Senryu pries open ‘The Jaws of Life’ to explore death on latest … – Maryville Daily Times

Posted: August 3, 2017 at 10:01 am

It took six years and approximating death for Wil Wright to make another full-length Senryu record.

The band, which celebrates the release of The Jaws of Life Saturday night at The Pilot Light, has been a part of the East Tennessee music scene for nearly 17 years more than half of Wrights life, ever since he started it in 2000 with percussionist Steven Rodgers, the only remaining original member of the bands lineup. In that period, Wright and Rodgers have grown up, fallen in and out and back in love, entered into marriage (Rodgers earlier this year, Wright later this month) and cobbled together a band thats been solid for nearly seven years now: brothers Andres (a multi-instrumentalist) and guitarist Dan McCormack, and bassist Zac Fallon.

I dont remember a time before Senryu, Wright told The Daily Times recently over brunch at Petes Coffee Shop in downtown Knoxville. I ring at rock n roll records. For me, its just about keeping my brain hungry, about feeding it to help make records I can stand behind and be proud of. And weve made so many Senryu records that doing it a song at a time doesnt really work. The only reason to keep making records is to explore concepts that are interesting to me.

Which brings us to death. Hes spent the past several years thinking about it, ruminations brought on by the natural rate of attrition to the circle of family and friends of a man whos racing toward the apex of life expectancys bell curve. At the outset, Wright said, he felt certain he had it figured out, which in the beginning dictated a different sort of concept. The album was going to be called Perfect Nothing, he added.

I thought I was going to make a real upbeat record about how nothing happens after you die, because thats so much more uplifting, he said. But then I started reading about pantheism and the science behind seeing the tunnel, and what I found was that writing a record about death and finding inspiration is tough. If youre here to talk about it, then you didnt die, so its difficult to do the research. So I started digging into preexisting theories, and I started to imagine a record about the last moments before you die, and the first moments after.

His research eventually led him to a sensory depravation experience in Asheville, N.C., where he was enclosed in a vault containing roughly 1,500 pounds of salt in, at most, 2 feet of water. Completely dark and soundproof, is was the closest to approaching death and the absence of the body as he could find.

Thats as close to nothing as you can get, because once you get settled in, your body vanishes, he said. Your eyes stop working, and everything physical goes. You stop feeling, you stop being aware of your breathing, your eyes stop working, your ears go. Its quiet for a minute, and then it gets really, really loud, because you just become your mind. Reducing it to the ghost in the machine, to the spark to me, thats what I believe death is.

And it left me completely baffled and more clueless than ever. What I figured out is that I dont know s---, but its so much better to admit you dont know and to just be alive.

And so the context of the record began to change. Its meditative and contemplative, which is most certainly the bands wheelhouse; with the McCormacks, Rodgers and Fallon, Wright is given a canvas on which to explore grand ideas through intricate, delicate instrumentation, and if lovely is an acceptable descriptor for Senryu, then it applies to Night of the Twisters, the albums lead-off track. But the band sheds whatever emo tendencies it may occasionally flirt with on songs like Heaven Can Wait, Dream of Nothing and the howling maelstrom that is Summer Death March, a too-painful-to-look-away tale of madness and breakdown. Wright has never flinched away from documenting his emotional turmoil through song, and while his other projects LiL iFFy and Skeleton Coast, to name a few have been personal ones, none have allowed him to document the journey of his own existence like Senryu.

This was a three-year album making process, and when the title changed, the record stopped being about the stopping and became more about the continuation, he said. The body is the wrecked car, and the end pulls whatevers left out and keeps it going. Over the course of this record, I experienced a personality death six or seven times; I was getting my perspective rocked about the death of self and rebirth, and the constant through it all was, Im making this record.

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Senryu pries open 'The Jaws of Life' to explore death on latest ... - Maryville Daily Times

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