Between teaching sociology at IU and pursuing a Ph.D., 25-year-old Sam Regas said he found himself in a state that might sound familiar to other grad students. He was a little lonely, confused and unsure of what he wanted to do with his life.
“As a grad student you sort of live in your head a lot,” Regas said. “You start imagining a lot of things.”
Regas said the isolation he experienced became the inspiration for “Toward Void & Vistas,” an eight-song rock album, which was released November 30, 2019.
Regas crafted the album with his cousin, Latin teacher Matt McDonald. Regas is the lead vocalist, guitarist and drummer while McDonald plays the bass and piano. The two self-proclaimed “boring Midwest school teachers” traveled back and forth between Bloomington and Euclid, Ohio, where McDonald lives, to write, record and produce the album together.
Now, the ideas Regas explored internally live on the record, rather than just in his head.
The lyrics delve into a surreal world of religious pursuit and ghosts, exploring the concept of a void and an eclectic range of emotions, or manic pathos, Regas said. He said he took inspiration from religious texts and poetry.
“The first half was maybe a little more emotional or confessional, and the second half was a little more strange,” Regas said. “It wasn’t born out of a drug bender or anything like that, but it does sound very speedy, I think, very high repetition, lots of droniness.”
McDonald remembers making music with Regas when they were six years old. Two decades later, their music is more professional than the songs about traveling to Mexico they used to make up.
Influenced by '90s alt rock bands, McDonald described their adulthood approach to music as “taking songs that I think are familiar to people, as far as structure goes, but inverting them.”
The album’s composition is a collage of acoustic, symphonic and electronic components that create a sound that matches the mania of the topics discussed in the lyrics, McDonald said.
“It’s truly something that you will not have heard before,” McDonald, bassist and pianist, said. “If there were something else like this album, I’d love to hear it.”
Regas said he knows that “Toward Void & Vistas” probably isn’t for everyone — in fact, he’s counting on it.
“It’s the most intense thing we’ve done,” Regas said. “I kind of wanted it to be like a love it or hate it record.”
CORRECTION: The previous headline for this story implied that the album had not yet been released. The IDS regrets this error.