2001 came with with multiple challenges. I was dealing with profoundly complicated issues at home and with work. Compounding my issues was an entirely unavoidable difficulty. I was in my early twenties. This was not my choice. My whole life turned around 3 or 4 times that year. These songs were written during these turnarounds. These songs were conceived improvisationally, in difficult conditions. I added to these difficult conditions by retuning the the guitar to New Standard Tuning. I decided that instead of going all complicated as I had in months previous, I would write a “straight, rock record.” The Norm was meant to be a pop record. What it became for me, instead, was a fantastic mode of operation. I’d write a simple riff and move on, then add another simple riff and move on. My thoughts were “make it work quickly and make it loud."
Of course it was only loud in my headphones. I was living in a building that, at the time, was called “Hotel Santa Fe,” at the corner of Mockingbird Lane and I-75 in Dallas. It was literally a shitty hotel room on the ground level. It reeked of old cigarette smoke and decades of hidden nefarious activities which had surely been carried out in the very room I was sitting. It was from that shitty room that I attempted to do everything possible to salvage what little structure I had built up around my life. The music, like 21/22 year-old me, was fluid and shape-shifting, but not without friction. I felt like I was shedding a layer of skin, but was refusing to accept it. I was living a life of hazard and dealing with the natural consequences which were the direct result of that hazard. The lyric "But I thought," which ends by itself, rhetorically sums up my personal observation of my center of gravity. Everything was changing, and I was no longer in control of much.
I was barely beginning to understand the people in my life at the time weren't as forgiving as I was. I placed myself in bad situations and expected others to understand and help me. This was a true sign of immaturity. Naturally, most friends and family didn't see eye to eye with my "we make the world what we want it to be" attitude. On top of all of that, I was naive and unexperienced in the world. So I accelerated the rate of the hazard. This music tunes into that. What a stupid reason to have such a collection of neat, diverse, cool songs.
The most interesting thing about recording this record after all these years of hearing the demos, was tuning the guitar back down, realizing I had New Standard Tuning tuned far too high, as if I had a capo. The next most interesting thing was actually relearning these songs that I only ever played once, in an improvisational environment. After an initial period of utter despair in trying to figure out a riff, muscle memory would somehow kick in, and it would just happen. It's as if my fingers could remember the song when my brain couldn’t. Obviously that’s nonsensical, but it’s the closest I can come to describing it.
The addition of vocals, (most of the lyrics of which were written in 2001,) was a challenge. The lyrics from 2001 were about 80% useable. Trying to fit syllables into weird time signatures was something I was going to correct at the time, but I was interrupted by many unfortunate events of that year. One of the final crushing blows was the November flooding which rendered me homeless. From that point forward, I only revisited the creative content of these tracks with a bittersweet appreciation. Thankfully I've had the time to get back in and make the lyrics workable, along with many unfinished parts. A few sections of the demos are featured in the actual album, led primarily by To End All Things and Contemplation. Headlights Through Trees gets a 2018 layer on the top of the original demo in order to salvage an improved guitar solo which I don't see as replicable. The resulting blend of old/new recordings fits into its surroundings with great camouflage.
Special Thanks go to Mike, RLP, a now defunct Hotel Santa Fe, Ace, Mike, Tara and Nathan.