidence that I’m a bit more comfortable with my place in the world and [have become] more ambitious as a writer. I’ve become more confident, which has helped me write about not being confident at all.”

What keeps Wagner going is comradery in the scene, the sense of relationship from The Smith Street Band’s listeners is “amazingly important.” Being able to relate to those who aren’t comfortable with saying how they feel is “very special” to Wagner and the band. Having fellow SideOneDummy lads and “sad weirdos” there to stand together instead of being “outlying sad weirdos” is what the group love about the “global community that [they’ve] grown to be a part of.”

“Hearing other men express these feelings of fragility and vulnerability is really fucking important,” Wagner said. “I think the world would be a far better place if men we’re comfortable being vulnerable. You can do good stuff with that vulnerability and it’s never okay to be aggressive. It’s very much okay to be sad. I would like to instill that in [people]. All of my songs come from my saddest hours, it’s helpful for me to be sad.”

While he said he “writes without intention,” the record as a whole “tells a story of a relationship where it starts all good and happy and then the decline of the relationship.” With tracks about living as “a depressed person” and wanting to connect others in the same spot through their music, The Smith Street Band are more confident than they’ve ever been and it shows. The first half of the record holds booming guitars and fast, beaming breaks in tone in tracks like “Forrest,” “Birthdays” and “Death To The Lads,” like the band are riding high on optimism. “Forrest” holds an endearing intro with lines like, “I wanna kiss you on the mouth a little bit too hard/it took years to figure out who we actually are,” which quickly transitions into troubling times during “Song For You” with the heartfelt woe, “I just want you to let me love you.” Wagner was not kidding when he said, “it was an intense time in my life.” It’s a good thing he and the band are comfortable with putting their souls out in the world because they’re going to be on tour after tour for quite some time; Wagner said he’s “very excited.”

“I am and we are as a band are more ambitious than we’ve been before,” Wagner said. “We allowed ourselves to try ideas where in the past we would’ve [brushed them off]. We go for stuff a bit more, we take more risks musically, and lyrically for me as well.”

You can catch The Smith Street Band on tour in Europe all summer long.

Apr 07 VINYL. A RECORD STORE – Wil Wagner Solo Acoustic Set & Singing (All Ages) Melbourne, Australia
Apr 11 CLARITY RECORDS – Wil Wagner Solo Acoustic Set & Singing (All Ages) Adelaide, SA
Apr 12 ROCKING HORSE RECORDS – Wil Wagner Solo Acoustic Set & Signing (All Ages) Brisbane, Australia
Apr 13 BEATDISC RECORDS – Wil Wagner Solo Acoustic Set & Signing (All Ages) Parramatta, Australia
Apr 22 Triple J One Night Stand (All Ages) – Mount Isa, Australia
Apr 28 Groovin The Moo Wayville – Wayville Sa, Australia
Apr 29 Groovin The Moo Maitland – East Maitland, Australia
Apr 30 Groovin The Moo Townsville Townsville, Australia
May 06 Groovin The Moo Bendigo – Bendigo, Australia
May 07 Groovin The Moo Canberra – Canberra, Australia
May 13 Groovin The Moo Bunbury – Withers, Australia
May 25 Odeon Theatre (LIC. AA) – Hobart, Australia
May 26 Enmore Theatre (LIC. AA) – Newtown, Australia
May 27 The Tivoli – Brisbane, Australia
Jun 02 The Forum Theatre – Melbourne, Australia
Jun 03 Forum Theatre – Melbourne, Australia
Jun 09 Metro City – Northbridge, Australia
Jun 10 Thebarton Theatre (LIC. AA) Adelaide, Australia
Jun 20 About: Blank – Berlin, Germany
Jun 21 MTC – Cologne, Germany
Jun 22 Kesselhaus – Irschenberg, Germany
Jun 23 Southside Festival – Neuhausen, Germany
Jun 24 Jera On Air – Ysselsteyn, Netherlands
Jun 25 Hurricane Festival – Scheessel, Germany
Jun 26 JC Kavka – Antwerpen, Belgium
Jun 28 Joiners – Southampton, United Kingdom
Jun 29 Cavern  – Exeter, United Kingdom
Jun 30 The Exchange – Bristol, United Kingdom
Jul 01 Sound Control – Manchester, United Kingdom
Jul 02 Bodega – Nottingham, United Kingdom
Jul 04 Fibber Magees – Dublin, Ireland
Jul 05 Voodoo – Belfast, Ireland
Jul 07 Stereo – Glasgow, United Kingdom
Jul 08 The Cluny – Newcastle, Australia
Jul 09 BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB – Leeds, United Kingdom
Jul 10 Owl Sanctuary – Norwich, United Kingdom
Jul 11 The Hope and Ruin – Brighton, United Kingdom
Jul 12 GARAGE – London, United Kingdom