Written by on 8 April 2020

Photo: Counterpoint Media

This Crackin A Cold One is a super special edition. Not only because this will be the new format going forward with the current world situation and not being able to chill at a pub over a few frothies. But also because the guest is a close friend whose new project is something I haven’t seen before, It’s so much more than just a new band with a killer new EP. Without Belief is a Musical project with a built-in Social Awareness factor. Giving insights into dealing with grief after losing a loved one.

Their debut EP “The Parting Gift” was released late this March, and each track delves into the stages of grief. This release is more of a journey than a good listen and whilst the tracks and lyrics are both phenomenal, it’s more about the story being told and the experience of grief.

Ralph, tell us a little bit about the background of Without Belief?

Without Belief is a project that was created shortly after my Dad passed away March 1st last year in 2019. The project or writing for the project started after Jake Kershaw, guitarist of Melbourne Band, Earthbound, Lost his Aunty and we began writing music together in our spare time to create what everyone has been listening to since release. The project is in dedication and memory of our family members we had lost and to help establish a message to those who have suffered through loss and grief, that they are not alone in what they feel and have gone through. Suffering, grieving, we all have gone through it, or will one day.

Would you like to give us your grief story?

My grief story that created this entire project, or was at least the main drive for this, was my father. Losing him was the most devastating thing to ever happen to me. As it would be for anyone of course. But when I lost Dad, I lost my drinking buddy, I lost my voice of reasoning, I lost my mentor, I lost a best friend, I lost all hope in believing in my own abilities. I found out a week after Dad had been diagnosed with Cancer that he was dying. He had only known himself for a week before I did a spontaneous road trip from Melbourne to Wangaratta to see him. I last saw him on New Years Day after just arriving back from a holiday seeing my sister, package deal, Bel. I was worried at the time I drove up to visit the family home as I hadn’t really heard from Dad, usually, I would get a text or phone call every couple of days and the messages were suddenly seeming further apart. When I got to the house, my mum was shocked to see me come through the door and looked like she had seen a ghost. Mum immediately woke up Dad, while she had done so, I noticed a hospital wristband on him. Note, that both my parents had been extremely unwell and were basically playing a messed up game of high five, As one would go into hospital for some medical reason as the other walks out. However, this seemed different given Mum’s reaction. Dad seemed really off and almost defeated in a way when he saw me. It was pretty clear something was off and I was about to get some rough news of some sort but wasn’t too sure. As mum started to panic and start demanding Dad to tell me the news, I was obviously getting anxious and began to have an idea of what was to come.

As soon as Dad uttered the words, ‘I have terminal cancer’, I remember I instantly broke and balled my eyes out and went hysterical wrapping myself around my weak father who clearly lost a lot of weight and was frail. Being at an absolute loss for words, I remember seeing a pool of tears and stain on his shirt when I moved away and asked how much time he had, if there was anything we could do, any treatment options. He told me the doctors said to just get comfortable and enjoy what time he has left with loved ones as it could be a month. I had to be the bearer of bad news to my sister that night as well, to inform her our Dad was dying and we wouldn’t have much time.

I remember that phone call with her all too well and some times it still haunts me as a nightmare from time to time. Bel and I within a week of knowing had her get plane tickets to fly down from Mackay and in hopes of surprising our Dad and the family with a weekend surprise trip as brother and sister duo coming in to make one last memory with our Dad. We had all the plans sorted, we were going to get photos with him, we were going to get him to change his voicemail to say something in case we ever wanted to call and hear his voice give us strength in time of need. We were going to try and make what could have been our last weekend with him, be filled with as much love and memory as possible.

We met up at my workplace and got in the car as soon as work finished in Melbourne and were on our way, we could not have been in the car for more than 10 minutes before we got the calls. Mum was blowing up our phones, our little sister Melanie was blowing up our phones, Bel’s boss was too, who resides in Mackay at the time of this happening. We were convinced no one knew of our surprise trip and no one would have any idea we were on our way. So we ignored the calls till Bel’s boss got through. The call we had dreaded and never saw coming. This moment is one of the most darkest and most haunting moments I relive almost every day, like a vicious loop in my head.

