“The Hard Part”
David: One of the minute-long pieces Thom created for his 2008 Kendal Mintcake release was a particularly smutty track that, stripped of its late 60′s audio porn spoken bits, is quite the jam. It’s the first lyric I’ve written in years where the bridge was intended to be sung by someone else — the fabulous Xavier in this case.
Thom: Don’t be surprised if the smut returns at some point. I’m particularly fond of the main, bubbly bass line that doesn’t really feel the need to keep time (or do the same thing twice, for that matter).
“We’ll Help You Move”
David: Walking down Smith Street in Brooklyn and seeing an entire block of mom & pop businesses in transition mode, the title came to me, double entendre and all.
Thom: A number of vintage drum machines converged on this one to give David’s inevitably funky guitar riff a satisfactory home. The last time we employed a guitar synth in this manner there were serious repair bills as a result; tricky signals were handled with much care (read: vodka tonics) this time. Some of David’s swoopier string parts are a loving tribute to arranger / RAH Band founder, Richard Hewson.
David: I don’t want to give too much away about this song. OK never mind: The narrator’s “exception” is Kate Winslet and the subject’s “exception” is Scott Paterson from the band Sons & Daughters. The plot is definitely very “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” I can only assume this was the song Jon Langford was thinking of when he said For Any Inconvenience was “perverse.”
Thom: When David played his initial demo of this one for me I remember pretty much shouting “This is the first song on the next record.” I was close. I spent a good deal of time trying to make guitars sound like keyboards on this track, but the spooky string part is the standout.
David: Or maybe Jon was thinking of this one.
Thom: This track was in the incubator for quite a long time. When inspiration struck it was usually after listening to a bunch of freestyle records. So thank you, Exposé.
David: “The Star” is inspired by the novel W, or the Memory of Childhood by the brilliant experimental author Georges Perec, which contrasts an athletic, youth-based dystopian society with Perec’s remembrances of growing up in Paris during the spread of Nazism and the Holocaust. I never thought I would ever write a song about Judaism, but here it is.
Thom: If ever there was a ‘last song on side 1’ this is it. A few of the lyrics in this one fuck me up immediately upon contact. I keep my cool during live shows by pretending I’m Donovan.
David: Everyone asks if this is about the South Beach hotel with the same name, and the answer is yes.
Thom: This is as close as we’ve gotten to good old sitting-across-the-table-from-each-other songwriting; sitting-across-a-couple-of-bridges songwriting? (I picture a different hotel in my head when I listen. Don’t tell David.)
David: The narrator of this song works a desk job, perhaps in sales. He lives outside the city limits of an industrial metropolis like Detroit (this may have led to mating the lyric with the Juan Atkins-influenced track). It’s after 2am on a weeknight, the guy is driving around near the river, and he’s in a really bad way.
Thom: I’d be perfectly happy if the loud part at the end went on for half an hour. Perhaps there’ll be a remix in which it does. Also: Xavier is awesome.
“A Boxer’s Wedding”
David: The seed for this song was planted when I saw the stark photos of Mike Tyson’s abandoned Ohio mansion that showed up online. Then it came to fruition after a friend told me about a wedding at a Renaissance Faire that culminated in a joust. I brought that scenario into the boxing world, where our former champion is brutal, tragic and dying for love.
Thom: A fabulous excuse for me to make an awful lot of noise on a guitar, I usually have to muffle some cackles of joy while playing this one live. Oddly danceable, especially if you dance like Pig-Pen from Peanuts.
“Drunk at the Prom”
David: I did not have a particularly good time at my senior prom. Nursing a broken heart at the time, my two main memories are the interminable picture-taking sessions that occurred on various front lawns and backyard decks and then later in the evening, looking out the window of the limousine while sulking. That said, my prom wasn’t this bad.
Thom: Mine was pretty neat, actually.
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