New Ways to Make the Same Mistakes is out now.
We’re not entirely 100% sure what jangly snark rock is, but that’s what this Philidelphia trios genre of choice according to their Facebook page. For us they are far more positive than snarky, calling to mind early R.E.M. or a more restrained Mission of Burma. Regardless, the group’s debut album New Ways to Make the Same Mistakes is a bit of a gem. Mining the dry production style of the aforementioned bands and 80’s indie rock in general, the band mixes in a wonderfully deft use of melody that imbues the music with a classic immediacy.
We spoke to Adrian Morse, singer and guitarist with the group, about the inspiration behind the title and the tracks that make up the record.
New Ways to Make the Same Mistakes
The title of the record refers to the the album art, which features images and text from doomed arctic expeditions, the most peculiar of which is the cover art, a photo from S. A. Andrée’s 1897 Arctic balloon expedition. After a century of mishaps and disasters exploring the polar reaches, trying to reach the pole via hot-air balloon was certainly a new twist. We liked how the sentiment of the title applied to these so-called heroic endeavors as much as it does to the life choices of “ordinary” people.
“Quitters” was part of a series of song sketches inspired by other songwriters. The only one from that series that made the record, “Quitters” is inspired by Caitlin Rose, who has a wonderful song called “Pink Champagne.” Kathleen Edwards also has a song titled “Pink Champagne,” though, and the song title is a hat tip to her (Quitters is the name of the coffee shop she owns in Ontario).
“Waves” started out about the The Wrath of Khan, then became about the protagonist in a series of books about Florida by Tim Dorsey, and kind of ended up being about nothing in particular. Musically, the song totally rips off an ‘80s R.E.M. song. Matt (bassist) came up with a fun part for the bridge, and we had a great time making this “kazoo choir” over the bass line in the bridge. Tragically, that mostly got cut from the final mix. Greg (drummer) sings the chorus on this one.
We wrote “Fossil” on Halloween, so skeletons and ghosts were on our minds in pretty literal terms, even though the lyrics make it sound meaningful. We threw a lot at this one in terms of different instrumentation and several tracks of keyboards and banjos and ukuleles but ended up keeping it relatively sparse, with the banjo just mirroring the rhythm guitar.
4. Mouth on Fire
There was this guitar riff from a Neko Case song that I had been playing and then forgot how to play, and eventually whatever I was playing became “Mouth on Fire.” Lyrically, I think this is probably what having an argument with me might be like.
5. Bored to Death
This was the first song where we did a music video in which we actually appear. I pitched a ridiculous idea to our friend Joanna, and she ran with it, writing, directing, and filming the video for “Bored to Death”. Ultimately, her cat even starred in the video! It was supposed to come out in April, 2016, but then Blink 182 released a song with the same name, and we were like, well, that’s going to be confusing and annoying for us. Delayed our release for months!
“Easy” was written in response to seeing another Philadelphia band, Hurry, play. They had a single at the time with a great vocal lead-in, and I was told, “oh, you should do a song like that!” So I went home and wrote “Easy” in about 10 minutes. It’s not as good as Hurry’s song. The song references an imaginary conversation of sorts between Taylor Swift and Charles Bukowski.
7. It’s Killing Us
This is another Buk-inspired song. I guess in 2016 it’s almost cliched to write about Bukowski, but sometimes it’s hard not to write about Bukowski. I wrote most of this in my head on a train coming back to Philadelphia from New York at 2am.
“Meanwhile…” came out of watching the last episode of Futurama. It was always a very moving show.
Inspired by the events described in the book In the Heart of the Sea (which later became an awful Ron Howard film), it was one of the first songs we did as Readership.
The oldest song on the record, “Page,” was actually rejected by the previous band that Matt and I played in a few years back. Funny that it ended up being Readership’s first single and the closing track on this record. It was originally about being in a bar at last call, but I didn’t like the lyrics, so instead I wrote about not being able to write words for it. Writer’s block, the ultimate inspiration.
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