John Booker is back. The former vocalist and guitar player for close-knit Chapel Hill band I Was Totally Destroying It had taken a step back from music, in recent years, after the five-piece band’s mid-aughts run alongside bands like Birds of Avalon, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and Superchunk.

But one summer night in 2018, the sudden fracture of a decades-plus relationship propelled him back into the indie rock fray. New band &DearFriends—Booker, alongside Aslan Freeman and former I Was Totally Destroying it bandmate Curtis Armstead—releases its self-titled album on Greyday Records today. Recorded in 2018, the music video for the brooding, emo-inflected “Rotting On the Vine” from &DearFriends, directed by Alyssa D’Avanzo in 2019, premieres exclusively on the INDY website today.

“The whole album is a snapshot of easily the darkest, most traumatic period in my life, and the song ‘Rotting On The Vine’ is definitely a document of those lowest lows and probably the most pessimistic song on the record,” Booker writes over email. “Despite the heaviness, the song still has a glimmer of hope in it though, and I think Alyssa picked up on all those feelings when she chose it as the song she wanted to create a visual for.”

One hundred percent of album sales will go to The Carolina Abortion Fund and the Rose Haven Day Shelter and Community Center in Portland, Oregon (where Greyday Records is based). 

“Alyssa is one of our closest friends and it was an honor to get to collaborate creatively with her for the first time. Collaboration with friends is at the root of this project—hence the band name—so it’s been fulfilling to see the same spirit in which the album was written and recorded carried over into a visual medium as well,” Booker says.

Watch “Rotting On the Vine” below.

YouTube video

Support independent local journalismJoin the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

Comment on this story at