This title is something my grandfather said to my dad before we went out to Pepe’s pizza (I think that was what it was called) one night, many years ago. My brother and I laughed about it for years after, and certainly we still would, were it to come up again. Granddad was just so pissed and confused and angry for no real reason, especially since my dad has always driven with open containers…He wasn’t holding up the party in the slightest by getting a beer. No real point to this, but I, like my grandfather before me sometimes feel the swell of confusion and just want to sit there on the floor of the garage, right in the oil puddle and just pout. I guess it’s a genetic response to stress, eh?
We had our last practice last night before heading into the studio today. My band, the Lawrence Arms, has been active and recording for ten years, but this will be our first time in the studio in four. That’s crazy, because that means almost half the life of this band has happened since we recorded our last record (which came out in 2006, but was recorded in 05). That’s a long time, man.
That was also a very different style of recording. Fuck, that was back when records still outsold digital downloads, even small bands got decent advances and records were hard to make at home. That was before the studio we used got protools, before our label downsized, before I had a kid and had to play guitar in quiet little corners of my house while he slept…it’s crazy to think of how much has changed in the last few years as far as making music goes. When we recorded our last record, we were in the studio for maybe three months. We did, I believe, eighteen songs, (some which were never finished), and we really took our time. This time, we’re going in for 2 days and we’re doing five songs.
We’ve done shit like this before though. Our first recordings were all quick ones. In my life, I’ve only been a part of two records that were recorded in over a week. This is a real trip back to the old school way of doing things for us, and it’s exciting and fun and scary. And fuck, it’s rough to think that we’re gonna take these five little songs that we record in 2 days and put them up against the best twelve of 18 that we recorded in three months 4 years ago, back when we were really in fighting shape, and up against the expectations that our fans have after waiting 3 years for a follow up, but fuck it. You can never please everyone, and nothing worth trying is ever easy. The alternative is to say, “I’m not going. Bullshit.” And just sit there. And I don’t want to start that just yet.
We did a lot of different things writing these songs too…I didn’t ever demo them, I just let the melodies and words grow and expand organically, rather than getting locked into what was on a tape that I made the day the song was written. That’s been helpful within each song, but it’s also made for less output than I’m used to, because nothing motivates my songwriting like listening to demos that I’m happy with. Each demo that turns out well is a tiny little successful project, and nothing motivates production like success.
Here’s the point, folks. I’d been apprehensive about this recording. Not because I didn’t believe in the tunes…I didn’t know why. Something was bumming me out and it was driving me crazy, like an itch you can’t find, and it was really harshing my mellow, to borrow a phrase from my favorite hippy jam band, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus. But last night, I realized what it was.
It was that fucking bridge in the fast song, the one about uh…overcoming personal demons by way of vague allusions to religious iconography, beer and friendship…The bridge was lyrically lazy. It didn’t fit the song, it was the worst part of the song and it was poisoning the whole fucking batch. All the songs were bumming me out because of this one little fifteen second part. SO, this morning, I rewrote the lyrics, and now I’m stoked. And now, well, you can go in this car or that car, I’m going. I’m sailing these little tiny five songs out of here with my friends, and we’re going up against impossible expectations, shit talking haters, deafening apathy and our own technical limitations and you know what, man? It’s gonna be fine. It’s gonna be even better than fine, because nothing else can happen until this record happens, and this is gonna be considered (by those few who even notice this record) a great departure, more of the same, regression, progression, really, really great lyrics, really really stupid lyrics, upbeat, depressing, great and terrible all at once. And man, didn’t you know? That’s how shit is. Nothing is all good or all bad. Look at yourself. Look at me. Look at your boyfriend and your mom and your favorite blanket. We’re all covered in stains and shit, man. That’s kind of what makes shit interesting, right?
Okay, enough pep. I’m fucking out of here, assholes. Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about what we did today, but for now, I gotta go change some strings.