iTopia is a concept album that explores issues of technology and social media and their impacts on our lives, relationships, and mental health. It follows a character falling down the rabbit hole, starting with techno-utopianism and finding an online tribe, to a growing obsession and addiction, to the darker side of the internet and social media, including conspiracy theories, trolling, and a diminishing sense of self. Eventually our protagonist reaches a turning point—a moment of clarity—and starts climbing out of the hole, trying to find out what’s true and what isn’t, seeing how they’re being used by the attention economy, fighting against anti-intellectualism, and finally making a shaky attempt at optimism.
It’s a story about all of us–and our vulnerability at even the slightest wrong turn.
Sonically, iTopia falls in the camp of modern rock bands with a psychedelic bent like Gorillaz, Muse, and My Morning Jacket (two tracks feature MMJ and Roger Waters keyboardist Bo Koster). The hook-driven, synth-heavy pop/rock/psych songs balance out the heavy lyrical concepts, giving the album layers that can be appreciated in different moods. The record takes the listener on a truly epic journey, musically and conceptually.
iTopia was written in the downtime of covid quarantine, while the band was completely off the road for the first time in over a decade. “I was fixating on this topic of technology and mental health and realized that I could turn it into something bigger than just one song,” says songwriter/guitarist/singer Silas Durocher. “I’m a huge fan of Pink Floyd and I’ve wanted to write a concept album ever since I started writing songs. When I was twelve, my mom and I tried to write a rock opera based on the book Siddhartha, but I needed to build up another couple decades of songwriting skills.”
Durocher began playing fragments and song ideas for his bandmates, bassist Jesse Gentry and drummer Jian-Claude Mears, and the group started shaping the ideas in rehearsals, discussing the topics, and giving the album its form. Gentry and Mears contributed their own life experiences and struggles, and the things they saw happening in the world. They brought in their musical influences and the ways they envisioned the band evolving for this new album.
“I’ve never done research to write songs before,” Durocher says. “But once the concept was in place, I started filling my head up with documentaries, books, and podcasts about technology and social media, hoping that those sources would seep into my unconscious mind and come out as lyrics. It was an exciting new process for songwriting.”
iTopia is music for grown-up people (kids and adults alike) who know the world is falling apart, social media is pummeling our mental health, and technology is leading us down a dark rabbit hole—and who know that the antidotes are art, beauty, love, knowledge, community, and action.