Unsure about what your 10 picks for #65bangsofstatic should be? No worries, I’ve called in some experts.
I was only going to include people who have worked with the band in some capacity in this series, but as I get more and more top 10s from 65kids with some wonderful explanations, I decided to open it up to them as well. This is, after all, a place by 65kids for 65kids.
Today’s 65kid is… well, me. I’m Christopher, or Tofr for short, and I run the 65 republic. I’m from Belgium, and have been quite obsessed with 65 since 2006. I was taken to their first show in Bruges without knowing who they were, and I was sold. Since then I’ve traveled around Europe to see them perform as much as I can (which isn’t a lot, I have literally no money). This has taken me to some amazing places, like the Arctangent Festival and Manchester Cathedral.
It’s hard to put into words what exactly 65 means to me. I once tried explaining it to a friend like this: “it feels like this band has a kind of sensor, which is connected to my being, and everything that I feel is translated into music that makes it sound so much better than it actually is”. Needless to say, I got some weird looks and we never discussed it again.
But the fact of the matter is, this band has been one of the most important things in my life. Their music has been with me longer than most people in my life. It has celebrated victories with me, but more often, it has been there when I was at my lowest. To say 65 has saved my life is an understatement: there have been literal moments when I stayed alive because I knew I’d be seeing them perform live again sometime in the future.
There is not a single band who has as profound an impact on my life as 65 have. It’s not even close, despite my love for music, and despite the impact bands like And So I Watch You From Afar and Maybeshewill, among many others, have had on me. There’s just something there. This intangible thing, that connects me to this band’s music more than any other. Even though I risk sounding very pretentious, I think I don’t even listen to 65 anymore, I just… feel it. 65 is emotion to me. 65 is love. 65 is the confusion I’ve felt, the fear I’ve worked through, the sadness I carry with me. But most of all, 65 is that tiny spark of hope, that refuses to die. 65 is that feeling when, even though it feels you have nothing left, you keep hanging on. Because what comes next might be better. Because there’s always someone who does love you. Because even when you have nothing left to give, just being who you are is a gift to at least someone, even if that’s just yourself.
Well, that got intense. Let’s just move on to my top 10, shall we?
10. These Things You Can’t Unlearn
I have to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with The Destruction of Small Ideas. Not with the songs themselves, as they were excellent. Not with 65’s choice to change the production, as I think it was a brave thing to do. It’s just… it didn’t work. The production on this album took away the power that hides within all of its songs. Just ask anyone who got to witness the songs from this album live: TDOSI features some of 65’s most intricate writing. Those songs were absolutely incredible to witness in a live setting, and none more so than These Things You Can’t Unlearn.
I could have chosen Primer instead, but I’ve chosen Unlearn because of the 65 show at the Dour Festival in 2007. 65 played right after Sunn O))) to a packed tent, and good god what a show it was. Despite leaving Retreat! Retreat! off the setlist, 65 were just blowing everyone away. There was this tension growing inside the tent, and during Unlearn, the place just exploded when Joe motioned for the crowd to get on stage. Absolute mayhem, and still one of my favourite 65 gigs I’ve ever been to.
I’ve had a… difficult relation with replicr, 2019. I realize that it features some of 65’s best work to date. I love that the band have yet again found another way to reinvent themselves, as that is what they do. It would be weird to see them repeat themselves. The thing was… I just couldn’t “feel” it like I could before. Maybe it has to do with this being the first time one of their albums has sounded so void of hope, but I don’t know. I still can’t really put my finger on it, and it bugs me.
But then again, trackerplatz is what gave me hope. Both when it comes to figuring out my relationship with this album, as with finding hope in general. For most of replicr, light is just… absent. And trackerplatz to me feels like 65, despite being in the darkest place they’ve ever found themselves in, once again giving in to hope, however scary it might be. It’s such a fragile song, and it resonates because of how I feel as well. For the past number of years, I’ve been going through the biggest depression I’ve ever had. And just like this song, I’ve finally found that glimmer of hope, that flame that cannot be extinguished completely. It’s scary to hope, because that has seen me get hurt too badly, too many times before. But the flame burns on, however softly.
