Nashville, Tennesse melodic/sludge/hardcore/heavy duo Friendship Commanders recently released their music video for their single "The Enemy I Know" and their five-song EP Hold On To Yourself. The music video was directed, edited, and shot by the bands very own Jerry Roe.
The EP's opener, is an ominous track in which a female voice questions an elder about events that took place long ago in a family system of abuse, neglect, and denial. She asks what the other person remembers, and admits to having been changed by the events during which she had no agency over her own body or choices. She acknowledges that asking these questions makes her a threat to the other person's reality. Her voice shouts, "I'm not your enemy!" Audra says, "Our culture tends to diminish survivors' voices instead of amplifying them. But I want to be loud about it. Survival isn't neat. Neither is being abandoned or gaslighted about what happened. Truth is not the enemy. It’s just truth."
About the video Jerry Roe says:
"The video was inspired by a large number of 90's music videos, all of which were largely shot in a single location with the subjects of the shot changing, rather than changing locale with each different subject or shot. Ashley Wolfe plays the abused and oppressed, pleading to a loved one/past abuser (played by Jay Tooke) to listen to her and to understand that she's not the enemy for bringing up the truth or trying to hold him and others responsible. He can't hear her, though, because he won't turn his attention away from the old television displaying static and no real clear information or imagery. Such is the reality that he's chosen to believe - that he is the victim of her reaction, rather than she is the victim of his actions and choices.
While editing it together, I tried to meld the realities and imagery of us and the actors together, specifically Buick and Ashley. Mirrored and blended shots mix them together in the same frame or scenario often, serving as a sort of internal/external abstract."
In this body of songs, Friendship Commanders examine the world around them, their part in the problems and potential solutions, and even challenges the patriarchy. Friendship Commanders have long been an activist band, focusing their attention on issues surrounding equality and human rights. Hold On To Yourself continues their work of examining the world around them, their own part in the solution, and healing/learning from past traumas. The release gets personal and discusses what it looks like to be an adult who survived childhood trauma. Buick Audra, the band’s primary songwriter, is an abuse survivor and has chosen to dedicate this work to other survivors. Her outgoing message is summarized in the EP’s title. The phrase has been a personal mantra for Audra; she has a habit of writing it down every morning as a reminder. She says, "This has been especially true during times of dealing with unsafe family members, abusers, or unwell people. With a past of self-abandonment, holding on to myself has to be a focus in everything I do. It's a good reminder and I always need it. It just seemed like the right set of words for this record."
About the record, Jerry Roe says, "The songs and approach on this EP called for a very different energy, in that I had to put as much strength into one stroke as I would have 10 on our previous records. This also allowed me to open up my drum sounds because the music is much heavier, and called for a bigger, wider sound. The result is all-encompassing and to me, very cinematic. Lyrically, to me, these songs are kind of about evil and suppressive forces and psychology that manifest within a social or familial dynamic, so the music had to go in a heavier and darker place, but also a stronger place since once you get through heartache, confusion and fear, there's tons of insight, wisdom and strength, and the way the tracks are sequenced it ends in victory through personal reflection and acknowledgment. I'm honored and honestly very lucky to be able to play and collaborate with such a strong writer, musician, and singer. This is my favorite thing we've ever done."
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