Exclusive: Listen to Senses Fail's 'In Your Absence' Acoustic EP

Matthew Vincent
Senses Fail

Post-hardcore band starts spring North American tour on March 3

It’s been 15 years since the formation of Senses Fail, and the group is celebrating the milestone by heading out for a North American tour on March 3. The New Jersey post-hardcore act intends to perform its 2006 album Still Searching in its entirety during its set, along with other fan-favored tunes.

“We felt it was something that people would want to see,” singer Buddy Nielsen explains to Billboard. “They asked for it, and we said, ‘Absolutely.’”

The first night of the tour will also mark the release of Senses Fail’s first acoustic EP, In Your Absence (Pure Noise Records). The five-track project contains both new songs and revamped tracks, such as “Family Tradition” and “Lost and Found.” In the Q&A below, Nielsen explains why the band took the acoustic route and the motivation behind the EP’s themes of death and loss.

Why create an acoustic EP to celebrate the band’s 15th anniversary?

Our last record was pretty heavy compared to what we have been known for as a band, and we thought it would be an interesting juxtaposition to do the exact apposite of heavy. We had planned an acoustic EP before we decided to do the 15-year tour, so they just happened to line up at the same time. 

What did you find enjoyable about writing or recasting the music acoustically? What did you find challenging?

I think you can write better pure songs when they are stripped down. If a song is solid on acoustic, it will hold up in any form. The challenge is mostly in making sure that the melodies and lyrics are really, really engaging because you don’t have much else to pull the listener in. I feel acoustic songs are all about the mood. Most great acoustic songs capture a sense of loss, fear or longing.

Most of the songs on the EP contain themes about death and human frailty. What was the motivation behind that?

Well, my wife has MS, and we had a miscarriage this year, so death and fragility was very evident for me in 2016. I recently saw a very bad rock climbing accident in which I was a first responder to. The person fell about 30 feet. Luckily, he is on his road to recovery, but it really cemented in my mind that thin veil of morality. Death is always on my mind — not in a morose way, but as an everyday reminder that life is limited. It is a practice I have learned from Buddhism and something that I use to filter decisions I make through. I like to try to frame my future under the idea that I’m not really owed one and that it isn’t a given. Maybe that’s why I pursue things like rock climbing, because it puts me in this zone where death and injury is a real possibility, but in that moment I feel very alive.

Looking back on where the band was 15 years ago, what are the biggest changes you have experienced, both as musicians and as people?

I’ve grown from an 18-year-old to a 33-year-old, married with a child on the way. In just about every way possible I have grown, the band has grown, and our fans have grown. I think the growth is what has allowed us to be able to keep going and maintain our fan base. Had we not grown into what we are now, I'm not sure we would still be here.

Billboard has the exclusive stream of In Your Absence. Listen below:

Senses Fail’s spring tour dates

MARCH
3 -- San Diego @ Observatory North Park
4 -- Mesa, Ariz. @ Club Red
6 -- Dallas @ Gas Monkey
7 -- Austin @ Mohawk
9 -- Tampa, Fla. @ Orpheum
10 -- Orlando, Fla. @ House of Blues
11 -- Atlanta @ Masquerade
12 -- Carrboro, N.C. @ Cat’s Cradle
14 -- Norfolk, Va. @ Norva
15 -- Baltimore @ Ram’s Head
18 -- New York @ Webster Hall
19 -- Boston @ Paradise
21 -- Pittsburgh @ Mr. Smalls
22 -- Philadelphia @ Electric Factory
23 -- Sayreville, N.J. @ Starland Ballroom
24 -- Toronto @ Mod Club
25 -- Detroit @ St. Andrew’s
26 -- Cleveland @ House of Blues
28 -- Chicago @ Concord Music Hall
29 --Minneapolis @ The Cabooze
30 -- Lawrence, Kan. @ Granada
31 -- Denver @ Summit Music Hall

APRIL
1 -- Salt Lake City @ The Complex
3 -- Seattle @ Neumos
4 -- Portland, Ore. @ Hawthorne Theatre
6 -- San Francisco @ Great American Music Hall
7 -- Los Angeles @ Teragram Ballroom
8 -- Santa Ana, Calif. @ Observatory