For the first time ever, I set some songwriting rules for myself for the songs that would eventually end up on Stay Inside:
Only write new songs. In other words, I would not allow myself to dip into the songwriting “well” of half-finished songs that every songwriter has.
Ditch the short songs. Unlike a lot of our previous work, I wanted to force myself to live with the songs more. How would we make a third chorus different from a second chorus, for example? What would it feel like to even have a third chorus? This felt like a worthy challenge.
No “you.” Perhaps the most ambitious goal, I decided to stricten the word “you” from my songwriting lexicon. This came about through a reappraisal of my previous songs with The Quelle Source and Spelling Reform. Looking back, everything started to feel very “judge-y” and a bit unfair.
These rules led to some pretty introspective songs that are also dark as hell. Look at these song titles: “There Is No More Future.” “Feel Unwell.” “All the Fun Parts Sanded Off.” Yikes.
Also new this time around: keyboards and synths. I finally spent some time with the Volca Keys, which is a tiny analog synth I’ve had for a few years. I loved finding excuses to add it to all the demos of the new songs I was working on.
Our friend Jim Gannon also joined the band on keyboards. He contributed his talents to a number of songs and was also game to untangle the weird web of endless single-note synth work I’d added to a lot of songs.
Mark and Tom — some of the best dudes around — turned in some of their best work/arrangement ideas ever. Check out Mark’s fills at the end of “Meriwether Lewis on the Divide” and Tom’s bass work on “What’s So Hard About Pretending” for proof.
Now some notes about other people/places:
The album was recorded in July 2018 with Kyle Pulley at The Headroom in Philadelphia. I find recording to be stressful. Kyle and everyone at The Headroom made it less so.
Ryan Schwabe mastered the record. Dude is super patient and kind.
My friend John Cassidy did the design work, based on photos I’d taken. We basically kept him on retainer for two months. What a guy.
Bob Sweeney is the best omnipresent photographer/videographer in the Greater Philadelphia region. If you see a really good press/studio photo or video of us, it’s from him.
Rita Carroll turned in some amazing designs based on song lyrics. Stay tuned for some more merch down the line.
Ben Hughes and Ryan Buzby from Black Rd Records are putting this album out on their label, Black Rd Records. These guys are super supportive and nice.
Thanks, too, to all our family, friends and partners who come to the shows, tell us nice things and listen to all the songs. (In some cases, listen to all the songs all the time for months on end with no means of reprieve.)
We’re very proud of this album. We hope you like it. Thanks for listening, friends.
Dan (and Mark and Tom and Jim)