Toronto act The Neighbourhood Watch create a story-driven blend of folk and indie rock that has culminated in millions of streams and strong recognition from outlets such as Exclaim! and Indie88. The band is now ready to release their fourth album: a meditation on family, illness, and loving what life gives you nonetheless. Ahead of that, they’re sharing “Lifeline,” a reflection on vocalist/guitarist Tristan Surman’s experience with a chronic auto-immune disease that really wreaked havoc on his life between 2021-2022.

“When an illness like this comes to dominate your life, it takes everything out of you. You can’t be the partner, friend, or collaborator you want to be. You wake up every morning just hoping that it will be a little bit better. I wrote this during an absolute low. It felt like I was inside the pit of darkness without any way out. I just needed a “Lifeline.” – Tristan Surman


The Neighbourhood Watch’s 2017 debut album, Community Protected, was kind of like an anthology: a collection of songs about the dissolution of family, the philosophical angst of turning 17, and what it feels like to get a bit too high for your own good. Without any sort of label or industry support, the album racked up 10 million+ streams and became the main soundtrack for the indie film Midnight at the Paradise (2022). The DIY release laid the groundwork for the band’s future success. Their following full-lengths (2019’s Goodbye Childhood and 2021’s Lost in Bloom) honed in on the fear that often accompanies growing up with songs about heartbreak, lost friendships and the forced solitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. The song, “20 Year Dream,” from Lost in Bloom, was recently featured in a commercial for the international consulting company KPMG.

“Our society is still stuck in the mindset of “overcoming” or “succumbing”—but that’s not the only story we need. Chronic and mental illness just live alongside us, our entire lives, like a shadow. Sometimes they become overwhelming to the point we cannot think of anything else. Sometimes they fade to the background. But we have to find a way to accept that. That’s what “Lifeline” is about: fitting illness into your heart, without letting your heart break.” – Tristan Surman

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