Shane Smith and the Saints Conclude a Long Journey in Chapter 4 of ‘Hail Mary’ [Exclusive]
Shane Smith and the Saints took a relatively unconventional approach to releasing their forthcoming third studio album, Hail Mary. Instead of dropping the entire project on June 28 (its official release date), the band has been slowly releasing chronological sections of the record as chapters, two or three songs at a time.
First, they released Chapter 1: The Beginning, which included the full track list's first three songs "that talk about the last five or six years of us [as a band]," the group's Shane Smith relates. "Just totally reflective of where we've been in the past, but from a present perspective."
Next came Chapter 2: The Fall, which Smith says includes some of the project's heavier moments -- "the darker stuff," Smith explains. "A lot of that lyrical content is mistakes and heartache and poor decisions and regret."
Following that, the band shared Chapter 3: The Path, which contains two more tracks and describes the journey away from the pain described in the album's previous installment. "After mistakes are made, where do you go from here?" Smith says. "[That chapter explores] what turns we take."
Now, Smith and the Saints are premiering the album's final installment, Chapter 4: The End, exclusively for readers of The Boot. Press play below to listen to the new music, which includes "Last Train to Heaven" and "The End." At this stage in the record, the traumatic events of Chapter 2 and the recovery detailed in Chapter 3 are in the past, and the final songs assess what is left and look optimistically toward the future.
Listen to Shane Smith and the Saints' Hail Mary, Chapter 4: The End
"If you dig deep behind the record, there's a lot of intentional reasoning for the order of the songs, the way that they're listed and the chapters they fall into," Smith points out. The band decided to release the album in installments for a few different reasons, he says, the simplest being that he didn't want to wait until its official release date to offer fans new music.
"Honestly, our fans have waited such a long time [since Geronimo came out in 2015]," Smith reflects. "I didn't wanna not have any music out until June 28. I wanted to start rolling it out so that people could enjoy it."
Smith also knows that in today's age of rapid-fire digital music consumption, releasing Hail Mary as a conventional album would leave many of its songs virtually unheard. "We're at a place in music and the music industry where people are just drowning in content. There's always content coming in," he goes on to say. "People's attention spans, as a result of that, are so much shorter than they used to be ... It's been such a long time coming on this album getting made -- you wanna give it every opportunity you can to have ears on every single song. Every second of every single song."
The idea to organize Hail Mary into chapters actually first came from Smith's wife, Lauren. "She is very much an active role in this whole thing and has always kind of been my guiding light, just helping me out with making decisions with everything," he says. "She's always managed to offer better ideas than I could come up with, somehow."
Lauren co-wrote "Parliament Smoke," one of the album's tracks, too, and she's had a hand in writing other Shane Smith and the Saints songs in the past. Smith says his wife is also a part of Hail Mary's subject matter, in that one of the central struggles the project explores is the difficulty of being away from home and family. Over the years between records, the group logged hours on the road, honing their live sound and core fanbase; while that helped their live show flourish, it put a strain on their relationships.
"That will put a lot of strain on a band. That will push a band to their absolute limit, in terms of being able to stay together," Smith says. "It can put you in a pretty low spot. In our case, it can leave you in a place to where the term Hail Mary makes a whole lot of sense as an album name ... It's kind of that moment of, 'Let's throw this thing up, and hope like hell it works.'"
In a time where fans are over-saturated by music coming from every direction, Smith says that dividing the album into shorter, thematically organized chapters helps each track get its spotlight. Still, he hopes listeners will sit with the project in its entirety.
"The album world is just kind of failing, and I hope that people can acknowledge that, and give the whole album a shot. And listen to it for what it was designed to be," he adds.