The post The Backseat Lovers Break Down New Album Waiting to Spill Track by Track: Exclusive appeared first on Consequence.
Track by Track is a recurring feature series in which artists share the story behind every song on their latest release. Today, Joshua Harmon and Jonas Swanson of The Backseat Lovers break down their new album, Waiting to Spill.
The highs and lows during the three-year period The Backseat Lovers spent crafting their latest record, Waiting to Spill, are palpable from the jump. Out on Friday, October 28th, the album illustrates the impact of a meditative work between experimenting with DIY instruments and wrapping up tracks from earlier sessions. The indie rock ensemble embodies the idea of patience is a virtue, as their sophomore effort builds off 2019’s When We Were Friends at its own pace, leading to a rewarding album for both the collective and their listeners.
Throughout Waiting to Spill’s 10-track run, the quartet of Joshua Harmon (lead vocals, guitar), Jonas Swanson (lead guitar, vocals), KJ Ward (bass), and Juice Welch (drums, vocals) seemingly work in a conjoined manner that sees The Backseat Lovers operating as one entity. There’s no one individual that takes away from another, as the “star” of the project is the band as a whole. Album opener “Silhouette” epitomizes the group’s chemistry through multiple sonic experimentations — a moment Harmon tells Consequence was “so much fun trying in recording this song.” He also describes it as the project’s “most intricate track.”
“So many elements of it lived in our heads for years before being able to bring them to life through the speakers,” Harmon explains. “Running emotionally significant voice memos through pedal boards, re-writing a piano part to be played in reverse, using elementary toys as percussion, and eventually blaring a droney ‘E note’ out the side of a moving vehicle toward a pair of microphones to capture the Doppler effect creating a natural key change to D.”
The implementation of these unique approaches is exemplified best on the second-half track “Snowbank Blues,” which according to Harmon started off as a way to make his father laugh by imitating a classic country tune’s riff. Shortly after, Harmon realized that his parody had potential, which would soon become his “entire creative focus.”
“Jonas and I made a garage band demo in about two hours using a rice-filled Altoid case for a shaker and improvising song structure,” Harmon remembers. “We fell in love with the DIY nature of the demo and tried to capture that same feeling in the studio recording. We ended up keeping this ‘dog howl’ sound from the first demo that was actually a fire truck driving by during a vocal take.”
Waiting to Spill wears its inspirations proudly, as the moments of genesis behind each track are apparent. From the early winter morning that stemmed “Morning in the Aves” to the downpour of rain in the mountains from the concluding track “Viciously Lonely,” this three-year stretch adds further character to an already engrossing listen that sees The Backseat Lovers come together to support one another.
Listen to The Backseat Lovers’ new album Waiting to Spill below, followed by Harmon and Swanson’s Track by Track breakdown of the album. Pick up your physical copy from the band’s online store.
To support the album, The Backseat Lovers are headed out on tour; grab your tickets now via Ticketmaster.
I remember about 6 or so months into the writing process of making this album, I was driving in my car listening through old voice memos as I kinda always do. A good portion of the songs that would make up the album had recently started to take shape (very early, rough shape) and I had a realization that it could be special to start the album with something that felt different than just a song, something that stands out as the obvious ‘beginning’ of something. I had no clue what that meant at the time. Eventually, I stumbled across this quiet voice memo of a plucking pattern I had almost no memory of making, and immediately realized, “hey this sounds like the beginning! (of something).”
From there, a new puzzle piece to the song appeared every few months taking about two years to fully take shape. From a production standpoint, this is probably the most intricate track on the album. So many elements of it lived in our heads for years before being able to bring them to life through the speakers. Running emotionally significant voice memos through pedal boards, re-writing a piano part to be played in reverse, using elementary toys as percussion, and eventually blaring a droney ‘E note’ out the side of a moving vehicle toward a pair of microphones to capture the Doppler effect creating a natural key change to D (the key of close your eyes) are some examples of the experiments we had so much fun trying in recording this song. — Joshua Harmon
“Close Your Eyes”:
This was the first song we started to write after releasing our first album, and was the last one to be finished right as we submitted the masters for the record. It was sometime in January 2019 and I was having a bit of a meltdown in my childhood bathroom (I was still living with my parents at the time). The first verse of the song was written within a few minutes.
Sometime in the following weeks, Jonas and I were hanging out after rehearsal in his parents’ garage showing each other some new ideas on acoustic guitar. We both exchanged these two new ideas that were somehow in the same key and the same tempo, and both seemed to be coming from an emotional place that felt similar, yet unique to ourselves. We thought, “Maybe they’re the same song?”
In short, the next three years were an incredibly rewarding and sometimes very painful process trying to bring the song to its final form. We were both writing about things that meant the entire world to us, so when we’d hit roadblocks or it wasn’t sounding right it would hit us pretty hard emotionally. In the end, all four of us felt very proud of where the song ended up and we’re ultimately really grateful for all the lessons it helped us learn in being a band and collaborating in a mutually vulnerable state. — J.H.
