Right now, somewhere on this planet, someone is releasing an album. The digital age has made this a simple task—so simple, in fact, that you can upload a few songs to Bandcamp and call it a day. But if you want to get your music out into the world, you probably want to release a physical copy. Press some vinyl if you have a few extra dollars. Feeling practical on a budget? Get a run of CDs. If you want to be hip while saving some dough, put your music on cassette. But if you’re The Architects, you throw out the rule book and do something else entirely.
In 2013, The Architects released their first studio album in 4 years, the first episode of an ambitious five-part concept album/comic book series entitled Border Wars. “We wanted to frame up a project that was sort of ‘serialized’ so that we’d have an ongoing creative process,” says frontman Brandon Phillips. Outside of the creative challenge it presents, it has also given the group a chance to take a unique risk with its music. “Artists and entertainers are more comfortable taking risks on their reality shows, Reddit AMAs or Twitter beefs than they are producing a single song—much less an album—that is in any way challenging to genre boundaries.”
With the comic book script already completed before the series was announced, the band has put themselves up to the challenge of writing songs to accompany each episode. Phillips explains that this task has altered their songwriting process. Instead of writing an album over the course of a couple months, Border Wars has given The Architects an opportunity to cultivate their songs even further. “The idea of examining and re-examining and improving the music is what’s important to me,” he notes.
For Episode I, the group chose six hard-hitting, anthemic tunes to introduce us to the world of Tom and Josie. Episode II picks up where its predecessor left off and includes six more vigorous tracks. Punctuated and purposeful, each track gives fans a healthy dose of American rock ‘n roll dripping in a punk ethos, with a careful ear on song development and composition.
When asked what the end goal of Border Wars was, Phillips had this to say. “It would be to have made something that no other band could have made. Other bands play punk rock music. Other bands have sold comics at the merch table. No other band could make Border Wars. That may read like pure ego but it’s absolutely not—it’s pure longing for an artistic space where we are surrounded by all the stuff we love most.
Pick up your copy of Border Wars Episode II on comic book and CD at a free in-store at Mills Record Company this Saturday. The Architects will be performing with The Sluts. For more info, visit this link.
Michelle Bacon is a musician and writer dedicated to the Kansas City music community. As editor of The Deli Magazine-Kansas City and staff member at Midwest Music Foundation, she advocates for and helps spotlight music in the area. She also plays with The Philistines, Dolls on Fire and Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds. Her grandma just turned 102 years old and is by far the coolest person she knows.