Saintseneca’s songwriting is a unique beast.
Lead singer Zac Little writes with internal rhymes and assonance as dense as those of Gerard Manley Hopkins (“Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s / Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name” – Hopkins could’ve been an indie singer-songwriter, if he wasn’t a Victorian.) You’d think Little would eventually run out of sounds, and have to sacrifice either sonics or sense. Instead, he keeps writing lines like “the flesh is your reference for knowing the soul” as if he transcribes the messages of falling angels daily.
Little has described what he brings to the band as the “skeleton” of a song. The rest of the band (currently Caeleigh Featherstone, Jessi Bream, and Andy Cook) contributes muscles, tendons, breath; the songs seethe like live things, born in the basements of Columbus, Ohio. The band’s most recent monster is “Wild Violent,” a seasonally appropriate single that I’m really hoping heralds a new album soon…
“Wild Violent” joins “Michael Myers Resplendent” by the Mountain Goats on a very small shelf in my heart labeled Beautiful Songs About Horror Movie Villains. “I spent the weekend watching / Freddy K movies on your TV. / Wild violent… I never was allowed / to watch that kind of thing as a child” sings Little.
Me either, so I didn’t know that Freddy Kreuger specifically targeted children, nor that he attacked in dreams. That information deepens the surprisingly simple and catchy refrain, “let me get by, let me live my life.” By not explaining the reference in the song, Little makes the listener discover it alone, just as the character in the song does.
I’ve been talking about “Wild Violent” with a friend of mine, who has dubbed it “our other song” (the first “our song” of this friendship is Saintseneca’s “Good Hand.”) She hears in this song the loneliness of realizing that someone close to you has been formed by experiences you can’t share. Sometimes you’re separated by time or circumstance, and even if you go back and watch someone’s collection of old horror movies, you’re taking in the stories alone, as an adult, not fresh and raw with child eyes, “in theaters, with a dress like hers.”
Little doesn’t explain why this character is watching horror movies all weekend “on your TV,” but it seems like a way of reaching out to somebody who is out of reach. We look for the people we love in what they love, when we can’t find them elsewhere.
All my favorite bands were someone else’s favorite first.
The loneliness in this song is the loneliness of realizing you can’t reach someone through the stories that reached them. Something might crawl out of your television screen, like the ghost in Ringu, but you can’t crawl through yourself and be with the person you loved, to watch with them for the first time a movie that came out “the summer I was born.” The closing horror of “Wild Violent” isn’t the discovery that there’s a monster in your dream with you; it’s that you’re in your dream alone. “Oh no, my dream’s all mine” – any monsters there are just me, and my friend is somewhere else.