I keep a journal that I write in at the end of each month. More of my time each day is spent thinking than is perhaps healthy, but this is different. I find the act of writing keeps me from spiralling and the process of making myself present and reflecting on the month prior is enjoyable. I’m very rarely present when the spiralling is going on.
That was a joke.
I’ve been reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and the relationship between vulnerability and good art is not lost on me. So, as I sit here with a cup of tea on this Labour Day weekend in Vancouver, I’d like to explore that. We received the final mixes of our album yesterday and I hope that what we’ve created might be considered ‘good art'. Regardless, I’m very happy with the outcome.
For Thom and I, this album is at least 3-years in the making. What was meant to be a 6-month break after our performance at Khatsahlano Festival in 2016 turned into approximately one year of not really being a band, eight months of fumbling around with song ideas and figuring out what our goals were, and the last year-and-some have been spent making the damn thing: pre-production and editing the songs, recording, iterating, re-recording, procrastinating, more writing, more recording, and finally on to mixing. (In that order.)
In the winter of last year we were joined by Connor and Patrick, our new bassist and drummer. They breathed some very welcome new energy into the material, some of which Thom and/or I had been sitting on for literally up to eight years. Track two on the album, Four Years, as referenced in Thom’s previous entry to this blog, is named for how long it took to finish the lyrics: four verses, one per year for four years. This might have been a cool concept if it were deliberate.
Some of the metaphors in that song laid the groundwork for other themes on the album, most notably that of an old home. I wrote the first verse in 2010 while in a relationship,
“Save me from my wildest dreams for wild is not what I need,
Give me walls and a ceiling and fill me with nice things and call me home.”
and by the time the final verse got finished I was lonely and living in Brooklyn.
“It’s been years since we talked and I’m trying to remember your face,
The hardwood has bowed from the weight-bearing walls we replaced,
Nobody lives here anymore and this house is condemned like the one I grew up in,
At least I’ll say that we’re still friends, you’ll maybe see it differently but I won’t be there to hear it.”
As a whole and in the context of today, the song isn’t really about either of those things directly. A friend and I had a conversation about the Weezer episode of the Song Exploder podcast a while back and she said, “I wonder how many discrete ideas make up any given song.” It was an interesting thought and in this case I can say somewhere between three and five, none of which have anything to do with what it means to me now.
For Four Years (and a couple of the other “old" songs on the album), the influences are somewhere on the twinkly indie pop side of emo: Death Cab For Cutie, American Football, Kevin Devine, newer Pianos Become The Teeth. In the finished recording I can hear some Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate and Jimmy Eat World, too. The song is based around a repeating 9/4 arpeggio and ends in 4/4 with a brass quartet providing the top line. What’s more second wave emo than trumpets and a weird time signature!?
(Edit: Here’s a playlist featuring some album influences, as well as some local faves ‘cuz ya gotta represent.)
We originally had another song lined up to fill the track 2 position (following a short introduction). Split Between the Eyes was very pragmatically written with that in mind and our internal title continues to be 'Intro'. After hearing Matt Di Pomponio’s awesome mixes for Four Years, however, we decided to make a switch that, I think, gives it a whole new feel. Intro is now track 6. Go figure…
As often happens with my more private journal entries, I’ve abruptly reached the point where I don’t know what else to say. I like to think it’s a sign that I reached a point where I can sufficiently consider my month reflected upon. Maybe I’m just bad at finishing things. Finished the album though, didn’t we! Release date will be confirmed and possibly announced, possibly soon.
This Friday (Sep 6th), we’re playing at CBDB’s with Early Work (Kelowna pop-punk) and Seconds Flat (hardcore punk). CBDB’s is a little DIY venue in Vancouver with no publicly listed address. If you’d like to come, shoot us a message on Instagram or Facebook. We play first as Thom flies for vacation early the next morning. Probably around 9 - our set, not his flight.