HEAL THYSELF Early Day Miners

Dan Burton mines the
abyss of divorce and comes up with
The Treatment.

 

By AARON KAYCE

 

For the past decade Early Day Miners have been considered a Midwest “musical cooperative.” Based out of Bloomington, IN-a
“two-dog town,” according to bandleader Dan Burton-EDM often featured up to 12
people, but that’s all changed. Burton
has trimmed the Miners to a quartet and they’ve aggressively refined the sound.
Reeling in the epic, cinematic guitar journeys of the past, on their sixth
full-length The Treatment (released
Sept. 22 on Secretly Canadian), they are now engaged in subversive pop music.
Sad and at times desperate lyrics are hidden behind buoyant bass, tripped out
loops and layers of digital haze. It’s pop in the same way Death Cab for Cutie,
Elbow or even some areas of the Radiohead catalog is pop.

 

“All good bands that exist over a period of ten years
dramatically change who they are, you gotta try new things” says Burton. “I like that it’s
sort of new, it’s kind of like looking at the band through a new lens or
something.”

 

From the lineup to the songwriting to the mindset,
everything is more concise and focused, but there are certainly elements of the
past that have been retained. “It’s almost like through being less ambitious
sonically we’re getting into music that we’re super excited about,” Burton says. “The whole
less is more thing; we’ve always been sort of a minimalist band, but the reverb
pedals, I just love ‘em and it’s hard to kind of keep away.”

 

Change is good, there’s no denying it, but it’s usually
difficult and often only happens when thrust upon us. “I went through a divorce
when writing all the lyrics on the record,” says Burton, “and [the lyrics often] come off
being really happy and almost kinda flip, but really, they’re pretty dark.”

 

With the context of divorce it’s natural for the album to be
built around heavy emotions and bleak imagery and it makes perfect sense when Burton explains that “a
lot of the lyrical content of the record, the themes are family and
disconnections within family.” With its female counter-point and disturbing
guitar squall, you can feel the tattered threads of Burton’s marriage slipping
through his fingers on “So Slowly” as he sings: “Everything you can’t hold in
your hands/All this gold you can’t redeem in any land/In my house I know your
ghost/In my soul you’ll stay for sure/Summertime goes by so slow.”

 

This sense of isolation and loneliness permeates everything
on The Treatment, even the very
fitting album art. Created with multiple exposure photos of a family
disappearing into thin air, this is the visual representation of the songs we
hear, the connections we long for, the evaporating love around us, Dan Burton’s
marriage. 

 

“A lot of people are ‘people pleasers’ that live their lives
for others,” says Burton
with a sense of reflection. “That’s sort of my take on when you go through
something like a divorce, you’re disappointing the other person so much, and
you just want to sort of hold things together, and you want to be the good guy
and say things, even when it’s really maybe not the right thing to do for
either person.” 

 

This struggle to just hold on, or maybe even just hold the
other person up while you fall down, runs deep in The Treatment. But by seeing the “people pleasers” for the
self-destructive dreamers they are we might find the strength to allow
ourselves happiness. “It’s okay to be selfish I guess is kind of what I’m
getting at as the answer” explains Burton,
“because in the end you’re making everybody around you happier.” 

 

What he means is that you might have people you can rely on,
people that are your friends or loved ones, but at the end of the day it’s you.
You’re alone in this world and it’s up to you to make yourself happy, and if
you depend on anyone else for that, it just makes everyone miserable. It’s hard
to swallow but it’s true, and that’s what this album is, it’s The Treatment for our sad, TV fantasy,
disconnected digital-age lives. 

 

“It’s definitely the perfect title for the album” adds Burton. “And there are two
reasons, sonically the record is treated a lot more than past EDM records so we
thought that fit well. Also, the lyrical content is sort of, a song like
‘Becloud’ is about getting yourself out of the room when you’re depressed. And
so there’s a sort of rehabilitation whenever you’re down in whatever way it is,
whether you’re going through a divorce or a life change or whatever. You pretty
much have to heal yourself.”

 

[Photo Credit: Rebecca Drolen]

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