When you grow up just a few towns over from a burgeoning Boston hardcore scene overflowing with communal passion, you can’t help but want to get involved. But what are you supposed to do when you finally arrive years later only to find that you’re too late to the party? Do you give up and move away? Or do you take it upon yourself to carry the torch and reignite that flame in the city you once adored? The members of Actor|Observer know that this fire has not truly died but merely lays dormant like glowing coals waiting for the wind.
Considered by Under The Gun Review as being “without a doubt one of the most promising young bands to exist in the last decade,” A|O has become a well-respected musical force throughout New England. If you listen to their recordings or see them live, you’ll understand the urgency with which they perform. Their style is comparable to the steadfast conviction and emotional intensity of Defeater, interspersed with the melodic and tonal range of Thrice. Every live set is brimming with visceral emotion, sincerity, and a refusal to sit still. They leave everything out on the stage in a purge of catharsis through lyrics overwrought with desperate anxiety, existential unrest, and social/personal criticism as a means to a silver lining. Their passion and dedication over the past 5 years have twice earned them a spot on the Massachusetts date of Warped Tour (as winners of the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands in 2012 and as a local act for the Break Thru Music stage in 2014). They have also performed with countless major acts such as Vanna, Defeater, The Ghost Inside, and The Chariot.
Inspired by the values of their predecessors, the aim of this band can be found in their name. The title Actor|Observer comes from a defunct psychology term called “the actor-observer bias,” in which one perceives the world as if he/she is the lead “actor” at the center of a play but merely an “observer” of others as if they are the protagonists in their own plays. The band adopted this title as a reminder to be wary of that dangerously self-absorbed but all too common perspective which lacks empathy and isolates us from one another. Yet, in the same breath, this moniker also serves as a positive reminder of the exact opposite mindset. The success of a show, an album, or any part of a music career is just as much about the audience (observer) as it is about the performer (actor), thus both are equally represented in the band’s name.
These sentiments ring true throughout their newest release and debut full-length, The Longer Now, produced by Jay Maas of Defeater (Counterparts, Bane, Capsize). Actor|Observer’s third self-released record is an enormous and defining leap forward musically, with poignant lyrical depth interwoven throughout a barrage of melodic and tonal fierceness that was only hinted at in previous recordings. The album has been lauded by Alternate Frequency for “ [embodying] the tough, strong nature of the city Boston, while still coming off as approachable and earnest - a rare sound, and one that’s hard to pull off with the proper flare. The Longer Now may actually be the new epitome of that sound that many were starting to believe was fading away.” With this release and a few tours under their belts, Actor|Observer are now taking time to write their next LP. This Spring, they will re-release The Longer Now on vinyl through Heads Up Records and embark on a two week tour to the midwest, down south, and back up the east coast. They plan to cover as much ground as possible in the coming year and reach more listeners than ever before.
That being said, Actor|Observer is not just a vehicle for personal progress, but more so part of a music community in need of mutual contribution. They know that devoted hearts like theirs are out there. They have seen them, talked to them, and performed with them. Regardless of the show, the turnout, or their physical/mental state, A|O is committed to delivering a consistent, honest performance - tearing open the crossed arms of complacency and reminding people that this is not just some TV show. There is no fourth wall; you’re a part of this too. And whether you support that attitude or not, their message is the same: “People like you are the reason why people like us exist.”