Welcome to the latest in our occasional series where we present the band's thoughts behind the creation of a song. Today's installment is The Text from our 2021 album Try it Now!
The music for The Text started with the bass and drum groove. With our second album Dogs in Helicopters, we inadvertently established a pattern of trying to present a tune which only had one chord, but was still interesting. On Dogs, that tune was Yesterday Always Knows, which is in F#. On Turnpike to Jupiter, it was Ultramodern Ninja, which is in F. Naturally, for this one I decided to go down one more half-step to the key of E. It’s a fun challenge to try to make a song with discrete sections, but no actual chord changes. Once I presented the guys with the bass and drum track, the rest came together quickly. Rich laid down some cool guitar, which reminds me of something you might hear on a Beck album. If I’m not mistaken, Pete already had some lyrics that Rich remembered and reminded him might work in this context, and with that a song was born.
One of the highlights in the session was recording the text message alert sounds from Rich’s phone. If you listen real close you can hear us discussing “recording the dings,” and asking Pete to grab us more Anchor Steam Ale from the fridge. Maybe I’ll put up that isolated audio on our Soundcloud page for fun!
The final touches were added by our buddy, and frequent guest collaborator, Alan Stegeman who added a funky EWI/Organ track that really glues the tune together.
The basic inspiration for the lyrics to The Text was when I listened to The Letter, with the lyrics “my baby just sent me a letter.” I thought how today it could be a text. I wanted to tell this long story about how a couple decides to break up and soon they both realize what a big mistake they have made. We learn later that baby’s text has been sent in response to the narrator’s initial text. The multiple text sounds were an ingenious addition by Steve, along with his stellar bass line. Rich’s thick-thumbed relentless pace gives the whole tune that anticipatory oeuvre suggested by the narrative. Plus it just plain rocks off the Mohs scale.
Sometimes our songs develop quickly and organically and this is one of them. The guitar line is one of my favs from the new album, and I was trying to match the mood of pensive anticipation like when someone is receiving an important text. Texting seems to be a bit of a devolution of communication…namely because of autocorrect and my big clumsy thumbs… did you know that you could do something called a “phone call” where you can actually hear another person’s voice? It’s amazing at conveying information quickly – I’ll text you about it.