Forever Beautiful Compilation: “Everybody Should be Doing What They Can.”
After the tragic shooting at Orlando’s Pulse night club, Orlando residents Adam D’Angelo and Sean Rice, like many other people, wanted to do something to help but didn’t know what to do. Orlando residents had already come out in staggering numbers to donate blood, food and other resources, so the two friends had to think of what they could do that hadn’t already been done.
After building relationships with artists and bands across the country, they decided they could raise money for the OneOrlando Fund by creating a compilation album – 49 tracks in all, representing the 49 victims of the shooting.
“The community coming together at the drop of a dime was so nice to see, just to see people coming together during a tragedy in solidarity,” D’Angelo said. “So [the Monday after the shooting], Sean and I were in a group chat with some friends, and of course the topic was what happened. Like, is this where I live? It seemed so scary, you know? We were talking and someone actually came up with the idea, like, ‘Hey, you guys should get some bands together and put out a compilation.’ Before he even finished his sentence, I was reaching out to friends, friends of friends, or bands with some social outreach that I knew. So I just ran with it. This is awesome, and we’re going to raise money, and we’re going to give it back to Orlando.”
Through friends in bands up north, namely Ben Russin from Title Fight, D’Angelo and Rice received tracks from multiple Philly bands, including The Menzingers, Hemming, Thin Lips, Cayetana and Modern Baseball.
“A song to them is not a big deal but the message is so much stronger,” D’Angelo said. “For other people, it’s like, ‘These are my favorite bands, and they also support this great cause for LGBT and gun violence and stand together.’ I feel like it resonates more than just music. It just speaks volumes to their character as band members and artists.”
Our Brendan Menapace spoke with some of the artists who offered their work for the cause.
Tom May, The Menzingers
How did you get involved in this compilation?
I was reached out to by one of the organizers, Sean Rice, who used to live in Philadelphia and lives in Orlando now. I also heard from Ben Russin from Title Fight. They were tying to get it done quickly. They basically sent me all of the information really fast. They were looking for b-sides or unreleased material, whatever we could give to support.
So how did you settle on the acoustic version of “Deep Sleep?”
We were trying to find something. We did record recently but none of that’s ready for us to use. We did have that version of “Deep Sleep” sitting on someone’s computer that we recorded sitting in a kitchen that we all used to share. We all used to live together in the same house. We just recorded that version in the kitchen and we just never released it or anything. So we just brought it up and brought it to the studio, remixed and mastered it, and sent it off.
Were there any other songs you considered using?
We thought about finding a cover and recording it real quick but it’s really difficult to find something appropriate for something so intense that would be reflective of what actually happened. There are plenty of songs about love and loss and picking yourself back up, but it just didn’t seem like we could find something really appropriate. And writing something? You don’t really want to make it about yourself, you know?
What did you feel like you all as a band got out of this?
I guess what we got out of it, personally, was feeling like we got to help out. Of all the places that we play in this country, and in other countries that we play in, Orlando has been one of the best places for us as far as shows go, as far as friends go. There are a lot of our friends who have moved down there from the Philadelphia area who have since set up and have introduced us to a lot of people in that community. So, knowing that we could help out even a little bit was a reward.
Allegra Anka, Cayetana
What made you guys want to be involved with the compilation?
We were all extremely devastated and heartbroken by what had happened. It was a few days after that that [Sean and Adam] had asked us about it. [The band] had just been together every day because we were in the studio recording our record at the same time, and it was literally all we could really think about and talk about. And I think that we also felt really helpless.
Obviously, when things like this happen, it’s hard to know what to do to make it better immediately or directly. Obviously, raising money to support the people and the community was one way that we felt we could actively do something besides having conversations and being really sad, and that kind of thing. It’s just issues—multiple issues, really—that are important to us.
Could you tell me about the song you submitted?
We submitted a song called “Freedom 1313” because it’s a song that, in sort of content, has similar themes within it. And it was a song that we had recently released in January of this year, and just wanted to put that song onto the compilation.
Did you talk to any of the other bands on the compilation during the process?
We have a lot of friends who are involved—Katie Ellen, Worriers, Thin Lips. When it happened, we were just sort of in touch, you know, out of the community and sort of, like, just reaching out to each other. So, I think, for the same reasons I just described, everybody was happy to do whatever they could to be involved at this time and be present.
What kind of impact do you think compilations like this have on social issues?
I think that, first and foremost, as somebody who is queer and was … am … really hurting over this as a part of my queer family and queer people all over the place.
I also empathize through being part of the music community in a really strong way. And it’s just nice to see that, you know, when stuff like this happens, it does kind of unite everybody across all communities, and it’s just nice to see people come together over it.
And I think when people see that bands that they care about really care about these issues or do have openly queer members, or are talking about the shooting that happened or anything related to any of this—gun violence, homophobia, Islamophobia—I think it’s a really important thing. It just has this much larger reach and can get people invested and involved who may not already be or may not necessarily know how to talk about it or how to get involved.
Chrissy Tashjian, Thin Lips
How did you get approached to be on the compilation?
We’re on tour with Modern Baseball right now. So, Sean [Huber of Modern Baseball] just said, ‘Hey, I have this friend who’s doing this thing,’ because he knew I was really upset about what happened while we were on tour. And Augusta [Koch of Cayetana] just messaged me and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. Because, in my group of musical friends, I’m one of the very few homos, so it was really nice that they reached out to me.
What does it mean to you guys as a band to be a part of this?
I just wanted to do whatever I could, which doesn’t ever seem like a lot. People come out to shows all the time. And when we get a chance, we play a benefit or we’re on this compilation. We’re actually doing a benefit in New York to benefit Orlando in August. It’s the least that we could do.
So what can you tell me about the song you guys submitted?
It’s called “Never Again.” It’s about me going to a bar and being met with a bunch of, kind of like, misogyny and bros. And then I leave and come back with a bunch of queers that are mostly women and we kick them out. I just thought it was funny and fitting.
What kind of impact do these compilations have, in your opinion?
I feel like people really felt compelled after what happened in Orlando especially. I’m not saying that other causes aren’t equaly important, but I really felt like it was a good way for people to get something and give whatever they could. That’s the cool part. There are so many cool bands on this compilation. I love PWR BTTM. It’s so cool to be on a compilation with them about something I really feel strongly about.
I don’t know. I just feel like 8,000 bands, donate what you want, like, you can’t really beat that. It’s such a good business model to get any amount of money, because really, at that point, any amount helps. It’s a good group.
Is there anything else about the compilation or your involvement that you want to talk about?
I think that it’s important to note that what happened in Orlando happened to a group of people that were, like, almost all people of color. So, I think it’s just important that it not get whitewashed, you know what I mean?
There’s a lot of press surrounding it, and it’s like, ‘This tragedy happened,’ but there’s so much racism in the world and hate that led up to that.
It’s awesome to see, especially because sometimes when things like this happen to people of color, sadly, it is not in the media at all. And I don’t even have too much to say about that, other than that it’s just tragic.
Everybody should be doing what they can, but I also think it’s important for white folks and allies to talk to their friends who are white folks and allies and educate them, so that queer people don’t have to do that, so they can just live.