You would think that after the success of Object Permanence we’d have stuck with this acoustic vibe, but if you’ve read all of these recaps so far you know that we wouldn’t do the same thing twice in a row.
My two memories of pre-production for this album in January 2014 are showing up to practice and finding Chris’ parents’ house had a pipe burst and had been turned into an ice skating rink, and finding out we were going to get our first comma check as a band. It was already a bipolar tale before it even started.
Once again we went to Echo/Normal with Dan Smart as we knew this was going to be a record that would take many sessions over a longer period of time. We tend to boomerang from quick and dirty records to prolonged production records.
This was the 1st time parts of my home demos made their way onto finished recordings. The spoken word rhythm track for People, the synth from Like Mama Had, and the bike spokes from Shake all seemed good enough as-is, so we just kept them.
Thematically, at age 32, having been playing music full-time (ish) for about a decade, I felt it was time for me to write the album about making art for a living.
The thing that struck me about televised “America’s Next Whatever” shows is that so many young people act like if they don’t win, it’s the end of their careers. I don’t get it. You’ve been singing/cooking/modeling before this, right? So just keep on working at it. Just because a panel of judges didn’t like your voice/flavor profile/face, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed and you have to find another job.
It’s funny how art imitates life, which imitates art – I was writing about a hypothetical character like the ones I’d seen on American Idol, who follows his passion through twists and turns, eventually ending up completely alone having burned every relationship in the pursuit of success.
From 2011 through the release of this record in December 2014, I was either on the road with Mutts, touring solo, or in the studio. My relationship paid the price, and I was forced to take a step back and look at where all that touring had actually gotten us.
At the very end of the brutal journey, there’s glimmer of hope. The last thing you hear on the record is a voice memo from 2008 when I was living at the IV Lab. It was late at night after an open mic, drunkenly improvising on the B3 organ. That idea never found a home until my 2018 solo EP – you may recognize it as the song Clear Black Night. Even when you can’t see it, there’s always a reason to keep going.