The psyche of Joey Culver, when based on an impression drawn from his lyrics, is one of despondent, self-imposed isolation. That first read is in reality far from the true spiritual being of this Mississippi native. He has come out of a debilitating, mentally unstable upbringing with a perspective of hope for a future far better than his past. The title If These Scars Could Talk, is the source for the lyrical meaning of this debut.
Culver was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in the heart of the Gulf coast to parents who had recently divorced during the pregnancy. His mother married young, and had two children with his father. Another child, a second daughter came later. The only male figure in his life was his Uncle Joe, also his namesake, as his stepfather worked off-shore in oil exploration. Later as his adult life began, a relationship with his biological father would come at 18.
Culver began his life in a household that upon birth was normal and nurturing. By the age of eight, with two other children to care for, a young Culver became too much to handle and his mother placed him in a behavioral hospital. From the ages of eight to fourteen, he was in mental institutions and boys homes. At fourteen, for two years he was in foster care, as a ward of The State of Texas. Child Protective Services released him to his birth mother at the age of sixteen. When he returned to Mississippi, he dropped out of school, got his GED, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his seventeenth birthday.
After a year, he was offered a section eight medical discharge under what is the equivalent of a “one-strike, you‟re out” philosophy. Culver had not been entirely forthcoming about his past when enlisting, and it came back to bite him. His entire life, music had been his only escape – singing whenever he got the chance. Naturally, he immediately joined a band, and over the next several years fronted five of them prior to assembling Papercut Massacre.
The lead track off of IF THESE SCARS COULD TALK, “Left 4 Dead,” details his indelible memories of being left by his parents. Culver recalls, “It is an apology to my mother for being such a horrible kid. She had no other choice than to send me to these awful places. There is no blame. When I state that, „You know that you raised me well,‟ it is crucial she understand that nothing was her fault and she did the best she could.” There is now a common understanding between the two of them, and they are at peace with the path that took them through hell in the past.
The hook-laden “In The Middle” is the first song Culver wrote for the album. It is about his second divorce coming to an end, with his ex-wife wanting him back when they were too far down the path of no return. He sings,” You will forget about me real soon if you put your mind to it.” Culver states, “It is about getting up and moving on, and that is what I‟ve done. Sometimes, decisiveness does not come easy for some, but it is essential that actions be made when things are not right. It simply had to be done.”
A third track, “Part of You” is the story of the one girl who got away. Culver remembers, “She left me for a guy who was going to be home every day. I chose music, and although I miss her sometimes I have no regrets.
This debut offering bridges emotions of sadness, hope, love and ultimately is a canvas of the emotions of life. The difference in Joey Culver is he has no reservations in being forthcoming about his troubled past and what has gotten him to this day. If we all lived at such peace, therapists would lose a large percentage of the population utilizing their services
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