Friday, September 25

The Story Behind The Song. Track 9 - The Chatty Bandit

When I was in high school my friend Scott inspired me to be emphatic. He was one of the few people around who didn't seem to be afraid to express appreciation for pretty much anything, and he knew how to be happy. I've never seen anyone scarf down eight taco bell tacos with quite the same level of enthusiasm, nor take a bite out of a raw stick of butter just because. No project was impossible, either, including bizarre fashion videos and a skateboard ramp built from lumber stolen from a construction site. But I digress...

It was 10th grade. I literally decided to try to be like him. It was a conscious thing. Dispassion was for sissies. Apathy was boring. Life is about gratitude and enthusiasm.

I'm my own guy, of course. I don't know if Scott would write The Chatty Bandit, but maybe he would if he were into the sorts of things I am (those things in this case being Wedding Present-influenced guitar pop and a girl named L, I guess.) Though come to think of it Scott was one of two people responsible for getting me into The Wedding Present in the first place. The other culprit was Chris Drew, another person who is not afraid of feeling.

Anyway. This one's tough to write about, and I didn't expect it to be at the time I penned it. Have you ever acted kind of perfectly, or at least with perfect intention? Have you ever appreciated somebody with no reservation? Has there ever been somebody who just made you happy, for no particular reason at all? Their mere existence makes you glad to be alive and around? Somebody's whose foibles become something you are thankful for - just another way of making them stand out as who they are? Maybe they really like cheeseburgers or sing a certain song in the shower (so they say) or have a bipolar relationship with thunderstorms. In any event, it doesn't happen often, this appreciation. Only with the best of friends, in my experience. Family can be that way, but you know how families are. A perfect friend can be at a perfect distance. Close, but not so close that you start to resent them for not putting the cap back on the toothpaste tube. And by perfect, I don't mean flawless. I just mean perfect. Exactly as they are supposed to be. Any other way would be wrong.

The Chatty Bandit made me happy just by being The Chatty Bandit. She would cheer me up with her stories and secrets. We wrote together. I fell in love with her music. I wanted to make her happy, just like she made me, and so I wrote this song. I thought she deserved it. It was only fair. The least I could do. The lyrics and feel and energy say it all, so I'm not going to rehash it. It's there. It's properly expressed.

There's nothing flashy about the production here. Just a bunch of meticulously arranged guitars and some particularly amazing drumming from Daniel. I like the "poke you in the stomach a little" chord at the end of the first chorus. And the tambourine and cutesy lyrics floating above the bridge of destruction. Oh, and there's a little subtle thing where I asked Pat to use the bass line from "There's no I in threesome" as a shout-out because El Bandita liked Interpol.

In the end, I'm glad that I wrote this song. It's one of my favorite on the record, and so it's impossible to regret it, though sometimes it's hard to sing. Aw heck, I'll even tell you a secret: The Chatty Bandit was Saucepants.

C'est la vie.

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Thursday, September 24

The Story Behind The Song. Track 8 - You're Out Of Luck

You're Out Of Luck is a song about fear, about this so-called "age of anxiety" of ours. I'm not putting that in quotes because I think there's nothing scary about our times, nor am I trying to make fun of people who feel fear or worry, because like most people, I do my fair share of that. Probably more than my fair share. But a few things are clear to me, and these are: 1. There's always something to worry about. 2. There's never any point in worrying.

So in a sense, this song is about how not to live. The chorus is meant to be falsely reassuring, or ironic without humor, if that makes sense. Consider: "You sit and watch the ticking clock. Until it stops you're out of luck." The point is, it's never going to stop ticking. It's always ticking, or there's always a new clock to watch tick. Whichever way you look at it, it's the same point. The only real fix is to stop watching the clock. Or to realize that there isn't a clock at all, and to watch different things. Do what you can about whatever's worrying you, if there's something you can do, and then let it go. Go lie under a tree in a park with somebody you love.

Some of the imagery was chosen to represent things that I don't like about our culture. Like cul-de-sacs. Modern architecture is designed for isolation. Isolation with the wrong stimulus (CNN) leads to paranoia. In our rush for privacy, we've created echo chambers, and we're often broadcasting the wrong things inside of them. I love a good front porch. Front porches lead to community and peace. If you have to walk past your neighbors on your way from your car to your front door, you're going to say "hi." Sooner or later, that neighbor may become a friend. And someday, that friend might come to your aid in the least expected way.

