The album is called "Trigger Warnings & Sunshine" because half of the songs will probably bum you out and the other half will give you a smile. I get as dark as I've ever gotten on "Man in the Mirror" and just about as hopeful as I can get on "You Are Not Alone," while planting my tongue in my cheek as hard as I could on "Church Girls." It's a bipolar listen, for sure. The title seemed to wrap that up.
Everything I write is to some extent autobiographical. With the exception of "Everything Good" and "Church Girls," everything here is new and was written after "Something to Look Forward to..." was released. (The two exceptions have been looking for a home for a couple years. Although "Church Girls" did get almost a complete lyrical re-write before this recording.) Sometimes things got scary. Sometimes they got happy. This is the end-result. And, hey...look at that...I didn't use even one swear word on this album.
I hope you like hearing it. I liked making it.
-Derek, December 2015; Revised February 2016
Front cover photo by Tara Black, during the “Ink-Stained Fingers” sessions.
All electric guitar tracks were recorded on a Rickenbacker 360, except the lead parts in "Everything Good" and “You Are Not Alone,” which were played on an American Strat. All of the acoustics were played on a Parkwood acoustic/electric. The drums were a hodgepodge. The bass was my Ibanez Soundgear (Ol' Greeny). The keyboard used was a Casio of some kind, but I can’t remember the model and it’s downstairs. I’m not getting up to look. The vocal parts, for my sins, are my own.
While my usual influences (The Who, Drive-By Truckers, etc) remain constant, during recording and production, I was deeply immersed in the music of Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys, The Replacements/Paul Westerberg, Lou Reed, Big Star, The Bottle Rockets, The Hold Steady, David Bowie, The National, REM, Mumford & Sons, Pearl Jam, Slobberbone, Michael Penn, Bob Mould, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, and a good deal of Motorhead.
I also read quite a bit, including: Sylvia Plath - “The Bell Jar,” Fredrik Backman - “A Man Called Ove,” Tana French - “The Secret Place,” and Nick Hornby - “Funny Girl.”
Watched a lot of TV and movies too, including: Love & Mercy, Birdman, Big Eyes, Skeleton Twins, The Hobbit, Broadchurch, a fair amount of SCTV, The Joy of Painting, Doctor Who, Frasier, Sherlock, & House. During mastering, I watched the whole of Red Dwarf.
ONE OF THESE DAYS:
I thought I was writing a Mumford & Sons type of song when this started. By the end there were Iron Maiden-esque strings and a Corey Taylor influenced yelling section. Oops. On an album that's basically about darting between the dark and the light, a bipolar opener makes sense.
NOT-QUITE MIDDLE-LIFE CRISIS:
If the title's at all confusing... This is a song about being in your 30s, which is not QUITE middle-life. There. Better?
I'm 35. I'm dissatisfied. This song happened.
This song has been hanging around for about 10 years. Finally got it on an album. Almost made it onto at least the two previous ones, but it felt at home here. Few if any lyrical or structural changes over all that time--although the lists in the bridge have always been kind of a multiple-choice.
People will want to read more into this--something spiritual or deep. But it's a break-up song, and that's it.
SOMETIMES YOU SAY GOODBYE:
Starts at the general. Moves to the specific. Ends on the personal. Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is remove someone else from your life...and sometimes you're the one making someone else healthier by going. The middle verse is based on someone real. So is the last one.
I know a lot of single moms. This is for them. Wrote it with one in-particular in mind, but it applies to a bunch of people, I think. Plus it's a story-song and you can hide some deep messages and truths in someone's story. I was shooting for that here. Hope I got it.
Pretty much just a "thank you" for sticking with me. That's it. I particularly like the solo in this one.
MAN IN THE MIRROR:
This one takes some really dark turns. Sometimes stuff gets scary in my head, man. But... This song ends on a major chord that appears nowhere else in the song. There's a reason for that...
Sort of the fun side of still being bummed out. Pearl Jammy. Up-tempo. Some of my usual wordplay... It's a rock song about being sad, but working at happy. You get it. Has one of my favorite lines of the album in it--"I've got a problem with change and I hope that changes soon." This one, though fun, does pretty accurately describe my struggle with depression. It's a fun take on a serious subject.
This is probably kind of self-explanatory. Don't take it too seriously. I would warn that misogyny isn't the point of this song...the point it to REPENT of misogyny.
(TIRED OF WRITING) SONGS ABOUT SUICIDE:
I've known a lot of people who have ended up committing suicide. It's been a recurring theme on my records since the third one ("Out from the Light") and now I'm on my 8th...and here we are again. The story's in the song, and it's about 85% true--I fudged some of the details for anonymity. But this is in the physical liner notes as "For D.W."
This song is either about finding the person you were always supposed to be with...the person you've been waiting for all of your life, but God had to move all the right pieces into the right places at the right times and you had to wait, wait, wait until you and they were the people you had to be for it to happen... Or it's about Geocaching. Or both.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE:
A phrase I gravitate toward. I say it a lot to others as advice. I recall it a lot when I feel I'm on my own. It helps, I think. Wrote a song to share it. The solo on this one was fun to do.