When reminiscing on his teenage years, one memory comes to the mind of 25-year-old Joshua Perna – scouring the shelves of Hot Topic for newly-released CDs of his favorite bands. Once purchased, the album would spin in his CD player for days (or weeks) on repeat, with Perna listening to each song in order, the way the artist intended.
One decade later, Perna is saddened by how music is currently consumed. Gone are the days of full-length creations. Thanks to streaming platforms like Spotify, listeners have millions of tracks at their fingertips, and can cherry pick singles as they please.
But Perna isn’t ready to say “goodbye” to those days just yet, and cleverly navigated his way around this modern-day medium.
In 2017, his New Hope-based band Saint Slumber, which is also comprised of guitarist Aaron Brown and drummer Matt Carpenter, released the EP YOUTH//1, the first in a three-part trilogy. This was followed by YOUTH//2 in 2018, and is about to conclude with YOUTH//3 on Aug. 16.
“We wanted to make a full-length record because we grew up listening to full-length records. But the streaming era doesn’t really allow for them,” Perna explained. “So this was our response for that. We wanted to make a concept record and we broke it up into a trilogy.”
Though the first two EPs were well-received, with the band chosen by fans to open for Thirty Seconds to Mars during Radio 104.5’s annual Birthday Show last year, he praised this third installment as Saint Slumber’s best work yet.
“It took us a little bit to figure out what our sound is and what it means to be this band. And I like to think it took three records. This is the first chunk of music that feels real,” he said. “In the broader sense, this feels like music that can stack up against all of our favorite bands. It feels like a legitimate record, so that is very exciting.”
YOUTH//3 is, at its heart, a retrospective of Perna realizing what truly matters in life and coming to terms with getting older – an overarching message heard throughout the trilogy.
“I started writing it when I was 20, and that’s when you’re right in the middle of the new adolescence. As the trilogy is finishing, I’m 25 now. From a biological standpoint, that’s when they say you’re done cooking. You’re a full grown adult. You can’t pretend that you’re still developing anymore,” Perna said. “The third record had a lot to do with grieving the loss of youth, grieving the loss of a time in your life that you thought would be perpetual.”
On July 1, Saint Slumber released “MANTRA,” the first single off YOUTH//3 that boasts an edgy blend of pop, indie and alternative rock. According to Perna, the track is the band’s “thesis statement” in terms of sound and energy, and has been its biggest release to date.
“We wanted to create an arena-worthy song that had a sort of intimacy to it,” Perna said. “I wanted to write a song about how easy it is to fall in love with things, and how you always think that this next thing is going to be the one thing, but eventually you realize, ‘Oh, I’m developing a pattern here.’ I wanted to create a song that talks about the duality of obsession, about something being your mantra and you’re being obsessive and repeating your mind a bunch.”
In addition to releasing the second single “SLEEPTALK” on July 12, Saint Slumber is in the process of creating a deluxe version of YOUTH//2 and booking a fall tour – something the guys are particularly excited about. During a slew of shows to promote their sophomore album last year, they began noticing regulars in the crowd. Naturally, with its ever-growing following, the band can’t wait to get back on the road.
“This was the first time we started to make what we would actually, genuinely call fans. We were starting to see people pop up on our socials and at shows that we had never met before. These were people that knew the words to our music,” Perna said. “YOUTH//2, I think it marked a milestone where we started to feel like, ‘Oh, maybe we are a real band. We’re starting to become a real thing.’”
With the release of YOUTH//3 on the horizon, Perna said it feels “pretty crazy” to have reached the end of the trifold project. Admittedly, closing the book on the trilogy, what the band is calling its “first record,” comes with bittersweet feelings. But Perna, Brown and Carpenter are proud of what they’ve accomplished – they retrofitted their “full-length” mindset into the streaming era of instant, easy consumption.
“We had a lot of people telling us, ‘You can’t make a record. No one wants to hear a record from a new band. You have to start thinking in a single way.’ This whole process is us trying to cram what we thought music is supposed to be into the model of what music is right now,” Perna said, adding how he’s not losing hope for the resurgence of albums. “Hopefully, kids want to listen to bigger pieces of work from their favorite artists. We’re trying to stick to our guns and time will tell how well that pays off for us.” ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org