This song was an experiment for me. I always try to write songs that I would enjoy listening to. I appreciate the arrangement, melody and vibe of You're Out Of Luck. It's well-executed. It's cohesive. But I don't enjoy listening to the song. I almost always skip the track. Does that mean that a song like this doesn't go on the next record? We'll see. I just don't want to be negative. It's a thing with me. I feel like it's my responsibility to be uplifting. But more than that, it's what I want to do!

Production-wise, interesting details include Chad's use of an e-Bow to get that tornado-siren like effect over the choruses. We took the e-Bow/guitar signal and ran it into a delay pedal, and I manually increased the delay time as we tracked. For anyone who's played with a delay pedal, you'll realize that this causes the delayed part of the signal to detune. So effectively, I was creating an electric tremolo arm and simultaneously increasing the echo intensity and detuning Chad's part as he played.

I also love the drum sound here, and the crazy "ticking clock" effect that Steve put on the extra hi-hat in the choruses (chorii). Fun stuff, maybe even a little 1970s. :) Phase effects on cymbals always make me think of the 70s. But I wasn't really listening, then, so that could be a poorly-informed stereotype.

What else... oh. We used a really cool Wright 5F6-A Bassman clone for Chad's primary guitar tone. Sometimes we doubled his Vox AC15CC1 on top. In other spots, we used a silverface twin w/tremolo engaged. A few more words about the Wright: that thing sounds amazing. I almost bought it two and a half years ago but I chose my Dr. Z instead. If you want a great sounding and amazingly well-built tweed and are local to the KC area, check out Wright's stuff at Mass St. Music!

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Wednesday, September 23

The Story Behind The Song. Track 7 - A Merry Christmas To You

Ah, what a lovely after dinner mint of a song. I love the sound of this one. I'm almost more enamored with the sound of it than the song itself, though I like both.

So the story. During Christmas break I was sitting with my son (3 years old) while he played his drum kit. I had my mustang out and plugged in. We rock together regularly. While he was wiling out on the kit, I came up with the basic guitar riff that you hear on the twangy electric throughout the verses of the song. That established the meter (6/8 or 2/4 followed by 4/4 depending on how you count it) and the groove/vibe. As it was Christmas, I decided to write a Christmas song. And I wanted it to be all Wedding Present-y and jilted male and stuff. That's pretty much it for the genesis, here.

There wasn't a specific broken-heart experience that led to the tale itself. But I've pulled the feel and tone from how I've felt at various times. I also decided that I've taken myself way too seriously in various situations in the past, and so I had the idea of having the girl's perspective layered in on top as a duet. So here you have this obsessed guy obsessing on this girl. He's built the girl up into something magical - like Christmas! The girl knows he exists, but barely, recognizes he has a crush on her but doesn't pay it much of a thought when he shows up and sees her smooching somebody else (somebody she actually likes). She never does realize that he came to send her off with a gift, but if she had, she would have found it awkward and kind of unnerving, not charming. So yeah, you can see that as heartbreaking or sad, but it's also absurd and stupid in exactly the way that unrequited crushes can be. The girl's perspective is perfectly valid, after all, isn't it? It's just less "romantic" than the guy's. PS: There's a reason why "romantic" is in quotes.

Now! This will be fun. In my head, when I see all this play out, it's all at the Carnegie Mellon campus. And thanks to the miracle magic of Google Maps and Street View, I'll show you EXACTLY where.

When he sees her kissing the guy, he's walking across the street at THIS VERY INTERSECTION.

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Of course, it's winter in the song, but this is the spot. She's down by that brick building dead ahead, on the right by the street. There's no train there, but that's where the shuttle bus would pick up to go to the airport. (See? I'm bending reality again.) When I picture the train station / icy stairs version in my mind, I picture a Harlem above-ground station like this.

And later, when he's walking around ("as I walk, I stop to see the sights / people shop / the doors are decked in lights"), it's on Craig St. Right here.

View Larger Map

...Only a block away from where he saw his crush kiss that other man.

So there you have it. That's the interior shot from my brain.

Production-wise, there's lots of fun stuff here. Guitars, guitars, and more guitars. We had a fake sleigh bell that we had tried to concoct from recordings of a single jingle bell, but it didnt work out and so I removed it from the final mix. (Sorry, Daniel!) The duet is sung by Michelle Plaitis, a friend of Steve's.

