Shamelessly themselves, The Suffers are here to share their full truth in their latest album, It starts with love.
The truth is not always easy. As we all know, chaos struck in 2020 during the pandemic. Meanwhile, The Suffers were working on It starts with love, which forced them to work in a non-traditional way. On the most frustrating days, singer Kam Franklin wondered whether or not they could finish the album. But that comes with the territory.
When the band finally finished It starts with love, the album became the perfect missing piece of the puzzle in the evolution of their artistic talent. It forced them to grow and trust each other, trust each other and go through the process. Because, when they’re on stage, it’s worth it. They can be with each other, their fans and their music, sharing their process and their triumph.
The band realized they could accomplish anything by making this record. They can “record an album in the middle of a pandemic or a tour and stay together as a unit, like we did, for 11 years,” singer Kam Franklin told American Songwriter.
The inspiration behind the album
The truth is what inspired the album. This is not just an overarching or higher truth, but the truth of Franklin’s own experience.
“These stories are based on experiences I’ve had in my real life,” Franklin says. “‘How Do We Heal’ came from my experience facing racism as a black woman in America. ‘Could This Be Love’ came to find my first in good health romantic relationship. “A Cha Cha (Heartfelt Truth)” talks about how I think art as a whole has moved so far away from creating art and focused much more on content creation, fame, compensation and criticism.
All of the songs contain a piece of Franklin – whether that piece is liked or not is another matter. We all know that sometimes the truth hurts as Franklin elaborated on her experience, she mentioned, “It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth.”
Now, on the first leg of the It Starts with Love tour, which will take them across the United States and even to Greece, The Suffers singer has sat down with the American songwriter to preview their new album.
American songwriter: what is It starts with love does that look like you?
Kam Franklin: The sounds of Houston, Texas, mixed with our influences, our anxieties, our confidence, our risks, our fears and our experiments. It looks like our family and friends. Sounds like every fan we’ve met on the road. More important again, It starts with love sounds like the recipe I give people when asked how we do this every day.
AS: What is the story behind the song “I’m Not Afraid”? And “Yada Yada”?
KF: Funnily enough, these two songs, along with “Nunya” from our new album, were all written the same night in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve spent a lot of time in this city over the years, and it means a lot to me. However, when I was at my lowest point in my career, I went to Nashville to try to find a way to get back on track. On the way home I had some really life changing experiences with a few people over the course of a year that made me angry and sick.
Some of them were so quick to tell me who and what I would never be – simply because of how hard it was for me to become a bigger black woman. According to them, we were supposedly quite numerous there. 2-3 at a time I guess? I had another executive try to kick me out of my group with an “offer I couldn’t refuse” only to waste my time and send smoke up my ass. I had another old-school industry boss who was more focused on trying to sleep with me than on business chatter. And of course… there was racism then. I was called Yola 37 times in 3 days, only to be accosted by a promoter there when I repeatedly told her I wasn’t her.
At some point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I rolled some joints and started singing, writing and crying. I did this all night on my last night there and recorded a series of acapella demos which I nervously sent out to the band. They loved them and we spent almost a year developing them with our co-writers, Raymond Auzenne and Sugar Joiko.
I know this industry is where I belong and I’ve decided to stop letting people try to convince me otherwise. These songs serve as “thank you for your review, but I’m going to keep going anyway.”
AS: Can you tell us what’s next for The Suffers?
KF: We have just started the first leg of the It Starts With Love tour which will take us all over the world, from Greece to Canada. In addition to other musical projects, we are currently working on part 2 of this project, It ends in love. We have also just released our first coffee, Gulf Coast Roast, available on our website.
Credit: Agave Bloom Photography