Here’s the fourth and final band interview installment, where we talk about our lasting takeaways from this project. —Keir

What do you regret or think we made mistakes with on this record?

BRYN: Well, I think for me it’s that I had trouble articulating what I had in mind for the songs. “Bottlerocket” never ended up sounding the way I’d meant it to—not gritty or messy enough, even though it usually did sound that way live. I tried to smear around the guitar a little at one point by asking Jon to turn down a great, clean sounding rhythm guitar part of mine he’d recorded in favor of a buzzy, crappy sounding distorted take, and he looked at me like I was insane. In retrospect I think if I could have just said something like, “I want this to sound like a Neil Young song” or something like that it would have made way more sense. Other than that, the main thing I wish we’d done differently would be to have recruited Marika to play music with us back then. There are several times Brian and I fiddled around on the piano there, but Marika could have brought some amazingly good contributions to the whole album.


KEIR: Easy answer: not putting “Dead Man” on the final product, either the physical CD or the digital version that shipped to CD Baby and iTunes. I didn’t know the first thing about how to credit Neil Young for the cover we did, and I didn’t know how to find out (even with Google!), so to keep Neil or Warners or ASCAP or whomever the hell controls that soundtrack from suing the shit out of us, I told Jon to leave it off the master running order. An inexcusable fuck-up on my part as it’s obviously a highlight from those sessions.

BRIAN: Whenever I listen to recordings of my own music, I’m always picking it apart listening for things I could improve. Even after 10 years. There are a lot of specifics, like my guitar tone on Let Go (needs more distortion), or quite a few lead guitar phrases that were too simple or obvious, particularly in the Sweet Oblivion reprise. But as for more overall stuff, I wish we’d paid more attention to the tempo and general rhythms/dynamics of the songs… recording everything kind of on the fly in the same weekend and the same setting, I feel like our range as a band was squashed a bit in the final recordings. For example, rather than starting off with a slow, driving Let Go, and following it up with a fast-paced Island Fever, they both kind of wound up being mid-tempo songs.


BILL: Single biggest regret or mistake I made was not being present for the entire session. The combination of not having money to contribute and feeling like I couldn’t make the time are awful justifications for not putting myself in an uncomfortable situation and trying to make the best of it. If I could change one thing and only one thing that would be it. Even if it only meant being able to stand back and watch and have absolutely zero input, I wish I’d been there for it all. I definitely feel, and remember feeling then, that you all (Jon included) deserved better from me, because I don’t feel like I gave it my all on this recording. It turned out good and it’s not to say I could have done any better…but I should have made more of an effort.

When you listen to the album now, what do you hear? What’s different/better/worse/the same? What’s your enduring impression of what we made?

BRYN: I think some of the songs didn’t live up to their potential, many did, and a couple ended up being better than I’d expected. But the biggest thing I think of when I listed to it today is what life was like back then—my own inexperience as an adult (even though I was 26), how much fun it was to be able to regularly collaborate with other creative people, how amazing it was to still have a core of friends all gathered together in one town. How frighteningly open the future still was.

BRIAN: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve paid more and more attention to song lyrics. Maybe because I’ve started writing some of my own, and singing more. There are some really nice lyrics on the album that I hadn’t fully appreciated at the time. Some of my playing I feel hasn’t aged well, but that may just be me being overly self-critical. I was really solid on Blacking Out though. My overall impression of the album hasn’t changed, though: it probably could have been better if we’d had more time, but as it is it’s a good album, and one I’m proud of.


BILL: Well, real quickly I want to touch on something. This was our big recording after our long hiatus and when we came back we had a really different sound. My musical tastes had ventured quite a bit and I had started wanting to try and play parts that were more open and simple. Parts that allowed the other players to come to the forefront. I wanted to lay in a pocket and just throw little glimpses of my full ability. I remember hearing from some of the bands “fans” and close friends that it was SO different and “not bad, but not the same”. I kinda wish we had been able to make that transition slower, better.. or, I don’t know. I wish I’d been able to throw a couple more parts that were fast and surfy at some of the newer material but it definitely didn’t feel right at the time.

Aside from that, listening now I hear less of what I wanted to do but couldn’t. I hear a lot of the tempo changes that are sort of cringe-worthy. I hear that, although my drums sounded great and in tune, the small sizes of my drums, which was great for fast thrash punk or suitable for really quick surf rock, didn’t lend itself well to the large open epic feel that we had accumulated. It feels like a lot of the songs didn’t really get the justice that they deserved. I know there were moments in practice or at lives shows where some of the songs were just SO on and a couple of them don’t feel that way to me. The most blaring of these to me is Let Go. It always felt like one of the strongest songs we played and it doesn’t seem that way to me on this album. That being said, the changes and little additions that Jon did and the backing vocals on all the songs are really AMAZING. Which brings me to the next question.


KEIR: Seeing as the other guys have covered the important bits, I’ll get a little self-indulgent: in a sense, I hear the rest of my life ready to happen. This project was the beginning of the end of my obsession with “being in a band” and getting too wrapped up in that as an identity. The time spent making this album was also the time that I finally landed a real job in the design business, so I kind of feel like it’s the bridge between two chapters in my life. That’s a lot to put on ten songs and eight grand, but when we finished it, we only played six more shows over the next twelve months, and then life exerted its gravity on Honey White as we moved on to other things. I also hear what every recording is: a document of specific songs made with four other creative people, in a particular location and time. I hear an overall great experience suspended in amber, saying “keep being inspired to create like this and you’ll be set for life.” A lot of that is just hangups and hindsight, but fuck it, that’s my life!