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Step Into The Light: Narrow Head On Finding Hope Within 'Moments Of Clarity'

Thursday, 09 February 2023 Written by Maddy Howell

Photo: Nate Kahn

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it can pass us by unknowingly, but there are other times when its effects are much more discernible: situations that once felt unsettled can regain clarity, and wounds that once felt raw can begin to heal. This is something that Narrow Head frontman Jacob Duarte came to realise over the past few years.

Finding solace in music while struggling to process the loss of his sister to a drug overdose in 2013, the Houston band’s 2020 album, ‘12th House Rock’, became a vessel for painful personal expression coloured by deep loss, kickstarting a journey of self discovery. “Everything was so different to how it is now, and at the time ‘12th House Rock’ was the best way to express it. Really, it was the only outlet I had for it,” he starts. 

“It’s interesting because it wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to write a bunch of dark material, but when I reflect back on that time I can definitely see where it came from,” drummer Carson Wilcox adds. “At that point in our lives we were working shittier jobs, living in this tiny, chaotic house, and dealing with a bunch of shit in our lives outside of the band. It makes sense that it came out that way, because life felt darker.”

Narrow Head are a band with a strict DIY mindset. ‘12th House Rock’ was entirely self-produced and compiled from hundreds of takes—by the time the final mix was ready to release in August 2020, the world was in lockdown. The scattered and laborious process was followed by a bleak time in human history as the five-piece collectively endured a testing period riddled with loss, pain, and introspection. They felt everything start to change.

“After being cooped up in your home for a year, we were unsure if were ever even going to play a show with the band again. Once you get some clarity or reassurance that you’ll be able to continue, that’s the incentive to push harder,” Carson nods.

“We lost friends of ours during the pandemic, so my outlook on life once things were over was a little more positive,” Jacob adds. “I realised that we have stuff to do that we haven’t done yet, and I needed to do them for those people. I was able to look inside my head more and process things a little better.”

As restrictions came to an end and Narrow Head looked towards the future, they knew they had a big task ahead of them. With renewed appreciation for how swiftly everything could be swept from beneath them, they headed to Los Angeles with one simple objective in mind—to make the best album they’d ever produced.  “After everything that had happened, we had to come back with a better record, and it felt different because we had a goal. We knew we had to get this done,” Jacob nods. 

“We were staying at the house where we were recording in Southern California,” Carson adds. “It was during the fall, and we’d wake up every morning and immediately be looking at the amps and the drums. We knew we had 12 days to make an album, and we were in a complete working mindset.”

With producer Sonny DiPerri flying out to the band’s hometown prior to recording, for the first time Narrow Head were able to venture into a full pre-production process. After diving into all the nuts and bolts of the record and whittling 16 song ideas down to 12 before flying out to LA, they were ready to bring ‘Moments Of Clarity’ to life. 

Their most collaborative record to date, Narrow Head’s third album is the brighter antidote to the overwhelming darkness of their second. Exploring the highs and lows of modern living with all its unexpected nuances and confusions, through 12 songs laden with delicately constructed hooks and churning grunge riffs, the outfit present a new perspective on life shaded by loss.

“We’ve never been a band that’s set out to write a record about a certain thing, but if you look at ‘12th House Rock’ and ‘Moments Of Clarity’ as bodies of work I think you can glean that there has been a shift in our own lives,” Carson says.

“We’re never trying to put out any particular message, and I don’t think there’s anything too personal on this record, but the way the sonic and lyrical aspects naturally turned out shows something,” Jacob adds. “There’s this idea that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and while there are some emotional ones in there, I don’t think there’s anything too self-loathing like there was on our last album.”

Through the glimmers of positivity and the lingering undertones of sorrow, Narrow Head hope that everyone can take something from ‘Moments Of Clarity’, but they’re not concerning themselves with how anyone else interprets what they’re doing. This isn’t about inspiring the next generation of musicians to pick up guitars or forging a cult-like fanbase around their music: they’re simply here to feed their need to create.

“We do it for ourselves, and we do what we think sounds cool,” Jacob smiles. “I love Deftones because on every record they’re doing themselves. You can tell that they’re not really caring about what their fans will think, they’re just making a Deftones record. I think keeping true to yourself will get you further in the long run, and it shows because people didn’t even start listening to ‘Far Removed’ or ‘Satisfaction’ until last year. We’ve been doing this for a minute, and people like it now. If we keep doing ourselves, who knows what will happen in the next 10 years.”

More self-assured than ever before, with ‘Moments Of Clarity’ Narrow Head have found their purpose. Pushing through the darkness in hopes of uncovering a more hopeful future, they’re confidently following their own path to the top, ready to set up their own camp once they get there. “I think this record will give us a place because we’ve been aimlessly jumping from scene to scene for a long time,” Jacob finishes.

“Everything we’re doing here is helping us find our place, but the more I think about it the more I realise that actually our place is just our own fucking lane. I don’t think we’ll ever fit in, and that’s not important to us. Our goal is to make our own category of bands.”

Narrow Head’s ‘Moments Of Clarity’ is out on February 10 through Run For Cover.


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