Andy Milad, frontman and lyricist of East Lansing band Wayne Szalinski, shares his thoughts on artistic responsibility and the persistence of memory.
It was only days ago that I was contacted by a listener of Wayne Szalinski, who kindly complemented “These are the Layers of Bandages,” mentioning how he and his girlfriend enjoyed listened to it every time they hung out. Months earlier, upon the song’s initial release, I entered into an extensive dialogue with a friend who, to my dismay, gathered that the lyrics promoted abusive and sexually hegemonic relationships. Upon first listen the song’s upbeat nature can perhaps obscure the darker and more painful reality within. Without making light of the juxtaposition of these two analyses, I find it perhaps necessary to bridge that divide between artist and audience. I must apologize for the vagueity; I find comfort in translucence and can’t quite convince myself to divulge each excruciating detail.
Afternoon-gazing in the darkened window reflection pane; I wish I could explore such vanity. Instead I find myself ugly and opaque; veiled and obscured from even the most well intentioned efforts of self-exploration. I write plundering the vulnerability one can perhaps only find between the damp hours of three and five a.m. Aiming to be transparent and true in chronology; I could only ever hope for translucency.
I am always approaching some inaugurally memorial occasion. Recurrent and infinite is the perceptual daydream of moments past. Most of my writing and lyricism derives its meaning in these periods of time. It is greatly regrettable, that in writing, I have only been able to capture one perspective of these moments. Despite my obsessive reductionism of ethical actions unpleasantly common, when I put pen to paper, I haven’t quite been able to capture the totality of any one experience. Upon recording these lyrical and musical workings, I discovered the torture of permanency. Whatever traumatism of the past, is suddenly made constant.mp3. Songs and lyrics lose all plasticity and set themselves concretely. As those three debut tracks of “Wayne Szalinski” came to completion, I found myself at the mercy of a number of necessary unpleasantries: the reliving of moments particular and painful, the doubt in choosing which perspective to display lyrically, and permanency of those decisions. I find myself most dismayed in “These are the Layers of Bandages” in particular. Though this may be a hopeless attempt in wetting cement already set, I feel a need to remold that which is perhaps ill-formed. For not all words once written reflect my current state of opinion; yet they were true in the moment.
These are the Layers of Bandages finds its namesake in the music of Michigan’s own, Anathallo–a song called “Don’t Kid Yourself, You Need a Physician” (I believe they were my favourite artist at the time of it’s writing). I found the two parallel in their regretfulness and introspection, Anathallo’s work perhaps being the impetus for the melancholy I felt in writing, and deemed it apropos to name Bandages after its sparking.
I wrote (Bandages) during one of those inaugural experiences of reliving. In that moment of lyrical inception, I felt very much the victim of sexual manipulation. The song began as a reflection of unfaithfulness. Anyone who has ever felt that great stomach ache, the unending queasiness, the sickeningly recurrent daydream of a loved one with someone else, will understand this song better than I can ever express in words. A year later, churning unsubsided, I decided to write “These are the Layers of Bandages.” Though originally intended to express the personalized pain of that experience, I’m finding that in writing I perhaps exposed more pertinent flaws within myself. Despite Bandages’ initial intention, I realized I was writing some autobiographical tale of two people who found themselves in an abusive relationship mutually perpetuated
There’s an inherent disconnect between artist and audience in any form of communication. Though I think upon examination the song doesn’t retain any promotion of sexual abuse, as I distance myself from the time and context of writing those lyrics, I see the potential for another darker and unintended interpretation. The situation was multifaceted to begin with. I would rephrase if I could. It’s not that I can’t commit to lyric consistency, but that the words exist in so many combinations and interpretations that they can never suffice to contain the essence and entirety of such experience. It’s impossible to forget such memory and too late to reconfigure its expression. While I don’t regret the viewpoint I chose to explore, I question whether it was the one I should have chosen to communicate.
Written by Andy Milad.
*You can find more Wayne Szalinski HERE.