The Salad Days
Recorded in the latent summer of 1996 within the foamy grandeur of the Rubber Room, so named for the mattress foam lining the walls and ceiling. It was recorded on 4-track cassette, and since it was recorded around the same time as “She’s All By Myself,” included much of the same lo-fi percussion. The notable difference being that instead of just hitting a mic with my hand for the kick sound, I started cranking the bass tone pot way up and hitting the mic stand with an empty plastic liter bottle. I’d also purchased an Alesis Nano-verb, which I used on everything and still continue to use today. It gave the percussion on an almost thunderous sound, and the hint of chorus on one of the delay settings evened out my vocals a bit long before auto-tune had reared its ugly head.
Another thing I did on most of these early recordings was to speed up the pitch settings on mixdown. It wasn’t a conscious decision at first, I’d only started playing with the pitch setting because I’d heard you could achieve better fidelity by speeding the tape up when recording. The idea being that if the tape was moving faster it would spread the information out over more tape and lead to greater clarity since you weren’t trying to cram so much sound into what was already a very narrow bit of magnetic media. You couldn’t make the tape wider, but you could in essence make it longer. The offshoot of this was that I wasn’t very consistent about where I set the speed for each recording, so I had to kind of dial it in for each individual song when it came time to mix down. I’ve never had much of a voice, but back then I thought it sounded a little better sped up. So if my voice seems much higher in the early recordings, it’s not all because my vocal chords were not yet as coated in tobacco tar. Some of its just a touch of Alvin and the Chipmunks type studio magic.
I got into some trouble for the first song on this album. “Who Were You Screwing,” was loosely based on a friend’s absence making his heart grow fonder for his ex. He (and she) didn’t find the lyrics quite as funny or clever as I did and apologies were made. Out of anger he wrote a song about me called, “Drunk Irish Poet,” which blasts me lyrically but is such a great song that I couldn’t help but be flattered. Jenn still hates “More Than Booze,” even though I’ve recently proved that song’s sentiment to be entirely true. She’s always maintained that I tended to glorify or romanticize alcoholism in my songs, a point of view I can certainly understand but still deny. For me it was simply a case of that freshman creative writing mantra, “write what you know.” I used to be drunk an awful lot of the time.
The album cover was designed by Scott Remilard, and the photo he used is a baby picture of my cousin Jordan. Of course it wasn’t a baby picture at the time. When I put the album up on MP3.com it was a a fairly recent photo of the boy. As an example of how heart-sickeningly fast time flies, I attended his high school graduation in the spring of 2014.
The soundbites are all from Dog Day Afternoon, an incredible movie from the mid 70’s starring a young Al Pacino. It’s one of my all time favorite films and one that I think everyone should see. If you’ve ever made a dumb decision that you had no choice but to see through till the bitter end, you can relate to this movie. The real hero of the film is the third bank robber who quits immediately after they begin the heist and whom the doomed Sal dismisses with, “Fuck ’em, let him go.”