Secret Weapons has undoubtedly been through the ringer. And no, I don’t mean couch surfing between gigs — that story has already been told many times. Perhaps the boys didn’t even realize when choosing their band name: Secret Weapons, that that name was destined for two musicians who would coincidentally serve as their own arsenal of perseverance — strange how destiny finds its way.
After breaking through on the Spotify charts as unsigned artists and working by day at Epic records — the band was famously signed to the label after LA Reid got wind of someone working in his very own building that had over 4 million numbers of spins — turns out, that was Secret Weapons. After a summer of touring with bands like Weezer and Panic! at the Disco with their debut four-song EP, the guys were seemingly on the rise…. Until things got strangely serious, and lead singer Gerry Lange got strangely ill.
Behind closed doors, Gerry had been having strange bouts of sickness since shortly after they signed their deal with Epic. Lead Guitarist, Danny Rocco says, “One weekend during a writing session, Gerry nearly fainted. We went to the ER and the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Slowly but surely it got worse and worse. He started developing severe sensitivities to mold, and unfortunately the studio we would record much of our album it was a 19th-century warehouse on a pier in Red Hook…”
With the stigma of having to uphold the image of being a “rock star” while on-stage and attempting to uphold their image of the “fun synth-rock duo from Brooklyn”, the duo kept Gerry’s mysterious health struggles quietly. The band continued to struggle to finish their full-length LP, while Gerry was often laying down while recording his vocals, was often barely able to get through his performances, and even experienced partial vocal paralysis due to a reaction to mold while tracking songs.
Danny adds, “While on tour, most hotel rooms were moldy, and Gerard spent almost every night on the road sleeping in our van in the parking lot. The worst was South by Southwest. Gerry was so sick he was nearly delirious — we had 4 shows in 2 days. We literally propped him up on stage for the sets, when he would go backstage, he would collapse — no one knew. He spent every moment where people couldn’t see him on those tours wearing a mask to block out the mold.”
The songs on their just released full-length LP, “As the setting sun comes down on me” took a swift left turn in the subject matter having gone from “konichiwild” and other songs that were mostly playful, to songs about survival and quite literally “Waiting for An Answer.”
Cryptic messages on their social media appeared as the new songs were released and mentioned things like “severe struggles” and personal reasons why the album “meant so much” to them…. Still never revealing Gerry’s struggles, which turned out to be a rare auto-immune illness, with little available treatment for the harsh symptoms.
Most cryptic is the album art, which features a dark figure carrying another limp, almost lifeless body — perhaps a visual metaphor showing us just what it took to complete this mountain of a project, Danny Rocco says “strangely, the album became about making the album.”
After almost three years of keeping quiet, the duo has simply decided that it’s time to reveal the secrets of Secret Weapons — they are ready to talk. Ready to break down the stories, lyrics, and perhaps one of the strongest friendships of all time that led them to write these songs together. They’re ready to break down and tell us the truth about the music that kept them alive… and kept them, from breaking down.
Lyric: “There’s fire burning, of there’s pain in my desire”.
This song deals the most with Gerry’s illness. It’s divided into three acts. The first part is the initial struggle — after signing a record deal and finally getting to do everything we dreamed of doing, the illness set in. The second act, is our dealing with it, and trying to live as normal as lives with our friends and family as possible. The third: overcoming. We recorded the vocals when Gerry was at the peak of his illness, and there’s a certain character in there that we decided to keep. The title of the album “As the setting sun comes crashing down on me” is taken from this song. It perfectly summarizes the way we felt: like this enormous weight was consuming us, and everything we had worked for.
Lyric: “Young man, if you’re patiently waiting to due the tides will turn.”
This deals with overcoming hopelessness. We already felt like our hands were tied behind our backs while making our album, and we could either surrender to it or push forward. Being in a band is hard enough as it is, but you need to play the hand you’re dealt.
Lyric: “It’s too late, it’s too late I’m losing my body, to these walls and the jungles of fire, as we slowly forget who we are, forget who we are, forget who we are.”
There were times where we’d be walking and Gerry would completely forget where he was. There were a few scary instances where he was alone and this happened.
“Waiting for an Answer”
Lyric: “So baby, come save me, I’m waiting, I’m waiting for an answer”. This deals with the sort of savior-complex you can develop when sick. You wish so badly for anything to work and try everything there is — It becomes fatalistic at some point.
For the last year or so, if you’ve seen Secret Weapons perform live or had the chance to meet the guys in-person, you’d have no idea of their struggle on a daily basis. While some bands sing primarily about relationships, parties, etc. — Secret Weapons are bringing us the ultimate realness, in albeit a melodic and tonally fresh way. You’d have no idea that those perfect vocals that sound like some sort of mixture of Bruno Mars and The Weeknd have had such struggle just to make it into your ears — it almost makes the term “earworm” more appreciated.
And yes, there are still “fun” songs on the album — because these guys aren’t here to be all doom and gloom. In fact, they aren’t here to sing about the frivolities the rest of us seemingly complain about on the daily — No, Secret Weapons are here to sing about and celebrate the things they DO have, and that in of itself is a story, message, — and music — that should be shared worldwide.
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