As the five members of Bleach entered the studio in April to create their fifth album, their plan was to compose a positive themed project as a follow-up to their previous release, “Again for the First Time” (August 2002). But being faced with studio deadlines, and a lack of inspiration for song writing, Bleach was forced to rush their efforts along in order to complete them. And the end result, at the puzzlement of the band, was an album a bit darker than what they had originally intended.
In the months that passed from that recording to the completion of their final mastered cd, the lives of the Bleach members took a drastic alteration. On July 23, 2003, Captain Josh Byers, brother to Jared and Milam Byers, both members of the band, was killed while in the act of service in Iraq. To anyone who had ever experienced a conversation with any of the Bleach members, they would have been informed in great detail and passion about Josh’s heroic feats in battle, his support for the band, and love for life. It was no surprise then, that the loss was a profound one, not only for the brothers, but for entire the band as well.
“He felt like what we did was important,” lead vocalist Davy Baysinger explains. “Sometimes we feel like our job is so trivial, making music, while he’s over there fighting a war. But he made us feel like what we did really mattered. He helped us realize how much our music can affect people in a positive way. It has a bigger effect than we could ever imagine.”
As the realization of their loss sank in and their grieving process began, the songs that they had written in a studio rush suddenly became their comfort. Just a day before they were told of Josh’s death, they had received final mastered copies of the cd that they had already declared they would dedicate to their heroic brother. And in those songs was an eery, yet comforting foreshadowing of the events that they, back then, would not have believed.
“We always hear about other people being influenced by our music,” explains Jared Byers, who proudly wears his brother’s dog tags in remembrance today, “I guess I never thought that our music could really comfort me though. You never imagine your own music really doing that, but it does, and it is now.”
It’s impossible to talk to Bleach’s members today without hearing awe-inspired stories of Josh’s heroism and absolute sacrifice for his men and his country. At the memorial service they were not only learning of his acts of bravery, he had so modestly kept from his friends and family, but also of his complete support and adoration for the band. How he geared his men up for missions playing the Bleach songs and told everyone in his path about his five brothers and their musical endeavors.
“Everyone who talked to Josh knew about his love for his wife, his family and Bleach,” Says Jared. “He was truly our biggest fan, and that’s why we will keep doing what we’re doing. We’ll keep playing, and striving to be our best daily. That’s just one of the lessons Josh taught me.”
An album once looking for any sort of inspiration now holds more than the band could have ever previously imagined. It holds a sense of understanding in grief, of value in life, and of the power of healing and hope in the trials of life.
“We want to see it affect people,” concludes Baysinger, “When it affects someone in a small way, it’s awesome. But when it affects someone in a big way, it’s incredible! The theme is about having hope in life. When things don’t appear to be working out, or when hard times come, you have to remember that there’s a purpose and reason to life and to the world. Sometimes you have to learn it through the hard times, like we have, but learning to hope is what takes you through the next day.”