A fallen empire

Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) retires after a decade of emotional, breath-taking music.



Morgan Mitchell, Writer

It was January 2014, my first winter break at Biola, and I had just been tastefully dumped over Facebook messaging. I went into my room and laid on the floor like every normal teenager does. I had never listened to Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) before, but the guy who just broke up with me really liked them so I decided in that moment to find out why. I grabbed my headphones, went to their Bandcamp and laid in silence while soul-piercing lyrics and powerfully emotional melodies filled my head.

Pure Genius Art

Minutes turned into hours as I remained on my cold hardwood floor, listening to music that can only be described as pure, genius art. The song that stuck with me the most was “Keep What You Have Built Up Here.” The lyrics were angry and passionate with lines like “I wish I could tear your heart out” and “I wish for your lungs to give out.” The lead singer, Keith Latinen, shouted them with such intensity it shook my heart in my chest and raised the hair on my arms, every nerve ending in my body reacted to these songs and I fell into a world of music I would later call home.

Two years and many EEIWALE existential crises later, I was sitting in my cubicle at Newsweek scrolling through photos of Donald Trump to upload to the website with related articles when my boyfriend — who I met through this band — messaged me a link with the caption “Nooooooo.” I opened the link and saw a post on EEIWALE’s Facebook saying they were putting the band to rest. After a decade of producing the best music the post-hardcore and ‘90s emo revival scene has ever seen, they decided to retire.

I immediately broke down in tears in my cubicle. This band was my gateway drug into the punk community and led me to friendships and experiences I never would have had if I did not lay on my floor that day two years ago and put on my headphones. Because of this band, I was able to process emotions my brain would not have processed on its own and I was able to find other bands that have influenced my life as well such as TWIABP, Foxing and Sorority Noise.

About the Band

EEIWALE is a small band from Michigan consisting of Keith Latinen, his wife Kathy and different drummers and guitarists they have picked up along the way to help with certain tours. EEIWALE started off as a solo project for Keith and blossomed into so much more.

According to their website, the band easily played over 500 shows, including 30 tours, and played in 18 countries, as well as the contiguous U.S. They released 66 songs, spanning 23 releases — two LPs, six EPs, 12 splits, two discographies, a compilation, as well as a graphic novel.

They started a record label called Count Your Lucky Stars and helped launch bands that are now big names in the emo revival scene such as Dowsing and The Reptilian. Their music shaped this genre and many of the bands in it made posts on their social media about EEIWALE following the news of their retirement, such as Joie De Vivre and The Great Albatross.

EEIWALE told Couch King about their name, “The ‘Empire! Empire!’ portion is the idea of your grand vision, your dream — that one elusive, ultimate thing that makes you happy/keeps you alive… The exclamation points denote how important this dream is.

“The second portion, ‘(I Was a Lonely Estate)’ represents how I felt at the time — overlooked, unimportant, and like I was never going to go anywhere. That is also why it is in parenthesis, because it is meant to be more of an afterthought. So the name in its entirety is trying to overcome that feeling and become who/what you want to be. The explanation is overly wordy — very much a sentiment of that period of my life. But that is what our name means. Don’t give up on your Empire!”

Part of My Empire

EEIWALE was part of my empire and it helped me overcome feelings of being a lonely estate. Although it has fallen, I will not give up on the music they have already produced and it will continue to play out of my speakers for the rest of my life.

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