We Are Like Young Volcanoes, or, Fall Out Boy Saved My Rock and Roll

Over a year ago, I published “Patrick Stump Knows What Songs I Sing In The Dark,” a blog openly admitting the absolute terror I felt while “living the dream” that is Stories Told, set to the soundtrack of Fall Out Boy‘s “comeback” album, Save Rock and Roll.  That year, FOB was on my Spotify “Year In Music, and I looped Young Volcanoes endlessly, clinging to the desperate, hard-won optimism in Stump’s voice like a life-raft in a sea I hadn’t yet learned to navigate.

A lot’s happened since then.  For one thing–and ST‘s none to shy about admitting this to international press–the band nearly broke up. We hit a rough patch near the one year mark of the band, a point when I think all of us weren’t satisfied with the sound we had–“prog-rock fusion” we called it, but honestly it was sort of that cliché loud guitar-driven madness you hear everywhere–but were sort of stubborn and trying to stick with it while not being honest about what we really enjoyed (especially me, as I was reluctant to make waves and risk losing my dream).  By that point, I’d sunk into a deep depression, with Stories Told feeling more like a job than a genuine expression of myself artistically.  I started dabbling in side projects, frantically trying to build for myself the same network ST had so I could work up the courage to cut myself loose from the band and go off on my own.

As fate would have it, none of those efforts panned out, and Jian preempted my “resignation speech” by admitting what I’d felt all along–the band had lost its center, and needed to regroup.  So we did. We made the executive decision to ditch nearly all the songs we’d written that year–except for Surprise Me–then took a break over the holidays, intending to start fresh in 2015.  In January, we took on two new members–alternate bassist Yogi, and rhythm guitarist Aned–managed to crack the code of Surprise Me, and resumed operations with a bang by taking on the battle of the bands circuit.  Somewhere in between, we’d managed to find our sound: a mix of mine and Aned’s shared emocore/pop-punk roots with my Broadway/Bareilles vocals (and confessional poetry), wrapped in Jian and Jedd’s slick decade-spanning pop-rock influence.  It’s not a stretch to say we emerged a completely different band from where we started, and while it wasn’t the band any of us had said we wanted, it was the sort of compromise that left everyone feeling extremely excited instead of upset.

Fast forward to now.  We’ve signed with Amplify, released two singles, shot a music video, and have an EP launch scheduled for January 2016.  The trajectory at which we’d managed to go from struggling posers to something resembling an actual band has surprised us all, and no one more than me.

Back then, as the face of a band whose genre I did not even listen to outside of band rehearsals, I was constantly afraid of being unmasked as a farce–a singer for hire made to play the part of frontwoman. I went through the motions, aping the bravado–sometimes outright arrogance–that Jian, Jedd, and Dan seemed to exude as they chugged away at their instruments, but deep inside I felt compelled to hide behind the mic instead of own it. It all felt wrong, and I knew it felt wrong precisely because of Fall Out Boy.


To help me with my stage fright, Jian had given me the “assignment” of watching other frontmen take the stage, so I could learn by example.  After running through his list of suggestions, I’d landed on Live in London video of Patrick joyfully sing-howling the opening to “Young Volcanoes,” and stayed there, “like a moth getting trapped in the light by fixation.”

(Sorry, the opportunity was Irresistible.)

(Okay, okay, I’ll stop.)

I couldn’t help it. As I said in my blog last year, they looked so happy.

As I looped the video over and over and over had only one thought: this is exactly how being in the band should feel like.  I wanted to crawl into the screen and jump and and stomp and clap and spin and shout along with the sweaty masses in front of the stage, as Patrick and Pete and Andy and Joe led us through that reckless, beautiful cry of  “We are wild!  We are like young volcanoes!” It didn’t look like a performance–it looked like a party, like a present, like a bunch of people swept up together in a wave of relief and euphoria and joy that “We’ve already won.”

