Richmond, VA’s She’s a Legend have officially conquered the sophomore slump with the release of Room 434. In comparison to their 2014 debut, Flight Patterns and Fistfights, these new songs show off the band’s matured sound, tackling a deeper subject matter while bringing in a sense of muted positivity.
Speaking of the new direction, the band points to the fact that their first album was written over a span of years with various member changes. “We just wanted to get all those songs down and with this one we’re finding our voice.” These new tracks are much more reflective of the band’s current lives as well as their current influences. “Listening to a lot of bands like Brand New, Have Mercy, and Microwave definitely influenced the sound” along with personal struggles of depression and mental health.
The songs were first hammered out by vocalist Alex McDilda before being brought to the band an expanded upon. “For me it was good to get all that stuff off my chest in a way that was safe. There’s a lot of ways to handle those kinds of situations when you’re taking antidepressants and sort of dealing with things that are negative. So music was a great outlet for me personally and it was great to share that experience with the guys and have them find their own voice in that.” And She’s a Legend hopes that this personal process has a very real effect on their audience as well. “The thing I’m looking forward to is hopefully our audience sees that you can listen to the sad lyrics and borrow some personal experience from the writer and then bring that into your own story. But then kind of finding the positive and seeing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” While discussions on mental health have become much more open recently, there is still a stigma associated with it. Whether people care to admit their own issues of anxiety and depression or not, this EP and struggle of trying to stay positive even when it is challenging will surely resonate.
The entire theme of the EP was something that only truly came together after the fact. The title track, “Room 434”, comes from when Alex and guitarist Sean Flynn were living together in Charlottesville, VA, whose area code is 434. It’s all about “having somebody so close to you, like a best friend, living in the same place when you’re in such a dark spot,” says Alex. “Like you know your friends are in the next room and here I am like stuck right here feeling like shit. [‘Room 434’] just sort of like embodied the whole mental space that I was in I guess… You could kind of imagine that negative space being a physical space, like a room that you’re trapped in and wanting to get out of that room.” Looking back after writing the songs, the band were able to see the common thread that held the EP together. They embraced this metaphor of a mental state becoming physical, turning it into a hotel room and putting the keys on the cover to express that “you have the keys yourself. But are you going to take the steps to get out of that room?” The organic way in which the concept came together is reflective of the how She’s a Legend approaches their music and writing. “I think a lot of the times what we end up doing is we write what we want to write, what we have to write, and then the story is already there because it’s real and it’s true. It’s what we’ve experienced.”
While all four tracks on Room 434 flow together, the final two tracks are especially interconnected. Where “Otis Redding” comes from a place of sheer exhaustion and admitting to yourself that you’re running on empty, “My Name” looks to turn that around and bring the album to a close with a shot of positivity. “I think it made sense thematically to go from admission of defeat to a self-realization. It’s kind of just like I’ve hit rock bottom so you now have the chance to either stay there or do something about it. Bringing [‘My Name’] to the guys it was kind of our chance to be proud of ourselves and have some pride in saying our names after hitting rock bottom.”
While She’s a Legend does not fit squarely into one specific genre, this gives them the flexibility to play with bands from classic rock to post hardcore and everything in between. This in turn allows them to get in front of different types of people who all find something in their music to enjoy. Moving forward the band is excited to see how fans and audiences react to their new sound. “It is really personal. But we think, we hope, that people will identify with it.”