Understatement’s You Made Us was released on Saturday, March 25, 2023. The EP includes six tracks, “You Made Us”, “Understatement”, “You Made Us (Instrumental”, “You Made Us (2022 Demo), “Understatement (Instrumental), and “Understatement (2021) Demo. Vocals, bass, songwriting, album art, and demos are by Bala Rice. Sully Dunn plays guitar and Zachk Cain plays drums. Candrika Rice (Lylyth, The Molecule Party) and Sapphire Welka provide backing vocals on “You Made Us.” Photography is by Chris West. You Made Us was recorded, mixed, and mastered by John Stoecker at Razorblade Recordings. Bala Rice was kind enough to share the background on both songs with Pitt Music Live.
Bala states that “You Made Us was written on the day after Christmas in 2021 when my father, Stephen Sevananda Rice, passed away. The cover art is a painting I made of him. Despite the age of the song, we didn’t start playing it as a band until September 2022 once I became emotionally able.” Stephen Sevananda Rice’s father was described in his obituary as “very intelligent, sincere, deeply religious, caring and crazy big guy.”
Bala continues “The song is a bittersweet tribute to him, thanking him for always accepting us and raising us up to be musicians. My sisters are featured in backing vocals towards the end of the song.” It is admirable that Rice’s children were able to channel their grief into this track. The lyrics “You made us who we are today, you made us not afraid to say that we’re different and that’s okay because you’d still love us anyway” are a moving celebration of how these siblings felt about their father.
The EP and music video for “You Made Us” is dedicated to Stephen Sevananda Rice. The video was filmed by Kristian Cadanova.
In addition to “You Made Us”, the EP includes the title track “Understatement”. Bala says “Understatement” is an energetic classic punk song we debuted in May when opening for Bad Luck & Dollar Signs. Before this, the only song I sang for the band was a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge”. This song was made to match its energy and replace it in the set. Lyrically, Understatement is about finding community in Pittsburgh’s arts scene and the thrills of playing live music.”
“Understatement” is an upbeat, energetic counterbalance to “You Made Us.” This is also a personal song as shown in the lyrics “2021, now the fun has begun, getting up on the stage, busting out of my cage”, about when Bala started performing.
This EP is a bit different from previous Understatement albums as Bala Rice sings lead vocals on both tracks. In the past, Sully Dunn has usually sung the lead. These tracks also feature Understatement’s new drummer Zachk Cain. The EP and music videos were released on March 25, 2023, as this would have been Stephen Sevananda Rice’s 52nd birthday.
Bala shared these flyers for Understatement’s next two gigs.