By Andy McFerren
On April 20, 2023, Prince Duck will release their debut album, A Comfort To You. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with frontman Micah Clemence via zoom to talk about the upcoming album, the inspiration behind it, and much more.
Prince Duck is an indie rock band based out of Provo, Utah consisting of Micah Clemence (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Hattie Woods (backing vocals and keys), Cozy Ace (former lead guitar and producer), Reed Haycock (current lead guitar), Ryan Davis (bass guitar), and Nixon Barber (drums).
As I sat down to write about this album and the interview that I had with Micah, I found myself struggling to synthesize the entirety of our conversation into a single, coherent article. We talked about reading comics and manga, the depth of storytelling in anime, Game of Thrones, and how niche indie bands manage to foster a cult following over decades-long careers. When you have such a broad range of topics, what do you highlight? How do you do justice to such a nuanced person and a band I’ve come to admire so much? You try your hardest and hope for the best.
A few minutes into my conversation with Micah, I quickly realized that this is someone who takes extra care when approaching his music and is intentional with everything. While A Comfort To You is a concept album, Micah’s goal was to make it a loose concept album, allowing the listeners to decide how much they want to immerse themselves into the world. On a surface level, listeners can throw the album on and hear a bunch of catchy, genre-bending songs, or they can delve much deeper and follow certain themes and plot lines throughout the album.
For anyone who may be a little dubious or hesitant towards concept albums, at its core, A Comfort To You is about what any other album is about: the human experience. The biggest difference is that the first song, “Plague Song,” paints the setting of an apocalyptic wasteland where a plague has wiped out everything, creating the backdrop and the lens through which we view the rest of the album. Everything else simply talks about what it means to be human, touching on themes such as mental health, reflection on previous relationships, dealing with regret, and wanting to be understood.
For example, take their song “Eggs,” which is about a paraplegic woman becoming a robot after aliens come to Earth offering this technology. The song is a message to this person who was very cruel for much of her life. It explores how being turned into a robot won’t fix the problems in her heart and how living throughout all eternity might not be all that it’s cracked up to be. “It’s such a long time to be alone with your thoughts,” says Micah, pointing out how much of a nightmare this would be for him personally.
This contrast of eccentric indie rock songs with deep, emotional messages is prevalent even on the two happiest sounding and admittedly more ridiculous songs, “You’re Coming To My Mom’s House” and “Hoarse!” These songs have so much more to say than their zany, at-times dissonant sound.
“You’re Coming To My Mom’s House” is about asking your boss to come over to your mom’s house to make cupcakes. The song may not seem like it fits in with the rest of the album, but after having lived through a pandemic recently, this is the perfect encapsulation of what it’s like. Even though this terrible thing is going on in the world, life still moves forward, including those moments of pure hilarity. Likewise, “Hoarse!” is a boisterous and silly song full of fun synths and an incredible slap bass line that’s about wanting to absorb the grief from a friend after they experienced the death of a loved one.
From “Eggs” to “Hoarse!,” all of these life lessons are found on such a sonically diverse landscape. Prince Duck doesn’t want to be defined by a singular sound, citing genre-bending heroes such as David Bowie, Janelle Monáe, and Beck. From children’s lullabies to indie rock operas reminiscent of They Might Be Giants, Prince Duck’s only concern is staying true to who they are, whatever genre that may fall into.
The reason that this album is able to accomplish this is the dedication to storytelling. Pulling from influences such as manga, anime (Attack on Titan in particular), and comics, Prince Duck strives to tell stories that evoke a strong emotional response from the listener. During our interview, Micah paraphrased Stephen King by saying that some people read to think and other people read to feel. Micah’s goal with all of his music is to get an emotional response from the listener.
“I sometimes have my emotions in a vise, and I want to liberate them,” says Clemence. His music is the way through which he achieves that. Getting to the roots of these emotions, no matter how raw they are, is what this album is about.
The emotional crux of the album and the epitome of this effective storytelling comes on the song “Gravehands,” a story about a once-superhero who has lost his superpowers. Not only has he lost his ability to heal, he now kills everyone he touches. And society, who can’t seem to grasp this tragedy, turns on him. With the exception of the song’s climax, this song reminds me of a bard in an inn or a pub recounting the tragic tale of a fallen hero.
Is this album for everyone? Yes. Will everyone enjoy it as much as me? Probably not, but since when do we ever pay heed to haters?
Be sure to check out A Comfort To You, out on April 20, and head on over to The Boardwalk for their album release show. Tickets are on sale here. Local acts Milne and Little Moon are supporting. Follow Prince Duck on Instagram and check out “Gravehands” below.