Long Island duo, Them Vs. Her are celebrating the release of their brand new full length, Swing Sets And Handguns. Serving as their first concept album, Swing Sets And Handguns follows the relationship between a girl (the narrator) and her childhood best friend, telling a story about addiction and love. Sarah Rose and Tim Stark are all too familiar with the struggles chronicled throughout Swing Sets And Handguns, making the album a very personal, emotional and even hopeful release. Fans can pick up the album now, and read our interview with Sarah Rose below.
Can you tell us about Them Vs. Her for anyone who may not be familiar?
We’re an alternative/indie-rock band from Long Island, NY. I’m Sarah, I’m the vocalist and my boyfriend of three years, Tim, is the guitarist. We’re influenced by Mayday Parade, The Dangerous Summer and Dashboard Confessional.
You just released your new album, Swing Sets And Handguns, and I understand it is also a concept album. Can you tell us about the story behind it?
The story is about a young couple that grew up together. They both suffer with an addiction of some kind. What their addicted to exactly is never mentioned, because it’s open for interpretation; however, the narrator (the girl) refers to it as “him” throughout the album and refers to her lover as “you.” I did this because during my treatment for bulimia, I called my eating disorder “Ed,” in the same fashion as the book Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer. The album starts in the couple’s childhood and as it progresses and they grow up, they fall deeper and deeper into their personal demons. There’s a short story included in the physical CD and you can also find it online on our social media profiles.
The themes discussed on Swing Sets And Handguns are something that many people, including yourselves, are very familiar with. What is it like being able to touch on these subjects and give a voice to others who may be struggling?
To be honest, it’s a little intimidating since it is a touchy subject. I also don’t want to give off the impression that I think I understand every mental illness struggle out there, because I certainly don’t. It’s just that I’ve learned being open about your troubles (in my case-bulimia, depression, self-mutilation, suicidal ideation) makes them ultimately weaker. Suffering and even, recovering, in silence gives your problem control over you. It gives off a false sense of shame when you don’t tell anyone what you’re going through or what you’ve been through. Releasing the album, for me, is another way to overpower my disorder. And if the songs inspire someone else that’s suffering to get help or to speak up, then that’s a big added bonus.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome when working on Swing Sets And Handguns?
During recording, we were toying around with the idea of bringing in new members to form a full permanent band. That caused a lot of stress for Tim and me. As it was, we had our producer Anthony Lopardo of Westfall Recording Company and our good friend Matthew Delay record parts for the songs. We did bring other people in for a short time once it was fully recorded and while it was fun, we ultimately decided that the band should stay how it was originally formed: just the two of us.
What were some of the most rewarding parts of the writing and recording process?
Writing with Tim is the most rewarding part about coming up with new material. I love the connection we have when we write together and it’s the best way we communicate with each other. Being able to see our visions come to life is the most rewarding part of preproduction/recording. When we write, they’re just acoustic songs and although I like how raw they are when they’re first created, we always want more out of it.
How do you feel you’ve grown as people or as musicians with the creation of the album?
We’ve learned a lot about music and just life in general. There’s too many things we’ve learned in the past two years alone to really state everything. Our writing style has also changed as we’ve matured. If you listen to our old acoustic EP Consume My Thoughts released in 2013, you can really hear the change.
What would you like listeners to take away from Swing Sets And Handguns?
My biggest hope is that listeners can relate to our songs in their own way and find comfort in them.
Looking toward the future, would you consider continuing the story told in Swing Sets And Handguns or creating another concept release?
Swing Sets and Handguns will always have a place in my heart, being our first full length release and the story-loosely based on our relationship and recoveries, will always remind me of that chapter in our lives. But with that said, I think the story is complete. As Tim and I continue living healthier lives and move on from our own disordered thinking, the things that used to define us-“alcoholic,” “bulimic,” no longer define us anymore. We’ll be writing about other things going on in our lives, I’m sure. That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider writing another concept album. The story for Swing Sets and Handguns came naturally during the song writing process. If that happens again for a future release, I’d let it happen without forcing anything.
Do you have any plans to hit the road in support of the album or any other big plans for 2016?
We’ll be releasing a few music videos-the first one being next month for “Headlights” (release date to be announced very soon) and we’ll be doing some out of town shows later this year. We plan on going out to NJ, PA, NYC and upstate NY. Show dates will be announced around late Summer and as they come.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for having us! One thing I’d like to add is to always smell the mayonnaise before you use it. One time, our good friend Anthony C. didn’t check it first and he was sick for four days straight. He got sick all over Tim in the car. It was nasty.