The band's third album It Starts With Love is due out June 3 on Missing Piece Records and the band will celebrate with a tour stop and hometown album release show on June 2 at The Secret Group. Supporting acts include long time collaborators Sugar Joiko and Z’Maji Glamouratti.
“It was a culmination of about seven years of work and collaboration,” says lead singer Kam Franklin of the band's third studio album. “We had gone through a lot of changes and things happening at one time but one thing that was certain was the music.”
"We couldn't be here having not gone through everything else and I'm just very proud of where we are at now. We’ve definitely been through the ringer and then some but I feel that to come out of that lighter is just a reflection of the hard work and just overall dedication of this band," says Franklin.
Following the release of their 2018 album Everything Here, the band had been on a busy touring schedule, had a large amount of gear stolen while on the road, were constantly faced with racism and sexism on tour and experienced internal changes within the band as they parted with two of their founding members.
"We couldn't be here having not gone through everything else and I'm just very proud of where we are at now."
“Life was life-ing and we all had crazy headspaces happening,” describes Franklin. “I know a lot of bands when they talk about splitting from band members you really don’t talk about it as the loss of the relationship and the grief that is there. I think we had a lot of emotion going on at one time and I think you can really hear that in the music.”
It Starts With Love also saw the band taking a new approach to songwriting and recording as they focused on collaborations in the songwriting process and also, due to the onset of the pandemic were forced to find a new way to record safely as the virus emerged.
“COVID is in full swing and people don't really know what could happen to you if you get it,” describes trumpeter Jon Durbin of the time. “The thought of us doing it remotely was fun but also just different and something we'd never done before.”
Franklin put her corporate America skills from her previous jobs to work and set up a complex spreadsheet system for the band to participate in the creation and selection process of almost 70 tracks.
“It kept us on our toes and it was really exciting,” says Durbin. “It was just a whole new way to record because I really didn't know what other people had recorded unless I would get it a couple of days before so there was a bit of mystery going into the sessions which was a little overwhelming.”
“We were going through a lot of changes and this recording process was no different from any of that,” says Durbin. “I think everyone had their freedom in a way without anyone else's input in that exact moment so that was interesting. You hear a lot of everyone's character as well.”
Franklin describes the band’s process as a “real flow” where members took turns in the studio and collaborated via Zoom to agree on tracks and parts. “We were changing so much already about what we are doing, how about we lean into that and see where it takes us and so we started doing something completely different.”
The band ultimately decided upon the selected 13 songs to be It Starts With Love with a plan to put out a second volume, It Ends With Love in the future. Both titles combined form Franklin’s outlook on how to make this all work, it must start with love and end with love.
“I can't wait until we finally get to record that one,” says Franklin of the follow up album “And additionally, I can't wait till we get to record together because while this album is done, I never want to make an album without them again.”
The album kicks off with the Miami Sound Machine-inspired instant hit sure to make your body move “Don’t Bother Me” a track that shows off what The Suffers have always done well while exploring new sounds and influences.
The powerful track “How Do We Heal” featuring Son Little and Bryce The Third is a solemn reflection of the racial tension and police brutality that sadly continues in the world. Franklin sings out the names of those lost while admitting that she herself cannot even feel safe in her own home as a Black woman.
“Hearing Bryce The Third come in at the end, it literally brought tears to my eyes,” says Durbin. “If you know him, he's very powerful, positive and motivational. He has something special and his message you can tell is coming straight from his heart and that's one of the many cool sparkles on the album that really grabbed me.”
“Yada Yada” shows off yet another side of the band’s influence with the bluesy harmonica and killer in your face lyrics aimed at the music industry suits and complete with a video show at Houston’s historic La Carafe in downtown.
It Starts With Love shows the band's evolution and ability to sink into not only change, but their own skin showing the fruits of their well thought out labor and ability to fight to be themselves and as they say in “Be You” featuring Vapor Caves, “It don’t cost nothing to be you, so be you.”
“I definitely fought very hard to be myself,” says Franklin. “We are still always learning better ways to do it but again proud is the word I'm going to keep using. I hope that song reaches people the way that it really needs to because I think the world would be a better place if people would just allow themselves to be their selves.”
The Suffers will perform on Thursday, June 2 at The Secret Group, 2101 Polk. 8 p.m., $25-40. It Starts With Love will be available for purchase and streaming on June 3.