Deeper Credit: Jacob Pesci

While Chicago postpunk four-piece Deeper was working on the follow-up to their 2018 self-titled debut, guitarist Michael Clawson quit the band. The remaining members—guitarist-vocalist Nic Gohl, bassist Drew McBride, and drummer Shiraz Bhatti—wrapped up the album as a trio. This past fall, after they’d finished, Clawson took his own life. Many of the songs on the new Auto-Pain (Fire Talk) became memorials, informed by the bandmates’ experience with a close friend who privately wrestled with depression. The members of Deeper recently spoke to Stereogum at length, sharing their memories of Clawson and explaining how their questions about mental health manifest themselves in the band’s alternately anxious and heartening music. On Auto-Pain, Deeper braid ice-cold guitar riffs with taut rhythms that sometimes leap from dry and barren to inflamed and euphoric within a single track—such as the furiously precise “4U.” On “Willing” and “Lake Song,” Gohl explores what it’s like to confront the uncertainties of your own mental health, his delivery wavering between hurried quasi-yelps and somber quavers in a way that augments the music’s emotional ambiguity. Though Auto-Pain doesn’t offer any easy answers, it pulses with the energy we need to face these issues and make a better tomorrow.   v