Observe The 93rd: Inspirations Behind “Eternalism”

Alt-Rock band Observe The 93rd have released their latest album “Eternalism.” To celebrate the release, vocalist Derek Henry is sharing some of his biggest inspirations and pop culture references on the album.

‘We Are Already Dead’
“We are right here amongst the surf-tormented shores.” This lyric from the chorus is a reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘A Dream Within a Dream’. The main theme of this album is as the title states, ‘Eternalism’ (a theory of time that suggests the past, present, and future are all equally real), and this song, being the opening track, is very much an introduction to that concept. When I was writing the chorus, I knew I wanted a reference to the past, present, and future.

“We are already dead.”– future
“We are not yet born.”– past
“We are right here amongst the surf-tormented shores.”- present

I chose this reference point for two reasons: The ocean has always been very centering for me. It makes me feel present. I don’t see it often, and every time I do I feel like it snaps me out of a daze created by all of our routines and social constructs. Second, ‘A Dream Within a Dream’ is a poem exploring existential ideas and the more abstract possibilities of reality, which the theory of eternalism does as well.

Another reference in this song can be found in the line, “Bunnymen living limited edition.”

While writing this line, I remember wanting to derive it from very specific things happening around me, that way it would become a kind of time capsule for that precise moment. Listening back, I would feel nearly transported to that window in time, thus creating a feeling of connectivity between the past and present. “Bunnymen” is a nod to Echo and the Bunnymen. Their song ‘The Killing Moon’ was playing softly in the background. Aside from wanting to tune in to things happening around me, I liked the idea of including this reference because it’s lyrics grapple with fate and our own free will, which could easily be part of the overarching Eternalism philosophical discussion. It’s also the song that plays in the opening scene of Donnie Darko, a film that explores time travel and other abstract/existential themes.

‘Deja Vu Slide’
When I was little, I was incredibly afraid to go to sleep due to nightmares I’d have. So, I’d stay up watching Nick at Nite for hours. In these verse lyrics:

“1am to 2am. Feeling alright. Oh happy days. Come and knock on the door to my mind.”

I’m referencing the theme songs for the shows Happy Days and Three’s Company. In the context of the full song, I’m glitching back and forth in the timeline of my life between being out at a club in the present day and being a child in bed watching Nick at Nite. Though I’m disoriented, I feel like I’m at the cusp of understanding a fundamental truth of reality, only for it to slip away.

‘The Halloween Song’
I make two references to the film ‘Donnie Darko’ in this song.
The first is in the line, “A carnival in Middlesex.” In the movie, there’s a small sign that Donnie passes that’s advertising a ‘Middlesex Halloween Carnival’.

The second, more obvious reference is, “Horror movie marathons. Donnie Darko songs.”
Not only is ‘Donnie Darko’ a movie that takes place around Halloween, but the soundtrack just feels like Halloween. In fact, post-punk music in general feels like October to me for some reason. The Cure, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc. I have a playlist I made on my Spotify called ‘Fall/Halloween’ filled with these kinds of artists.

At the core of this song, I’m expressing my love for Halloween but, it does still tie into the Eternalism theme. Most notably, in the lyric “We’re all a ghost story it seems, just ghosts still existing.” I’m both suggesting that we are all simultaneously alive and dead (hence we are currently ghosts as well as still existing), and also referencing the David Lowery film ‘A Ghost Story’, which has heavy themes of Eternalism.

The reason I point out that this song still deals with the theory of Eternalism in the lyrics though is because that is another reason I was adamant about including Donnie Darko references. Donnie Darko is a film based in October with a lot of Halloween imagery, the soundtrack includes a lot of post-punk music that feels like Halloween to me, but also the plot deals with time-travel. It’s the perfect cinematic pairing for this song haha

Observe The 93rd’s album is available to stream now here.

AltCorner Staff

December 15, 2023

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