The album was produced by Schimelfenig, whom Koch originally met when he produced Cayetana’s two full-lengths. “It’s funny, because I’ve always been like, ah, I don’t wanna be in a band with my partner,” she says. “But it’s really nice, ’cause I’m very self-conscious and pretty hard on myself, and it’s nice to have someone where you can feel comfortable enough to share a song [that is] very vulnerable. It’s been a very safe place for me.” She explores their relationship across the album, on tracks like “Soda” and “Hit The Ground Running,” on which she sings: “I wanna love you in the way that you still feel free” — a mantra inspired by bell hooks’ All About Love.
“Especially since I got engaged during the pandemic and I never thought I would get married, I was like, how do I want to love people, and how do I want to be loved?” Koch explains. “After reading that book I was like, I wanna create my own ethic, and especially before I commit to marrying someone. [“Hit The Ground Running”] was me thinking about all these things, and the ways in which we show up for each other in these huge shifts. This is so funny, but I think the most romantic thing that ever happened to me was when I got sick, Matt did all of my injections for me. I really [have been] able to take a look at my relationship and how my partner does show up for me, and how I wanna be better.”
Underscoring all of these life changes, and the entire album, was Koch’s newfound sobriety. Drinking was a problem she had always been aware of, particularly having spent her adult life in the alcohol-heavy world of punk music. Since she was no longer going to shows or working behind a bar, the pandemic felt like a perfect opportunity to give quitting a try. “I think it’s mostly what all the songs are about at their core, because the one thing I wish I knew when I stopped drinking was that you would just have a lot more feelings,” she says. At one of the first shows Gladie played post-lockdown, opening for Slaughter Beach, Dog, Koch had a panic attack on stage. “That straight up had never happened to me before in my life. It was horrible, but it was like, at least I’m living in my reality,” she says. “I’m a very, very anxious person, and that’s definitely why I drank a lot, I realized. So trying to play shows again, and now I’m back working at the bar — doing that and not drinking anymore was like, holy shit, this is like a whole new person.”
She adds, “[Drinking is] a tool to get through life, and when you don’t have it you create new tools for survival. Like, never in a million years would I think I would be the type of person to read before bed and drink tea and wake up and do yoga — I would laugh hysterically at that version of myself, but I’m happier doing those things now. I always talked about mental health in Cayetana, and I think in my heart I knew that I would never be able to really work on my mental health if I was still drinking. And since I’ve stopped and I’ve found the best therapist, I’ve been able to work on my mental health in the way that I needed to for years.”
With the release of Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out, Koch feels ready to embrace a new vision of her life and career. “I feel a healthier sense of self, that isn’t tied to music; I’m more secure in [myself], and feeling a better sense of personhood,” she says. “I am trying to appreciate things as they happen, instead of worrying about what other people think as much. I remember Cayetana being on best of the year lists, and I was so depressed at the time. And now I’m like, ‘I wish people liked my new band, and I wish I could be where I used to be,’ but none of that stuff really matters in the long run. I love making music, music is what saves my life, music is what makes me feel good. I wanna make music that makes people feel any type of way, and not worry about all the stuff that really doesn’t matter.”
I preordered the new album and listen to the two early release tracks on a regular basis. Happy to have the whole album in my hands.