‘Crooked Teeth’ – This was the first song I started recording for “Uppers & Downers” and it felt like a fitting way to open the record. “Crooked Teeth” is almost like the key to understanding the songs that follow after it. The sound the song begins with is actually the sound of drummer Nick Murray packing up his cymbals at the end of the day, this was incidentally being picked up by an old ceramic microphone on the complete other side of the studio. We then added reverb from an Echo Chamber above the tracking room to give it that sound a distant, ghostly quality.
‘Half The Time’ – This song is lyrically all about Los Angeles, or at least my experience of it. Before we began recording at Valentine studios I had been working on this one with my friend Marshall Vore at his spot. He brought in Ryan Adams to play bass and guitar on the songs, those were definitely some really fun sessions. The piano and organ were overdubbed by Fred Garbutt. We were going for a Rolling Stones-esque sound for the drums. Someone told me this song sounded like The Verve if they were American, which I thought was funny.
‘Chinatown’ – While we were working on this track I invited Cole and Zumi from the Black Lips to come down to the studio. They showed up at midnight with a saw, an electric guitar, and a bottle of wine. The haunting sound towards the end of the recording is Zumi playing the singing saw with a bow, it’s a very interesting sound. It gives me shivers every time I hear it. The acoustic guitar was played through an amp and manipulated live on an Echoplex. I wrote it about my friend, the painter, Noah Davis.
‘Baby Face’ – This was the last song written for the record. The song started with some drum samples and a Wurlitzer. The baritone guitar part was played by producer Nic Jodoin and the bass was added by Zach Dawes. I played a mellotron for the string and flute samples to get that Strawberry Fields forever type of sound. I feel like this song has an Elliot Smith Figure 8 kind of vibe.
‘Uppers & Downers’ – This song started life as an uptempo rock song with driving drums and ended up being just vocals and organ at a fraction of the original tempo. I would take the train to the studio most days from downtown and would listen to the mixes on the way over and I liked the way it sounded, so this track has a recording I made on the subway mixed into it. Franky from Franky Flowers played the Hammond B3.
‘This Is The Year’ – The slapback on the vocals was provided by 1/4” tape delay. I wanted the vocals to have a vibe similar to John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” The piano on this one was played by Cameron Avery of Tame Impala on an old Steinway grand. Additional organ parts were added by Drew Erickson. The harmonies were sung by my friends Jordan Jones, Danny Dodge, and Josh Desure.