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A R I Z O N A Tell the Story of Posthumous Avicii Collaboration “Hold the Line”

One of the few features on Avicii’s posthumous album TIM comes courtesy of New Jersey electropop trio A R I Z O N A, who lend their breezy, propulsive sound to a song called “Hold the Line.”

A R I Z O N A members Zachary Charles, Nate Esquite, and David Labuguen began work on an early demo of the track about a year ago, and after sending it around to friends and collaborators, figured that would be the end of that. It was only after Avicii died in April of last year that they learned he’d been working on it, shaping raw clay into what would ultimately become the official studio version.

“When we heard that he was very close to that song, and in light of the recent events, we were incredibly taken back,” says Charles. “Of course we then agreed to take on the challenge of finishing what he had started.”

The lyrics on “Hold the Line” tend toward the personal, tackling mental health in the context of community: “We just have to push on / We don’t get to give up this life / All the breath in your lungs / Is stronger than the tears in your eyes.”

But A R I Z O N A say the message is also universal. “Life isn’t peaceful by nature, and under certain circumstances, it becomes an immense test of fortitude and the will to continue onward,” suggests Charles. “Many people have been there. We have, Tim was, and more importantly, there are right now many who are at the point in their battles where they ask themselves whether or not continuing is worth it. If you’d ask us, we believe that it’s the only fight that’s ever truly worth—the one for yourself.”

Finishing the song in the wake of Avicii’s death, A R I Z O N A took pains to keep his creative spirit intact. No lyrics were changed in the final version, and the structure of the song remains the same as it was when Avicii was working on it.

“I think there’s a strong message behind these incomplete collaborations,” says Charles. “They’re beautiful torches handed off to those who would take them the full distance, but the true atmosphere of the moment they cross the finish line, is that it won’t be shared with the one who lit it.”

For Charles, there’s a sense that electronic music, and Avicii’s legacy in the dance music community, have a specific role to play in conversations about mental health: “I have never seen people happier than those I’ve seen dancing in clubs, raves, festivals, and so fourth. There seems to be something that lingers in us, something very primal, about congregating and dancing together as a form of release. Tim especially, with the songs that he would particularly pair with this kind of music, was incredibly powerful. People need community, none more than those who are in the midst of difficult times, and there are very few that rival the communities of the dance and electronic world.”

Today, with TIM officially out, the band is sharing a new, acoustic take on “Hold the Line.” Find that below, along with the full lyrics.

“Hold The Line” lyrics:

Crossbows and arrows
The smoke in the shadows
You’ll lose your mind
Standing on the battle line
Starting to choke on your heart in your throat
And it feels just like you can’t remember how to fight

We’ll crack before we shatter
We can’t fall apart

We don’t get to die young
Trouble keeping our head sometimes
We just have to push on
We don’t get to give up this life
All the breath in your lungs
Is stronger than the tears in your eyes
It’s do or die
But we’re alive
And while we’re here, we’ll hold the line

We’ll hold the line

Don’t hold your hands up
It’s your final stand
Put your white flag down
Oh don’t you surrender now
No hero’s story
There’s no blaze of glory
But dawn only comes at the end of the night

We’ll crack before we shatter
We can’t fall apart

Oh oh oh

We don’t get to die young
Trouble keeping our head sometimes
We just have to push on
We don’t get to give up this life
All the breath in your lungs
Is stronger than the tears in your eyes
It’s do or die
But we’re alive
And while we’re here, we’ll hold the line

Hold the line

We don’t get to die young
We just have to push on
We don’t get to die young
We’ll hold the line

For more on Avicii’s life and legacy, read our June 2019 cover story. And catch  A R I Z O N A on tour this summer; they’re donating $1 of every ticket sold to Hope For The Day, a Chicago-based non-profit focused on suicide prevention.