Oh, last fact. I tried to get Sarah Anderson of Softee to sing the duet with me but she said she was too busy. :) Now that's heartbreak! oh well. :) I think in the end, she missed out. She has no idea how great a guy I am. Haha. Now I'm off to cry and throw this book away. :)

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Sunday, September 20

The Story Behind The Song. Track 6 - Failing To Play Nice

Boy! It'll be nice when I get through this patch of darker songs. :)

Failing To Play Nice. Let's see. I'd hope the subject matter is obvious. Honestly, I'd hope it's obvious in all my songs. But let's see what I can add that might be of note.

The story is half about me, half about somebody else. The first half, the half about somebody else, was inspired by a true story that involved a child saying, upon his return to his mother's house from staying with his father, that "daddy loves me some, but momma loves me all." That's all it took. I had to write the song. I think it's the first time I've ever written a song for/about a person that actually brought said person to tears the first time she heard it. I'd say that's kind of cool, but I sort of feel bad about it, too. I mean, is that a good thing? Hopefully it is. This is the weirdness of dark songs. Is it better to write them? Right now I think it is, though I've also decided that the next Sexy Accident record will be intensely danceable. At least once we're done with this first new one... In Heaven. Aw, hell. I can't predict what'll happen. But the SECOND new song, Now That She's Gone - that shit has a beat you can shake your booty by, no doubt. But now I'm foreshadowing.

My parents got divorced when I was about five, though it wasn't 1980. This is the strange thing about songs. The facts are slaves to the song, and even to the sound of the song - to the phrasings and rhymes. 1980 rolls off the tongue like it needs to. And the woman in the first half? She wasn't 21 when she got married, either. Does any of this matter? Does it matter, also, that my two real stepdads had neither money nor aplomb? One of them reminded me of shag carpet with cat puke on it, and the other had gone insane from too much exposure to xerox chemicals (my mother's theory.) He vehemently hated the smell of parmesan cheese and yelled at me for liking his basketball trophies.

Anywho. I sang this one in one take. You can probably tell. I'm glad we kept it, but it's hard for me to listen to. It's certainly not picture perfect. But I was upset as I sang it, and that's appropriate. I was upset partly because of the song itself - it's very naked and emotional - but also 'cuz I was generally stressing about the recording at the time and it was one of the first songs we tried to do. It's hard to sing a song like this with your back to a control room full of your band and a producer you've admired for a long time. Plus, Black Lodge is great and all, but that place is a little creepy. It's a former mausoleum, after all. We might have even had a tornado siren right before the take. I can't remember.

Rewinding a bit, arranging Failing To Play Nice was surprisingly hard. We tried a country version. It was a song that got kicked around a lot, for months. We played it during our acoustic shows, and it worked well in that format, but I wasn't sure it was a Sexy Accident song. It almost didn't make the album. We finally hit an arrangement that we liked (inspired by recollections of Steve's work with LOW on the Curtain Hits The Cast) about two weeks before we started tracking. I *still* wasn't sure it was a Sexy Accident song, but we went with it anyway, and I've had a surprising number of people say it's their favorite track on the record. Shows what I know!

Other interesting facts. This song features the only significant use of my blue Heritage 535 on the record, last used as my main guitar during the early Whitford days. Daniel Torrence manually manipulated a Ross Flanger and that Electroharmonix POG to get the crazy Star Trek IV slash whale-sounding guitar tone that you hear during the instrumental chorii. That's one of my favorite effects on the record. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, the verse drum part is a loop. SHH! See? We're as bad as Metallica.

Next up: A Merry Christmas To You

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Friday, September 18

More radio play!

Thanks again to the following radio stations, who are all charting Mantoloking this week!

KSCL Shreveport LA - #10
WMCO New Concord OH - #29
WMCX W. Long Branch NJ - #24
WMPG Portland ME - #19
WPSC Wayne NJ - #7
WRHU Hempstead NY - #11
WRNC Ashland WI - #15
WVOF Fairfield CT - #25

I'm particularly pleased to be getting airplay in Wayne, NJ, which was near where I grew up. Go Willowbrook mall!

