Melanie Mae Williamson

Exploring The Black Road with RETURN TO DUST

Music Scene Media
Oct 4, 2023
3 min read

Rock group Return to Dust (Matty Joseph, Graham Stanush, and Sebastian Gonzalez) are known for their ability to capture the essence of grunge, a genre known for being gritty and unpolished. Blending the raw energy of grunge with the melodic sensibilities of alternative rock, the band presents a sound that's both nostalgic and contemporary. You can check out their latest single, "No Love", below, and then join us on a deep dive into their latest EP, The Black Road.

BLACK ROAD: Matty Joseph (Co-Lead Vocal, Rhythm Guitar). Black Road was born early, while we were still shaping the idea of the band. It seemingly came out of nowhere, and fell together seamlessly as a demo (that’s hard to listen to now). It’s a Frankenstein's monster of my favorite grunge songs; I always think the verse is Man in a Box, the pre is Freak on a Leash, and the chorus is Outshined. We had no solid idea when we started writing it, but it turned into a song about leaving the nest—taking the black road as in the harder, more difficult, but more fruitful path.

BELLY UP: Similar to Black Road, Belly Up came at around the time that the band’s voice was taking shape, and now seems to be our flagship song to new fans. I love that about this song, it perfectly sums up what we do, dumb heavy rock riffs, Graham (Co-Lead Vocal, Bass), singing the verse, me on the pre, and both of us soaring harmonies in the chorus over Sebastian’s (Lead Guitar) guitar. To me, Belly Up synopsizes the attitude of the band as well; poses on mortality and philosophical ideas drive the angst and loneliness of the band’s voice.

ANYWAY I DIE: Anyway I Die was the earliest written song on this list, it came when we were stuck in a one bedroom apartment in Inglewood, and couldn’t play acoustic guitar or sing too loud because of constant noise complaints. It was one of the first songs our producer heard that made him have faith that we would be a successful band someday. The lyrics are hopeless and mirror a lot of common themes found in 90’s rock music, which we were listening to nonstop at the time, most notably Alice in Chains, Dirt & Sap.

CELLOPHANE: Whereas all the songs we were writing were birthed on an acoustic guitar, Cellophane was our stab at trying to write full band, plugged in, with Deftones influence fully in mind. We made an entirely instrumental demo of it in our garage in West Covina, then wrote the lyrics and vocal melody. We almost never go about writing like this, usually, the instruments and melody are written in tandem. The simplicity of the song is what I find so endearing about it; the repeating main riff, the easily digestible angsty lyrics about being an outcast, and the stellar production via. Jim Kaufman, it’s a great representation of the band and one of my (Matty) favorite tracks on the EP.

LOSING FAITH: Losing faith has to be one of the strangest tracks on the record, the musical composition is all over the place, the style is out of left field compared to the other material, and the music video was shot completely by happenstance, that's why I love it so much though. The song stemmed from the main acoustic guitar riff, and went through several iterations before its current state. The topic of religion is one that we’re (Graham and Matty) all too familiar with, growing up in a rural town in Texas, which we definitely tapped into for this song. It’s rebellious about the need for a conventional god, and instead is written from a more individualistic, self-reliant point of view, which Graham and I share heavily. The music video happened while we were out for a walk with our videographer Matt Akana, and we stumbled upon an abandoned church in K-town. Matt had his camera, so we decided to break in, and realized just how cool the space was. After getting a couple shots, then being threatened by some homeless people, we gathered the footage and shot some more to fill it up, and had a music video for free basically.

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