“Just because The 1975 are the biggest guitar band in the world, doesn’t mean that we have to go full fucking 80s,” laughed Rob Flynn, bassist and vocalist of The Winter Passing. Not that they have anything against The 1975, but The Winter Passing wanted their second album to be a true representation of them.
That album, called New Ways of Living, is a collection of deeply personal songs, and it’s one that we absolutely love. When starting the writing process, they asked themselves what they would do if this was the last record The Winter Passing would release. New Ways of Living was the result of that.
“I’d write a record that could be left in the hemisphere of the world forever and I could personally be proud of,” Rob explained. Instead of writing a concept album, something which Flynn is sure he’ll do someday, he realised that “I really [needed] to get real with myself as opposed to speaking about some fictional character in my head.”
So Rob and his sister Kate, keys and vocalist of the band, faced their hidden emotions, because “when it’s time to write songs for Winter Passing, it’s time to speak about things we’ve been repressing for a long time.” Like some people take time out to write in a journal, Rob Flynn finds that songwriting is “a cathartic way of dealing with things. I always find that as a result of speaking about [repressed emotions], we almost overcome them.”
The Winter Passing faced their demons when writing New Ways of Living. It evokes a beautiful sense of community because Rob feels that “anybody who wants to listen to it can meet their own demons in the process.”
But what’s with that oh-so-ironic title?
“We had one meaning for our album when we finished it in 2019 and by the time it got to the surface of the world in 2020, it took on a whole new meaning,” Flynn explained. New Ways of Living is “a conclusion of the record that we had just [written], like a state of mind or a way of being once you’ve overcome the [repressed emotions] that we left in the record.”
By writing the deep lyrics for this album, the Flynn siblings grew and became more in touch with themselves. And the band’s sound has grown recently too, to become something that is a true representation of who the members are.
“I’m the punk in the band, Kate is like the indie kid and Marty [Ryan, guitarist] is the alternative kid,” Rob told us. But they take influences from a wider range of music than just these genres. “I absolutely love grime music and hip hop [...] You wouldn’t instantly hear those influences on the record, but those influences are by all means there.”
Without grime and hip hop music, Flynn explained that the record wouldn’t have become what it is. “If I’d never listened to aggressive grime or rock music, I don’t think I ever would have had the balls to get cheeky with the lyrics.”
The Winter Passing’s unique combination of “forceful guitars with melodic singing and elements of male and female voices overlapping each other” came about because, since they started making music, the band found that “people resonated with the poppier songs.”
“So we decided to go on more of the pop route,” Rob said. But New Ways of Living is split into two halves. “Side A is, by all means, our traditional songs with our sound that we have crafted over our eight-year period as a band. But then on Side B, we wanted to experiment with the sound that we have and also throw in so many influences from all of the other stuff that we listen to.”
It’s something you’ll hear on the record, as the pop-infused ‘Crybaby’ gives way to the beautifully sombre ‘Greetings from Tipperary’. But something you may not release is the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes of The Winter Passing.
“We’ve never had a booking agent, we’ve never ever had a manager,” but The Winter Passing has done some awesome things, including touring with The Wonder Years and Touché Amoré. It’s because Flynn believes that, as a band, “the most important thing to do is to work and to be involved.”
He used to run a “DIY tape to vinyl record years ago,” and he has “always been involved in the punk scene around Dublin. For years. And that’s kind of what gave Winter Passing its starting point in the early days.”
“We got gigs when we first started a band because we were all active members of the scene in Dublin, we used to always be at people’s shows, members of our band have filled in for other bands.”
“Not that everybody needs to be like punk rock 101,” but as long as a young band puts their ego and aspirations aside when starting out, they’ll get somewhere. “When you stop waiting is when you achieve what you were looking for originally.”
“If you’re just doing music solely for yourself and your own personal passion that you put into it and the release that it gives you, then you will actually reap the benefits,” Rob explained. “I’ve always found that we were waiting for some big band to call us out on tour and that never came true. Then we were like, ‘fuck it, let’s just book a DIY tour across Europe’ and then you get out on tour in Europe and a big band like The Wonder Years or somebody contacts you and says, ‘will you open for us?’”
While some people may be amazed that this happens, Rob explained to us that “I’m not trying to be anything other than myself and I think that resonates with people.”
Something that resonated with us, in particular, is Rob’s motto when it comes to promoting his band. He’ll always tell people to “support if you can, and support if you want.” It’s something we should all bear in mind when we can’t see our favourite bands in awesome venues.
“I’m trying to find bands that are on the ground out there, working hard off their own back and not looking for a return in the form of a cover on a magazine or loads of money in the bank,” Rob explained.
“All I want to do is get into a 100-cap basement and have a proper punk show with my friends. But it’s not the right time.” Instead, Rob explained that, if we’re able to, we can support our local music scene by waiting for days when Bandcamp waives their artist’s fees and pick up a record.
“The music is there forever. And I think it should be celebrated,” he concluded. So while we’re all hanging out at home, waiting to go to a show or a festival, we’re going to be checking out some new music. And we – and The Winter Passing – think you should, too.
New Ways Of Living is out via Big Scary Monsters.