“Gifts from Gravity” – 2010


Hello again. And thank you for coming back!

2009 & 2010 were special but difficult. These songs reflect that. Please check out Gifts from Gravity here:


In 2009 Liam, Jeff, and I were 28 years old.

Justin
Jeff
Liam

We knew that to achieve our goals, we needed to be diligent. This meant rehearsing, playing shows, writing, recording, studying, adapting, and promoting EVERY DAY.

And so that’s what we did. It was difficult, but we had fun doing it.

These years were a mix of joy, devastation, laughter, defeat, silliness, sadness, victory, and heartbreak.

The music industry was changing rapidly. Long-time partnerships were fading. New partnerships were beginning. Nothing was certain. Everything was wild.

Our day jobs were in flux. Money was tight. We primarily survived on ramen, PBR, cheap weed, and good intentions. When we weren’t doing “band stuff”, we were usually playing old video games or tossing a frisbee. We’d frequently take long, loud, “night-walks” in the nearby forest preserves with our friends. On these romps we’d stare at the stars, listen to coyotes, and laugh our asses off while trying to unravel the mysteries of our day-to-day lives.


During this time we purchased our first BAND VAN.

It was a glorious monstrosity. An old-school, 90’s conversion van. We drove it to every show and on every tour. It served us well for many years, and we loved it completely.

(massive thank you to Mike Storms for finding it and repairing it many, many times)

The van was big enough that we could pile all of our equipment AND bring 4-6 friends with us to every show:

In 2009 & 2010, Facing Winter played more than 100 shows in a wide variety of locations. We played acoustic shows, electric shows, house shows, breweries, open mics, rock clubs, coffee shops, back yards, apartments, and festivals. We went on multiple mini-tours and frequently performed out of state. For the first time, we also got to play some of our dream venues like Schubas and Double Door in Chicago.

We were having a great time, and new doors were opening. We had ample love, passion, inspiration, and support. But privately, there was a lot more happening.

For bands (and humans in-general), attrition is a real thing. The stress and pressure were piling up. We were starting to feel it. We were pushing beyond the limits of what our health would allow.

It was becoming unsustainable.

I was struggling with my mental health, and there were many times I wasn’t sure I’d make it through. The idea of suicide had become an unwelcome but frequent visitor in my stream-of-conscious.

Thankfully, I was in the right place at the right time with the right people. I got the help and support I needed.

The music and the lyrics from Gifts from Gravity helped me process what we were going through. Without these songs, and without the love from my friends and family, I would not have made it here.

If you are struggling, please call or text 988. Or if a listening ear would help, feel free to reach out at facingwinter (at) gmail.

Unfortunately, as the months passed, Jeff, Liam, and I’s combined plans, goals, and struggles were becoming incompatible. We loved each other, and we loved Facing Winter. But it wasn’t working anymore. And so together we made a very difficult decision…

Liam would step away from the band. His final show with us was a house show on August 22nd, 2009.

None of us knew what the future would hold. But all of us (including Liam) knew that the story of Facing Winter was far from complete. The band would go on. Our deep, blood-brother-friendships would go on too.

To this day, we’re all still tight. And in 2024 we still hang out regularly. Here we are as the groomsmen at Liam’s wedding:

In the meantime, in our current story- It was the Autumn of 2009.

Jeff and I kept at it.

We went back to an acoustic format and played many more shows as a duo over the next few months.

All the while- we still weren’t done with the new album yet. Liam had already recorded 6 songs with us, but we had 4 more songs in mind that we wanted to include. Jeff and I collaborated on these remaining songs, and in the spring of 2010 we released Gifts from Gravity.

Liam, Jeff, and I gave everything we could possibly give to this album. Ten songs about love, upheaval, fortune, loss, inspiration, sadness, and resolve. It’s an honor to be able to revisit them again with you.

Our good friend Derek Sepeda came up with the album title.


And Hannah Berestizhevsky designed the artwork.


Prior to the release of the album, and shortly after Liam left the band, Facing Winter’s story began to brighten significantly.

In November of 2009, Jeff and I played an acoustic show at a venue called “Chord On Blues” in St. Charles, IL. Afterwards, a guy named Drew deWaard introduced himself and said “Hey, why don’t you have a bassist? I like your songs. Maybe we could meet up and play some music?”

We weren’t actively looking for a bassist, and so the fact that he approached us felt serendipitous.

We decided to give it a shot. And to our surprise, we clicked immediately! Drew’s bass playing was other-worldly. And we were instantly charmed by his cool, confident, (yet silly) demeanor. He also had experience with booking and other band related skills.

Drew joined the band officially later that month, and we played our first show together on 12-9-09. From that point on, we were back at it! Full strength.


November of 2009 was a fortunate month. In addition to meeting Drew, we also met a musician named Dina Simone at a local open mic. She was an adept vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. I was enamored with her bold personality and musical chops. We quickly became friends and started collaborating at open mics.

Our creative partnership escalated over the coming months, and she joined the band officially in February of 2010.

Dina played saxophone on the song “Home” and was one of only two guest musicians on Gifts from Gravity.


The other guest musician was Margaret Dearden Stutt (aka Pezzettino), who played accordion on Broken Branch.


2010 was full of new life. We were rejuvenated and excited to promote the new album. Together as a four-piece band, we went on several Midwestern tours, and played some of our favorite Chicago venues.

Dina, Drew, Jeff, and I were a great team. And we were all eager to start writing and recording new songs together. Plans were in the works.

During 2009-2010, Facing Winter could not have existed without love and support from:

Michelle Doyle, Suzanne Szafranski, the Massihs, Andrew Birchard, Misha Mahadevia, Mark Pasindo, Amy Aiello, the Goluszkas, Rory Doyle, Matthew Potts, Lisa Holloman, Andres Acosta, Ryan Worthy, Julio Gomez, Lucy Primavera, Matt Tenclay, Steph Yeager, James Scott, Alison Weir, the Geraghtys, Jake Jeter, Marija Birchard, Mike Storms, Alberto Ayala, Eddie Ortega, Sam Ortega, Justus Taylor, Chris Shern, Kiel Doyle, Sarah Worel, Derek Sepeda, Stacy Roberts, Phillip Rabbit, Nicole Schafroth, Jeff Stogis, Alex Zago, Kyle Hofmann, Steve Thrasher, Andrew Brueck, Valentiger, the Hempels, Stacy Stell, JD Mathys, Ashley Wolf, Ali Stilin, Chris Darby, Kimber Aita, Kelly Boerman, Chad Headley, Robert Estes, the Zieches, Melissa Chromek, Nathan Kalish, Loretta & Robert Birchard, Kimberly Redden, Jodi Doyle, and many MANY others.

Thank you for following along. And for caring about our music and our story! We’ll be back in a few weeks with the remastered version of our album “Opt Out”.

p.s.- we’re starting our newsletter back up again, please check it out here.