After a period that included family loss, faith deconstruction, and a global pandemic, Richmond alt-rock band Wine & Warpaint are back with a brand new single and music video to announce their next EP, “Half to Life.”
Not so long ago, Brandon O’Neill was in a very different place. The former worship leader’s faith deconstruction was chronicled in Wine & Warpaint’s debut, “HOMELESS EP,” tracked in Atlanta, Georgia with Matt Goldman (Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada, Anberlin) and released in November 2018.
“On the first EP I was pretty brazen,” O’Neill said. “I was angry and passionate. But recently I was reflecting on the past few years and I realized I’m not where I hoped I’d be.”
This gave birth to the first line that became the titular single on Wine & Warpaint’s newest EP, “Half to Life”: It felt like I had died and only come back half to life. “I think anyone can relate to that feeling of life flying by,” O’Neill said. “We aren’t progressing as quickly as we should be. We aren’t grieving fast enough. We aren’t evolving fast enough.”
In addition to his recent faith shift, O’Neill went through a significant amount of family loss, which was musically encapsulated in the band’s November 2019 single, “We Don’t Want It.” In a two-month span following their summer east coast tour, O’Neill lost three immediate family members to health ailments, and another received a cancer diagnosis and entered treatment.
Then the universally-felt effects of the COVID-19 pandemic set in. Over the course of 2020, O’Neill adapted Wine & Warpaint by self-producing 10 cover songs, with accompanying videos on Instagram and YouTube. This culminated with the release of the compilation album “Lonely Covers” on February 5, 2021. However, “Half to Life EP,” recorded in O’Neill’s basement studio in September 2020, is the heart and soul of the band, and the truest expression of O’Neill’s processing of the past few years; 2020 included.
With the industry in turmoil, O’Neill opted to keep everything in-house, producing and mixing the record himself, playing every instrument (save for bandmate Colleen Christman’s vocals and gang vocals from his wife, sister, and brother-in-law), and opting to have bandmate Taylor Bess mix the third track and master the EP at Richmond’s own In Your Ear Studios, in friend and frequent collaborator Matthew Walsh’s production room.
“It was out of necessity, but it was also a gift,” O’Neill said. “Working with Matt Goldman on the first EP was a dream come true, but there was something really special about keeping this one within the Wine & Warpaint family, especially during a time where everyone could use the work.”
Produced, engineered, and mixed by Brandon O'Neill except "Anything At All" mixed by Taylor Bess
Mastered by Taylor Bess
All songs written and performed by Brandon O'Neill
Additional vocals by Colleen Christman
Gang vocals by David Lane, Mary Melissa Lane, and Scottie O'Neill
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