Yesterday was a pretty good day. First, I went to lunch with guitar legend and visiting Portland resident Chris McCaughan (I had spicy shrimp and rice, Chris had Pad Thai with tofu) and then I showed him my cube. It was a funny scene. He said “this place is pretty cool, man” in such a way that it sounded a little more like “hmmmmm, I guess this could POTENTIALLY be worse,” and he’s right. This place could definitely be a whole metric dickton worse. Once he left, I cranked out some bullshit that seemed to please my masters and then I went home to discover that my kids’ nanny had organized my entire house. I had a cocktail and 2 veggie patties and then headed to the practice space. On the way there, I listened to the acoustic demo of my newest song, which is awesome and called Seventeener (as in, like a sixpack, or sixer, but for seventeen beers instead of six. Do you guys get it? No? Okay. Nevermind) over and over and over and over again because I just finished it but I REALLY want to learn it well enough to be able play it TONIGHT at the TOWN HALL PUB, where I’m playing acoustic along with guitar legend and visiting Portland resident SUNDOWNER and the mighty TREASURE FLEET, all in the name of our good buddy HIRO TANAKA and his upcoming photo book, coming out on Asian Man Records (and books, apparently).
Anyway, I hit the space and met up with some dudes and together we cranked out five(!!!!!) full band demos for the new Lawrence Arms record. And man, believe me when I say, this record is gonna be a surprise.
Well, I know…I know that musicians have no idea. Dudes say things like “oh, this is a return to our roots” and it just sounds like a shitty faster version of the last (crappy) album or “this album is going in bold new directions” and it’s like, nah dude…it’s the same boring melodic hardcore you’ve been doing since you were of an acceptable age to be wearing shorts that large. Musicians don’t know. Jon Bon Jovi didn’t think Livin On A Prayer was particularly noteworthy. People always think they’re more daring, more innovative and more capable of capturing the old lightning in a bottle that put em on the map in the first place than they are. That shit is hard. Innovation is rare, true returns to form are nigh impossible and generally all musicians talking about their new stuff are full of shit.
That said, when we arranged these songs last night, and they started coming out, my overwhelming thought was “wow. This is really different than I thought it was gonna be.” My surprise wasn’t in the bold new direction of the songwriting, but more in the way that we all three seem to have become more interested in different sonic/spatial elements in the songs than we have been traditionally (did I not JUST say that musicians talking about their music is 100% bullshit? See!!!!) and the results are that the songs I thought I’d written are actually vastly different than I had anticipated. Will that make you guys all hate em? I doubt it. Will you guys call it the album of the year? Probably. Will it be that good? Oh, absolutely. Will grown men weep, women gnash their teeth and claw their breasts and boys worldwide continue to sullenly pretend to give a shit about subcultural ethics and ideals all in the service of trying to get blowjobs? Definitely.
Look, I don’t know. I don’t know what this record is gonna be, but it definitely continues the Lawrence Arms tradition of being totally different than what we did before. It’s not Oh! Calcutta! and it’s not Buttsweat and Tears. In fact, we were talking about this last night and if you’re the kind of dork that spends way too much time thinking on the Lawrence Arms catalog (and that’s exactly the kind of dork I am) then this next bit may be interesting. If you’re not, you may want to just skip it and get on with your life.
Oh! Calcutta! was, in a very real way, us redoing the ideas that we first messed with on Guided Tour. We worked with simple chords and energy to sing the kinds of songs we most had wanted to hear as teenagers. When we did Guided Tour, we weren’t very proficient as songwriters, musicians or producers, so the record kind of stunk, but by the time we evolved to the point of O! C! we were ready to try it again and I think the results are a lot better. Meanwhile, Greatest Story is kind of a second stab at Ghost Stories, more dichotomous and dark, it’s a second version of an album that kind of grapples with isolation and depression (albeit in a completely different way). Buttsweat and Tears is that Chinkees split (which is tracks 2-5 on Cocktails and dreams, I think) in that it’s just a short burst of super catchy bangers with that McCaughan heartbreaker holding the whole thing together (Slowest Drink and 100 Resolutions, respectively) and this new album, so far, seems like a revisiting of the dark, spacey, angularity of the tracks we did on the Shady View Terrace split. It’s crazy to see the parallels like this, but as we were sitting there last night marveling at how happy we were to be able to make music that sounded like it was still the Lawrence Arms but was still this weirdly different from our recent output, Chris said “if anything, it’s a little reminiscent of the ideas in the Boring Stories” (referring to 2 similarly titled songs off that old split), and he’s right, but they’re also like Nebraska and Faintly and there’s a new current of really dark poppiness going through the whole thing too.
Good grief. Whatever, just put the fucker out already, am I right? Okay, sorry. I’m just excited. Watching a new TLA album take shape is extremely fun and thrilling for me. I’m also excited to see all of you guys and gals tonight at the Town Hall, and even MORE excited to see the rest of you on Saturday at the Metro. There are literally like 15 tickets left, so don’t be a dildo. They’ll be gone and you’ll be sad. Go here and get em.
See you then. Bring your boobs and wieners.
Oh, and happy thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all y’all.