Lil Sprout: Tearing Up’s “Highway Bandits”

Written by Travis Shosa

After performing under the name Billy Moon–a reference to the nickname of Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne’s son, the real-life Christopher Robin–since the mid-2010s, Ontario’s Graham Caldwell has immolated his alter ego and cribbed nom de plume, offering it to the funeral pyre. What rises from the ashes is Tearing Up, whose ambiguous pronunciation signifies both the destruction of his old gimmick and the vulnerability which fuels his new project. Billy Is Dead, set for release on October 14, is Caldwell’s first EP under the new name. It aims to peel back the curtain on his persona and drape it over the carcass of Billy Moon.

A road song to its core, “Highway Bandits”–the EP’s second single–draws inspiration from a five-day drive with his brother from Kelowna to their family home in Ontario. Caldwell notes that he and his brother don’t have all that much in common, from appearances to interests (“I was in my high school musical, while he was co-captain of the rugby team”). But they understood during the car ride that they were still bound to each other: by blood and the circumstance of their dying father. “The drive was just an interlude / Before home became a sick ward,” he speak-sings over a scorched riff, inviting comparison to Parquet Courts. Helplessness rings through the distortion, though as the solo towards the end soars, there’s perseverance and comfort. “And I know I am my father’s son / His blood runs thick inside of both our palms,” Caldwell shouts, knowing that while the path ahead would be rough, he wouldn’t be traveling it alone.

For more Tearing Up, you can watch the video for “Running,” the first single from Billy Is Dead:

Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: