In the spring of 2010, I remember Sean talking about a demo he had of ‘Night Is Young’ in the NYC subway by Union Square. This was the first piece of what began as the foundation for the record. The creative energy was high that summer. In between touring, we would get into a room and start fleshing out skeletons of ‘Hell’s Heroes’, ‘Can’t Steal Your Heart Away’, ‘Night Is Young’, ‘Keep It Steady’, ‘Hitchhiker’ and several others. For months, the demoing process occurred. Tracking in hotels, rehearsal rooms, Max’s studio, Sean’s apartment, wherever inspiration led. We felt we were onto something new for us.
Then came the fall of 2010 and it stopped. I felted drained and I know some of the other guys did too. We went our separate ways for a few weeks… but we had half of an album fleshed out and knew we had the corner pieces.
A few weeks later, we had the opportunity to head out to the west coast for the first time and the long drive together gave us a second wind. When we got back to Chicago, we went into Max’s studio again to start working ‘Lord Have Mercy’, ‘We Lost Magic’, ‘Runaway’ and ‘Hard Times’. That November, we decided to dust of some old songs for a hometown show and ‘Shame’ was revisited. Since 2008, we had always loved ‘Shame’, but never knew how to fully present the tune. It took years to understand and try different ways, then it just clicked.
Early 2011 began the official demoing of what would become GARAGE HYMNS and a lot of outside distractions. We knew we had to stay focused and started “road testing” a lot of the material. In between touring, demoing continued. Some songs were demoed out five or more times before we knew we had it and this became a really unique process for us. The final tracking of GARAGE HYMNS would incorporate some of the actual demo takes.
By May 2011, we officially decided how were were going to approach the recording of GARAGE HYMNS. We debated on studios and how to fund the project but in the end, decided to stick to what we know, Max’s studio and garage. Surprisingly, the actual recording process was quick, a few weeks at most. Then it was time for Max to mix and bring all of these pieces back together. Fall 2011 touring started while we lived with most songs for the first time.
Then came the winter of 2011 and we were again drained and exhausted between all the recording and touring. We had a record in our hands but zero energy to have it released. We went quiet and were not sure how to move forward with this body of work we spent so much time on.
In the late winter of 2011, I began on the artwork and strangely, the concept came easy for me. Everyone knew we had a complete collection of songs with chapters, a book that took years to write. Quite possibly the longest personal project we have all been a part to date, but somehow we knew it was still not done. Kudos to Max and Sean for mustering up the drive to pull together one more recording session, or ‘Surrenderer’ would have been lost and forgotten. We then knew the record was done. We grew inside and out with GARAGE HYMNS.
And here we are. Although I dont feel any different today, I’m now figuring out it’s about the journey and not the destination.
-tc / tuesday, june 12th 2012.