In Being and Time, the great 20th century thinker Martin Heidegger fixed a segment of his concern on the idea of “thrownness”. Watered-down it goes like this: Human beings are “thrown” into the world without individual option as to where, when, or how they are born. What’s important is that Heidegger believed human beings are not helpless in their “thrownness”. Instead, human beings are a primal openness; a moving process. Here, human beings are the embodiment of the ability-to-choose and change.
Heidegger declared that humanity’s essential responsibility “is in our freedom to choose how to attend to our thrownness.”
Enter, Born in the Flood.
The scene of nativity looked like this: Two small town Missouri boys, barefoot, in the back of a desolate restaurant. Working. Eating raw cookie dough. Playing guitar. Feeling the flood rise. And beginning to realize that the two of them would ride the crest of fate downwind, together.
When Born in the Flood's Nathaniel Rateliff (Vocals/Guitar) and Joseph Pope III (Bass and Sounds) found their beginning nearly ten years ago in the back of that restaurant – the two were magnetized by the multitude of possibilities that lay ahead. But all of these possibilities were not built of comfort; and of the standard blue collar choices that those around them felt they were allotted. To work a lifetime away at the local plastic factory wasn’t what Rateliff or Pope were interested in. Early on, with guitars cradled in their lap, they knew that in order for them to realize their purpose, the two would have to make some brave, and unorthodox changes. Some of these changes, through adversity. But through all the hardship that awaited them, Rateliff and Pope went about it all, together. As confidants in the grand search for meaning and wisdom, and growth.
And so it was that, when a mentor suggested that they migrate west to Denver, the windmill winds of fate churned into motion.
And like a sticky epiphany, the change was welcome by both Rateliff and Pope, who carried West with them the great Songs of Solomon and Proverbs. And even Lamentations.
And while it wasn’t the initial impetus for their move, music was always the catalyst. The converter was the drive that these blue collar kids have possessed from the beginning: of working more. Of delving harder. And of understanding that their path would be shaped by the choices that they made.
The greatest illustration of their very personal notion of the struggle in the process, for both Rateliff and Pope – was in a story they have carried with them for some time. Of the great 100 Year Flood of the Missouri River. And a man named Joe, who stood on one side of the 10 mile wide floodplain while his wife and newly born child, on the opposing side. In an effort to overcome the seemingly impossible, the man waded through the swampy lands for 10 miles to see his newborn child. In a space where it often takes more than human will, the man succeeded.
Enter, Born in the Flood.
With the strength in their determination, a nearly unimaginable sum of talent and because they have found small and large confirmations in their journey – Rateliff and Pope have found confidence in their very human condition of creating choice through struggle. And creating purpose out of will. And through all their graciousness, their path has led them here, to Born in the Flood.
Birthed, matured and existing in a calculated rush of musical melody, Born in the Flood is collecting momentum in waves. In Denver papers, by word of mouth, and on the Internet. And due to their determination they are standing in a wake, as victors of
Mania TV's international Battle of the Bands. Moreover, night after night the Flood is capturing every venue’s attention with their striking, passionate, authentic stage show and sound.
Now the fearsome four, with drummer Mike Hall and Matt Fox, who rotates like a steady strobe light from guitar to piano – are a steady whole. And the variety that the four are able to pull-off in the course of one night, or one album – is captivating.
On July 15th Born in the Flood will be releasing their EP, “Fear That We May Not Be”. With a stellar CD Release Party planned that is slated to involve the top acts in town, the Flood will be moving further up the steps of their deliberate progression.
Sorrowful, charging and hypnotic, “Fear That We May Not Be” is loaded with intoxicating moments. “The Fate of the Underachieved” illustrates the band’s penchant for creating lofty peaks and monstrously deep valleys. With driving guitars and crumbling drums – they also fall back to the silence of a grandfather clock ticking quickly back on the open plains of home. “For Fear” is a spiraling composition, crashing with waves of strings and shrills and gorgeous vocals. And while the entire album is solid, perhaps the track that is most radio-friendly is “Low Flying Clouds”. A delicate and balanced melody, the song typifies the band’s full range of emotion, with its catchy bass lines and high-art melody. But the most emotionally-charged of the tracks is when the Flood’s Rateliff steps into the spotlight, alone. The sparse, “To Slowly Be Undone” will certainly undo you if you happen to catch it out below the summer stars when you’re stuck pondering the heights of heaven.
From, “To Slowly Be Undone”:
“Have we been trading up these days/at such a price the weak will sing /is it pride that pours out my cup if I not drink will it dry up/we could change the pace explained, and take our place among the dull and weary hearted.”
“I WILL NOT BOW LESS THEY'VE BROKEN EVERY BONE/ I WILL NOT BOW LESS MY HANDS AND FEET ARE BOUND/I WILL NOT BOW IN THE PRESENCE OF MY FOES/ I WILL NOT BOW AND WILL QUICKLY BE RUN THROUGH.”
And while all of the band’s songs are born in Rateliff’s head, the Flood is fortunate to have the players that they do. For when Rateliff brings a song in to Pope, Fox and Hall, the nearly impossible task of condensing the four musicians’ conversations into one can be overwhelming. But they manage. And more than that, they triumph. In the end, the Flood has managed to create an entire sound that is predicated on living at that point where you are the most vulnerable. And authentic.
With a grand and often bizarre history of medical problems, both Rateliff and Pope are extremely fortunate for what they have been able to create. For beyond overcoming their adversity, and making brave choices and trying to make a band function with strength and integrity – they all recognize the renewal that they are continually granted, within every process that they undertake.
By all accounts, Born in the Flood has traveled a great long way across the floodplains and back. But this is just the beginning. And just like the myriad of other choices and paths that have been presented to Rateliff and Pope, they are certainly ready to reap the successes of everything that is continually being confirmed for them.