All of that was a far cry from what performances looked looked and felt for me–nervous posturing around a mic stand that always seemed to be in some form of disrepair, microphone cord wound too tightly around a microphone that always felt awkward and heavy in my hand.  What Live in London looked like was a bunch of guys who no longer cared if they looked “right” or “cool”–all that mattered was that they were in this adventure together, a single unit revelling in the experience, the joy of declaring “In poisoned places, we’re antivenom!

Try as I might, though, I could not bring myself to stop caring.  Not then, at least.  But the seed was planted. Every time I doubted myself I turned to it to remind me of what right would feel like: raw giving, without self-consciousness.  We are stupid and young and taking a trust fall into the music.

It took more gigs singing songs I probably had no business doing (and, honestly, should have admitted instead of powering through, too proud and too scared to be honest about my limitations), tons of passive-aggressive SMS/FB message battles, and one dramatic band confrontation that turned out to be our best decision ever before I could take that trust fall, but in the end, we made it out alive.  And part of the reason is because of that song, that feeling that remains burned into my brain as THE GOAL.  I won’t pretend I’m there yet–my band’s pretty close, but I’ve always been a little ways behind them–but together we’re closer.  When I’m standing on that stage I don’t feel like an antelope facing a pride of lions–I know, can physically feel, that I’m part of a unit and we’re in this together.  And that makes me less afraid, more willing to play.  I dance onstage when I want to.  I run around Aned to try to force a reaction out of him.  One time, during a battle of the bands, my wireless mic cut out (which is probably why Jian still favors wired ones), and I didn’t feel panic.  Instead, backed by nods from my bandmates, I marched into the crowd (it was a small venue) and sang at the top of my lungs–recalling every single choir director who’d screamed at me to “PROJECT!”–until someone finally handed me a working microphone.

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I’ve also learned how to bury bodies. The boys don’t exactly know how to feel about that.  (Photo (c) Jemimah Hope)

These were things I would never have managed to do before, if not for the lessons I picked up from that one live recording, a year and eternity ago:  You don’t need to care if they liked you better fat or thin.  You don’t need to worry if you’re cool or not.  Give what you’ve come to give, then let yourself go.  The music, if you’ve learned to trust it, will catch you.  And never forget that you’re in this together.


Last night, our office had our annual Christmas party.  The theme this year was AMAs, so obviously we were all asked to dress up as musicians and perform.  After looping Carly Rae Jepsen‘s E•MO•TION (a vastly underrated pop album, IMHO) four or five thousand times, I’d resolved to go as the Run Away With Me singer.  But, at the last minute, I changed my mind.  Instead, I nipped out, bought a fedora and some light-brown hairspray-paint, threw on some hipster glasses and a leather jacket, and with my very best chest voice belted out the official national anthem of every millennial raised on the very best pop-punk/emocore: Sugar We’re Going Down.  I hit about a gazillion wrong notes–headbanging while trying to keep all your hair stuffed into your hat on can do that–and possibly looked like I was having an epileptic episode, but I didn’t care. I closed my eyes, pretend it was ST behind me, and let go.  And, for a few glorious minutes, it felt like I was living that Live In London video.

I went to bed thinking of one thing: I can’t wait until the EP launch gig.



Status Update – 12/2/2015

It’s December. Lots of things are happening, and I probably will eventually find time (and air) to explain them all, but for now here’s what I’m listening to.  If you can’t see the Spotify thing up top, you can check out the playlist here.


The Friday, Currently 005: I’ll Be All Right (Just Not Tonight)

By some miracle, I have actually managed to do two things I’ve intended to do this week!  They are:

  1. actually publishing a blog post this week that isn’t The Friday, Currently, and
  2. starting this post early enough that it might actually get posted on a Friday.

*confetti* *Finally, Ariel Happened to Me*

Been spending more time journalling–as in, actual, on paper journalling–this past week, so hopefully this currently, unlike it’s predecessors, isn’t as TL;DR.  Have realized that I tend to run to verbose in these blogs, averaging 1,500 words (a.k.a. a standard Dragon U reflection paper) per entry, and while I flatter myself that my prose might be so compelling as to hold your attention that long, given the current statistics on millenial attention spans…je doute.