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

The Story Behind The Song. Track 5 - Say Goodnight

This one's more elusive. Kansas City can be cold and stark in the winter. The trees are bare, which happens everywhere that has a real winter, but somehow the barrenness seems like a bigger deal out here than it did when I lived in the northeast. I think it's the lack of hills. There's just nothing to look at! It's like if you ran fast enough and slipped, you could fly right off the earth. And sometimes the ice sticks on the ground for weeks at a time, if we get a hard freeze. It turns black. There are a lot of crows, too. Especially in midtown. Sometimes the skies are just flooded with them. And it's spooky, to be driving home at sunset, watching these flocks of crows.

Sometimes stuff's broken. Maybe it's at home, or maybe it's at work. Maybe the hesitation (the kicking of fallen leaves and hands in sleeves) is because you worked all day and you looked forward to getting home and something suddenly hits you: a realization that there's nothing waiting for you there. You don't know what you were so excited about. Maybe you don't know why you're doing what you're doing, generally. Maybe you're reaching out in various directions, and it's not panning out like you'd want it to, or the things and people you find don't fill the needs you were hoping they would. Maybe they can't. Maybe they won't.

But in the end, it's a season. Everything passes, winter or otherwise. Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit tight and ride it out. Sometimes there's nothing you can do about it, whatever it is. So just sit tight for a while. Just sit tight and say goodnight.

I like Chad's backing vocals here a lot. And the rickety-sounding acoustic (me playing my Martin.) I like the whoosh when the drums kick in. That's a rain stick at the beginning, by the way.

Next up: Failing To Play Nice

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Thursday, September 17

The Story Behind The Song. Track 4 - I'm Just Trying To Help (Me Like You)

Ah, this one was fun.

So basically, I had met this really cool girl. A friend of a friend. We'll call her "Saucepants" for the sake of discussion. We had gotten to talking a lot and she had recently broken up with a pretty douchey ex. (I'll call him "Douchey McDoucherson" [credit: Daniel Torrence] - or "McD" for short.) I didn't realize just HOW douchey McD was, however, until Saucepants started recounting some of the specifics. Let's run them down, shall we?

- After the breakup, McD had started dating / sleeping with other women, and would regularly call Saucepants with updates and comparisons of their performance vs. herself. He even claimed that he still loved her and might want to marry her one day, once he was done, you know... having fun!

- McD would insult and scold Saucepants for ordering dessert and other yummy things, despite the fact that Saucepants was so light she could easily be caber tossed by a twelve year old girl.

- While McD and saucepants were still living together, McD would refuse to clean whatsoever, claiming it was women's work or similar drivel. Yet he wouldn't pick up the check at restaurants. What a traditionalist!

- McD had suggested (I believe with a straight face) that Saucepants should get a spray-on tan. I mean, really? Do I even need to talk about this?

There was more, and some of it worse. I just couldn't fit it in the song! In fact, my initial draft of I'm Just Trying had a number of other lovely McD nuggets included, but Chuck Whittington of namelessnumberheadman sagely helped me edit it down to a slimmer (and less offensive, believe it or not) set of vignettes.

The night Saucepants told me these things, I was so offended on her behalf ('cuz like I said, Saucepants was cool) that I wrote the first take at the song that very hour. I had a rough recording of melody, chords and the start of lyrics in her inbox the next morning. I think I probably had the song more or less finished within 3 days, with Chuck's edits helping me round things out over the next week or so.

Sometimes inspiration comes easy. All I have to do is get out of the way!

So thanks, Douchey McDoucherson. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't get to act like an asshole on stage. And thanks to Saucepants for letting me share this tale of high douchery with the world.

Next up: Say Goodnight.

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Monday, September 14

The Story Behind The Song. Track 3 - Buy Me Out

OK, so I know exactly what Buy Me Out is about, but it's going to be some work to reconstruct how it was written.

I'm pretty sure this one started with sound-based inspiration. Specifically, with the mammothly awesome Cure-like sound of my Telecaster Bass VI through the Dr. Z RxES. What you're hearing on the track during the verses is mostly the Bass VI. People seem to think it's Pat's bass, but it's not, though this is a natural error. A Bass VI is a guitar tuned one octave down, so it sounds kind of like a bass but it's played more like a guitar (with a pick, with chords, etc.) My low E is actually tuned to G (it's too flabby when tuned to low E), so that breaks the rule a bit, but the other five strings are tuned to standard one octave down (GADGBE instead of EADGBE)). The Bass VI was originally popular in the sixties for surf rock, and my interest in the instrument stems from the Cure. If you like the sound of Disintegration, much of the guitar work on that record is actually Bass VI work. The leads in Pictures of you, for instance, are Bass VI riffs. It gives a woody, marimba-like tone when played up the neck that you can't replicate with a guitar.

So basically, I had this riff in 5/4 that seemed pretty cool. It was driving. It was dark, but in this snarly way. It had energy for sure. So I took it to practice and we played with it and I did the usual "ba de dah" singing thing that I do. Later, I wrote the lyrics.

The lyrics were originally inspired by an executive at my former workplace. I won't name names or companies, but suffice it to say that I worked for a company that suffered (in a major and obvious way) from poor executive leadership. And some of those executives walked away with a LOT of money, despite their obvious failures. It still amazes me to think about some of the severance packages. Six figures delivered every MONTH for the rest of your life? For driving a company into the ground? Sounds nice. Now, that said, I'm sure a lot of these execs were great people. Or at least some of them must have been. A few, at least? But every once in a while, you'd meet an executive that seemed quite snake-like. That's the inspiration for Buy Me Out.

It doesn't hurt that I'd also watched the Enron documentary not too long ago and of course the financial crisis began to rage right around the time I penned the tune, so that's all in there, too. One of the biggest Enron guys left the company just in time to avoid the meltdown. He's now one of the wealthiest landowners in Colorado. How do you like them apples? (While you are dying, I'll fly away...)

While we were in the middle of tracking Mantoloking, I walked into the control room after a guitar overdub and saw Steve press the talkback mic and go "hmmmmMmMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm" like an opera singer warming up. Then he played the track back with that in front of it. I asked "is that staying?" (Not that I didn't like it. I was excited!) I think he replied in the affirmative, but I don't remember. So that's Steve in the beginning.

Only it's not! When it came time for Steve to mix the song, he sent me a txt asking "is it OK if the cowbell flies around like it's possessed?" I of course said yes. He then told me later how he painted the following sonic picture in the mix:

1. Steve took the opening "HmmmmmmMMMMmMMmmmmm" and stuck it in an indoor swimming pool reverb effect. So now we have a scene: Bernard Madoff lounging in his dimly lit indoor swimming pool.

2. Then we've got a maraca that goes "shick-shick" every 10 beats. (Listen close, you'll hear it!) That's the coke being doled out on a mirror.

3. When the chorus hits, here comes our demon cowbell. This is the satanic ritual in full effect. Bernard, coked up, in his pool, is summoning the demons of financial fraud to his aid.

4. Finally, when you hit the end of the song, that rattlesnakey sound that preceeds the abrupt arrangement turn (a vibro-slap in reverse) signifies the start of the financial meltdown.

5. And as the lead vocals split apart and war with themselves, there's another voice - Chad's - merged with mine and hidden in the echo of the swimming pool. Is Bernard possessed? Maybe there's more than meets the eye (or ear), here.

Anyway, just some color. I think Steve had a lot of fun mixing Buy Me Out and I really enjoy the creativity that he brought to the song's production.

Next up: I'm Just Trying To Help (Me Like You)

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Thursday, September 10

The Story Behind The Song. Track 2 - I Just Need My Car

This one's rather easy, unfortunately. I Just Need My Car is based entirely on a true story. The names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent, but the sequence of events is more or less accurate. There was a couple. He moved to her home town to find a job, so she could live near her family. She cheated on him. In real life it was even worse, because he was living with her parents when he found out she was cheating on him. And then, after all of this, he had to drive halfway across the country to trade cars (and other things) with her. Awful, huh? So awful I had to make a song about it.

Some other facts:

1. Berkeley Heights is near where I grew up in New Jersey. I chose it and Pensacola because they sound distinctive, are far apart (like the towns in the true story), have the right number of syllables and roll off the tongue in just the right way melodically.

2. I don't actually know how many highways one would drive to get from Berkeley Heights to Pensacola. I settled on eight (frickin' highways), again, for euphonic reasons.

3. This song was hard to arrange. I wrote it on my acoustic, and I strummed during the whole thing when I played it that way with a kind of cool riffy pattern thrown in, to boot. That worked great with one guitar, and I still play it that way when I play by myself in coffee shops and such, but when we played it as a band something was off. We could never make the choruses jump enough. As a result, there was a time that we actually declared the song dead. In the end, we played it on and off for months before we figured out that the problem was I had to more or less stop playing during the verses to create enough of a dynamic jump when we hit the chorus, where I come back in and Chad starts thrashing at full force. So that's where the restrained, "clang" guitar part came from, which is funny, because it's now one of my favorite things about the song, and one of my favorite guitar sounds on the record. In sum, I had to learn to sit back and shut up in a song where my guitar part had started it all. Just goes to show that it's an iterative process.

