Emma Boster Talks Touring, Growth, and “a different level” of Dying Wish (11/10 at Underground Arts)

“I love costumes, dressing up, and stuff like that, like just the traditions of decorating, haunted houses, and maybe trying to watch one horror movie a day… although I’ve...

“I love costumes, dressing up, and stuff like that, like just the traditions of decorating, haunted houses, and maybe trying to watch one horror movie a day… although I’ve kind of gotten behind on that.  I love campy horror,” says Emma Boster, vocalist for Portland metalcore outfit Dying Wish, during our most recent phone chat.  However, she’s found herself a bit too preoccupied during 2023’s spooky season to fully indulge in Halloween.  “I’m just running around, trying to get some last-minute stuff done.  We leave for tour tomorrow,” she tells me, seemingly scrambling through a store, as I hear other [who I assume to be] shoppers in the background.

The last time I spoke with Boster was last December, just prior to the band’s fourth show in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection within a year’s time (with two at Underground Arts and two at The Church), all in support of their debut LP, Fragments of a Bitter Memory, which dropped October of 2021 on SharpTone Records.  Dying Wish’s current jaunt kicked off last week in Santa Cruz and wraps early December in Anaheim.  These dates are set to include the band’s third stop (and first headlining show) at Underground Arts, where they will return Friday, November 10th.

Dying Wish’s current tour coincides with the release of their sophomore LP, Symptoms of Survival, which was produced by Randy LeBoeuf and hits shelves November 3rd, courtesy of SharpTone.  The album has already produced four singles, which Emma tells me fans have been loving: “As far as reactions go, it seems like every time we put out a new single, people are like, ‘This is the best song they’ve done yet!’ so I’m really excited to hear them when they hear the record as a whole.  I love Fragments, but I think Symptoms is on a different level.”

Symptoms of Survival’s latest single, “Path to Your Grave,” serves as a sequel to Fragments of a Bitter Memory’s title track, a song about Emma’s relationship with her manipulative, controlling, and abusive stepfather, which resulted in a plethora of unhealthy behaviors throughout the course of her life.  “That song is very much a ‘Fragments Part Two.’  So much has changed throughout my healing process since the first record.  ‘Fragments’ is a lot more tender, and this is very much about owning it and killing the demon inside you that keeps allowing you to be victimized,” she tells me of the track.  She also says that a similar sentiment can be found throughout the album, in addition to its cover art: “The cover is a corpse, or lifeless body, that has a new thing growing out of it, with the flowers, which kind of represents the whole record.  The record is about growth.”

In addition to the narratives of Symptoms of Survival relating to interpersonal and existential growth, the album itself also represents a practical growth for the band.  “For Fragments, we didn’t know what to expect.  It was our first time in a studio, so we were overwhelmed,” Emma tells me of their first full-length.  She admits that Dying Wish definitely felt more comfortable being in the studio this time around, which took place over five weeks in and around March, prior to the band’s first-ever tour of Europe and the UK.   She also tells me that she thinks this comfort resulted in an album that the band consider to be notably stronger than their debut: “I think if you like Fragments, you’ll really like Symptoms.  I think it’s an elevated version of what we did with Fragments, mastering the sound that we’ve developed.”

After spending the end of 2021 and all of 2022 on tour, Dying Wish spent relatively little time on the road this year, prior to these dates, although Boster admits that their first trek through Europe was definitely a highlight.  And when we spoke, before their current run, she seemed very anxious to get back out on tour, seeing fans and playing live: “I’m excited for everything…  Chain Reaction in Anaheim sold out in two days, so that’s really exciting!  Greensboro, North Carolina is really exciting because our show there last year was one of the best shows we’ve ever played.”  She also tells me this headlining show – the first we’re getting a chance to see in the 215 – is going to be something a bit different from what audiences have seen in the past: “We’re playing our longest set we’ve ever played.  There’ll be some stuff off of Fragments and most stuff from Symptoms.  We’ve divided the set into different blocks of different vibes.”

Joining Dying Wish on November 10th at Underground Arts (along with many other dates) will be Boundaries, Foreign Hands, and Roman Candle, all of whom Emma is quite excited to share a stage with.  “Foreign Hands, Boundaries, and Dying Wish are kind of the big three right now, in terms of bands that are doing metalcore in kind of a retro way, but in a fun way,” she tells me, before going on to add, “Roman Candle are really young, and have never toured the US before, but I expect they’ll be much bigger after this tour, and I’m really excited that we can play a part in helping to launch them.”

When I ask what 2024 holds for Dying Wish, Emma tells me that the lack of touring they’ve done this year, compared to the previous, has them excited to spend as much of the year as possible playing Symptoms of Survival live: “Last year we did five full US tours and one overseas tour, and this year we’ve only done one tour so far, so we’ll definitely be out there, trying to play to new people and play to our fans.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.