Cayne McKenzie, lead vocalist with Vancouver-based rock group We Are the City, had already started writing a song about losing a loved one when his childhood friend, Kyle Tubbs, died suddenly from a fentanyl overdose three years ago.
That song ultimately became the title track on the band’s latest album, R.I.P, released Thursday night.
The group started writing the song about friends growing apart, becoming interested in different things and following different paths. When Tubbs died, it took the existing vocals out of the song and improvised new lyrics, which is what is now featured in the song.
“I was just lying on the couch by myself and I just listened to the song, and I was listening to some of Kyle’s music as well,” McKenzie told Radio West host Sarah Penton.
“That was it. There is a lot of time and a lot of emotion put into it but actually not a lot of thought put into it. It was pretty real.”
This is Kyle Tubbs. A deep soul and an artistic genius. We have released a song today — it’s called RIP. The song was written, mostly, before Kyle died. A sad song about feeling like he was fading as a childhood best friend, I was mourning our friendship. <a href=”https://t.co/HG5Pk9HYzF”>pic.twitter.com/HG5Pk9HYzF</a>
The song looks back at the last time McKenzie saw Tubbs, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, while sharing music with each other. Shortly after, the lyrics reference memories of his friend that may fade over time and thank him for their friendship. From there, the song becomes increasingly emotional, as McKenzie’s voice seems to become uneasy.
Drummer Andrew Huculiak said that while he’s anticipating the song will be special, he’s also dreading it.
Releasing a song that personal and emotional comes with challenges, including playing it live over and over again. The band has just started rehearsing it and working on how to perform it.
“It’s one of those songs that I don’t think it’s possible to disconnect from the emotion of it,” he said. “It’s a good thing that it isn’t. I mean that’s what people go to shows [for], to see something true.”