Set to release on October 5, select a bonus’ new EP, were it so easy, is their best work to date. Singer and songwriter, Austin Lege will blow you away with his carefully crafted lyrics and stellar vocals. If you are familiar with select a bonus at all, it won’t come as any surprise that all of the songs on this record are Halo 3 references. Even if you hadn’t caught those references, the songs still feel aptly named due to the recurring religious and melancholic themes throughout.
This EP has five tracks, starting off with “Loading…,” which is a somber and slow acoustic introduction. This song sets the tone for the entire EP quite beautifully. You get a look into Austin’s mind and the chance to relate to the raw emotion that he has laid out. The next track, “The Pit,” is immediately more upbeat. Much like the Halo 3 map, it’s consistently fast-paced and exciting. This is my personal favorite track from the EP. I have a feeling most people will agree, it’s a banger. The third song named, “Isolation,” is a bit slower to start off, but like any great emo song it builds up as the rest of the instruments kick in. Like an emo kid anthem, Austin repeats “I don’t know where I am going,” allowing all of us to relate to this human condition of being stuck in the prison of our minds. The fourth track, “Heretic,” is much more delicate to start and about three-fourths of the way, it picks up and takes on a more hopeful tone as the vocals rejoice in harmony, saying “I think we’ll be okay without you.” The final track, “Guardian,” sounds like the select a bonus we all know and love. It also reminds me, lyrically, of a Sorority Noise song. This is one of the best select a bonus songs out there. It’s easy listening, it’s relate-able, and it’s catchy. What’s not to love?
Lauren Frederick spoke with singer/songwriter Austin Lege to get the details on the new EP and the bands future plans.
select a bonus band photo by Ryan Haines.
How long in the making was this album?
Austin Lege: That’s a difficult question because of how chaotic our recording process is. The band initially started as my solo project, so I’ve had some of these song ideas in my phone since before we even finished the first EP. I write everything on acoustic guitar, record it down in a voice memo, and spend months arranging and workshopping it. Once I get things how I want, I go to the studio and lay down scratch tracks with just rhythm guitar and vocals.
I send those over to the band and they come by the studio on their own time over the course of a couple of months and lay down parts. I don’t think the four of us were ever in the studio at the same time. I trust what they are doing and give them free reign. We have a great relationship with The Hang Studios and they work around our sporadic recording process and make it really easy for us to get stuff done.
Is it hard to open up and let yourself be so vulnerable writing songs such as these?
Austin Lege: Not anymore, but it was a battle to get here. I grew up in church and played music full time for different churches and traveled with some different bands as a contract musician. I suffer from major depression and anxiety and I was constantly being told that I was having a bad attitude or I needed to smile more. I tried talking to people about the shit that was going on and most of the time I would get some bullshit pity or someone downplaying what I was feeling. My favorite advice came from this college pastor who straight up told me the reason I was struggling was because I was listening to too much sad music. That whole time of my life turned me into a dishonest shell of fake happy when in reality I constantly wanted to end it all. Once I left the church and started seeking professional help I quickly learned how to find comfort in being honest and vulnerable.
I don’t want the takeaway from this to be that all church people are inherently bad. I met a lot of good people during those times. I just want people to learn that cutting any type of toxic environment out of their life is 100% okay.
Are any of these songs on “were it so easy” your favorite select a bonus songs to date?
Austin Lege: “The Pit” absolutely is. Our last EP was called Not Cathartic, Just Pathetic, but for me, personally, this one is just all cathartic.
Do you have any plans for live shows or tours coming up?
Austin Lege: We have an EP release show on October 11th in Denton with our friends in Golden Week, Cliffdiver, and Goodwill, Good Will. As far as touring goes, I’m trying to put together some small runs throughout the southwest/midwest early next year, but I have nothing tangible yet. I really want to play outside of Texas.
Is there anything you want fans to get out of this EP?
Austin Lege: Find out why you believe the things you believe. Rip it down to the roots and start from the ground up if you have to. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help for your mental health and don’t let anyone convince you its all made up. Mental health is tangible and just as important to address as a broken arm. Don’t let your responsibilities overtake your mental health. I wrote this entire EP about a time where I was going to college full time, traveling every few weekends, coaching a Halo esports team, and working two jobs. It broke me and I wound up in a hospital because of it. Take care of yourselves.
What can we expect in the future from select a bonus?
Austin Lege: The focus for next year is venturing out of Texas and making more accessory content to the music we already have. We will be dropping a lyric video with the new EP and a music video in the following months.