Steadman's Wake

Album: Steadman's Wake (2021)
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  • Mike Connell, the guitarist, songwriter, and co-lead vocalist of the alt-rock band The Connells, typically avoids writing political songs, but he made an exception with "Steadman's Wake," the title track of the band's ninth studio album. In 2021, Connell told Songfacts his goal with the song was to address three issues:

    1. The opioid crisis:
    They peddle this stuff for pain
    and now it's a steady rain

    2. The waste and futility of war:
    I joined up to have some fun
    but man do these boys die young

    3. The white-supremacist riot that took hold of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017:

    I showed up in Charlottesville
    You make of it what you will
    Yeah, now I'm just running past
    These fine people with baseball bats

    He said: "Even though I felt that I wanted to say something about these matters, I tried my hardest to remain as oblique as possible with my references, while still managing to express a particular point of view."
  • "Steadman's Wake" is more than just a cool title. The song reflects the band's stance on America's race issues, which is why they unanimously chose it to represent the album as a whole. "We've had some oblique socio-political bits here and there over the years," Connell explained in a press release. "But never as direct as this. It seems like it's time. It's scary, where we still stand in this country with issues of race. Of the 11 songs on the record, the clear consensus within the band was that 'Steadman's Wake' best reflected the band's take on the temper of the times and best represented the 'spirit' of the record."
  • The album is the band's first release in 20 years. Formed in Raleigh, North Carolina, The Connells became college-radio favorites in the mid-'80s with their early albums Darker Days and Boylan Heights. Their greatest commercial success, however, came in the '90s when their single "74-75" topped charts throughout Europe and landed at #15 in the UK. Although they continued to perform, the band went on a recording hiatus in 2001 after the release of the album Old School Dropouts.
  • Doug MacMillan, who shares lead vocal and guitar duties with Mike, says the album reflects a more mature version of the band. "It feels a little more grown-up than we've done in the past - more upbeat and not quite as cynical," he explained.
  • The album also introduces two new band members: Mike Ayers on guitar and Rob Ladd on drums.


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