Here Comes The Wave - Track By Track Breakdown
Alt Artwork, by Carla Rozman
#1 - "Shaanadaar Bachche"
I wanted to begin this record with an open, atmospheric sound, I love hindi pop music, bollywood sounds, and thought it would be interesting to experiment in a similiar way to what we did on "Anything" on the last record. I was really inspired by The Brian Jonestown Massacre's Aufheben record, specifically the first track "Panic In Babylon" (https://youtu.be/FR3H8TY3iGg). I also wanted the song to go right into track #2, our producer Dan Goodwin did an awesome mix of Mike's drum roll and voila! The opening sounds (kids singing, various street instruments) are all field recordings from Dans travels, which gives it this sound collage feel, which I love. We have been starting every show with the 'long version' of Cool Kids, with this as the intro, and it is such a great way for us to get into the vibe of the night and set the tone for what we do: droney, tribal, and celebratory.
and yes Shaanadaar-bachche translates as "Cool Kids" in Hindi.... I mean COME ON!!
#2 - "Cool Kids"
I have so much unrecorded music it's crazy. When I lived in Brooklyn (and San Francisco) I wrote enough songs for the rest of my career, channeling things in a sort of druggy/spiritual way. But for this new LP, I knew I needed to challenge myself to write something current, something with INTENTION, something that would reflect the changes i've gone thru as a person since getting sober.
I usually write my best riffs during soundchecks and in rehearsals before Mike shows up, and I try to quickly record them on my phone before they're gone. The simple 2 chord riff and vocal melody (plus the "oh ohs") came out right away, along with the lyrics. I think in some ways, my goal as a musician is to find all the notes, melodies, and ideas that can exist between just two chords.
#3 - "Cloudbeats"
I was pretty lost in addiction, living in Brooklyn in 2006... I'd just moved from San Francisco to Brooklyn and was feeling really lonely, my life was magical and tragic all at once, I missed my home in the Bay Area but I didn't want to give up on my dreams of playing music in New York. So really this is a song about looking for a home, both physically and emotionally, and it was shortly after I wrote this that I reconnected with my father and learned he was ill. 3 months later he passed away.
I feel like i'm still processing his death even 9 years later, and when I went to record the vocals for this (I do the vocals by myself, at home) I became totally overwhelmed with grief...mourning...it was tough, but there's also a lot of closure in this song for me now. Its like I was reaching out to my future self for help, and 9 years later I was able to answer the call. Thats sort of the underlying message of this record: its never too late, never give up, life keeps on getting better.
#4 - "You Did"
This song sums up the vibe we wanted to go for on this record, its kind of dark and heavy, but also, ultimately, optimistic and encouraging. I wanted the verses to sound like cheerleaders at a pep rally while the chorus is like the pep rally from the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video.
I updated these lyrics right before recording it, and it references how fucking hard I work at everything and how my magical spirit guides help me navigate through life, especially when I'm waiting for change. You have to celebrate the waiting, dance through the boring parts. That's what I meant by "you want to love the disco"!
#5 - "Where R U"
One of the things that led me to releasing music under my own name was the struggle that comes with working with another songwriter or even a whole band. I wrote this in Brooklyn about being at a band rehearsal/songwriting session, where the other person never showed up. I guess I was determined to get something out of that time i'd set aside, and its funny now to think about it...but being punctual and sticking to commitments is still a big part of my life!
"Waiting for the day you come / Hallow be thy name"
This is the only song on the LP that we've been playing live for years, and when we went to record it Mike said he thought it might have been an Echo and the Bunnymen or The Jesus And Mary Chain cover (its original!)...and I think that inspired the goth-surf vibe that we ended up going with production wise (lots of reverb on the drums, organ at the end, "where where wa-where")
#6 - "Lie 2 Me"
So this song is definitely connected to "Where R U," it was written around that same time, and where that song was about losing trust in the people you surround yourself with, this song is about losing trust in yourself, or your own higher power. I was feeling very disillusioned with my move from SF to BK, like my muse had led me there and then abandoned me. It’s about the frustration that can come from chasing your dream for years and years but not getting very far...
