Featured photo: Sam Logan of Nightblooms (photo by Anna Maynard)
What does an apocalypse even look like?
Movies and TV shows would tell you that they’re marked by widespread, simultaneous, catastrophic destruction of whole cities, breakdown of communication and perhaps even an unfriendly undead or two.
But what about a slow decline into madness? A creeping, almost mundane sort of descent into the end of the world? One in which singular events take place with relative frequency but also so disjointedly that the decline isn’t registered as a single boom? And what, if this were a movie, would the soundtrack to that kind of annihilation sound like?
“There’s that old Southern expression about, ‘a teaspoon of honey to make the vinegar go down’ kind of thing, and that’s really what I started to realize,” says Sam Logan, the creative mind behind Nightblooms, the musician’s latest, and most personal, project. “I think it’s easier to get people to think about and talk about really tough subjects if you present it in a way that is inviting and warm.”
The four songs on Nightblooms’ forthcoming EP, Night Blooms in the Apocalypse, came to Logan, who hails from the Triangle, during the early weeks of the pandemic. While in past bands Logan tended to use loud thumping bass lines and more metaphoric lyrics, this time he opted to pour more of his own personal feelings into the verses, into the sound.
An upbeat repeating guitar line meets the sweet slides of a lap-steel guitar as Logan’s tenor voice breaks through the rhythm.
Awake in the night and the room is one fire
I just held closer to you
Catching my breath as I cling to my bed
Is this nightmare coming true?
The opening lyrics to “Matters of Time,” the EP’s first single, currently available via streaming, stem from Logan’s own experiences during the pandemic.
“It just felt like a good time to be vulnerable so I just let myself do that as best I could,” Logan says. “Writing about having panic attacks and writing about climate change and writing about, you know, my own struggles with self acceptance and insecurity. All the things that I would have put several layers of ironic distance on in other music, this was just like, ‘I’m just gonna say the that are coming to my head.’”
Night Blooms in the Apocalypse is the first of a trilogy of EPs that will be released in the next year, according to Logan. The other two — Love Songs for the Apocalypse and Free Time in the Apocalypse — will be released in early and summer 2024, respectively.
Despite the heavy narratives of each of the songs on Night Blooms in the Apocalypse, the brighter sonic elements move the listeners through each story. “Hymns for the Hopeless,” my personal favorite, tackles Logan’s push and pull away from organized religion and his struggle with finding solace in an increasingly hostile world without the use of prayer. (Logan has offered TCB an exclusive premiere of the track to be streamed below.)
If I close my eyes and give into the love divine
Will I find some place out beyond the whispering pines?
Is it something real you could show to me?
Come turn me inside out and then we can begin
Will I learn to follow?
Will I learn to be alright?
Despite this deeply personal output from Logan, the musician touches on universal pain points that many in society currently grapple with, particularly millennials and Zoomers who constantly make jokes about un-aliving ourselves and struggle with living in what seems to be an ever-evolving hellscape.
“That dissonance is such a part of the modern condition,” Logan says. “You go from one disaster to another, but yet you still have to find time to make dinner, still have to find time to send some emails, you still have to find time to mow the grass.”
It’s something that Logan grapples with as an artist who has a separate full-time job, too. This idea of creating art that may not seem all that productive on the surface.
“There’s a constant struggle with feeling like art is a really selfish act,” Logan. “‘Like, ‘I’m doing this and I’m creating something I enjoy, but what good does it bring to anybody?’ But trying to bring something good into this world is a worthwhile endeavor…. I’ve stopped trying to ascribe more meaning to it other than bringing something that might distract for a little while and bring some level of comfort but also make you feel like you’re not alone.”
Part of Logan’s journey in forming Nightblooms was his transition from living in the Triangle where his musical career began, to settling down in Greensboro where he’s been since 2015. At the time, the music scene in both areas were drastically different, with many of the popular bands opting for the Triangle’s robust community over anywhere in the Triad. But in the last few years, that’s begun to change, Logan says.
In October, Night Blooms in the Apocalypse will host a release party at the Flat Iron, which has in the last year, come under new ownership via Josh King, a Greensboro-based musician who performs both solo and as part of the House of Fools. Having a place like the Flat Iron to perform music is a big step for Greensboro, Logan says.
He points to how Raleigh alone has several different venues that allows for festivals like Hopscotch to continue to thrive in the area. Greensboro, on the other hand, had a musical identity that was tied to closely-knit house shows or playing at local breweries. There wasn’t much of an in-between. Now, with King at the helm, Flat Iron is carving out a special place for local musicians in Greensboro, Logan says.
“I felt like he and [his wife] Abbey are making investments in giving Greensboro a proper local music venue,” he says. “To have that in Greensboro is a big point of pride for me, and the city as well…. I think people, like I did eight or nine years ago, had a very set perception of what Greensboro is and who’s here and what it values, and I think it’s really grown in the last couple of years.
“Now that we have a place that is ours and is nurturing talent and saying, ‘This is what Greensboro’s music scene is,’ we just need to support it,” Logan adds.
After the past few years, being able to perform his music to a live audience is something that Logan doesn’t take for granted. Having created most of the music for Nightblooms in the solitary confines of pandemic life, Logan wants the EP to be a comforting salve for the current state of society, a love letter to anyone who feels lost. Something to be shared, he says. Sure, his lyrics may be a little sad, but he hopes that it’s at least enjoyable enough to let people connect and maybe even dance a little.
“I think that’s the greatest thing that art can do is make you feel like you’re not alone and make you feel like you’re not the only one feeling something,” he says. “You gotta have some sort of hope in the world. That’s where the dark topic with bright music comes back into it. Yes, it’s heavy, but at least you’re getting something fun out of it.”
Night Blooms in the Apocalypse will be released via Sleepy Cat Records on Sept. 1 and will be accompanied by local merch collaborations. A TCB-exclusive premiere of “Hymns for the Hopeless” is available to stream here. A release party takes place on Oct. 7. at the Flat Iron. Learn more at nightbloomsnc.com or follow them on Instagram at @nightbloomsnc.
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.