For the guys of Saint Slumber, a Philadelphia-based alt/rock band, early March was a dream turned into a sheltered nightmare.
Lead vocalist Josh Perna and guitarist Aaron Brown were on the road for a whirlwind several weeks, promoting YOUTH//3 – the final installment of an EP trilogy – to fans nationwide. But as the duo concluded its tour and returned home, the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to sink its ugly claws into the area. With a father in the “at-risk” age group, Perna decided to “barricade himself indoors,” even before Gov. Tom Wolf announced any stay-at-home orders.
“That was such a jarring juxtaposition, flying around the country and then immediately having to hole up,” Perna reflected.
After several long days feeling nothing but uncertainty and anxiety while in isolation, Perna desperately craved an outlet to express these emotions. Naturally, he turned to what he knows best – music – and thus, the latest Saint Slumber single “it’s okay to be afraid” was born.
“It captures that angst that I’m assuming most of us are feeling right now,” Perna told The Times. “We’re living through history and it’s only getting crazier.”
“it’s okay to be afraid” was released on Thursday, April 2, and 100 percent of proceeds are benefiting two COVID-19 relief efforts. The first is MusiCares, which offers financial aid to artists and other players in the music business.
“Because so much of it is event-based, the music industry was the first thing to absolutely grind to a halt. So many people were out of work instantaneously because every concert in the country was canceled. So, we thought it was very important that we give back to people in our industry that aren’t lucky enough to have other jobs,” Perna said. “There are a lot of people whose livelihood revolves around music.”
The second recipient is the PHL COVID-19 Fund, which allocates money to hospitals, small businesses and any groups struggling because of the pandemic.
According to Perna, with the majority of the world stuck at home trying to make sense of this unprecedented situation, music – and art of any form – is needed now more than ever.
“I think it’s so important that artists, musicians, authors, poets, people who deal with visual mediums, need to be generating art right now to offer some sort of spiritual and emotional relief for people because it’s so easy to feel isolated when you’re literally socially isolating,” he said. “It’s very important that we still have a sense of community and togetherness. We’re all going through the same exact thing. We are all afraid. We are all dealing with the same anxieties right now when it comes to career and health and what the world is going to look like.”
Perna stressed that fellow artists should generate art for the sole purpose of uplifting and fundraising for those in need, rather than making money for themselves. He praised Billie Joe Armstrong, Elton John and all of the high-profile musicians who appeared on Fox’s iHeart Living Room Concert for America last month, which raised nearly $8 million for COVID-19 relief efforts.
“These are artists that have obviously made a lot of money from music, and they took the opportunity to just give back and raise some money for people who aren’t as lucky as they are,” Perna said.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org