In the song “Eat My Hands,” off You Me And Everyone We Know’s latest EP, Dogged, Ben Liebsch howls, “Desperate times call for a creative spark.” Not only is it a powerful visual, but the line perfectly encapsulates both the inner and outer struggles that’ve plagued Liebsch for much of his life. Five years ago, those struggles nearly caused the singer/songwriter’s demise and it took losing everything—including his band mates, his money and his sanity—to figure out what was truly important and how he could endure without the threat of self-destruction.
“I consider the last few years a penance of the deeds I’d done in the previous couple years,” Liebsch says of his time away from the stage. “But I learned from it, kind of like the old Will Rogers quote: ‘Good judgment comes from experience which comes from bad judgment.’ You can’t learn from not messing up. If you’re able to succeed without failing, then you’re just on a lucky streak.”
Back in 2011, You Me And Everyone We Know appeared to be on the brink of mainstream success. Fans were smitten by the band’s first two independent EPs and it wasn’t long until the D.C. pop-rockers gained a loyal following across the country. Their newfound popularity sparked the interest of Doghouse Records, who released the group’s debut full-length, Some Things Don’t Wash Out, and Liebsch & Co. were soon touring with acts like We Are The In Crowd, and The Ready Set. YMAEWK were playing to packed crowds who couldn’t get enough of the group’s melodic-fueled melancholy—as heard on songs like “Livin’ Th’ Dream” and “A Little Bit More”—and the future looked bright. Unfortunately, Liebsch was keeping a dark secret he couldn’t hide any more.
“Almost four years ago, the band fell apart at the hands of my drinking and mental issues,” Liebsch admits. “Too many times for me to count, I had been less of a man than I planned. Since all that, I came back to Baltimore and did what one does when you don’t have a van to live in anymore. I went home and moved back in with my mom, got a job and started working. The last three years have been me trying every day to be a good person, live a little less in the grey and to get back on my feet and get back up, as far as the band is concerned.”
Today, Liebsch is nearly four years sober and ready to rebuild You Me And Everyone We Know. While he released new music in the years since the band went on an unofficial hiatus, only now is he ready to re-embrace the life of a full-time musician and all of the responsibilities it entails. Up first is a new EP, entitled Dogged, which is slated for release on March 17, 2015, through South X Sea Records. The EP opens with the minute-long rager “Raise Them Bones,” named for a Swamp Thing comic book and tackles the idea that scars heal, but never truly disappear. Next up is “Does It Amaze Thee?,” which is sure to be a fan favorite with its upbeat breakdowns and introspective lyrics about life’s big questions, like how we continue to pick ourselves up when we’re repeatedly knocked down.
“I’m just picking up where I left off. I needed to take time off to figure out who I was and what my motivations were in making music,” Liebsch says of what he hopes to accomplish with You Me And Everyone We Know. “This band and its songs tell the story of my journey—one of an abused alcoholic with a penchant for depression and self deprecation, holding on to his misanthropically optimistic view of the world as he marches ever forward. I guess I’m just trying to show the world who I am, who we all are.”