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Song Premiere: "Without the Poison… What Am I?" by Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends

Conan Neutron
1 October 2020

Conan Neutron of Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – live – Photo Credit: Joe Kirschling

Conan Neutron is a guy. Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends is a band. A rock band, specifically, which was formed in Oakland, California in 2015 by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Neutron.

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends also features Melvins drummer Dale Crover on drums and Tony Ash on bass, with Toshi Kasai producing their output. Although members live all over, the band is ostensibly based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The group is inspired by classic rock, noise rock, and post-punk and their live shows feature a revolving cast of talented guest musicians.

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends will be releasing their new album Dark Passengers soon, and like the title, the 11 songs within tackle some pretty serious subject matter: mental health issues. Song subjects include bipolar complex, impostor syndrome, suicidal ideation, anhedonia, general manic depression, and other topics.

Dark Passengers is the third full length record by the band and is released through Learning Curve Records.

Big Takeover is pleased to host the premiere of the lyrically stark and perceptive single “Without the Poison… What Am I?”

A menacing atmosphere builds up from the start, as guest singer Lindsey Charles (the Cell Phones) takes charge on the simmering verses. She winds around the lyrics about depression, exclaiming, “I don’t want to drive you away / I’ve got these pills to contain it… / keep it at bay.”

The roiling chorus sections up the intensity, with Charles joined by Neutron on shadowing vocals, as heavy jags of guitar, a low-slung bass line, and emphatic drums and cymbals crash create a tumultuous churn.

Neutron relates, “Depression is treatable. What often isn’t discussed is that for an artist, the cure can be worse than the disease. Without glorifying inspiration through opposition, medication that can even out the rollercoaster also have the unwanted side effect of changing the relationship with creative impulse. Are the things that make you miserable or miserable to be around necessary for your art? If a person attempts to even this part of their personality out to have an easier time in life, will that close off the part of themselves that allows them create something vital?”

“Dark Passengers is a record is about mental health and depression. Lindsey Charles is such an incredible talent it was a joy to write this song for her to sing and to hear her take on this little-discussed topic. We are huge fans of her band the Cell Phones, and she is not just a wonderful front person, she is a singer. As opposed to: “Somebody who sings.”“

Song credits:
Lindsey Charles – Vocals
Conan Neutron – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Tony Ash – Bass
Dale Crover – Drums
Toshi Kasai – Production, Engineering, Guitar

Learning Curve Records Website
Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends Bandcamp