That being said, I’m going to try (operative word, and do not invoke Yoda) to keep this short, which should be easy since, outside of College Collision getting rained out (which you can read about here) nothing really unusual happened this week.  This is The Friday, Currently, Issue 005, and I am C U R R E N T L Y . . .

R E A D I N G  The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, which, while a well-written and even sassy read (not surprise that they’re calling him this generation’s C.S. Lewis), was probably not the best choice for my 2015 Reading Challenge.  This book is not something you breeze through.  It’s not heavy, per se, but there are so many lines you’re going to want to go over with a highlighter/commit to memory/annotate with all-caps “WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT!” that you really do need to take reading “breaks” from time to time.

Also, an update on A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, which I was reading two weeks ago: still not finished with it yet, but will (wisely) probably go back to it before proceeding further with the mental acrobatics of Keller.

W R I T I N G  as I mentioned, a ton of journal entries, and more calligraphy stuff.  Am attempting to resist the urge to run to SM Aura right now, as Scribe has just texted me telling me that my long-awaited Zig Cocoiro refills are in.  Just when I’m in a self-imposed austerity program.  Drat.

L I S T E N I N G to Sara Bareilles, by forever favorite, on loop.  If there’s any artist that I keep coming back to, it’s her.  Ever since I watched the MTV music video (back when MTV Asia was still being broadcast on Sky Cable) of “Love Song,” I’ve been hooked, snatching up all three of her studio albums, and Spotify-ing the rest.  You know how they say that Taylor Swift has a song for everything?  In my case, Bareilles understands me best, rendering the throes of unrequited love in less-dramatic, more tongue-in-cheek terms with wry, self-aware lyrics.  And when she does power pop, boy does she fill it with power: from the feminist anthem “Fairytale” to the bold and brassy “Brave,” Sara’s songs make you feel like you could take on lions and win.

She’s not extremely well-known in the Philippines (at most, just for her singles), but with the publication of this article from social media’s spoken word poet, Juan Miguel Severo, I’m hoping Sara gets more of the love she deserves.

W A T C H I N G, or about to begin watching, Wayward Pines, recommended to me by my source for all things TV Land-related The Style Reader (a.k.a. Arra Abella).  Also, based on recent developments that I’ve heard/read about regarding what’s happening in Westeros, I think I may be returning to G.o.T. for the sixth season.  Sansa’s character development has once again started moving in the right direction, and as long as Weiss and Benioff BLOODY STAY IN THAT DIRECTION I could see myself following the series again.  Maybe.  Only the finalé will tell, to be honest.  For now, I’m contenting myself with looking forward to Legends of Tomorrow and the debut of my darling Darvill.

F E E L I N G  a bit of panic about how my June is going to go.  As far as things happening, this month’s pretty packed for me, with College Collision being rescheduled, a Stories Told gig at Mow’s Café on the 19th, Hideaway on the 20th, and a whole lot of planning, practicing, and plotting in between.

Actually, maybe running these things over wasn’t the smartest idea–I’m getting more as I go on.  NEVERMIND, BRAIN.  FORGET I SAID ANYTHING.


S M E L L I N G  the last remnants of the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Body Spray I spritzed myself with this morning after my Mini Stop store run.  I don’t fancy smelling of fried chicken all day, no matter how delicious that fried chicken actually is.

W E A R I N G  Muji blue button-up (not button-down; there is apparently a difference), my Old Faithful Topshop black skinnies (looking as battered as ever), and brown leather loafers from Via Venetto.  It’s a lazy-dressing day, as it has been every single day this week.  My hair isn’t even ironed; #IWokeUpLikeThis.

L O V I N G  Criminal, a new podcast I discovered while going through withdrawals from Serial.  Instead of following a single crime’s thread throughout one “season,” Criminal profiles the perpetrators, victims, and witnesses to various crimes, big and small, providing a unique “human interest” angle that usual “detective” podcasts don’t usual put forward.  Also, because Criminal isn’t a serial podcast like, well, Serial, you can start it at any time without being compelled to catch up on everything.

I listen to episodes before I go to sleep, and strangely, end up sleeping pretty well.  Read into that what you will.

W A N T I N G  this day to end, to be honest.  The prospect of facilitating a meeting, even if it is for something I love, tends to fill me with no small degree of stress.  How did I end up organizing an event, again?

(How do I really end up doing anything, really?)

N E E D I N G  to have some chill.

W I S H I N G  my sore/hoarse voice would go away.  Hoping it’s not nodes again, and as I’m not having any difficulty reaching my higher registers (like I did when I actually had nodes) am dismissing that possibility at the moment.  Still, I miss how my voice usually sounds like.  I can make the chainsmoker-vocal work, especially with Elinor (my guitar/girlfriend, for the uninitiated), but I’m getting tired of it.

T H I N K I N G  that maybe sawi does not necessarily have to equal sad.

The title of this blog post comes from one of my favorite songs from Sara Bareilles–this upbeat, doo-wop pop anthem that is, surprisingly, also an unrequited love/break-up song.  It’s titled “Gonna Get Over You,” and unlike the usual sad-love-song that has you wallowing in a cesspool of your pain by the end (Sara also has one of those; it’s called “Gravity.”), the track practically dares you not to get up and dance.  It’s imbibed with sassy one-liners (“I won’t beg to buy a shot at your back door!”) and hilariously self-aware verses (“Goodbye/Should be sayin’ that to you by now, shouldn’t I?/Layin’ down the law that I live by/Oh, maybe next time…”) that sum up exactly how you feel when you’re in unrequited infatuation, half-headdesking and half-pining.

It’s a situation I know all too well, with my sixteen ex-crushes and current, this-is-a-bad-idea-why-are-we-here infatuation with S (yep, him again), who is both annoyingly aware of the fact that I like him and ridiculously clueless as to how to handle it.  (Here’s where I have to give it to C, who I incidentally, also used to like–at least he knew how to address the elephant in the room with minimal douchery.)

(Not that C needs any more compliments, to be honest; I’m pretty sure they’ve all gone to his head.)

(Love you, C.)

(Not in that way.)


There’s a temptation, when dealing with unwanted emotions, to go the Taylor Swift-ian route and imbue every last moment with all the longing and frustration and desolation a post-pubescent heart can hold.  And I’ve done this.  I’ve done this a lot, hence my first ever The Friday, Currently.  But then there comes a time when wallowing in loneliness becomes counter-productive (a girl can write only so many poems) and annoys even myself.  After all, it’s just a boy, in a string of fifteen (if you haven’t been able to tell yet, I keep count) other boys, and I haven’t died.

(Or killed anyone, which is honestly a bigger victory considering the overwhelming temptation to take out the competition.)

(Especially when they start giggling and PG-touching body parts.)

…But I digress.  (Looks like this isn’t a “short” one after all.  Sorry guys!)

There comes a point when sad playlists, bad poems, and imagined violence no longer cut it.  When it no longer makes sense to be sad over someone who, in the words of the Patron Saint of the Sawi, Éponine Thenardier, “…was never mine to lose.”  After all, as she also sings, why regret what cannot be?  Sure, as humans, it’s a natural reaction to be upset over not getting something you want, but also as humans we recognize that the things we want aren’t necessarily the things we need to have…

…and we move on.  Slowly, maybe, but all the same, we do.  And that’s why I love “Gonna Get Over You,” because it says exactly that: “I’ll be all right.  Just not tonight, but someday.”

In the meantime, I’m going to drown out the images of distant flirtation with my doo-wop anthem, sing along to Sara Bareilles at the top of my lungs (when I won’t disturb anyone, anyway), and laugh at, honestly, how silly this whole “heartbroken” business actually is.

That’s it for my fifth Friday, Currently.  If you have any suggestions for stuff I can write about…to be honest I’m running out of ideas, so please please please send them along!


The Sunday Currently was created by Siddathornton. I’ve added/subtracted categories for the sake of the narrative, and also because I’m copying the format of