Panic attacks are no joke. Rick Maguire, lead songwriter for Pile, learned this recently. While preparing to move and getting ready to write Pile's new record, Green and Gray, Maguire tried to go to bed one night and instead found himself "in the pitch black, in a way looking at myself and my position to the rest of the world, physically, psychologically and spiritually, and feeling this overwhelming anxiety," he tells NPR Music. He was, in other words, having a panic attack.
That's what led him to write "Bruxist Grin," the first single from Green and Gray. The whole album — from its very first line, "no longer burdened by youth" — centers on themes of anxiety, mortality and self-discovery. It's not exactly new ground for Pile; Maguire's lyrics and the entire band's frenetic, often acerbic tone often convey a sense of facing (and breaking through) paranoia and claustrophobia, of getting knocked off balance and trying to find surer footing. Building on a strength of A Hairshirt of Purpose, Pile's last album, Green and Gray is an album with a clear sense of cohesion throughout it.
"Bruxist Grin" opens with a few moments of cautious peace before the psychedelic anxiety kicks in. A crinkly guitar riff cuts through an insistent rhythm section like a racing mind over a racing pulse; when the song hits a more subdued gear, the fear isn't far off.
"My heart was just pounding, and I don't know what's happening," Maguire explains of the experience that inspired the song. "I just know that there's a bunch of change that's going to happen in my life real soon, and my body is reacting to all of it." "Bruxist Grin" — and Green and Gray as a whole — captures the teeth-grinding, white-knuckle terror of staring down change, and the relief of making it through to the other side.
Green And Gray is out May 3 via Exploding In Sound.