It’s fitting that the character at the center of Deliverance, the new album from Good Reverend, appears to be in desperate need of salvation.
Throughout, singer Jeff Meyers delivers lines about having lived a lie (“Ceremony”), slithering away from a poisoned relationship (“Monsoon”) and feeling adrift and uncertain where the road might lead (“Dead Air”).
“When I wrote these songs, I remember being in a pretty low place,” Meyers said by phone from California in late September, where was set to kick off an ambitious, cross-country tour that will bring the band to Columbus for on Friday, Oct. 13. “I was coming out of a PTSD-inducing situation, salvaging what was left after a pretty tough, weird relationship with somebody who was using a lot of drugs behind my back, and there were some scary incidents, and they had to go to the hospital a lot. So, these songs were spurred by that – trying to salvage the pieces of me and figure out what was left of me at the time. … There are spots [on the album] where I’m trying to figure out who I am, and where it’s just me being like, ‘I have a whole bunch of pieces of me here. And they are not the pieces that I know. And they don’t fit together like they used to. And now I’ve got to figure this out.’”
Meyers started to work on these songs “seven or eight” years ago, but by the time he was ready to bring them to life, his previous band, the Weight of Whales, had ended. Needing somewhere to place these songs, he initially launched Good Reverend as a solo project, experimenting with a number of sounds and approaches before fleshing the lineup out in its current hard-charging rock ‘n’ roll form. In his first show under the name, which took place in Grandview at Tree Bar, Meyers said he ended the set by passing out percussive toy instruments to the audience, who then accompanied him in closing the show.
“You’re just in the moment trying to figure out ideas that might make for a unique experience, or something people might want to interact with. … Everything we’ve done is to kind of bring people closer to the music,” Meyers said. “I didn’t have a plan for [Good Reverend] when I started. It was more like, I can’t not do this, and I need somewhere to put these songs. And so I did it by myself for a while and said yes to any weird opportunity. But nothing beats the energy and elation of playing with your friends, and I’m lucky enough to have friends that trust me and want to play music with me. And here we are now. And this is more of what I imagined in my head that the songs should sound like when it started.”
Musically, Deliverance nods to artists such as Queens of the Stone Age and Jack White at his least esoteric, the songs building on punchy, stoner rock riffs, revved up drums and Meyers’ sometimes-sneering delivery. Witness “Hundred Pound Devils,” where his tone matches the words as he sings about spitting venomous acid.
Meyers said most of his lyrics originate as phrases or lines, which he’ll collect in his Notes app and later return to, looking for connections. “It’s often in the moment, and the song will be fun to perform, like, ‘This feels good,’ and then three months later it’s like, ‘Oh, shit. That’s what this was about,’” Meyers said, and laughed. “But I think songwriting is really the only way I’ve been able to have these kinds of conversations with myself. … It’s generally some weird corner of my inner-dialogue that pops up like, ‘You’ve got to face this right now. This is the thing you’re thinking about. I’m going to put this in your lap, and you’re going to need to figure out how to make this comfortable for you.”
Meyers said his fellow Good Reverend bandmates – Jason Winner (drums), Larry Doyle (guitar) and Dan Sherwood (bass) – are driven by similar motivations, all of the members moving in service of the song.
“I don’t think any of us is into it to get a Grammy or buy a mansion or some shit like that,” he said. “I think all of us just want this to be a constant part of our lives. … It definitely comes out of a need, whether it be the emotional aspect for me, and where to put those thoughts and how to organize those thoughts. Or for others, maybe it's just that aspect of we love to play, we need to play. I don’t really want to live a life where I’m not playing. And we’ve figured out a way to do it.”