Story behind the songs 

At first a couple beats of Victor’s seemed too different then my usual vibe, but I didn’t let that stop me from trying. One beat in particular sounded like disco and seemed like the most obvious to not use, but I tried a riff on the electric guitar and then jumped behind the mic with some reverb turned up and “Go to the Light” was born. It was super repetitive, so I knew it needed serious revising, but the spark was there and it was undeniable. Liam added some keyboards and a 2nd guitar - it really started to sound like a song at that point. I wrote out some verses and Liam encouraged me to do some talking, especially at the beginning, rather than try to sing the whole thing.

One of my favorite beats was very busy, but exciting, so I started with a non-complicated guitar riff and let loose with some vocals. As I was working on it I got a call from a friend and he relayed the news that an old friend of ours had taken her life. It had been well over a decade since I had seen that friend, but the news was still deeply disturbing to me. I was full of questions - how could she have coped and gotten through her darkness? How could she have gotten back on a road to her best self? What could I have done to prevent this outcome? When I knew her she was full of life and love, and though we all had our struggles, I didn’t even know she was going through anything so deep. I went back into the studio, hit record and tried to imagine I was back in time singing to her “How can you cope, when you’re running out of rope? Where will you go, when you’re running out of road?”. I added “You can come home when you’re tired of being alone” to introduce a little hope to the song and that’s how it became called “You Can Come Home”.

My first take of “Imaginary” was with distorted electric guitar. I didn’t care much for it, but when Liam heard it he said there was a gem under there and to try it with a clean guitar. I pulled out the acoustic and that first take is what is on the album. The key and rhythm of this song seems to suit my voice, especially the verses. I had been seeing lots of fake pictures and videos in the news feed, and the song was reflecting on the new reality that you can’t trust what you see and need to be careful what you believe. Also that the fake information creates real emotion in folks, and that doesn’t all go away when presented with “proof” of the fake. Tori’s chorus vocals here are SO good.

I had never written a real love song in my roughly twenty years of songwriting. It felt too sugary sweet to me I guess. Recently someone asked me if I ever wrote a song about my wife, I said “no, I usually write fictional songs”. It got me thinking though, the best songs I’ve written had deep emotion behind them and a strong narrative. I decided to give it a try and wrote “My Love For You” about our first date that turned into a healthy long marriage. For the electric guitars and verse vocals, I was inspired by Kurt Vile and the stream of consciousness lyric flow over a solid two guitar groove. I’ve been told it sounds a bit Kinks-like, which is really cool. Tori’s vocals REALLY elevate this song. She took the three choruses and slowly built up the backing arrangement so the first verse just has a few of her voices, but by the last one they are all kicking and beautiful.

“40th Day of Rain” was written during a seemingly endless bout of storms here, where so many of my colleagues and friends were getting depressed and grumpy. I was feeling fine, I like the rain, but I was thinking that part of my positivity is the love I have in my life. I tried creating a story about a handyman at a large organization, who doesn’t care for his job, but stays positive by thinking of the love he has at home. The beat is really cool and Liam’s keyboards add a little U2 flavor.

“Coast to Coast” was the first song I wrote for the album. It was going to be the lead track for a long time, but in the end I didn’t feel it was one of the top three songs, so I instead put it at track 6 so that it kicks off Side B of the record. It is the most rocking song of the album, I really love the beat. Tim’s bass and guitar really add to the growl and excitement of this track. The song is about two musicians that are constantly traveling and playing shows, because when they stop their “ghosts” come back to haunt them. In my mind those “ghosts” are really just depression and doubt, but it can be interpreted in many ways. The downside to all the traveling is they don’t have time to fall in love or start a family, so there is regret there.

“Cubicle Nightmare” is loosely based on my experience coming out of college and not being able to find a good job. I got a temp job at a large corporate firm, worked out of a “cube” and hated it. At one point, a co-worker brought tools to work and tore down his cube so that the sunlight from the window wasn’t blocked and he felt less claustrophobic. The end of this song takes that story to another level by the employee tearing down all the cubes after a night at the bar. It’s meant to provide a little levity on the album after all the heavy topics

“Let It Go” is a funky feel good song. The beginning always makes me wiggle when I hear it! The “uh-ohs” on the chorus are from a VERY old Casio keyboard, I sampled my voice on there. The song is about letting go of anger and hate when things aren’t going your way.

“Flamethrower” is another song where I didn’t think the beat fit with my style of muscat first, but after adding some guitars and bass on there it actually sounded pretty good! The lyrics are me imagining what it would have been like to meet a young Stevie Nicks and fall in love with her. I had just seen a video where she was glaring at Lindsey Buckingham during a concert and it seemed she was throwing flames from her eyes. I imagined she would kick anybody’s butt who tried to stop her from being herself. 

The last song started as a seven minute folk song, called “Ocean”. I changed it a bit to fit the beat I had selected and shortened it, so it’s a bit more dream-pop in sound, though still folky in lyrics. I went in a couple directions with the lyrics - the first verse was inspired by a friend who struggled mightily with his mental health and always felt like his friends were harming him. He told me he was okay if he went to the ocean at least once a day. The ending of the song was inspired by another friend who was swept out to sea one day when he was fishing. He floated on the ocean all night and miraculously wound up on the shore of an island where someone found him and took care of him. It changed his life forever and gave him a lot of strength. In this story, the main character decides to kill himself by going into the ocean (he can’t swim) as the narrator is watching helplessly from afar. The main character changes his mind too late and is pulled out to sea. He “sails away” into the next life. However, in the longer version of the song he “sails away” on a boat (or board) that he finds and he is happy to be leaving his old home, heading on an adventure into another life. Either way you want to interpret it, this felt like a good way to wrap up the album.