4. This song is the least decorated on the whole record. What you hear is more or less exactly how we sound live, minus the hand claps and a tambourine hitting in the choruses. Steve even mixed it all-digital, which he usually doesn't do, just to keep it more crisp and straightforward. I like that it's a good representation of our live sound. So years in the future, if you want to know what we really sounded like at this time, play I Just Need My Car.

Next up: Buy Me Out.

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE

Friday, September 4

The Story Behind The Song. Track 1 - I Tried Again

For those wondering about where I get my inspiration, I thought I'd write a bit about each of the songs on Mantoloking. I'll tell you about where the song ideas come from, the process of how it was written, etc. whatever's interesting. And if anyone's interested in hearing about Kinda Like Fireworks, I can go there as well.

For today, let's start at the top, with I Tried Again.

I Tried Again was one of those sound-first songs. Meaning that a particular guitar sound led to me playing a certain way, which led to a chord progression. Sometimes, my inspiration comes this way. Other times, it works other ways (as you will see.)

In this case, after Kinda Like Fireworks, I went out and bought an Electro-Harmonix Polyphonic Octave Generator (POG). I'll often get new gear after a record to force myself into new territory, and the POG is certainly unique. With it you can make your guitar sound like an organ, or in this case, like five or six sets of metal-chain swings on a playground. At least that's what I hear in my guitar tone for I Tried Again. When I play it, the upper-octave harmonics sound like the musical, high pitched "seee-saaaw, seee-saaw" that I'd hear coming from the swing sets on the playground in Montclair when I was growing up. Steve Fisk called me crazy for saying this, but I'm sticking to it. :)

So anyway, here I am with this awesome swingset guitar tone. I was initially playing the part on my strat (now I use my home-built Telecaster Bass VI). I had the verse part written, and maybe the chorus, too, but I can't remember. Then I took it to practice and we all played together and I started singing a "dum dum de daaa" melody over the chords. That's where the melody came from.

As to the lyrics, at this point, I probably had the verse and chorus chords and melodies more or less worked out, so I sat down with a big notebook and started writing words. "I Tried Again" popped out as a lead line phrase, and I liked the notion that it makes sense to say "I Tried Again" over and over again. So I started thinking about relationships, and how they can be like running over and over again into a wall if they're not working out so well (sometimes people just don't work together for some reason), so I started thinking about the ways that can play out in various circumstances. I always try to make the story arc over the course of the song, so I built from dysfunction to more dysfunction to eventual attempt at escape from one verse to the next. But I still needed a chorus.

The Chorus is what I think makes I Tried Again interesting. I'm reminded of a blog post by Derek Sivers about Kurt Vonnegut talking about our penchant to make drama in our lives. (I think I've read Vonnegut's thoughts about this before in one of his books or something, but Derek brought it back to my attention.) Sometimes people stay in really stupid relationships. The question is why? I think there are a lot of answers: fear of change, low self esteem, etc. But there's another possibility, and I think it's pretty common: boredom. People like rollercoasters. Crazy girlfriends or boyfriends are kind of like a rollercoaster (incidentally, this is why there's a rollercoaster on the cover of Kinda Like Fireworks. And a warning sign of a girl next to it :) They provide highs and lows. Sometimes more lows than highs, but a person who I respect once said to me that no person is so irrational that they stick in a situation in which they truly believe the cons outweigh the pros. By that logic, most people in bad relationships want, or at least choose to be in them. It's a choice to insist upon being with somebody who's steady and respectful and reliable and doesn't treat you like shit. A lot of people choose to go the other way. And sometimes, if you're a steady, respectful and reliable person, you get the raw end of that deal. People can mistake lack of drama for lack of passion. Or they can be terrified by the possibility that you - unlike the douche next door - might actually work out. It's scary to not have excuses, isn't it? Much easier to have a bad relationship and blame it on your partner. Then it's not your fault when it goes bad!

So anyway, those are some thoughts about I Tried Again. It's about boredom and the desire for drama. And it's about the consequences of seeking that drama out, and continuing to seek it out.

Enjoy! Next up: Track 2, I Just Need My Car.

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE