Static Unveiled – S2 E2: Hear You Me

This episode addresses depression and suicide so heads up if you’re not in the head space for it.

Listen to the episode now on Spotify or read on for the official transcript below:

Official Transcript:

This week on Static Unveiled I’m revisiting Hear You Me.

So far this cover is the one I’ve spent the most time with. It’s gone through a couple different iterations before I finally settled into the one featured at the end of this episode. It’s one of the band’s most popular songs outside of The Middle so, taking it on has been one of those tricky things where it gets a little challenging to decide how far to take it from where it started because like the rest of you, I love the original recording.

I tried an acoustic-only version of this one back in July 2021 when I was living on my own in Barrie, Ontario. That cover served a purpose that I’ve gone back and fourth about ever since.

Whether I’m listening to these songs or recording my own versions of them, sometimes it’s genuinely hard to do. In a weird way even just recording a cover can break you down and bring you into different head space and that’s something not a lot of people talk about. If you’ve ever gotten teary-eyed while listening to a piece of music you know exactly what this is like – the challenge that comes when it hits when you’re recording is if you’re able to push through it.

In 2021, that was really hard for me to do.

I went ahead then and posted three acoustic attempts of me trying to do exactly that – this felt important enough to make public and is really a core part of why I’m doing this project at all. You have to be willing to face all the lows if you’re ever going to appreciate the highs.

In October 2021 I tried it again but this time without the camera on.

I wanted to carry the same spirit of the live acoustic version in some way and play around with some different vocal ideas. At this point, I was still wildly unconfident in my abilities as a player and singer, but you don’t get any better at these things by not trying.

When I was thinking back to this cover recently, I remember it as being completely terrible for some reason. That wasn’t what I thought of it then whe n I put it out with a Chicago-based video I put together after trekking out there to see the guys play that summer, but it’s how I remembered it after – that feeling has kept me from ever going back to re-listen to it until now.

As it turns out, I don’t hate it. There are some cool moments in it still and I know what I was going for – I didn’t hit it as well as I imagined, but I know I’d fare a little better at it these days, so that’s promising.

Here’s that version of “Hear You Me” to contextualize the new one.

Jimmy Eat World – Hear You Me (Acoustic-ish Cover)

Most of the time when you say goodbye to someone you never think that it’ll be the last time you do it, so it comes out casual and flippant and without much thought at all.

There are times that I’ve caught myself for weeks thinking about things I want to say to certain people. Rehearsed the lines. Thought about how they’d respond. In those weeks, maybe even I’d see them a few different times without ever making it obvious that there was something else on my mind.

I don’t know how we decide when is the right time to share something with people or if it’s just an impulse that can no longer be controlled; the problem I’ve run into is that my own impulse to do so seems to have an incredible long shelf life and in some cases it’s outlived those who I want to connect with.

I sometimes wonder if we have more of a desire to connect with the people we’ve lost by sheer fact that we’ve lost them or if we’d always had that want and need and feel a certain level of control over not just our lives but those around us. As though it’d be impossible for some catastrophic event to occur after dropping someone off at their house because “that just wouldn’t happen to me”.

That’s not true of course and it makes a case for learning to expect the unexpected.

When I released my first cover of “Hear You Me” I told you about a friend of mine that the song always reminds me of whether I want to think about him or not; I’m going to talk about it just once more for this episode of this podcast.

When I was in my early 20’s I was working at a small recording studio in the west end of Toronto called Rattlebox Studios. I had finished school and was spending most of my time here, or at Metalworks in Mississauga with my sole focus at the time being my work. I had big aspirations of becoming a staple engineer of the Canadian music industry like so many of the people that I worked with.

Back then internships were still common so it meant you were burning all your money just to get to your job and sort of just hoping one day that either those jobs would turn into paying opportunities or you’d gain enough confidence in your abilities to be able to start building your own client base – something that’s really difficult without your own personal studio space, which, as you can probably guess, doesn’t come cheap. It’s a really difficult industry and more-so for women like me but, the point is that I was day-in and day-out with only this on my mind.

I skipped all sorts of parties and events that I’d be invited to in favor of picking up more hours at the studio. When I wasn’t doing that, I was constantly pulling in random part-time jobs to help me pay for the gas to get downtown. When I could, I’d work with local bands in whatever capacity they needed from production to booking gigs and otherwise, or I’d fall into conversations at the bar with other artists or engineers who were trying to find their own way. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was trying to get a couple hours sleep so that I didn’t feel like absolute hell.

They always say your 20’s are the best years of your life and now that I’m in my 30’s all I can say is I hope to God that isn’t true because mine kinda sucked.

I was at Rattlebox one day editing some drum tracks when my phone went off. In my circle of friends, it was text messages or nothing most of the time, so to get a call from any of them spoke trouble.

I pulled my phone out to see who it was and not wanting to look in some way unprofessional while the producer I worked for was mixing something in the control room next door, since it wasn’t my parents or someone in my family, I ignored it.

Whatever it was could wait until I got home.

I got a sinking feeling that day that something was wrong and I ended up staying pretty late at the studio, subconsciously avoiding the conversation as long as I could and allowing the dread to build.

By the time I got home, I almost wasn’t even going to call him back but after pacing around my basement for a while, eventually I did.

I’d known this person for years and there had been a couple times before this that they called with something really important to say so by now I was familiar with that tone in his voice and the way he’d hesitate before speaking.

But even with that, I wasn’t prepared for him to tell me that our friend had committed suicide.

He almost didn’t get the words out before he broke and I broke right down with him.

If you’ve never lost anyone to suicide I’m not entirely sure how to describe it. It’s one of the most difficult deaths to deal with because there are immediately so many questions.

The first one being, “what do you even mean?”

It comes in all sorts of forms, each one a little more morbid and disturbing than the last.

It’s really hard to process this type of thing over the phone. I spent half the call trying to calm down my friend as he worked through the story and half the time trying to calm myself down well enough to listen. It had to have been the most unintelligible conversations I’ve ever had.

But eventually we got it all out.

The friend I was speaking to was someone I’d met in high school. He was from another town so there’s no way we’d have crossed paths before that. And the friend that we were speaking about was Robert, his best friend from elementary school who he’d introduced to me somewhere along the way. We called him Bobby.

Bobby had been away at school in Kingston which is a few hours away, attending Queens University for engineering. It’s one of the better universities meaning Bobby was one of those friends of mine who actually aspired to do something great with his life and career, something that I always felt made the two of us very different as I piddled away in recording studios.

It’s not that I didn’t see value in the type of work I wanted to do but there’s saying you’re an audio engineer that specializes in music and then there’s saying you’re like a literal engineer that understands math and physics like Bobby and can build rockets or whatever; Anyways, it’s a whole thing. I was always impressed with how smart he was and that made the news that much more confusing for me.

The story is brief. That morning Bobby had taken to his car on campus, pulled in a small gas BBQ with him and let the gas run with the windows rolled up until it put him to sleep.

As far as suicides go, it’s gotta be the smartest way to do it. Quiet, quick, and painless. Bobby might’ve been a genius.

Before he did it, or while he was sitting there and letting the fumes overtake him, he tried to call a couple people. His sister and our friend being among them.

For whatever reason, nobody was available that morning to take the call.

I think about this every time I intentionally avoid a call, which is still more often than it should be.

And I think about everything else, too. All those other unknowns. What was going on in his life that he both couldn’t talk about to someone and also in his last moments probably desperately wanted to. What might’ve been different if someone had taken his call. How none of us had any idea he was even depressed nevermind to the point of taking his own life.

They’re things I’ll never have the answers to and that part is tough to deal with. In this situation, I had no control. No one but Bobby had control – and some might argue that on that day he had none.

Being 20 I wasn’t sure how to deal with any of this at the time. After a while it gets exhausting to think and talk about and so over time you just sort of push it to the back of your mind until something or someone reminds you of it again.

Like every time you hear Hear You Me.

After this all happened I reassessed my life for a while. I was overwhelmed by the realization that I’d missed so many things, like the trip into Buffalo my friends all took to celebrate Bobby’s 21st birthday that I declined – and so many others.

I started to question what I was doing and if any of it was worthwhile. I was burning the candle at every end and not seeing much if any progress while my bank account was getting more difficult to manage. I wanted to move out of my hometown and have a chance at an actual life and it seemed like my desire to make it in music was in a lot of ways holding me back – or at least the way I was going about it. Everyone else seemed to have a way better path ahead of them and I was hitting dead ends constantly.

So I started making a more conscious effort to spend time with my friends and less time worrying about spending every waking hour at a studio.

This meant I was spending more time drinking and not accomplishing anything else because that’s just what my friends all did when they weren’t working.

That’s not a slight, that’s being 20.

At times I absolutely hated this. It was boring and redundant and you always feel like shit the next day. And every so often I’d come across a new musician or engineer who wanted to talk about music and I’d feel myself being pulled right back to it, questioning my choices, motives and aspirations or lack thereof; Except now I was pissed off for feeling like I’d given up on myself entirely and that I’d never be able to come back from it.

I can never seem to get that balance correct of how much time I should be spending working and how much time I should be spending with people or doing other things – there doesn’t seem to be a way to tilt those scales the right way, one will always be a little higher and you’ll always be trying to get it a little lower.

I’ve had a lot of trouble since I started working in music figuring out how to navigate it all in a way that makes me happy and on some level I’m still doing that – I still feel 17 walking into a studio for the first time hoping someone will just give me a job.

When you’re trying to determine a career or life path for yourself as a teenager, everyone asks you what you want to do but they don’t ask you why you want to do it. To me it’s the most important question to ask yourself and it’s one you have to ask yourself regularly.

Even when I look at this daunting list of Jimmy Eat World songs for this project, I have to ask myself that question.

I stepped away from all of this for a few years, my goals in this industry as an engineer and my goals and aspirations as a creative person. Just like those thoughts about Bobby, I had to push it out of my mind so that I could focus on moving forward and regain some semblance of that control I was always looking for.

But it would keep coming back, sometimes in small ways and other times with a bit of a vengeance. And all the while I’d ask myself why I wanted to do it.

When I think about the times in my own life that I have felt the lowest, I realize that I’m not all that different from people like Bobby.

As I said, nobody would’ve ever been able to tell you that he was depressed. Likewise, I was never really one to seek guidance or help from anyone. Instead I’m more likely to withdraw, remove myself from the things, people or situations that bother me and sort of just let it fester without ever really addressing it. It took me a long time to understand that that wasn’t the best way to go about it because these things have a way of compounding and get even more difficult to manage the longer you let them sit; I wasn’t great at reading my own body when it was telling me to slow down or stop doing something because I’d never given myself the time to listen to it. I imagine now that in this way Bobby and I were the same, but I had more time to figure it out because the methods I used to escape were never permanent.

The problem is that I still don’t really love having these conversations because the truth is that I think the majority of people are also really bad at these things I’m talking about – bad at reading the room, bad at reading other people, bad at giving advice, bad at determining the correct solution.

You can’t depend on anyone else to guide you the right way because your right way is different than their right way and that’s something that’ll never change. It’s rare to meet people who see value in the same things that you do with the same passion and appreciation – we are all entirely too different. It’s one of the best things about being human – the differences.

When I look back to it now, my decision to withdraw myself from music and opportunities back in my early 20’s was the wrong decision. It was one built from the grief of losing someone who would no longer have any opportunities of their own because how can you allow yourself to be happy doing something like playing or performing when there are so many people facing so much strife?

It was a band-aid solution on top of the crater that is left when someone decides to withdraw themselves from the story permanently.

I’d spend the next decade putting more and more band-aids on bigger and less stable craters in my own life.

And when I’d listen to “Hear You Me” I’d feel it all that much more, because what makes me sad about that song is not the song itself but knowing that some people will never be able to hear it again. The way we used to.

The decision to cover this band’s entire discography was built out of the fact that it is a tremendous undertaking, one that forces me to re-live these stories no matter how painful some of them can be because these songs have been the soundtrack to just about every part of my life – bad and good.

It’s a project that serves to celebrate the fact that sometimes all you have is a good song and sometimes that’s enough.

This was an important cover for me to get right because in a lot of ways for me it feels like a send-off, but it’s also a bit more than that; a reminder to those who think that they don’t matter enough to talk about what’s bothering them or that nobody will understand or even listen, that they do and we still think about them long after they’ve left us.

When I felt that way, I’d put on these records. That for me is often enough to get through whatever under tow I’ve caught myself in.

That’s how powerful music can be. It’s the only experience that you can be completely alone in a room but feel like you’re sitting with a friend. It’s where you can feel heard without ever having to speak.

I sometimes imagine that when Bobby got into his car that day, he left the radio off.

It could’ve made all the difference.

I reworked my cover of “Hear You Me” again this year and this time I think I got it right.

This is how it turned out.

Jaimee Eat World – Hear You Me (New and Improved)

It’s funny how one of the main driving forces that pushed me away from my initial plan of finding some sort of success in music is one of the same things that pulled me right back to it.

It doesn’t look the way I thought it would in my teens and 20’s, but for the first time it really feels like the right place to be.

At some point in the summer of 2020 I was talking to me dad one day about music as we often do, and he happened to say something like, “I don’t know why you always come back to this band,” meaning Jimmy Eat World, and I laughed because I didn’t know what to say.

I didn’t really know either until I really started to think about it.

They have been the single handedly most consistent thin g in my entire life. A new record every few years like clock work. They’re who I’ve always reached for both when something awful has happened and when something great has happened. I have fallen asleep with them around me.

It’s the only place I know where I feel safe.

If suicide is a last ditch effort to feel in control, then music like this is the one place where I don’t feel the need for it. You can just put it on and let it take you wherever it goes. And if you’re not ready to end the ride when it stops spinning, you can just press play and let it start again.

For the third or 300th time, here’s “Hear You Me”

Jimmy Eat World – Hear You Me

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