"I dont see things you said that I'd receive / Did you lie to me?"
This is by far my favorite song to play live right now, its so heavy and rumble-y with the bass synth. On this last tour, as the election happened, it really became my anthem for the frustration and the mourning that was going on, and it felt SO F'IN GOOD to play it every night. The end section, which is a combination of guitar feedback and distorted moog, with delays and stuff, was Mike's idea and he and our producer Dan Goodwin put that together...it just felt right for me to shout "Did you lie to me?!" over and over at the end until everything shakes and rattles and falls apart around it...into the chaos.
#7 - "Brainy Fox"
Does anyone remember Lucky Cat in BK? They used to have piano karaoke, and bands... anyway, my old band did this song for the first time at a fashion show there and ppl were freaking out, dancing around to "I see your underwear underwear"! I felt a spark with this song that night, like it was sort of out of character for me musically, but just has this great fun energy.
"I wont turn you in / I will turn you on"
I love that it's a woman checking someone out. Like we hear songs all the time with dude's singing about some girls butt or chest, but whens the last time you heard a woman sexually checking out someone in a song? Maybe this is why I LOVE Missy Elliott. Probably one of the hardest songs to sing live, this last tour I got sick and we had to take it out of the set completely. Hopefully when we go back out in March I can sing it every night!
#8 - "Castle Kids"
I have a million of these ambient little jammers..... Mike liked this one alot so we experimented putting it on the album between some pop and psych music!!! How'd we do?! The most interesting part about releasing these ambient tracks is what to name them! Could be almost anything, Mike decided to name this one Castle Kids. So who are the castle kids? Here's something I wrote for an interview earlier this fall:
In the 90's in San Francisco I really had to go out and find 'my people' and it took a while! But if you know what I'm talking about, and you've finally found 'your people' then you know how special it is, that instant love and connection, you feel like you're part of a team and together we can go do anything, and we did!
We ran DIY scenes in San Francisco in the early to late 90's. We brought a lot of people together, my group was filled with every type of person, burning man types, jocks, punks, skateboarders, nerdy girls, people that were straight edge people that weren't, everyone, we created a huge family (called the Castle Kids), we would throw parties and shows and supported eachothers events no matter what. We roamed around as a large group, it was in that world that I learned what a supportive community was.
This song is meant to be a warm washcloth on your temple, a place of rest from thoughts, a palate cleanser, a moment of pause.
#9 - "Ocean" (The Velvet Underground cover)
When I lived in SF, I used to hula hoop in my bedroom to the Velvet Underground "Quine Tapes Bootleg Series" (https://youtu.be/WI7x2LBDzlY). I also taught myself to play drums by drumming along to the "VU compilation album," Moe Tucker was my teacher, and I loved loved loved her drumming on "Ocean!" I learned every tom hit every cymbal hit, she really embodied the ocean crashing in, it's my favorite version of this track.
I started covering this song when I lived in my loft in Brooklyn. I learned the 1969 version, and the lyrics the best I could. I remember playing it and thinking, damn I like my version better than the original, it's spookier! When we went to record it I had to decipher Lou's cryptic lyrics, and I actually reached out to a few Velvet-heads (Kelley Stoltz!) to see if there was any kind of consensus about what he was saying, and what it might have meant. I really relate to the way he would change lyrics on the fly, rewriting songs many times over the years...it was like they were old friends that he would revisit now and then.
After recording all the music (that's our producer Dan Goodwin playing reverse guitar at the beginning), it wasn't until the last vocal take, where I got really close to the mic and basically whispered the vocals for the first verse that it all started to gel. This song is like a nesting doll, its scope goes from small...like a grain of sand, to giant waves crashing on a cliff...Dan really nailed that wall of sound at the end, I think there are 10 guitar tracks.
I love ending the song, and the record, with this line "Here come the ocean, and the wave." It could be a wave of fear, or success, but its coming no matter what, so you have to accept it. I wish Lou could have heard this version!!