Such Hot Blood

Safe

Because of an arcane music industry practice, we were told we needed one more track for the record than we had. At the time we were already in Nashville, long since done with all of our pre-production rehearsals, already halfway through the recording process… So we got in a room and started playing something from an old “jam” session (we rarely “jam,” I kind of hate the idea actually). In about five hours we had something basic worked out. We pressed record. I spent two days locked in a room writing lyrics and that became Safe. I love Anna’s violin on the breakdown. –

The Fifth Day

I wrote this song in a 5 day sleepwalk. I stayed up all night on the first one, watching the sun rise over Los Angeles, grabbing a guitar and just twanging out some chords. It became a snowball with strings and weird piano sounds, growing by day 5 into this symphony of voices and trumpets, whistling, screaming.. I guess I thought of the last section as the underbelly, the dream state of the song which preceded it. As if the narrator tells his neatlly-wrapped story, turns off the light and proceeds to fall headlong into a cacophonous, almost childlike awe at the devastation he’s witnessed.

This Is London

This is London – We broke in the UK before the states which meant we were out playing for larger crowds in London when we were still playing small clubs in Silver Lake. It was an amazing experience. I’m an anglophile and grew listening to, and to some extent, emulating British bands. They were all so smart and sort of tongue-in-cheek coy, pissed off and romantic all at the same time. So to be there, playing shows (30 in a row in 30 days on one particular stint), meeting fans, dealing with the British press, running wildly through the night from pub to pub was like standing on the edge of something. It felt new and endless, overwhelming, exhausting, amazing.

What’s In A Name

What’s In a Name – This was the first song I wrote for this record and the one that made me want to record it with producer Jacquire King. Just felt like one of those great early 80s rock songs that the Heartbreakers would do or T-Rex or Thin Lizzy or something.. And he just seemed like the one to capture it. He heard the demo and wanted in on the record, with one stipulation: that we all go to Nashville to make it at Blackbird studios. Which we did, renting a house, inviting friends (the Drowning Men, Mona, etc…), wreaking havoc at Five Points and Santa’s Pub — even taking a three day motorcycle trip to Memphis to pay homage at Graceland. Good times. I love to sing this song. (Am I the only one who used to break into public pools in the winter to skate and tag the walls?)

The Secret

This song was originally much longer. Cutting it down was the first and last time I ever took advice from a label. I wrote this song driving my car around Los Angeles one night when everything felt like some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland. Something about imagining people somewhere else, carefree and dancing and the first of many ghosts just beyond the headlights.

The Storm

The Storm – The whole approach of this record (unlike the first two, and very unlike the upcoming record) was to just play songs in a room — with all natural sounds, no keyboards, no added production — just the five of us and our instruments, our voices. This song, like all the songs on this record, was recorded completely live. Even the vocals were only slightly overdubbed. We played the song five times and chose the one we liked and that’s it. It’s about being seen for the first time, about how you survive things in your life and you bury the events inside you and at some future date somebody unearths them, almost like a witness to the pain you suffered as if to say: my god how long have you been alone with this?

Timeless

I wrote this song for Juliette, my grandmother. It was a kind of angry elegy for the five family members we’d lost in a very short amount of time. Nothing prepares you for it. I think I realized I had spent 10 years writing about death as a concept to be devoured or explored or exploded — without really experiencing it. Up close it wasn’t interesting at all. Just horrible and draining and very very sad. The song is about that grief — mostly for them, for the fact that they don’t get to be alive anymore, for how boring and predictable the world seems without them. And also how after they’re gone, you can still hear them in your head: talking to you, persuading you, sharing a laugh— and you want so badly to make them proud, to become the person they imagined you to be.

True Love

True story: I wrote this song while drunk in an airplane bathroom flying over a summer storm in Kansas. I kept hitting my head on the door when the plane would dip. Something about airplanes makes you think about all the angels falling around your head. If you listen closely to the chorus, you can hear Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs from Fitz and the Tantrums contributing guest vocals

The Fifth Day

I wrote this song in a 5 day sleepwalk. I stayed up all night on the first one, watching the sun rise over Los Angeles, grabbing a guitar and just twanging out some chords. It became a snowball with strings and weird piano sounds, growing by day 5 into this symphony of voices and trumpets, whistling, screaming.. I guess I thought of the last section as the underbelly, the dream state of the song which preceded it. As if the narrator tells his neatlly-wrapped story, turns off the light and proceeds to fall headlong into a cacophonous, almost childlike awe at the devastation he’s witnessed.

Elizabeth

This is yet another song that was not popular among some (like Graveyard, Kids, All for a Woman and Midnight) It had to be fought for. It’s just two people having a conversation. An artist and his muse. A sailor and his siren. She’s making fun of him, he’s granting her point. The white dress is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Midnight (to the white dresses at shows, the tortured reflection one perceives in such a long hall of mirrors). There’s a levity between them that comes to a singular realization that, at least for me, sums up what this whole record was about.