Death’s aftermath: Madison’s ‘Jar’ of ashes - INTERVIEW
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • September 03, 2013 @ 12:11pm
Daylight’s Taylor Madison doesn’t always take direction well—especially when he deems it unnecessary.
Last fall, the band’s vocalist and guitarist learned that his stepfather had passed away, and he immediately grasped the responsibility of being the man of the household.
With three sisters and his biological mother to care for—with no other brothers—Madison didn’t need to be told how his life would change.
“Following my stepfather’s death, it seemed like everyone visited and said, ‘you’re the man of the house now; make sure you take care of your sisters,’” Madison admitted.
“It really bothered me. You don’t have to tell me to take care of my sisters—I knew that as soon as we left the hospital.”
With his youngest sister in and out of jail due to a heroin addiction—the theme of “Youngest Daughter” off Daylight’s April album, “Jar”—Madison was frustrated and unnerved by his family’s future.
“It scared the shit out of me because I’m in a touring band and barely making money,” Madison said in a phone interview. “I can be there for them, but I can’t offer material things. It’s not like I can just go and buy my mom a house.”
In “Jar,” the album title refers to Madison’s stepfather’s cremation—a jar of ashes—yet the central theme isn’t the lead singer’s fond memories of his childhood.
The author of eight of the 12 tracks, Madison relied on the songwriting process as more than just grieving—in truth, front-man didn’t have time for grieving.
Instead, Madison explored the bounds of how death affects the surviving family members, including the confusion, range of emotions and leadership that accompany.
On the song “Sponge”—one of the album’s more popular tracks—Madison conveys a feeling of helplessness and what he perceived as a “falling short” of meeting his own expectations of helping a grieving family with a preexisting abundance of problems. Here are a few lyrical examples:
I’m leaving you all alone./ I tried so hard to be the rock,/ But all I felt like was a wet sponge.
We’ve held it all together this long./My spines deep as well./My heart is bigger than you know./This family is just a sad song.
“I felt very helpless,” Madison said succinctly, “even though I know that the rest of my family didn’t care about [the material support].”
One of the perils of writing such sensitive subject matter would seem to be the intimate emotional connection—wouldn’t Madison’s nightly performance reminder of his family’s plight be a burden rather than a relief?
Not so, Madison claims.
“It’s been over a year since my stepfather died and almost six months since ‘Jar’ was released,” Madison noted. “The music is very emotionally charged when you’re creating it, but when you’re playing it every night you focus more on the energy of the actual show.”
See Daylight along with the Traditional, Cedar Kites and Real People at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at Waiting Room, 334 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. On tour with O’Brother, Daylight is playing Waiting Room on an off-day.
Tickets to the show are $10 and can be purchased through Waiting Room’s website.
Although Madison’s Buffalo memories are vague—Daylight played in Buffalo last winter for the first time—he does recall one vivid moment.
“We took the 20-minute trip to Niagara Falls at night, and I remember being absolutely freezing,” he recollects. “I couldn’t stand—I was in so much pain from the cold that all I could think about was leaving.”
Needless to say, last year’s decision will encourage Madison and the rest of Daylight to hang around Buffalo and see what the city has to offer. When you take in the show at Waiting Room, however, pay attention to the lyrics and appreciate the internal and external turmoil that sparked “Jar.”
(First photo courtesy of Dailypunk.com. Others via Daylight’s Facebook page).