“Morning in the Aves”:
One brisk, late winter morning I woke up late for work at a friend’s house in the avenues in Salt Lake. As I was driving, this little melody started floating around my head as I watched the dead trees wave past, very unenthused for the work day ahead of me. A verse started to take shape after a few minutes and I decided to just park my car and get out and kick the words around for a bit. This turned into several hours and I bailed on work entirely.
Lyrically, that song took a halt at the end of verse 1 and stayed that way for about two years. Over that time, we ran the progression in our parents’ basements, listened back to old takes, and picked out improvised melodies that felt right. I had somewhat of an epiphany one night as I stirred on what the song should say as a whole. There’s a person in my life whom I realized quite intensely that I had not been putting in enough effort to make time for him and be there for him. It hit me like a train, and from there forward I saw the song as a reminder of how important that relationship is to me, and that I’m never going to be too busy to find time. — J.H.
Out of the ten tracks this one definitely came together the quickest. One day I showed up to band practice with a first verse and some lyric-less melodies, and the song exploded into existence after one or two stabs of improvising. All four of us were buzzing with an excitement that we hadn’t felt in the same way on any of the other songs, simply because of how instinctual it felt and there wasn’t really much that had to be discussed other than how much we all loved it. We wrote this one second to last in the 3 years of writing, so lyrically and musically it felt very refreshing to have found a new angle conceptually that spoke the existing songs, but start a new conversation entirely. — J.H.
“Words I Used”:
This song started at the beginning of 2019 as two separate songs, the first being an instrumental piano idea I was working on and the second idea came while I was sitting in my bedroom playing acoustic guitar. I remember a lot of the lyrics spilling out all at once, and when I took another stab at it the next day, that’s when the songs namesake came to be. It feels so cathartic to align yourself with what your heart truly feels (even when it hurts), and that’s a big reason why I love to make songs.
Over the next months, Josh and I sat at my parents’ piano and found a way to turn these two songs into one, splintering the different parts of the second idea across the piano piece. That’s when Josh’s vocal and guitar parts started to form, and the song really started to come to life. It was probably a whole year until we played the song with Juice and Kj, but I feel like their parts glued it all together and made the song make sense musically and dynamically. — Jonas Swanson
I believe it was January of 2019 and I was playing guitar in the bedroom I grew up in. I heard my dad outside my room, and I started playing this super fast hillbilly “bum-chicka-bum” riff that you hear in all the classic country songs. I sang “I’ve been workin’ for the man” in a thick Southern accent in an attempt to make him laugh. I heard him chuckling down the hall and just kept freestyling. After about 20 seconds, this little melody took shape and I paused for a second thinking, “Wait, that’s actually kinda nice.”
Over some days it transitioned from a funny joke to my entire creative focus and a song I really cared about. Jonas and I made a garage band demo in about 2 hours using a rice-filled Altoid case for a shaker and improvising song structure. We fell in love with the DIY nature of the demo and tried to capture that same feeling in the studio recording. We ended up keeping this “dog howl” sound from the first demo that was actually a fire truck driving by during a vocal take. — J.H.
“Follow the Sound”:
Jonas has this lovely piano that lived in the corner of our front room for the few years we lived together in the band house. I learned to play on his piano since I never had one growing up. It was summer time and he had just recently gotten a kitten, and she was immediately the new queen of the home. One afternoon I was playing piano in an empty house (other than the company of a squirmy, energy-filled kitten who had recently been given the name Martha) and wrote my first song on the piano. It was a very fun song to work on as a band, and in the studio, we had a blast testing out different percussion elements like closing books into microphones and layering drum takes. — J.H.
“Slowing Down” is a song that came together at a time when all four of us needed it. I had begun to write the beginning of the song just days before a writing retreat we had decided to go on in a California mountain town. The picking pattern churned away in my head for all 12 hours of the drive. Over the few days at the cabin, the song was born out of feelings of fear, faded dreams seeping into our mornings, and a personal worry that I was slowing down the person I loved. — J.H.
“Know Your Name”:
In this stage of writing for the album, we were living in a house together in Salt Lake that had an emptied-out ’70s swimming pool connected to the house just one creepy hallway away from our living space. This was where we had band practice for several months and wrote lots of parts to songs. I remember with this song specifically sitting on the edge of the pool after a long, quiet anxiety and paranoia-filled drive home from a weekend trip. The long, natural reverb from the pool walls carried the melodies along in a way that really felt right. I remember bringing it to the band and KJ coming up with this bassline that comes in at the last section of the song that made all of our ears perk up. — J.H.
It was sometime in the summer and I was driving up steep capitol boulevard toward our new house escaping work for a lunch break. After making a sandwich I went out and sat on the porch. This porch was a truly magical place. It sat at the top of this little canyon that led your eye over the entire Salt Lake Valley and Wasatch mountain range. I was playing guitar when it started raining. It suddenly bloomed into a very heavy rain storm, dumping water from all angles around me.
Protected by the balcony, from my view it felt like I was seeing the storm from the safety of a cloud. The first line of the song emerged and I was yet again very late for getting back to work. It took a couple of years to finish the lyrics to this song, and many hours of Jonas and I sitting at our landlord’s Steinway working out the structure and the piano parts. At the end of the track, you can hear the original voice memo from that rainy lunch break. — J.H.