By Jana Angeles
With its long days, sleepless nights and the amount of travelling you have to do, being a musician is not a 9-5 job. To stay in the industry, you need to have absolute passion for what you do. Last year, Defeater’s lead vocalist Derek Archambault, turned to his fans and started a crowdfunding campaign of his own on PledgeMusic in order to find a way to pay for his hip replacement surgery, which totalled to $50,000 in medical expenses. In return, fans were given the Thank You EP, which was material released under Archambault’s side project, Alcoa. From here, Archambault’s life turned around for the better, making his work on Defeater‘s fourth studio album, Abandoned worthwhile.
“Post-surgery, I wasn’t in any pain anymore and I was in a much more positive place altogether so writing this record, I had pretty much no distraction and I was definitely in a much clearer headspace,” he says as on writing Abandoned. “We started writing the music the month after I had surgery so I was still walking on crutches and you know, going down Jay’s [Maas, guitar, backing vocals] house. Writing with them [band members] was a breeze and things would be a lot different if we had worked on the new record before I had the surgery. From the time I woke up from it, I’ve just been in the mindset of, ‘I have to pay these people back’. There are two thousand something people that helped me get back on my feet literally and figuratively.”
As cliché as it sounds, Archambault had positive energy within him as he spoke about the life-changing surgery he got for his hip. Without the support of the people behind the campaign, his physical health would make it almost impossible for him to live the lifestyle of a musician. Working on his side project Alcoa as well as being in Defeater, post-surgery, the lead vocalist felt like he renewed himself, having the confidence to believe that he had better things coming his way.
Archambault’s health was not 100% if you had spoken to him a few years ago but after having done his hip replacement surgery, the vocalist realised how this experience had helped him stay resilient during his tough ruts.
“I’ve tried to live my whole life not taking much of anything for granted but living with chronic pain and not being able to use my legs was definitely an eye-opening experience and changed the way that I look at life in general. The whole experience and coming out of it on the other side definitely changed me for the better and I can say with confidence that I’m a better person for what happened.
“I didn’t feel sorry for myself the whole time I was in pain and I toured all the way up until my body just shut down and I couldn’t do it anymore and I only stopped because my doctor told me that if I kept going I would inevitably break it [leg] and my leg had twisted so much that it was just a mangled stick hanging off my body. I’m so stubborn that I would’ve kept going even in all the pain that I was in. I definitely didn’t feel abandoned – I just pushed through it and am thankful for the experience knowing that I can be a little resilient.”
Storytelling is a strong aspect of Defeater‘s melodic hardcore music. With their previous albums (Travels, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights and Letters Home), Archambault liked how fans connected to the stories and lyrics of the band. Holding the concept of a priest lapsing from his own faith post-War in Europe, the lead vocalist shared that Abandoned held dark material, which was honest, profound and deep and no doubt, would be one where fans would discuss the theme of it on an intimate level.
“It’s really flattering to know that our fans care enough about the lyrical content to discuss it in the first place and to try and have it figured all out and delve so deeply into it that they’re trying to find you know, all the twisted and hidden meanings or double meanings within the lyrics and figure out where the characters’ lives intertwine. I never thought that the band would get to this point seven years later and be able to tell the story from so many people’s different perspectives.”
Abandoned is out now via Epitaph Records.