LAST CALL was the first song ready for this album, written just six months after our first album was released. It was the second term of the 43rd American president, and for the first time in our adult life, a seemingly sensible guy you could relate to had announced his candidacy. Many of us held our breaths and crossed our fingers. Ever since the re-election of 43 in 2004, it seemed like a new world order had finally beat democracy. All cloak and dagger, hidden agendas, and oil above everything. The fact that Denmark had become a belligerent nation for the first time since 1864 just made it all the more depressing. The sense of a new guy who appeared to be our last chance and not only the lesser of two evils, thoughts of the dead Kennedys, fear of people like 43 and his bunch and the power of big business is what was on our minds.
The initial arrangement of the song was very straight forward slow rock, something we had a hard time playing in an interesting way. We stumbled on the idea of laying down a basic track consisting of just the kpanloko-drum and hushed cue vocals in order to avoid vocal bleed onto the drum track. That instantly inspired an acoustic guitar part meant to sound like it wasn’t really made for the song, but just almost happened to fit. When Thøger sang and laid down a bass track that sounds almost like a solo on the upright, it all just made so much sense to us. We hope it does to you too.
POLARIS was the second song written for the album. An article in Vanity Fair about Sarah Palin’s campaign and how they had started marketing her as ’the North Star’ made it clear that nothing’s sacred anymore. Peter's initial response to the song was: “Ok, that’s a beginning. At least we now have the ending track for the album”. The recording was one of those good days at the office; all the important parts were recorded live together in one of the first takes. I wasn’t too proud of what I'd played in the instrumental part, but Nikolaj insisted it was super cool, and since he’s my favorite guitar player in the world, his flattery won out, and now I tend to agree.
FULL MOON Sometimes the full moon just seems to affect you more than you’re ready to admit. It may sound pretentious, but the song is based on dream I had. It was the first song we recorded, and the dreaminess made it obvious that it needed a more subtle approach than the usual rock band recording. That's when we discovered the magic of the kpanloko drum.
HERE’S ONE Maybe it sounds strange, but straight forward rock songs are not always that easy for us. This story, however, needed a solid beat and a no nonsense approach. Writing it felt almost like doing a sequel to the song ‘Long Way From Home’ from Marie Frank’s album Pop Your Wheeze that we co-wrote and the Caucus played on.
LIVE IN THE STREAM I was getting into a pretty good songwriting flow. Trying to finish OCB and having stumbled on the idea for Odessa, this nonsense song introduced itself. When someone thought it was really catchy and all, we went for it. It turned into this thing about a life better off under water or something. When we got the opportunity to do a music video only a few songs were anywhere near being finished, so this was chosen for its direct nature. Interestingly enough, as Nikolaj noted, the pictures turned the silly lyrics into something slightly scary.
OCB An attempt to write a political song advocating rebellion. Or an uprising, at least. Somehow the take we ended up loving just turned out to have the sound of a weedy kicking-back-with-your-buddies feel. Not very rebellious or outgoing at all. So be it; it’s all still very much from the heart, and every word of it is dead serious. But feel free to kick back and feel good. Maybe that’s as important sometimes as having a strong opinion about things and speaking it.
LEAVING ODESSA With so many friends & bandmates in the US, and this financial crisis seemingly unending, you start noticing circumstances you hadn’t really paid attention to earlier. A book emphasizing some rather intimidating power structures added to that. Maybe it was a morning flight sitting next to the nicest Texan businessman keeping conversation on a domestic flight headed east that set off the lyrics, but the groove would definitely have been different if hadn’t been for some recordings Peter had done at his underground rehearsal space known as the Hole. Writing the song, playing along with the beat set a clear direction for the track, and we ended up using that very same recording Peter’d done to play on top of at the studio, hence the double drum kit.
OFFRAMP RODEO We started another session at Stablesounds to record Odessa and try a different approach to a song that never made it called Pickets & Pearls. Something else entirely was going on when this melody line appeared. We had spent the summer touring and went directly from the road back to do the Medium Rare Sessions during the Aarhus Festival backing M.Ward, Charlie Sexton, Jason Lytle and Mark Lanegan at three different shows in four days, so everybody felt worn out and pretty much ready to retire. Personally, I felt like a rodeo clown parked at the off ramp looking for a way out, while also fully aware that regardless I’d be ready to go out again whenever duty called. And then that crazy thing happened; the fishing that Arlo Guthrie talked about when he said “we all throw the line out, but Bob Dylan is always standing upstream to catch the big fish.” Wherever I was, I landed this one.
One of the things we liked the most about our first record was the discovery of the twin singing that we began to feel was a sort of a signature sound. Writing new songs we'd kept that in mind, trying to put a “we” where the “I” would usually be, and such. When we had laid down a good take of this one, though, there was no way Thøger would sing on it. Didn’t think it would do any good. So we ended up sticking to the cue vocal that had a good tired feel to it, and when Nikolaj played that pedal steel the track was obviously done.
EVEN SO A melody Nikolaj had done but didn’t think was finished. Listening to a dictaphone recording, driving, the words kinda assembled themselves in a couple of days. Maybe love songs are inevitable. Maybe everything's already been said, and said better, and you could ask if we really need another one. But then there's still the music, and Nikolaj’s guitar playing is definitely needed in this world. So sit back and crank it.
FIRESALE Nikolaj was finally gonna erase the stuff on his dictaphone, but knew himself well enough to let the rest of us have a listen first. There was at least eight potential songs there. Even So was written pretty much right on top of his humming. A couple of weeks later we headed north again for more recording, and while driving there this song started to materialize out of a lick on one of the demos. We agreed that it was worth going for and decided to try and do a more ‘epic’ song with a lot of verses, not unlike some of the great Townes Van Zandt songs. Born as the song was, driving, and somewhat aware of the band’s picture of itself as European explorers in the New World, the idea of using the so-called DeSoto Trail as inspiration to set the scene seemed like a good idea. You decide. Apparently a cigar is never just a cigar, but we managed to capture a good one-take of bassdrum, floortom, vocals and guitar one night there close to the North Sea. Needless to say the fireplace and red wine was going, and the family was cuddling up in the sofa. And it was exactly that ; good times to remember.