Cycles define life. Year after year, we live the same four seasons, but a little bit older and, hopefully, a lotwiser. The Ongoing Concept find themselves at the start of a new cycle in 2023. The group once againrally around an unpredictable and undeniable hybrid of metal, hardcore, prog, and alternative powered bythe reinstated core of brothers Dawson Scholz [vocals, guitar], Kyle Scholz [vocals, keys, percussion],and Parker Scholz [drums] along with TJ Nichols [bass] and Andy Crateau [vocals, guitar]. Now, theband deliver their fourth full-length offering, Again [Solid State Records], taking stock of the journey sofar and utilizing it as a springboard to vault ahead.
“We wanted to go back to our roots,” states Dawson. “The goal was to do an homage to our earlieralbums, while moving forward. We tapped into the old mindset and combined it with where we’re at now.If we were going to get back together, we knew it couldn’t be underwhelming. We needed to give the fansmusic that was on par with what we were doing a decade ago, but evolved.
”The Ongoing Concept emerged with the now-seminal Saloon back in 2013. On its heels, fan favoriteHandmade bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums Chart and Top ChristianAlbums Chart in addition to cracking the Top 30 of the Top Independent Albums Chart. In its wake,Kyle, Parker, and TJ departed, leaving Dawson as the sole original member for Places in 2017. As TheOngoing Concept went dormant, the group’s catalog continued to react with listeners as the likes of“Cover Girl” clocked over 1 million Spotify streams and counting. After a period of quiet,communication mended between Dawson and his brothers Kyle and Parker. Between careers, marriages,and kids, they kicked around the idea of playing together once more.
“We’d been playing music since we were six-years-old,” notes Dawson. “We lived and breathed the sameband together. It’s crazy, because I didn’t know my brothers outside of music. Taking a break for a fewyears, we found who we were as normal people and embraced other interests. It was super healthy for allof us. One day, we were hanging out, and I said, ‘You know I’ve been working on some little skeletons forsongs,” and it made sense. The only reason we got back together was because we had our time apart.
”They self-produced Again and took their time to curate an immersive vision. The Ongoing Conceptintegrated “lyrics and Easter Eggs” from previous albums into the record’s framework, embodying thetitle quite literally.
“Thematically, the songs are continuations,” Dawson affirms. “Every single song has its own vibe eventhough some of the lyrics may be connected to older tunes.
”The band kickstart this era with the first single “Prisoner Again.” On the track, electronics pulsate in amenacing hum. The clean vocals dissolve into a scream and a neck-snapping riff only to turn on a dimeonce again as rapid-fire production breaks like a wave on a meditative jazzy guitar solo.
“It’s about being a prisoner inside of your head,” Dawson goes on. “The lyrics are metaphoric. You’re just trying not to feel the pain of everything around you.
”Then, there’s “Unwanted Again.” Jazz-y vocal delivery hinges on an unpredictable bass-boosted grooveas the track culminates on a chantable chorus punctuated by towering high register and admissions suchas “I want to fall in love with you.”
“It’s a tip of the hat to ‘Unwanted’ on Handmade, which was about being led on by someone and notfeeling appreciated,” he continues. “It was made in the same vein, but it was our favorite song to write because of the bassline,” he laughs.
“Feel Again” commences with head-spinning fret fireworks before schizophrenically hopping back and forth between guttural screams from Kyle and moments of solo piano reprieve.
“There are some lyrical references to ‘Feel’, but it showcases the traditional style of The OngoingConcept,” he adds. “There’s an acapella passage. I was writing about not taking responsibility for some of my actions before the guys quit the band. Brothers treat each other differently than friend groups. It’s tough love. When they left, it was really rough on me. I needed a reality check.
”The album concludes with “Falling Again.” Sparse guitar underlines a spacey vocal melody uplifted inmoments of sonic catharsis. “This reflects the core of what our band is,” he goes on. “Back on Saloon, ‘Goodbye, So Long My Love’was the start for the story. ‘Falling’ from Handmade was part two, and Spirit Lake was the third part onPlaces. It’s the story of a person trying to figure out who they are and what is beyond death. It closes thefour-part story we’ve told across all of our records.”This cycle might just be the most powerful yet for The Ongoing Concept.“This band was a business before, now it’s family,” Dawson leaves off. “If you’ve stuck with us for 10-plus years, we’re still The Ongoing Concept. We tried to give our cult following what they want, butallow new listeners to grasp onto our future.”