This self-analysis found a home in Joe’s lyrical contributions to Forgotten Days. Without having discussed such things with one another, however, Brett found himself having a similar moment of deeper reflection, looking to things happening in his own family and unpacking them with his lyrical pen. “It’s like one of those weird cosmic [things],” he ponders. “I had written the song Forgotten Days, inspired by my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, using it as a jumping off point to talk about the ideas of memory, losing your identity, memories changing as you get older. As you lose your memories, do you also lose your soul?”
This isn’t an easy thing to do, opening up like this. That’s why Brett says the men of Pallbearer have partly used the band as “a way of running”, and refers to it as having been “a coping mechanism”. Though they haven’t been quite as direct as on Forgotten Days, Brett has learned to deal with these deeper things being out there via his lyrics. He’s learned that it can ring a bell for other people who have seen and felt far worse than he, and helped bring a bit of levity.
“I used to have micro panic attacks every time I’d write a song because I knew that it was personal in some way,” he admits. “But it’s gotten easier over the years. People have come up and said their songs have helped them through various stuff, some of it so unbelievably tragic that I can’t believe they didn’t kill themselves – people’s lives just completely falling apart. So if I have the possibility of putting something personal out there that someone else can relate to or are going through dark times, I shouldn’t be too worried about being open.”
Brett says with a smile that this is “not very metal”, where the usual tools are those of anger and thinking with your fists (“Plenty of bands can do anger better than me, and they’re great!” he laughs). But it’s this emotional intelligence that gives Pallbearer their identity. It’s why a lot of people like them.
“I really am not interested in writing angry songs,” he says. “I think there is sometimes anger in some songs, there’s definitely things I’m angry about, but I think there’s a much wider spectrum of human existence that’s much more interesting to write about than just being angry. I’m not a particularly angry person. And I think I’d rather approach a song from a place of empathy or kindness.”