New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
For their third album, ELSEWHERE worked with producer and long-time collaborator David
Minehan (Replacements, Aerosmith). LIFE…IS A FRACTION weaves together a fascinating, semi-autobiographical narrative about how our perception of time shifts as we grow older. Days, months, and years seem to speed up…until a frightening, life-changing diagnosis-and being forced to face mortality-changes everything once again. The record is based on the cancer diagnosis Aroian received several years ago which served as a defining point in his life.
"I became cognizant of relative time in my 30s," Aroian says. "The idea behind LIFE…IS A FRACTION is that at any age, we have only lived a fraction of our lifespan. When you're five, you've maybe lived 1/16th of say, 80 years. When we're children, life events seem to take much longer because we've only lived a very small part of an average life. In this fraction, the numerator is the number of days you have lived, and the denominator the total number you will ultimately live. In the story we tell on the album, as in my own life, the protagonist's denominator is potentially cut short by getting sick. It sped everything up, and he, like I, was suddenly able to see time move. The more days that go by, the faster time seems to go as we rapidly approach our denominator."
As the protagonist wanders through life before being brutally confronted with his own mortality, he explores various options-face it, embrace it, defy it. Through it all, LIFE…IS A FRACTION teeters precariously on the edge of sanity. "When I was diagnosed with cancer, I experienced this first-hand," says Aroian. "My denominator was reduced. I now literally live it every day. Time is indeed fleeting and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can take control and live each day to the fullest. The tragedy is not that this is happening to us, but that we might not learn from it or do anything proactive or meaningful about it."
LIFE…IS A FRACTION shows the band reaching a creative zenith (all in a hard-hitting 34 minutes); it's an original rock epic that shakes the foundations not only of what everyone's come to expect of the New England trio, but also of the lives of everyone who listens. Musically, it was influenced by front man Aroian's lifelong passion for Rush and particularly their 1978 classic album Hemispheres, as well as the early Genesis
catalogue. After the main 10-song cycle, the album ends with ELSEWHERE's most recent singles from 2020-21, "Call You Out" and the aforementioned "The Pledge."
The band previously released two albums and EPs and are best known for their single "Don't You Believe Me Baby," a dynamic cover of a previously unrecorded early 80's Police
song. That atypical release helped the band generate over half a million streams on Spotify and score a full-page story in the Boston
Herald. It was followed by the "banthem" (ballad/anthem) "The Pledge," which broke important ground by tackling the often-taboo subject of Alzheimer's Disease; the song was mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Pink, Elton John).
The LIFE…IS A FRACTION track listing is as follows:
Life…is a Fraction I. Restless
Life…is a Fraction II. Origin Story
Life…is a Fraction III. In Search of the Unknown
Life…is a Fraction IV. Rolling On
Life…is a Fraction V. Diagnosis
Life…is a Fraction VI. Realization
Life…is a Fraction VII. Happening Now
Life…is a Fraction VIII. Reflection
Life…is a Fraction IX. Interlude/Transformation
Life…is a Fraction X. Finale/The End of Everything
Call You Out
Q&A with Michael Aroian of ELSEWHERE:
Q: Life…is a Fraction comes in at 34 minutes-was that where you ended up because you felt the story was told in that time?
Michael Aroian (MA): "Yes and no. Originally, the idea was only supposed to be told in 8-9 minutes and was going to be included as part of a B-side to an earlier EP we released in 2018 called "Multi-Man". As the pandemic roared on and we became more introspective and experimental with our writing and recording, the sonic canvas expanded and time ironically stopped for awhile to allow us to broaden the story and give it proper attention and treatment. We didn't intend to have 10 chapters at the outset but as the project progressed, it was evident more music was needed to complete the narrative."
Q: Life…is a Fraction seems to have a universal appeal since through the pandemic time seemed to be broken into fractions, but also stood still. Noting time perception was different over the past few years, did this play into the story at all?
(MA): It did indirectly at first and then the idea of fractional time perception became more crystallized as our everyday lives were put on pause. One thought about why time seems to move by quicker as we get older relates to the notion of being more busy, be it with family or professional or other obligations. When we are younger, most of us don't have as many responsibilities or complexities in our lives. This usually changes with time. However, even as I myself was tasked with less mundane things to worry about during that approximate two year pause, time still whipped by. And it was because my numerator of days lived on this earth was catching up with my fixed but unknown denominator of days that I had to live. No matter what, I have lived a greater relative percentage of my life than I did before the pandemic and as a result everything sped up despite me spending more time at home "doing nothing"…This observation to me became more chilling and underscored what we were trying to tell people with this story…
Q: Can you talk about how the band came up with and refined its merger of prog-leaning alt-rock?
(MA): The notion of us being a prog leaning alt/power-pop/new wave trio didn't necessarily happen consciously as say a band like The Police
purposefully (and with genius) marrying rock and reggae. It was more a function of evolution. All the members in the band love prog rock and were raised on it to some extent but for me, being a boy in the 80's and becoming an adult in the 90's, I also ended up being exposed to so many interesting genres within the rock realm be it from punk to new wave to grunge to brit pop to nu metal. A lot of these different influences permeate our writing and while some of the pursuits of prog rock can be fantastic, sometimes they can be lost in self-indulgence (which is also okay). I think what we were unconsciously trying to do was create a concept record that would be applicable to today's music consuming environment. Things move faster and attention spans are shorter. The notion of the bridge in song arrangement has been abandoned or mutated. We thought we could convey a story with deep meaning in more bite sized chunks that perhaps younger people who are always on the move and looking at their phone could enjoy and understand. But stylistically and sonically our sound has arrived via a gradual confluence of many different musical influences.
Describing themselves as a "prog leaning alt/power-pop new wave band," Boston
based power trio Elsewhere's single "Don't You Believe Me Baby"-a dynamic cover of a long overlooked, previously unrecorded early 80's Police
song-has scored hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, and streams on Spotify and landed the band a full page story in the Boston
Herald. Their most recent EP Multi-Man includes three equally fiery originals penned by frontman and guitarist Michael Aroian. Elsewhere initially achieved notoriety for their now out of print album Outbound, which earned them slots at the College Music
Journal (CMJ) Marathon and numerous showcases in NYC where major labels showed interest. The band later achieved an international breakthrough with their widely acclaimed 1981 album in 2010. In addition to Belgium, where they received a write-up in one of the country's biggest rock magazines (Rock Tribune), they became popular and received great press in Germany, Denmark, Norway, UK, Italy, Czech Republic and other countries - all while continuing to hold court at top clubs in their home base of Boston