For Santa Cruz’s Marc Lewis, the pandemic has been educational. He watched friends that he respected fall down the bizarre rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. Others he saw become isolated and lonely.
Sure, being stuck inside for a year was tough—it was tough on everyone—but what made it worse was social media.
“Technology is great, but I see people become very addicted, and I’ve seen it destroy relationships. It’s like a constant obsession with arguing, whether it be through Facebook or what have you. And I think people have forgotten how to communicate,” says Lewis. “Instead of ‘Let’s come to an agreement’ or ‘Let’s agree to disagree,’ it lets me gather as much proof as I can to win this argument, whether it’s right or wrong. So it’s really I think it’s the most divisive instrument in the world right now.”
This theme pops up on his band Doors to Nowhere’s latest album, Darkness Falls. The album cover, which features a horde of scary zombie people staring at a glowing planet, was inspired by Lewis’ feelings about how social media and technology are ruining society.
The record, which will be released May 21 on Desert Records, was written partially before the pandemic and partially after. The actual studio time was right at the beginning of the lockdown. Rather than cancel, they went in and recorded some tracks in a socially distanced, masked way. They figured it was going to be an EP. But with no shows, Lewis felt like he should reach out to a label to help with record sales. Desert Records loved the songs but told them that since there was no rush, they could record more tunes and make it a longer release.
One of the songs that Lewis wrote entirely after the pandemic was the title track. Since he didn’t know if he’d be able to record new songs in the same room as his bandmates, he approached the songwriting differently. He spent more time on each part and wrote it in a way that allowed each member to track their own parts in isolation, if necessary.
“What’s crazy about the pandemic is I had time to actually sit down and relisten to things and dissect them, so I could practice and write,” Lewis says. “In a way, the pandemic strengthened my songwriting skills. It caused me to be patient, because in years past I’d go to the studio and bang things out.”
Lewis wrote “Darkness Falls” as he watched everyone struggling. In his day job, he’s an educator at Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School. Teaching on Zoom made him miss real, in-person interaction with his students. He also saw friends having serious difficulties in the pandemic.
“I was watching so many people struggle, whether it was economics or health or mental health. There was one friend in particular that was having a hard time, stuck in an abusive relationship. I could see his lifeforce be drained. It was a helpless feeling,” Lewis says.
The song was outside of his comfort zone, style and technique-wise. He reached out to his friend Bob Balch from the band Fu Manchu to lay down some guitar tracks. The results are sublime.
“He’s a great human being. And he lives and breathes guitar,” Lewis says. “During the pandemic, I saw he posted videos where he was tracking from home and I was like, ‘Hey man, I got this song, want to check it out?’ He wrote back and he’s like, ‘Yeah, let me throw something down on here.’”
Even though some of the songs were written over a year ago, Lewis could have held the release longer to see if live shows would be an option again in the near future. But he felt like he didn’t want to wait because the music was so much about the moment.
“I didn’t think that it was relevant, as far as my art, to go, ‘What’s going to get the most attention?’” Lewis says. “I’m just really proud of it. And it was a really interesting way to get it done, during such weird times. I love music. And I love creating songs.”
For more information, go to doorstonowhere.com.