Isolation Drills: Crossed Keys

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Josh Alvarez (vocals): I’ll be honest. Life during a global pandemic as a hospital worker on a mental-health unit is not my favorite thing, but it’s just where I find myself these days. As a clinician, I try to maintain hope in science and medicine; that eventually we’ll be able to have a vaccine that makes the world a safer place for us to continue our lives once again. As a musician, I feel that it is our duty to continue to sing our songs and write out the things we feel in our hearts, even if only to ourselves. To effectively not allow the fires of creation and euphony to burn out and smolder because these are the medicines and salves for our poor, dejected souls—souls that need nourishment in dark times such as these. When darkness and sorrow control the global conversation, it is the artist‘s job to remind the stars in the sky how to twinkle and shine. To remind the single candle’s light that it can not be vanquished by the darkness of a thousand nights.

When the illness abates, when it’s safe to inhabit the communal world again, I promise that our work, both clinical and musical, will continue with the same passion and fervor as it has always maintained. I just can’t wait to sing for you again, and I know in my heart that I will sing with everything that I am. 

Andrew Wellbrock (bass): The hardest part of being in a global pandemic has been being cut off from creating, playing and watching live music. I’ve realized that my entire social life revolves around going to shows and playing shows. However, if that’s the worst thing that’s happened throughout all of this, we’re some of the lucky ones. All five of us were fortunate enough to be in positions where our jobs continued—some from home and some under fairly stressful new conditions. We all have jobs that involve helping people, and the world needs a lot of that right now. So it’s been a stressful few months, but we’re all just doing our part.

Since we’re working, we decided early on that we were going to participate in as many fundraising activities as we could. When Bandcamp waived their fees, we’ve used that as an opportunity to sell merch and donate the entire cost to the PHL COVID-19 Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative. Our friends over at Black Shirt Music did a line of T-shirts for Doctors Without Borders and included one of our designs. Most recently, we contributed a song to 19 Notes On A Broken System, a benefit comp featuring a bunch of our friends like Open City, Gray CELL, the Ramoms and more.

Overall, we’re all healthy and getting to spend great quality time with our families and pets. My dog is real pumped I’ve been home, but I think the cats have been plotting my demise for weeks.

We’ve had some fun on our Instagram account and done some acoustic covers, but our main goal while home is to try and write some new music remotely. We all feed off each other creatively when we’re in person, so it’s been a challenge to work through ideas together, but we’re finally at a point where we’re making some progress on new material. Hopefully, when the world heals a bit more, we’ll be able get together and finish these songs off, get them down on tape and cross our fingers that small shows are safe sometime later this year.