When thinking of cover art for this album, the last in the Songs For... Trilogy, I had to dig deep. I had to ask myself "who was the king and why was I killing him?" I've begun to answer that question via interviews with True and through tweets and the like. To get to the end of a journey with any sort of lessons learned, we must attempt to correct our mistakes. Through this correction, we sometimes have to allow part of our self to "die," as it was not healthy to continue with it. Part of my own spiritual and mental soul-searching in the aftermath of these three albums has to do with that.
"Who was the king and why am I killing him?"
The King, simply put, is me. No, I'm not committing suicide when this album finally drops or anything. Sheesh. But, what started as a trilogy to chronicle my life at the time, it's become so much more. Death of The King revolves not only around the "death" of no-fi (and the "No-Fi King" persona of Speed on the Beat), it also revolves around a maturation of sorts. A man who's been at his wit's end time and time again finally reaching the point where he must change or die. As mentioned during my #FiveTilSongsFor posts, I've dealt with mental illness issues over the years. During the initial recordings of this album, then known as Unhinged, I was going through an increasingly dark point and realized I was destroying everything I'd worked for--personally and professionally--because I wasn't fully aware of what was going on. The "why are you here" question brought up a few times during "Thanatos" is not only a rally cry for growth of others. It's one for me.
I asked myself that question during those initial recordings, mainly because I'd just received an evaluation that resulted in my diagnosis as bipolar. "Why am I here?" I was lost and had no answers for how to rise above. But, eventually, after a lot of soul-searching, some therapy, and a slew of other things, I began to say "hey, how can I help myself work through this and not end up back at a point where I was suicidal or something crazy?" Thus, the album that's known as Death of The King was born.
|There it is again for those that missed it the first time.|
Yes, it's the "death" of the "no-fi"-steeped music people've come to expect from me. The album is crisper. It's more focused, matured past a simple "no-fi king" mindset. Plus, shoot, it already sounds more "studio-friendly," which was a gripe about some of my earlier work (thanks for the love nonetheless, Al Shipley). As artistically involved as the "no-fi" thing is, and as much as it's been a part of my story thus far, it has hindered me. But, it's also the "death" of that part of me that wanted to destroy everything because of the illness or wanted to use my illness as a scapegoat.
The album art itself is a mashup of several concepts. First, the descent into madness portrayed in the #OneYearLater/#RAQUELRELOADED album (and art) is shown in the far background. It's represented, as with #RR, by a "polar inversion" effect of the album art. In the background, there are photos of my son, representative of the rebirth, the Songs For... era. There is also a photo of a photo of my father, as used in the "Do Better" single art (representative of my roots and where I came from, how far I've come in the name of Speed, and how far I've still to do). In the foreground, I stand, obstructed by the words "Death of The King."
Why? Because in order to be a K.I.N.G, you must "Kill the King." You've got to "Keep Integrity, Never Guises," as the outro of the album states. Never lie to yourself or others. If you need help, ask for it and don't just wallow around and stew on messed-up situations. "The King" is the final obstacle in my path of greatness. And while it's brought me recognition and the like, we eventually must rid ourselves of harmful parts, even if they seem helpful. Above my photo is the question "Why are YOU HERE?" amongst a sea of lyrics, representative of the struggle to find clarity when your inner voice is jumbled and is all over the place.
Now, as a person diagnosed as bipolar, I understand that my manic and depressive sides won't just "go away." Even with medication, that's never going to happen completely. But I know that I've the power and the ability to keep everything in line and, well, keep (my) integrity (and) never guises.
Hopefully, you all have stuck with me through the Journey(s) of Speed. We're almost in the homestretch and, without giving too much away, I promise there's a happy ending. For me, and for everyone.
Death of The King releases August 17th, 2014. Yes, that's a Sunday. And, yes, that's my 26th birthday. Every year is a bit of a rebirth, so why not go full-tilt and revive yourself completely?
-Speed on the Beat