Goodbye Tomorrow is a band that underwent numerous line-up changes, and an eventual name change, during its six year existence. But with the coming of Travis Bryant, who’d just laid his post-hardcore band, Terminal, to rest, came the most definitive years that the group’s small legion of fans most remember them by. Around 2006 the group’s lead singer at the time, Matt Gilbert, left to follow his own pursuits—Bryant was recruited to take up the mantle. His brand of unique, high octave singing, along with his songwriting capabilities, added a new shade of melancholy to the band’s sound. It was a sort of metamorphosis they needed to grow musically and expand their audience, which was completed by a name change in 2007 to Alive In Wild Paint (taken from a Richard Bach novel) and an excellent album called Ceilings put out a year after that. Sadly, the group went on an indefinite hiatus in 2009 after their gear was stolen and have been silent ever since. But before all that, this three year era was kicked off with a small release put out by Equal Vision Records titled, simply, Goodbye Tomorrow EP.
The record itself, timing in at three tracks (all excellent), is mix of what Terminal had been and hints of the sound that would be found later on Ceilings. Terminal’s only album, How The Lonely Keep (released in 2005 by Tooth and Nail Records), had a post-hardcore, alternative rock sound with musically complex guitar work and Bryant’s reflective lyrics on past relationships and friendships that were soured by tragedy or self-inflictive complications. It is one of the definitive records of the 2000s ‘emo’ era that actually had depth and is, in my opinion, timeless. The Bryant-lead Goodbye Tomorrow has much simpler guitar work and a softer sound that sits more in the realm of “music I listen to while doing homework” or fantastic background music to a romantic evening. But the EP itself is best appreciated in a setting of midnight darkness where one is having a drink alone and in need of something that relates to the low they’re in. The first track, “Tragedienne,” works like the first ember glow of a fire that eventually bursts with energy and flame. The song starts off with electronic drums and Bryant’s whispery vocals, “There’s blood beneath your nails from clawing at the ceiling—and pulling down answers to perfect questions.” The pre-chorus gives way to more silence before a large wave of sound hits you with raging guitars and Bryant’s voice charged with frustrated angst. The song works like an arena rock anthem that blows the listener away from its sway from delicacy to turbulent power. It’s a fitting introduction to the ‘Bryant-era’ for fans who were listeners early on in the band’s history.
“Carouseling” is the only real hint of the band’s old sound with Gilbert, but has more of a harmless melancholy due to Bryant’s vocals and style of songwriting. It still plays with the ‘softening’ of the band’s sound and has more dynamic drumming to add layers behind the repeated guitar strumming. The song deals with the process of trying to forget a past relationship, “I do my best to ignore the shadows we’ve cast across the town. They’re gone now. When I arrive to a mind made up, you’ll come around, maybe this time I won’t care to find out.” It’s honestly a pretty standard alt-rock tune with a half-tempo breakdown and a pretty catchy chorus. Not to say that the song isn’t good, by any means, but it works as more of a transition track to the final song—something you would often hear stuffed in the middle of a set list.
The best track, by far, on the EP is “A Vespertine Haunting,” which was re-recorded for a later release on Ceilings. The maturity of Bryant’s songwriting really shows here with a poetic first verse, “I never meant to leave, dear, I just thought I would arrive. But it seems here, I’m never quite alive. Where you are the room won’t fill with light. But an absence that makes its ways into mine.” The song swoons as a romantic ballad with probably one the most unique lines I’ve ever heard—the anthem line of the song, “I’ll share your ghost tonight.” The song builds to a climatic close with the full band erupting with the final chorus. Bryant’s scream at the end emits goosebumps and sends you back to a time when you swam in the bed sheets of someone you were absolutely enamored with. It makes you miss that person—feel the loneliness you have to such a high intensity, especially when you have a few drinks in you, but simultaneously gives you a sense of hope that you’ll find someone that will want to ‘share their ghost with you’ and dive back into the sea of bed sheets yet again.
Goodbye Tomorrow EP was a pinnacle record for me, and a lot of other people I knew who were into this kind of music, during our high school years. It never got the recognition it deserved, as did the band that made it, and sadly collects dust as an unknown jewel to an age where punk shows were still heavily attended in small, Midwestern towns and boys had to buy girl skinny jeans because there wasn’t any other option. Since their hiatus, many devote followers have pined over whether or not Travis Bryant is ever going to release another record again (so far he’s only dropped a handful of solo songs). Goodbye Tomorrow is just another tragedy of the music industry that actually had something special. If a reunion show is ever scheduled, or Bryant decides to do a solo tour, I’ll surely welcome it.