I grouped these songs together because both of them had their music recorded together in the same studio (White Star Sound in Louisa, VA) and then their vocals together in another studio (Audio Verite in Richmond, VA). Both had interesting inspirations.
“The Seeker” began with the riff that happens in the chorus - it literally came to me in a dream. I shot out of my sleep in my Lower East Side apartment, hummed the riff and then the next day had to learn how to play it - a feat that was more difficult than I would have cared for, but I think great riffs should make you have to try a little harder. Jack and I would later get together and actually make a song around this one section that I had lying around.
“Bring Life” found its musical genesis one night when Jack and me got together at my Richmond apartment. We had a version of the album that we considered finished but our manager suggested we write one more song. A lot of our songs come from me but Jack also has a lot of ideas - be they music or drum beats - that he hums or beatboxes into his phone. Although, Jack has a tendency to not like any of his ideas once he plays them for me. We’re cruising through his voice memos and after about five or six, he plays about a second and a half of a beatbox drumbeat and skips it but I yelled, “WAIT! Go back!” Immediately, I could hear the whole song in my head and picked up the guitar. From day one, I had been dead-set that “Tell Me” would end the album but the second I hit the first chord along with Jack’s drumbeat, I knew that we had found a new, better album closer. I was aiming for something like Arctic Monkeys’ “I Wanna Be Yours,” the track that closes their album AM - the album that served as one of my biggest inspirations for our album - but we ended up getting something closer to something Mae would have done on Singularity, and I think it’s better for it. We ended up using another one of Jack's guitar voice memo ideas for the ending so that was good too.
For recording, we went out to White Star on a cold, snowy January day. White Star is located in a farmhouse in the middle of the woods literally in the middle of NOWHERE in Virginia. When it’s as dreary as it was, it’s certainly got a vibe. I was HORRIBLY ill with the flu and felt like I was going to die but we pressed on and over two days cranked out the music for these two songs. One thing I loved about White Star and working with Alex DeJong (from the band Sleepwalkers), was that they had all these keyboards lying around and we just started getting trippy and experimenting, doing things like plugging Korgs into my Line 6 delay pedal and playing them through amplifiers. We added a Yes-style synth solo on “The Seeker” during the bridge just because. We added digital mellotron on the choruses of “Bring Life” to make them that much bigger. The fun of it all certainly made having the flu a lot more tolerable.
Lyrically, “Bring Life” is the most important song on the album, as it is about me and Jack’s deceased mother. About 90% of the song's lyrics had been kicking around for a few years, attached to a very different sounding song called “Bring Life,” that I just wasn’t crazy about. I was walking home from work one day thinking about potential melodies and all of a sudden I heard “even though your grave lies in the shade” and knew that this was the song I had been waiting for that was meant for those lyrics. The whole song happened in about 20 minutes.
“The Seeker” was a lot harder. I didn’t know what to do melodically or lyrically. Sometimes in situations like this, I turn to someone who I think is maybe the best in the biz at writing catchy melodies - Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy. Their song “Centuries” had just come out so I tried to emulate the feel of those melodies. Lyrically, the song has a dual meaning: the first being a commentary on what it means to be truly honest in songwriting - “live this feeling and reprise its pain.” That first verse is all about breaking down the walls that we keep up that deter us from being vulnerable. Only upon taking down those walls will the truth come out, and that’s something I try and do every time I write a song (here it was done with a possibly ill-conceived Berlin wall metaphor that I always feared would be lost on people, but what are you gonna do?).
The second meaning of the song is a plea from me to the listener, basically saying, “here I am killing myself so I can give you something honest and true. If you acknowledge that and put your faith in us, maybe we could be that band for you,” like bands such as Smashing Pumpkins and U2 and The Early November are to me. Whether I accomplished making all this clear? That’s for you to decide. All I know is that I love both of these songs and the wintery feelings which they evoke.