At Work: The Suffers

Larson Sutton on September 29, 2022
At Work: The Suffers

The Suffers’ third and most recent LP, It Starts with Love, is the first half of a two-part collection—the second, It Ends With Love is lining up for a future, yet[1]to-be determined arrival. The songs evoke a sense of faith and conviction—a rallying cry for the doubted and down and out.. And as for the ‘It’ in the title?

“The ‘It’ refers to surviving as a touring band every single day,” explains frontwoman Kam Franklin. “It also applies to any job that you truly love, your passion. And when you are having your worst day—because even the best jobs have bad days—you need to remember the moments you absolutely love to push you through.”

The seven-piece Gulf Coast soul outfit from Houston has been “pushing through” for over a decade now. Like most working bands, the challenges they face have mounted in the lingering aftermath of the global pandemic. Franklin says that the artists who have survived the extended concert-industry shutdown have encountered a crowded field since returning to the road; audiences are eager for live music, but there are not as many places to perform.

In turn, as most artists rely on performance revenue, they become quick studies on the struggles of accessing both their audience and alternate sources of income, such as sync and licensing deals. “Social media algorithms are in constant flux,” Franklin says, with providers now asking more for reels, similar to TikTok. “It’s frustrating, when you already make creative work for a living, to be told that you have to do even more creative content to promote it,” Franklin says.

However, The Suffers refused to let those constraints affect their creative process in the studio. The inherently diverse, multiracial, multigender ensemble chases risk, offering patient and complex arrangements and candid, incisive lyrics.

“Instead of limiting ourselves, or putting ourselves in a box and catering to things that have already happened before, we have always done, and will continue to do, the riskier thing,” Franklin says.

Among their new 13-track LP’s more outspoken selections are the back-to-back tunes that anchor the second half of the album: “Yada Yada,” and the Diane Warren-penned “Bitches Gotta Get Paid.” On the former, Franklin sets her sights on her own industry during a two-and[1]a-half minute, profanity[1]laced critique that’s set to a harmonica-sweetened shuffle. “It freed me. I meant it with my whole fucking chest,” she says, calling it one of her favorites she’s ever written.

“This career—it is so hard. And nothing I’ve done has been traditional,” Franklin says. “But, I’m still here.”