Exclusive: Watch Civilian's Evocative Video for New Single "Skulls"

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Paste can exclusively share that Florida-based rockers Civilian have released a music video for new single “Skulls” in preparation for their sophomore album, You Wouldn’t Believe What Privilege Costs, out Oct. 21 via Tooth & Nail. Following 2012’s Should This Noose Unloosen, the new album takes a very earnest, heart-on-sleeve approach: “The new album is essentially a collection of songs that I am almost entirely hesitant to put out,” says frontman Ryan Alexander. “The love songs for fear of one day losing what I love, the socio-political songs for fear of sounding hopeless, the religious songs for [fear] they betray me as a black sheep psalmist.”

That framing certainly reflects itself in both “Skulls” and its video—the duality of pain and elation that come with letting oneself be vulnerable in love sets the tone of the song in both a elegant and uncomfortable manner at the same time, while the video evokes both longing and loneliness. “One friend of mine had a miscarriage and another had the cutest kid ever,” Alexander says. “Those are the kinds of things that inspired this new album. That and Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Elaborating on the video itself—the band’s first narrative visual—Alexander explains:

The SKULLS video was directed and edited by one of my creative heroes, Josiah Sampson. I flew him into Nashville and we wrote/ shot/ edited the whole thing in less than 48 hours. I’ve never been fond of the idea of doing a narrative video just because of how hard they are to do well, but on the other hand I knew that if the director and I started talking the idea out that I was working with someone whose creative direction I trusted. The video feels separate than the song when I watch it because it wasn’t written with a visual companion in mind. The song (in the broad sense) resides within the domain of the heart because the experience must be one which is shared between the writer and the listener. To experience the song in a visual form, like a music video, is to encounter the song in the mind, rather than the heart, because you process things differently when you see them as opposed to hearing them. That’s how I experience the two mediums, anyway.

You Wouldn’t Believe What Privilege Costs is an attempt to examine the intersection of love and politics and science and hope and nihilism. These aren’t mutually exclusive ideas,” continues Alexander. “They interact every second of every day, yet we feel the need to keep them separate and neat. Love is anything but neat. Religion is anything but easy. Politics are anything but convenient.”

The anticipation of the release of Privilege is palpable, but Alexander tries to keep it from bothering him:

Anxiety has never been a useful tool for me. Nerves throw me off more than almost anything. Of course I’m anxious about the record coming out, but not because I’m scared of what people are going to think of it as a whole. If the album was eleven songs long, instead of twelve, I would be okay. But there is a song on the record called “Michael” that scares the hell out of me. Without “Michael” I would be doing cartwheels, however I feel that this song is my most important work to date and it needs to be heard. To get my mind off the pressure I feel I have been intentional about taking more pictures, keeping my bedroom cleaner than usual and going on lots of dates with my girlfriend.

“I hope people listen to this record and let it unsettle them. I want people to see the people they love in the people I love – the people I am writing about,” says Alexander. “I want people to know that what they think and say really matters and that nothing deep and meaningful should be off limits. We should boldly sit at the table of ideas and share our stories. This is what it is to be human.”

Watch the “Skulls” video above.