This song was inspired by Franz Kafka's posthumously published and unfinished novel of the same name. The book incorporates many details of the experiences of Kafka's relatives who had emigrated to the United States. "We find ourselves searching for our own ethics in between the often-contradictory beliefs of this polarized American Modern Age and those of the romanticized cultures of our forefathers," said the band.
"Our perspective is irreversibly tinged with this rhetoric of the immigrant conscience and guilt. 'Amerika' explores the contradictions of our psyche and America at large. Searching for the American Dream is to lust for excess, power, sex. There is wonderment. There is disappointment. On this roller coaster ride, we realize that when we achieve our goals, they often leave us more hollow than before. Behind it all, we just want to feel at home, to belong, and to be loved."
Amerika, also known as The Man Who Disappeared and as The Missing Person, is the incomplete first novel of Czech born German-speaking author Franz Kafka (1883–1924), written between 1911 and 1914 and published posthumously in 1927. The storyline is about a man who arrives in America looking for a father figure to protect him. He is quiet and timid and other people take advantage of him.
Frontman Sameer Gadhia first stumbled on Kafka's Amerika while the band were on the road. He told Rolling Stone:
"I'd read The Castle; I'd read The Trial. After reading it, I sent it to the guys. It really resonated with me. First of all, because the book is unfinished – he never wanted it published. There's no ending, so it's this infinite feedback loop of this journey that the main character has when he comes to America on a boat. Essentially all he wants to do is find a place to belong, but every time he gets closer, he finds himself a step behind again.
I think for the immigrant in America, it makes a lot of sense. You can become complacent sometimes, completely unaware, and that's not a bad thing – that's kind of the goal, just to feel like you belong. But every now and then, you realize how far away you are and how different you are from other people. That's something that you should be proud of, and always represent, as opposed to trying to forget, instead of pushing away."