“I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.” Reads the inscription on the wall of a cellar in Cologne, Germany, a cellar harbouring those fleeing the German Nazi regime. Six hundred and seventy-three miles away the same words are carved into the side of a cave wall and are found next to the body of a Jewish girl during the liberation of the infamous Krakow Ghetto in 1944. The statement is one that echoes throughout one of the darkest periods in human history, and today the events of such atrocities and mass scale genocide still haunt those pushing for change.
When we last spoke to Cane Hill vocalist, Elijah Witt, just over a year ago for their cover feature, Witt expressed that a vast level of the darkness behind the nu-metal outfit’s music came from both a knowledgeable and curious fascination and reflection on his personal studies of this dark era of history. Their home state of New Orleans is one that is still heavily active when it comes to extreme fascist activism, and the band’s disgust towards the views of the far right can even be heard at the end of their track, Scumbag, of which at the end you hear Witt simply state, “fucking Nazi scum.”
“When you spend as much time reading and learning about the darkest moments in humanity you begin to comprehend that the world is a much more desperate place than you conceived previously.”
Fast forward 12 months since the release of Too Far Gone and Witt and his fellow band member and drummer, Devin Clark find themselves right in the heart of Europe, and with it at one of the darkest centre points in world genocide. “Visiting Auschwitz (concentration camp) was probably the spark that put us in such a dark place to access a willingness to speak on darker subject matter.” Reflects Witt. “When you spend as much time reading and learning about the darkest moments in humanity you begin to comprehend that the world is a much more desperate place than you conceived previously.”
Previously Witt had expressed how the American educational system had in many ways shied away from the intensity of such a subject, especially as growing up as a ‘white Christian in America’. However, with their own platform for discussion, their music, it’s become apparent that Witt hasn’t held back on conveying the darkness within their own music. “There’s so much pain and suffering that surrounds you that you could so easily ignore and choose to believe that it doesn’t exist in your own ignorant bubble, but the things we’ve seen, and the things we’ve read about are enough to change your worldview in an instant. Maybe we would have been happier people without it, but that’s not the bliss we want. I know I harp on about honesty and sincerity a lot but that’s just what our music boils down to.”
“We’ve talked, you and I, about watching the world ignore the history it’s created. The ignorance, whether willful or negligent, is the cause of pain for so many people.”
Whilst many a statement from both victims, and historians from the holocaust always conclude with the words ‘never again’, Witt, like many other American’s currently living in a politically turbulent time, are unconvinced and in many ways anxious that the past has the potential to once more repeat itself under their current presidency. “We’ve talked, you and I, about watching the world ignore the history it’s created. The ignorance, whether willful or negligent, is the cause of pain for so many people. The darkness of the world cannot, and should not, be ignored because it’s the only way to learn and grow into a better place.”
This month Cane Hill will release their fourth release in the form of the acoustically led, Kill The Sun. Whilst in comparison this release is a lot softer than previous releases, the record still remains both eerie and hard hitting in it’s blunt confrontation to the most controversial areas of the human psyche. “The rarity of the honesty we bring to our music and the willingness not to shy away from subjects that are genuinely hard to talk about makes it easier for them (the listeners) to be able, to be honest about those subjects as well. A sort of solidarity…”. Kill The Sun may not be a direct reflection on Witt’s historical interests, but the subject matter is still one that even in current society is deemed ‘taboo’. Suicide, desperation, and mental illness is laced throughout the six tracks. “As long as we’re living, and humanity & consciousness are weights on our breathing shoulders, we’re going to have content to put out.” Muses Witt.
Whilst our conversation with Witt continues to discuss influences from the past in the form of both historical and musical influences, we soon find that both Kill The Sun, and in fact all of the band’s releases, both past, present and future, are all connected by a basic human principle. To create an open discussion, no matter the controversy about what it is that makes us human, both dark and enlightening. “We’ve been surrounded by so many awful situations and feelings of depravity, loss, depression, both past and present.” Concludes Witt. “Art is subjective, always has been always will be, and that’s why it’s amazing. It’s borderline too polarizing sometimes, and that’s what art should be. A discussion piece that creates tension between differing schools of thought, construction conversation that challenges people from both sides.”
Kill The Sun is out now via Rise Records.