Behind The Artworks: Tenements - What Hasn’t Killed You Is Only getting Stronger (2018)


When I was between my previous band and Tenements I was experiencing a myriad of mental illness building inside of me, mostly accumulating through a traumatic experience and excessive drinking.

As I began writing for this project i started suffering from chronic Sleep Paralysis, which became the main inspiration behind our first song Silhouettes. As I was working on the lyrics I came up with a concept which I wrote down before every writing session:

“I can’t hold this kingdom with my hands Between my fingers, it turns to sand”

I took this phrase and gave it to a friend Jay Mar Bacus who drew merch designs for my previous band. He came up with the ‘Handcastle’ logo which we use for everything. Our Eddie/Batskull, if you will.

As the band progressed I started using each song to pinpoint certain aspects of my mental health. As much as I urge people to talk about their issues and be open, I confess that I myself don’t practice what I preach very well. I can only truly find solace in my lyricism. I can communicate better, and explain myself through these songs in ways I can’t by simply talking. If I didn’t have expression through this art form, I don’t think I would know how to fix myself. I’m also very fortunate to have bandmates as close as I do. We are all going through varied things in life and are lucky to not only be bandmates and close friends, but also a very tight support group. Tenements is a band. Tenements is a gang. Tenements is a group therapy session.

I wanted to take our ‘Handcastle’ concept and build on it for the artwork of our debut EP. Throughout the writing process it started to feel everything inside me was building taller, and draining the colour from my world. We talked to our friend Kyle Smith about the concept and he came up with the design. When I first saw the buildings being built on top of each other weighing down on worn hands I felt it encapsulated everything about the EP perfectly, and having such a bold colour wrap around, even somewhat mask the buildings made it a perfect metaphor for our work. 

Kyle is also a tattoo artist for a shop called Land Ahoy based in Glasgow. He’s done work on the majority of the band - even did my Handcastle tattoo - so it’s come full circe. We’re a loyal band when it comes to working with people. Jay has also done a few more merchants designs for us. Both artists have and hopefully will continue to make incredible work from our ideas. We’re so grateful to be surrounded by wonderful talented people. Thank you.

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