For Afterlife frontman Tyler Levenson, penning lyrics about dealing with domestic abuse and battling depression is about so
much more than just getting things off his chest. While it can be difficult to air such deeply personal experiences publicly,
he’s exposing some of his darkest moments with the hope his message will reach someone who needs it.
By being honest and direct in their approach to songwriting, Afterlife are determined to reach listeners in a meaningful way
and start conversations on a variety of crucial issues. “I feel like there’s a lot of blind aggression out there,” the vocalist
asserts. “Like, people are mad, but what are you mad about?”
Levenson, on the other hand, has no problem effectively articulating exactly what’s on his mind on the band’s forthcoming
Breaking Point, out January 11 via Hopeless Records. Following up their fast and in-your-face Vicious Cycle EP, Afterlife’s
debut album ambitiously tackles a variety of impactful topics from domestic assault and mental health to political apathy
and the weight of guilt.
The band—Levenson, guitarist Andrew McGuire, drummer Luke Walkinshaw and bassist Tristan Edwards—emerged from West Palm Beach,
Florida, at the tail end of 2016 with a clear vision of what they wanted to bring to the world with their music. Finding the
intersection between Slipknot, Linkin Park and modern hip-hop, Afterlife set out to create something both fresh and familiar.
“We talked about what we find in music that’s nostalgic and memorable and implemented that into what we felt was true to us
and just started from there,” the vocalist says of the band’s formation.
Levenson seamlessly transitions between singing, screaming and rapping over a heavy, yet satisfyingly melodic landscape as
displayed on first single “Throat.” The track addresses Levenson’s journey with mental health.
“I felt at times that I was controlled by the anxiety, that it was dictating everything I did,” he reflects. “Everything I
did, I had some type of doubt in my mind because of it.”
He wants listeners to know that while everyone experiences dark times, it’s important to remember that it’s OK to feel unhappy
and things will change. Reflecting on the situation as a whole, Levenson says he’s glad he fought through the depression,
confusion and doubt he felt at that time, because in the end he prevailed.
While “Throat” focuses on an internal struggle, “New Rage” takes a look at this generation’s apathy when it comes to national
tragedies. “I never wanted to have a massive political stance on certain things,” he says. “I wanted to just say what I wanted
to say and hope that someone agrees or understands.”
However, Levenson found himself angry with how quickly society can move on from tragic events. “It’s frustrating, because
I don’t want to live somewhere where shootings are normalized or robberies are normalized,” Levenson laments. “It’s not normal.
Chaos is not normal.”
In “Broken Home,” the most personal track on the record, Levenson chronicles his experience with domestic assault. “It all
started when I was 14 years old,” he recalls. “I’m not sure what exactly triggered [it], late at night I came home, and it
just kind of happened. My dad just kinda went crazy, and started beating on me. At that point it got super serious, and I
Levenson eventually had to return home and although police were involved, he says that only made things worse. “It kind of
just fueled the flame of everything that was going on, it intensified over the years,” he shares. “As I got older, I was able
to speak up for myself a little more. But there was a time where I was trying to do everything I could to be away from my
household and my family because I just couldn’t deal with it at the time.”
At 18 years old, he left home and never returned. “From then to now I’ve kind of just been on my own, and I never really wanted
to talk about it because I felt like no one was really going to understand it,” he shares. “Even though I knew people went
through these things. They didn’t go through it the way I did, so I kept it in because I didn’t know if people were really
going to understand what I went through.”
Now that it’s out, Levenson said his hope is that it will be heard by someone who needs it. “Everyone’s voice matters and
a lot of people are silenced because they feel like they don’t matter or their voice isn’t going to be heard,” he says. “We
wanted to go out there and say the things that we feel need to be heard—the things we’re passionate about— and just let people
know that if you’re upset about something say something; Speak freely.”