The World is a Beautiful Place… moves into ‘foreign’ territory


Courtesy Shervin Lainez

Seven-piece indie rock band The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid To Die released its third full-length album, Always Foreign, Sept. 29.

By Jonathon Sadowski

David Bello, vocalist for The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid To Die, once existentially crooned “Just trying to find a way out to a city so big/That it is bound to keep your secrets.” But on one of the band’s newest tracks, “Marine Tigers,” he broaches the question: “Can you still call it a country if all the states are broken?” 

This shift from symphonic, pondering emo to a politically charged, slightly more straightforward rock sound is notable in the indie rock band’s third full-length album, Always Foreign, released Sept. 29. The new tracks cover themes ripped straight from headlines such as the opioid epidemic, xenophobia and emotional abuse. 

The Chronicle spoke with Bello in advance of the group’s Oct. 13 show at the Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., about the new record, memes and the band members’ longstanding friendships. 

THE CHRONICLE: In Always Foreign, why did you decide to sing about more concrete, current themes? 

DAVID BELLO: That was definitely an intentional thing, mainly because we started writing it around the election last year. It became something we couldn’t ignore, and we were all blown away by the result. It was impossible to avoid talking about this as a thing. Previously, it was easier to write about more abstract concepts because there were less things in our face. At the point we started writing, it was unavoidable. There’s no way to stop thinking about it, so there’s no way to not write about it.

Are there songs in which you struggle to tastefully use all seven members? 

We all have the mindset that if it’s working, it’s working, but then it’s always cool to try out adding as much as possible. If there’s too much, we can delete stuff. We even get some outside people coming in, too. We had our drummer’s father, Gary Buttery, play tuba on it, we had Matt Hull from [emo jazz band] People Like You, we had someone playing trombone [and] someone playing violin. 

In a prior interview, you said something to the effect of “Always Foreign is The World is a Beautiful Place… but better.” 

I always feel like what we’re [currently] doing is better than what we’ve done before. If it wasn’t, it would be a disappointment. There’s always room to progress, and I definitely feel like this record did that to a huge degree. We hadn’t recorded or written anything in maybe a year, maybe more than a year before we started working on this record. Coming back to do this felt really good, and we’re all super proud of it. 

Who’s behind the band’s memes and self-deprecating humor on your social media accounts?

We all have very related senses of humor—sort of a collective opinion about things. It’s mainly Chris [Teti, guitarist] and Dylan [Balliet, guitarist and vocalist] who use the Twitter account. They don’t really do anything we don’t support. It’s a group effort in that sense. There’s some good ones on the marquees at venues if they put our name up outside. We played in Phoenix a couple tours ago, and [a marquee] said something like “The World is a Beautiful—I’m tired of writing on this sign.” That wasn’t us—we got there and they’d done it, and it was hilarious.  

Are you all old friends? 

It’s kind of a mix. The majority of the people in the band are from Connecticut, and they all knew each other. Me and Dylan are from West Virginia. We’ve known each other for 13 years; [we] were best friends for a long time. Everybody else was either best friends or knew each other from playing in bands together.Then we all linked up, and for the last few years, we’re all best friends.