In 2005, Mitch McBain and Blake Myers, who comprises Houston-based band Rosehill, suffered a tragic loss when they were playing as a part of the group Texas High Life. Keith Binder, the band's drummer, committed suicide, leaving the rest of group awash in hopelessness. Rosehill was formed in the wake of that earlier band's dissolution, and they now enjoy a reputation as a dependably solid band with a couple of well-crafted albums under their belts. Even more importantly than that, in the larger picture that is real life, is the band's self-provided mission to try and help people who might be headed into a place as dark as Binder's.
The hurt that McBain and Myers continue to feel has led them to create the Save a Life Tonight campaign which raises awareness of how people contemplating suicide can seek and receive the help they desperately need. Rosehill's song "The Bible and The Gun" and the video for it provide the campaign a heart-tugging identity that reaches beyond the average PSA might.
"Well the shock goes away," says McBain. "But the sting remains forever. There isn't a day that passes that something doesn't remind me of him. Looking back, there were definitely signs but I never felt responsible for his actions. We had helped him through several cries for help and we all thought we had made it through." Myers explains how he and the guys around him felt like things were fine, only to find out later they could never be. "Since there were signs, we wanted him to play drums for us. We figured we could keep an eye on him and he could beat those drums and get rid of whatever was going on inside his head. You have to remember, he wasn't just some drummer we knew. He was our best friend."
"The Bible and The Gun," from the duo's latest album, Crooked Thoughts, is a stark, emotional take of a man battling his own suicidal thoughts and the route his life will take depending on the choice he makes. As a stand-alone song, it's a fine example of folk-rock storytelling. As a musical message, though, its power can't be overstated.
"Music has an immense power to heal the soul," McBain says. "It's therapeutic in many ways. It has the power to take you to places both present and past, provide hope, confirm love, and wish for more."
Thanks to a letter written to McBain and Myers by a fan that once walked the dangerously fine line of living or dying, brought back from the edge by the duo's song of hope, they indeed understand this campaign and the mission behind it is far more than a way to push a couple of albums or sell a couple of shirts at the merch booth.
"It is a heavy thing dealing with this subject," McBain says. "But the burden is something I feel we have the capacity to handle."
Myers expands on the practical nature of McBain's words and illustrates the personal feeling regarding the act of helping others through their darkest hours.
"Honestly, it is an amazing, almost euphoric feeling," he says. "It's validation that we're doing the right thing. Honoring our fallen friend and helping people with his story and this song. The hard emails are from the folks that have already been through this with either a family member or a friend. They are somewhat desensitized and are very literal in there emails. But we welcome those as well. The point of this whole campaign is to keep the conversation going about suicide prevention going. If it helps them to describe their experience with us as a way of healing, then we are all ears."