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Life Size Models Release Single ‘Polar Nights’

In Music
WINTER SUN: With their new single, ‘Polar Nights,’ San Jose band Life Size Models aim to shed some light on a dark subject.

WINTER SUN: With their new single, ‘Polar Nights,’ San Jose band Life Size Models aim to shed some light on a dark subject.

Two and a half minutes into Life Size Models’ new single “Polar Nights,” something truly unexpected happens.

“Deflecting people away from what’s really going on with me is just what I do,” states an unannounced (and decidedly British) voice.

As the song settles into the bridge between its second and third choruses, the male voice goes on, as the band continues to back him up. When you project an image of yourself as being stable and happy, “people just assume you are,” the speaker says.

“That’s a guy named Jake Tyler,” says Chris Seymour, the band’s singer. “He did a TED Talk. He’s on Instagram.”

In the year 2019, breaking new ground in rock music isn’t an easy task. But by sampling a TED Talk in a single, Life Size Models just might have done it.

What Tyler is talking about in his TED Talk is depression, the subject of “Polar Nights.” Though it went undiagnosed, Seymour says that both he and his twin brother Steven (also the band’s guitarist) have experienced the illness. More importantly, depression has taken the lives of more than one close friend. Sadly, Seymour’s original writing partner, one of the founding members of Life Size Models, was one.

“I think everybody has been affected by it to some degree,” Seymour tells me over the phone on his lunch break. “But it’s sort of a stigmatized, private kind of issue. It’s difficult to talk about, so we wanted to write a song that acknowledged it. That’s why we chose to add the sample, the voiceover in the middle, cause that’s somebody that literally is diagnosed.”

If the name “Polar Nights” sounds a bit like Arctic Monkeys (Boreal imagery + plural noun), the song does, too. Co-written with his twin brother, Seymour says they both love that band, along with The National and The Replacements. “Polar Nights” sounds a bit like all of them put together: anthemic, pensive and rollicking, all in turn.

“Even on the sunny days I’m inside/watching televised versions/of my life pass me by,” he sings, before the chorus lyric: “I want to see the sun.”

The single comes out this Friday, and will be available on streaming services. While no album is currently in the works, Life Size Models have more singles in mind.

“We’re approaching it song by song,” Seymour says. “We think that’s more effective in the long term because we get people to focus on individual songs, as opposed to putting out a record and hoping someone ‘takes a listen.’”

Seymour’s thinking reflects a larger trend: a marked shift in the way some bands are recording and releasing music these days. Recently, many bands have articulated this same plan, citing Spotify and other streaming services as motivation for pivoting away from albums, moving instead to a model of releasing consecutive singles. Last month, San Jose pop-punk band 5606 told Metro they had similar plans (their single “Keeping Count” came out Apr 24). When I interviewed Stephen Jenkins back in 2017, he had the same thing in mind for Third Eye Blind.

Life Size Models count themselves as fans of Third Eye Blind. Noticeably, though, it’s not because of the material released under the Spotify model.

“We’re huge fans of that first record,” Seymour says.

There’s no denying that the music industry has changed lately, as pop and hip-hop artists embrace a one-at-a-time release schedule. The jury is still out on whether the model will work for historically album-oriented rock genre. Regardless, Life Size Models are committed to their game plan. More importantly, they hope “Polar Nights” connects with people who need connection.

“Sometimes you end up cutting yourself off, maybe assuming you’re not going to be valuable to somebody that you care about,” Seymour says. “This song is kind of an acknowledgement of that feeling, and also a reassurance that it’s OK. That it’s going to pass.”

‘Polar Nights’
Life Size Models
May 17, Streaming Services

 

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