Upon first listen, L.A. trio’s lovelytheband’s breakout single “Broken” — which spent a whopping nine weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart — seems like a chirpy, sing-songy summer smash, in the same vein as upbeat alt-pop hits by MGMT, Portugal. The Man, or Capital Cities. But a closer inspection of the lyrics reveals that it’s not such a lighthearted tune after all. The song is about two kindred sad souls coming together (“I like that you’re broken, broken like me/ I like that you’re lonely, lonely like me/ I could be lonely with you,” goes the chorus), and lead singer Mitchy Collins, who has struggled with depression and anxiety, tells Yahoo Entertainment that he wrote “Broken” during “probably the worst spell of my life.”
“I was in a really down place. I was lost. Lots of self-destructive behavior,” says Collins, standing with his bandmates Jordan Greenwald and Sam Price after playing “Broken” to a screaming crowd in the Toyota Music Den at Las Vegas’s Life Is Beautiful festival. “But on the other side of it came some music that we care about. You know, I’m in bit of a better place now, so I’m thankful for it.”
While some fans may simply enjoy “Broken” and other tracks on lovelytheband’s recently released debut album Finding It Hard to Smile (which Collins says was “a big therapy session for me” and “a story about most of my life”), for the buoyant, hooky melodies, the band does get feedback from fans touched by the songs’ messages, like one girl in Portland who made them “Broken” necklaces.
“We get fans coming to the shows and in our DMs and stuff every day, saying how the music has helped them or described their life in ways they couldn’t, put words to something they were feeling but they didn’t know how [to express],” says Collins. “Music helped me do that as a kid” — Collins, Greenwald, and Price cite emotional acts like Linkin Park, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, and U2 as childhood influences — “and we’re just glad that it could help other people.”
There’s a new national conversation going on in which musicians are speaking out about mental health unlike ever before, and Collins says, “I’d like to think we’re a part of that conversation. It’s a huge part of our band, and it’s a huge part of my life. It’s stuff I deal with and struggle with every single day. … Everybody has issues these days, and [“Broken”] is reminding people that it’s absolutely OK to not be OK. It’s a courageous thing to ask for help and to reach out if you’re feeling down.”
Another alt-rock hit for lovelytheband is “These Are My Friends,” and that is apt. Collins explains that the tune is about “keeping the ones closer that pull the magic out of you,” and the three band members became fast friends and close collaborators since meeting during a drunken night of L.A. bar-hopping two years ago. This past December while on their first tour, they even all got matching tattoos of the word “one.” Says Collins proudly, “It signifies our first No. 1 song.”
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