The Songs: For starters, as of about mid-February, 2017, all the songs were composed and demoed. But clocking back to December, 2016, only about 5 songs were written. Chalk those last few up to one of the wettest, stormiest winters Northern California has seen in 50 years. More than 100 inches of rain fell at Mystery Lawn Mountain, the band’s HQ north of Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The entire mountain was inside a cloud for the better part of 90 days. Lots of days without power or visibility had an effect on the songs that came out of that time.
The Plan: In mid-March, when we thought the rains might be over, we invited our friend Bryan Hanna out from Minneapolis to produce the sessions over a four day weekend. We actually were thinking about going to work with him in his hometown of Minneapolis as we did on Square and Circling the Sun, but Mr. Hanna wasn’t having it. Still covered in icy snow, he wanted to come to California on the off chance there might be some sunshine. We booked flights and started rehearsing the tunes.
The Sessions: Our timing couldn’t have been better. When we woke up on the first recording day, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and temperatures were in the 70s and 80s. We set the drums up on the deck facing 50 acres of redwoods, oaks, and madrones, and recorded the basic tracks for our first two songs outside in the fresh air. That day in the sun among the trees would set the tone for the whole album. We spent the next few days recording drums inside the hexagonal upstairs of the house, and overdubbing bass, guitars, synthesizers, and pianos downstairs in the studio.
The Mixes: Since that glorious week in March, we’ve been finishing what we started. Some of the tracks didn’t have lyrics, vocals, or even a structure. Some were self-contained 3-minute statements. The last few months have been all about overdubs, arrangements, and tweaks. So here we are in August with the record about 75 percent done. All the pieces have fallen into place, and from here on out it’s just figuring out a couple stray parts and finishing the final mixes.
The Future: We think it’s safe to expect this album in early 2018. Of course, we still have to nail down artwork concepts and get everything into production. We might even be sharing a single with you all before the year’s end. We’ll be back with more updates as we close in on a release date.