8. Retreat! Retreat!
This is a classic for a reason. 65 might have moved away from the more rock-oriented songs of the past, but Retreat! Retreat! is part of the band’s DNA forever. From the tingly beginnings over the full-on headbanging rock of the biggest part of the song to that long outro, it’s just perfect.
This song has been one of my go-to’s whenever I feel like celebrating, or whenever I need something to get pumped up. This band really is unstoppable.
This song has only been out for just over a month, but it has moved me so much I just had to include it here. The Year of Wreckage EP’s are full of amazing tracks, but the Endings EP is one of the project’s best. Gorecki’s just so full of emotion, and I felt that more than anything during the Year of Wreckage livestream last month. It made me feel so… grateful. To be sharing such a special event with such special people. Bang.
I was so sad when this song didn’t make the We Were Exploding Anyway album. This was such a highlight of the test tour, so I was glad when it turned up on the Heavy Sky EP. This song is just glorious. Whenever I feel truly happy about something, it automatically becomes my soundtrack to it. It’s just impossible to feel bad when you listen to it, the joy that comes from it is so irresistible.
I especially love the drumming on this song. Rob is such a great drummer in general, but this song really is his, despite the piano being so prominent.
There’s just something special about Taipei. I remember hearing it for the first time at Dunk! Festival, when the set was mostly WWEA songs. It felt a bit out of place, and the fragmented start to the song left me a bit puzzled. But it didn’t take long to realize that this was something else, and Wild Light would be something to look forward to. The build-up near the end is incredible, and when the pay-off finally comes, the song has earned it so much. I had a really strong reaction to this song during the Manchester Cathedral gig. I was going through a really rough time back then (it was just before my current depression broke me), and I just felt all the recent events and the emotions that came with them coursing through my body all at once. It was intense, but it felt… cleansing.
4. Fix the Sky a Little
This one still hits deep, even after all these years. It might be the best example of what I was trying to explain in my intro, of my emotions being literally connected to the music somehow. There’s a part in this song that just feels like it’s spiraling out of control, and that’s exactly what it feels like when my moodswings decide to take a nosedive once again. At the same time, I often feel happy about being able to feel this song this deeply, as it proves that my depression hasn’t made me numb to everything just yet.
3. Crash Tactics
We Were Exploding Anyway shares the title of my favourite 65 album with Wild Light, so it’s no surprise to see Crash Tactics this high up the list. To me, it represents what WWEA is as an album (despite another song being even higher on the list): it’s 65 taking a risk by evolving their sound, while at the same time finding their identity more than ever. There’s something epic about the call and response thing that’s going on, and I just can’t sit or stand still whenever this pops on. When I heard this for the first time, I knew 65 were here to stay, and that their music would become more adventurous than ever. And I was so ready for that journey.
2. Safe Passage
Not so long ago, this song would’ve been number one. It was always going to be a toss-up between this and my actual number one, but for a long time, nothing managed to stir things up within me like Safe Passage. No song went as deep. The sheer euphoria that bursts from this song, while also being very aware that it’s dangerous to just give in to that actual happiness, reminds me a lot of the euphoric moments I’ve felt during my depression. That might sound weird, but my moodswings can be intense, and there are times when euphoria comes around, especially when I feel like I’ve gotten past a certain point of my mental issues. But that has often proven to be premature, which is why it’s so hard to fully give in to it. However, as this song reminds me to do, I still need to let that euphoria break through the darkness once in a while. Despite the possible hurt, it’s still worth it. The memories attached to the song now have made it lose a spot, but the sheer beauty of the song keeps it high up the list.
1. Tiger Girl
Well, talk about euphoria… This song is just build-up, build-up, build-up. It’s relentless. It keeps teasing sweet release, so much that you almost start begging for it to come. But when it comes, it has been worth the wait so much. It’s hard to explain the effect of Tiger Girl to anyone who hasn’t witnessed the song live. I’ve seen people give the song love before, but I think you can only really feel it when you’ve felt it during a gig. It just transforms into something more. It’s the most epic 65 have ever gotten live, despite their shows always being epic as hell. Even though it wouldn’t fit with the band’s current sound, I’ll always keep hoping for them to play it again live. The patient start, the break, and then that slow build-up… Paul joining in on drums, Simon losing himself in the noise more and more… and then Joe grabbing his guitar, and doing what he does best. Ugh. This song makes me so happy.
I love you 65. Thank you for everything.