“Am I the only one who doesn’t wanna live forever, ’cause forever’s not enough?” Kulick begs a haunting question in the title track of his newly released, sophomore album, Everyone I Know Will Die. For many, the sentiment—bound at the junction of anxiety and a clear-eyed fixation of one’s own reality—is likely all-too-familiar. But it’s just a drop in the bucket of all the relatable nuance the broader record has to offer.
Though Kulick himself describes “Everyone I Know Will Die” as a thematically “grim” song, its delivery is markedly upbeat, bridging the pop-rock sonic foundation established by his debut album, Yelling In A Quiet Neighborhood (2020), to his latest iteration’s punky sensibilities. This sonic juxtaposition reflects the curated chaos of the six tracks that precede it. Through navigating a variety of themes across tempo gradients and stylistic swings, the singer/songwriter paints a compelling picture of the human psyche’s seasonality.
Breaking free from radio-marketable alt rock clichés, this album puts substance front-and-center—but not at the expense of persistent hookiness. Every song has a purpose and a distinct punch. From the high-energy, pop-punk-leaning confessions of “Necessities” to the balladic pondering of “Don’t Think About Me,” there’s no shortage of unexpectedly touching earworms. It’s a risk to anyone self-conscious about their tendency to sing in the shower, though the continuing rewards are well-worth it.
Kulick spoke to All The Alt Things about the nuances behind Everyone I Know Will Die, the divergence from his established sound, and finding catharsis through creation. Read on below the video for everything he had to say.
You don’t even have to look past the opening track to see that Everyone I Know Will Die has a distinctly punkier sound relative to Yelling In A Quiet Neighborhood. Was this the result of any particular sonic inspirations, intentional experimentation, or just a progression of your established sound?
I have always loved heavier music, from punk to “screamo,” and I’ve always wanted to hear my voice in the bed of a heavier sound. So, I decided to try it with this record. I also felt very similar feelings this year as I did when I was a teenager, which absolutely fit this genre.
Another aspect of this release that really jumped out at me was the significant energy and tempo swings. How do you feel that these devices contributed to the overarching theme of the album, be it intentionally or unintentionally?
Most songs were very manic and fast, both [in terms of] tempo and the speed that I wrote them. I was in very high stress situations or having panic attacks when I wrote most of these. When I wasn’t, I was finally calm and reflecting, which is where the slower tempo songs came in.
You’ve noted—and it’s made clear by the lyrical content—that the substance of this album is rooted in your own personal experiences. Did you encounter any challenges or hesitancies when it came to confronting and effectively commemorating these challenges in such an open way?
Yes, I think about it every time I have to talk about the album. I’m still careful with how much I talk about the experience, mostly because it involves my partner, April Rose Gabrielli, and the story is hers to tell. We’ve had conversations about how much to disclose, and we decided that it was important for me to be able to tell my experience of being her caretaker for a lot of 2021 and how it affected me and the album I created. Regardless of how personal the album is, it is still a universal topic and can be relatable to everyone, which is one of the ways that music is [great].
Where do you find the middle ground between vulnerability and catharsis in your writing process—or are they one and the same?
I never think of how vulnerable I’m being, it is all catharsis. I write to release thoughts and feelings. Whatever is brought up in my writing process is always something that I needed to process, whether I knew it or not while writing it. I don’t mind being vulnerable in my lyrics. It’s a necessity if you want a song that people really feel.
What’s really beautiful about the lyrics is that they’re specific to you as an individual, but still largely transferable to the broader human condition. Were there any lessons that you learned through the process of reflecting on your own circumstances?
I learned how much I could take when things are going badly and how resilience can really help people get out of dark places. The only alternative is to give up, and this past year really tested that for me and my mental health. I am still learning the best ways to cope with my anxiety surrounding losing loved ones and my own life.
The closing track, “Everyone I Know Will Die,” really summates all of the lyrical motifs leading up to it. That’s to say, it’s the perfect representation of the record as a whole. You really did it justice with the music video, which features almost unsettlingly light slices of life in sharp contrast to the haunting take-home message. It just makes it all hit so much harder. What was the process like in developing that video and all of its nuances—and why did you have to do Sparky like that?
“Everyone I Know Will Die” was the last song I wrote for the record. It almost didn’t make it on the album. I thought it might be too grim. But, after many conversations with my close circle, I decided that it was important to have it on the record and it eventually became the album title and single. I think it represents the album as a whole very well, so thank you for voicing that.
Spencer Sease from Out of Sight Creative was amazing to work with on the music video. He worked with me to really have an even collaboration on the concept and look. If you’re mad about sparky, that one was all his idea.
With Everyone I Know Will Die culminating so beautifully, how do you picture yourself moving forward as an artist? Are there any technical styles that you’d like to lean into, or any that you’re excited to continue harnessing?
I like where I am right now sonically, but may lean a bit more pop or a bit more rock depending on what happens this year 😉
You can listen to Everyone I Know Will Die in its entirety below.
Swimming in an ever-rising sea of 2000s emo nostalgia, music journalist Mala Mortensa only surfaces to dig into the depths of the modern alternative underground. Soundtracked by a neverending Spotify queue, she spends most of her free time perfecting heavy eyeliner looks, chilling with her two insane-o dogs, and anxiously waiting for the next AFI tour.