In a world that sometimes feels overrun with oversharing and loudly expressed personal opinions on social media, Kat and Tony Baker of Broken Robots know the power of the stories left untold.
And while the title of the band’s new single, “Burn It Down,” suggests a powerful and explosive viewpoint toward our current situations, the song’s lyrics celebrate a more subconscious escape from the struggles people are quietly fighting in the shadows.
“There doesn’t necessarily always have to be a protagonist and an antagonist for a relationship to end or to kind of burn out,” Tony explained. “Because if you don’t, it just becomes toxic. And it doesn’t mean anyone’s wrong, doesn’t mean someone’s a bad person.”
The husband-and-wife duo, currently based in Wood Dale, are pros at self-reflection. Facing down a past of homelessness, heroin addiction, mental health issues and abusive relationships, the Bakers and bandmate Lonnie Phillips have found music to be a way to heal themselves and help others. The new single and video address just one facet of that in the hopes listeners can use it to recognize their own struggles.
“It’s based on a lot of different experiences,” Kat said. “Being from relationships like in the video, relationships where you have to struggle between whether or not you should stay or go or if it’s worth keeping it or burning it down.”
“There were a couple different directions we were thinking about with the video, as far as is it going to be abusive? Because we both have experience in that as well,” Tony said. “And how we wanted to be very sensitive and delicate. And then it slowly changed from specifically abuse to toxicity and more about self care and pulling the trigger and making a decision and doing something to benefit yourself and potentially the other person, too. So there is no aggressive imagery in it as much as just scenes that look familiar. For some reason, why do those reactions look familiar?”
“Anybody who’s been in one of those relationships will just get it,” Kat added. “And it’s not even always romantic relationships. Another thing that we pulled from is just experiences that we’ve had with people and friends … the relationship was just toxic for whatever reason.”
“People can be not very empathetic, and sometimes they can’t understand that not everybody’s on the same path,” she explained. “Just because somebody burns it down one or two times doesn’t mean they can’t build it back up and make something better than they had before. That’s the way life is.”
The video, shot by Joel Lopez of Lumbra Productions, intercuts the band with scenes featuring actors Jessica Ebacher & Ahmed Forero, while the song plays to Broken Robots’ strengths — gritty, rhythm driven and darkly appealing, a modern twist on Shirley Manson’s post-grunge/alternative vibe from Garbage.
The song was written back in March 2020, but as rage started to boil over regarding politics, protests, the media and countless other events of last year, Broken Robots put it on hold in favor of “Mockingbird,” an indictment of a society bombarded by information streams.
“Everything started happening and we lost our minds reading the news,” Kat explained. “And then people were literally burning cities down, and we were like, ‘We can’t release this.’”
Despite the potential to tie “Burn It Down” to recent unrest in America, Kat and Tony insist the context of our current social climate should not define the song and politics are the furthest from their minds when songwriting.
“We already have so much life experience to write about and sing about. Once we run out of stories, then maybe we’ll get political. But that’s going to take like 20 years,” Tony said, laughing. “But being self aware of our own mental health, we noticed that at any time, doesn’t matter what side you’re on, if we go down that rabbit hole we come out very sick and very mad. And so we just, for our well being, we just stay out of it and focus on what’s important, friends and family and whoever else we can help in the recovery network right now. That’s all we can do, you know?”
Watch for upcoming releases from Broken Robots, including a new EP (and hopefully an outdoor release show) slated for mid-May.