Here’s a lesson we’ve all learned from the Internet: cute animals make viewers pay attention. Since people can’t resist watching winsome puppies, filmmakers have acquired a fail-safe technique for gathering an audience. But what if that same magnetic power that directs millions of eyeballs to YouTube clips and Vines of animals at play could be used as a force for good?
Enter The Commuters, a thoughtful, observant, emotionally forthright New York City alternative rock band with a social conscience and altruistic impulses. Moved by the plight of a loved one stricken by lymphoma, Commuters frontman Zeeshan Zaidi was determined to raise both consciousness and money for research. His clip for “You’ll Stay Right Here,” a tender ballad from the band’s upcoming Before I Was Born EP, is a cancer story with a twist — its protagonists are a pair of adorable dogs. Zaidi wagered that their vulnerability would reinforce his message better than any human actors ever could, and he’s been proven right: the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has chosen to partner with the Commuters’ campaign. All the money raised by the sale of the single will be donated to the fight against cancer.
This sort of gesture — and this kind of sentiment — is nothing new for the Commuters. They’re a band that has always led with their compassion, and an unshakable faith in the power of music to inspire and communicate meaningful ideas. The sharply-written songs and superb musicianship on Rescue, the group’s most recent album, won the Commuters a dedicated following; Before I Was Born is certain to build on that success. On the new EP, Zaidi and his bandmates address oppression, the importance of human connection, and the indestructibility of hope — and they do so in rock songs designed to reach as many people as possible. “You’ll Stay Right Here” is a perfect example of what makes the Commuters so affecting, and so irresistible, too: its narrator simultaneously communicates the anguish and fear of critical illness and the determination that’s needed to beat it.