AND THEN band have released their debut single in commemoration of the catastrophic Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney’s Martin Place. The 15th of December 2019 marked the 5 year anniversary of the ISIS-inspired terrorist attack. A single gunman, Man Haron Monis, held 18 people hostage for 16 hours. The standoff eventually culminated in the deaths of three people, including the perpetrator, Monis.
Among the two civilian casualties was one Tori Johnson, a manager at the cafe. Tori has been honoured for his incredible act of bravery and selflessness during the tragedy. In the final moments of the siege, with the door open and escape imminent, Tori chose to stay inside the building in a remarkable show of solidarity with the remaining hostages. It was this choice that, ultimately, sealed his fate.
AND THEN band have released a debut single, Choices Made. The track was written by Ken Johnson, commemorating the death of his son, Tori, in the 2014 Lindt Cafe Siege.
In commemoration of Tori’s passing, his father, Ken Johnson, has collaborated with a host of international artists and musicians in recording an album. Whilst travelling through Portugal, Johnson encountered the internationally recognised vocalist, Susana Travassos. Upon learning of Johnson’s immeasurable grief through reading his poetry, she persuaded him to repurpose the material into song form.
Consequently, Travassos united a broad selection of talented musicians and from Nepal, Spain, Italy, Zambia and Brazil to record at the Atlantico Blue Studios in Lisbon. This was, ultimately, the birth of AND THEN band. She also invited Brazilian singer-songwriter, Thiakov, to produce the album, Songs For Tori.
The album’s debut single, Choices Made, was inspired by Tori’s heroism at the end of the Lindt Cafe Siege. It is a profoundly moving appreciation for the compassion that somehow fights its way through gloomy, incomprehensible peril.
The track begins with a spoken-word passage by visual artist, Tony Cassanelli. In a short documentary on the album’s origination, Johnson explained the reasoning behind Cassanelli’s involvement. Melding the worlds of visual and audio artistry was considered important in the song’s construction.
“I asked my friend Tony Cassanelli, who is a visual artist, like myself. He has such an amazing voice… I just thought that I’d like to include him to represent the visual artists.”
The decision was a wise one, with Cassanelli’s voice setting a sombre, but dramatic tone. The opening is perfectly juxtaposed with the entrance of Travassos’ crystal clear delivery, which is backed with crafty, latin-inspired instrumentation.
A beautifully stylised video, directed by Italian cinematographer, Bruce Gil, also adds to the already large list of international collaborators.
Choices Made offers a window into the insurmountable grief that accompanies tragedy of this magnitude. But, similar to the selflessness of Tori Johnson’s final moments, the song is a tangible demonstration of unshakeable goodness that, inevitably, prevails.
In Ken Johnson’s words, “This video is to honour my son. But also, to give the world some hope that although something as bad as this can happen, it can produce something very sweet.”
The full album, Songs For Tori, will be released later this year. Meanwhile, you can hear Choices Made below: