The first track on Out Of Earshot is the first track for a reason—that is, it represents our initial undertaking of the album’s recording, which began waaaaaaaay back in 2006. It was recorded over a few different sessions at Lo Key Studios in Blue Springs, MO sometime during that year. I’m thinking summer, but not positive.
I have fond memories of these first few recording sessions. We had just released What a Perfect Ending earlier that year, and though it wasn’t particularly taking off or anything, we were all excited about the prospect of recording new songs. With the exception of one or two of us, we have pretty short attention spans, and get sick of songs very easily. But for the most part, I think we felt that a lot of Perfect Ending was sophomoric compared to the stuff we were doing by that point. With the exception of “What a Perfect Ending”, “On a Lonely Note”, “All Is Forgotten” and “Hot Blonde”, we were over that record already.
The sessions for “Later” boosted our excitement even more, because we got to work at this fantastic studio with top of the line equipment. A lot of the guitars and amps we used, particularly on “Later” and “You Ignited”, were fan-fucking-tastic. JoJo was freaking out over this Badcat amp that gave him one of the more convincing tube amp distortions I have heard in recent years, and I was creaming over this deluxe Les Paul I got to use. To top it off, we were surrounded by Beatles memorabilia, so it felt even more like home. According to Cosgrove, the owner of the studio was a doctor, very wealthy, and a huge Beatles nut. So, he just bought a space in downtown Blue Springs and built a studio, with no real prospects of making money. This is why he had all this amazing equipment lying around. It was a pretty sweet position for us to be in at the time.
“Later” is still one of my favorite songs on Out of Earshot, and I think it makes a great opener. However, I feel it is the worst of the twelve a far as recording quality. It was produced at a time when we were still getting our bearings in the studio, spending hours and hours doing things that take us maybe a half an hour to do nowadays. That’s another reason why I love it, though—it has a rawness that reminds me of how far we have come as a band, but still an undeniable quality that makes it shine. JoJo’s guitar work is amazing throughout. On the original demo, I played all of the instruments, and incorporated some wildly delayed guitar that was meant to be disorienting. I really wanted that effect of the music moving you around, or shaking you uncontrollably, and took it kinda far, as usual. JoJo dials it back perfectly and creates a real nice stereo delay pattern that is slightly jarring, but lifting, kind of like being levitated. Eternal thanks be to the Akai Head Rush.
Also, the work of our ever-legendary rhythm section on this song just flat out baffles me. Nick’s power walk bass line during the chorus is so badass, and a great example of why it’s important to allow for outside input when arranging your songs. I NEVER, EVER would have thought of that bass line. I don’t know why or how to explain it, but it just feels like something I never would have thought about. And I love that. I love what it does for the song—it takes it to that perfect place I wanted it to go, and it couldn’t have gotten there without Nick. I mention all of this because I get really annoyed at songwriters who play dictator. If there is a songwriter out there who once moved you but now seems like he is out of ideas and scraping the bottom of the barrel, it’s probably because he never listens to anyone else (ahem Bob Pollard, Frank Black). But I digress…and of course, the drumming of Eric Melin just cannot be topped. I still say he is on par with Dave Grohl as the best drummer in music, and Dave Grohl doesn’t really play drums anymore, so there you go.
Overall, the whole band was firing on all cylinders for this one—pretty exciting stuff. It’s a logical starting point for the record, not just musically, but thematically as well. Not only that, it was the beginning of the long road to Out of Earshot’s completion, which was littered with hurdles, missteps, and squirrely studio interns.