‘I am so sorry Bel, I tried to get you down there to see him as soon as I could’…. ‘He is watching over you now’……. ‘I am so sorry, he is gone’….We never made it, we didn’t get there in time, we lost him. All our plans, all our ideas, and ambitions to see our Dad one last time, taken away from us and left with nothing. We were in peak hour traffic and couldn’t even pull over because of it all. My sister gave the loudest and most painful cry I have ever heard in that moment, screaming at the top of her lungs, I was stone-cold quiet, left with nothing to say and speechless that we had just lost him. We didn’t know what to do, everyone pleaded for us to still come up to Wangaratta to be with the family, so we did. That was the longest 3 hours drive Bel and I had ever faced, we did it together though and without each other being there, I don’t think we would have made it to Wangaratta at all.

This is the start of the story of where we experienced our biggest challenge, our hardest one, and where grief started for us.

Without Belief “The Parting Gift” is available now

What drove you guys to take such a different approach with this release? What made you guys decide to take on the social awareness aspect?

It is something not everyone really talks about, or at least within the circles I am in. You see a lot of bands and hear a lot of music out there does touch on this form of topic and discussion, however, we wanted to really focus on it and show from our personal lives, that this is something that people can feel free to talk about without feeling like they are burdening someone. We wanted to create music in memory of our loved ones and also to help spread awareness. Help engage with people and develop a platform where people can open up and feel welcome to do so. We wanted people to share their stories to help someone else not feel alone, not feel like they are forbidden to talk about their loss, to allow people to open up and be vulnerable about what has happened.

How do you feel the response to Without Belief has been?

It has been beyond my wildest dreams, to have this kind of response so quickly, I was never expecting it to go as far as it has. I am forever grateful, as the further it goes, it helps those who were and are impacted by grief but also helps further my Dad’s story, it helps keep him alive through music for me.

When can people expect to see you guys take the stage?

It is hard to say given the pandemic and virus right now. I can imagine when this whole thing has settled and live shows become possible again we will be there straight away without hesitation. To really get out there and meet those who supported the music and message as soon as possible.

Where do you see Without Belief going moving forward?

Honestly it is tough to say, I have no idea. I wasn’t even expecting the huge response we have received, so at this point it could be anywhere! I want to give a proper answer but I can’t haha. I have ideas of where I want to take this to, but those ideas are still early days and being considered. Given again the virus issues creating some blocks of where this could go or do for now.

Do you have any words for anyone who might be going through grief or any other struggles?

I do, if you ever think you cannot open up and speak about your grief, you can and we will personally listen and have that talk with you. We aren’t experts, we won’t have answers, we can’t professionally help you. However, we can support you and resonate with you through the music and message. You are not alone. We are all in this together one way or another. It is better to open up and have support then it is to bottle up and feel trapped and alone in your own thoughts. You are not burdening anyone if you speak up. You are helping yourself and possibly someone else with their own issues.

Photo: Counterpoint Media

You stood down from your other band “Hara Kiri” recently, what else have you been up to besides forming this amazing new project?

Yeah, that was a move I never thought I would ever do, but here I am! Hara will always have a spot in my heart, however I needed to move forward for this music. I haven’t really been doing a whole lot outside of it. From December 2019 leaving Hara to April releasing new music under a new project, it’s just been the work/hustle life of full-time work. Living in Melbourne and dealing with this whole new world issue one day at a time. I basically lived and breathed the new project since I left Hara, there hasn’t been much else except for this EP and planning out the next year for this project.

Now that the entertainment industry is closed for business for a while, what are you doing to stem the boredom?

I won’t lie, between writing music here and there, still fortunate enough to be working and losing my social life slowly, I am just grinding out my WoW characters….. Don’t judge me, you would be doing it as well!

How are you going with all the changes going on around us right now?

I certainly developed Cabin Fever, but I am doing surprisingly well for someone who loves going out and seeing people all the time.
I guess it helps with phone calls and share housing.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing with the restrictions set on the arts industry?

Not entirely sure really, as much as I am in the scene, it’s a new project so I am getting back into it after being away for a few months and starting fresh. The only issues I face is not being able to do a release show and tour on this cycle. But it does allow me time to get to work on the new stuff and save my dollars to get merch and such ready to be available soon.

Where can everyone find Without Belief online?

Essentially, on all your major platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Insta, Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, all those smaller platforms as well like Deezer and such.

Any “Parting Gifts”? (pun fully intended)

Aha, I see what you did there, well played! Not entirely sure what to say! Except here is the music, for now, we are in the early days of talking about the next release and future of this. So stay tuned for what is to come.

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