Realizing that Ryan and I have been flying under the radar as of late, we thought it was high time we let you know how our recording is going, what the songs are sounding like, and what we think of it. So without further ado:
– We began recording in late summer, and we worked on and off up through Christmas. We’re roughly 70% of the way finished. (Slow and steady wins the race, right Mr. Tortoise?)
– We have completed bass and drums and main guitars for 11 of the 12 songs we’re planning to include.
– We’ve sung what are called “scratch” vocals for all of them, in order to find out which harmonies work, where different melodies are needed, etc.
– We’re currently back home in Tucson rehearsing our acoustic butts off, making sure that we know exactly what we want to sing when we get back to LA to begin recording again.
– The songs to be included are as follows (though not in playing order):
o THE WORLD AWAITS YOU – an upbeat waltz, inspired musically by Coldplay and lyrically by the struggle to teach the ones you love, like kids or younger brothers and sisters, where to begin making sense of the world. A very difficult song to write.
“Some get a silver spoon/ some get a name/ some get hated-on/ thrown away”
o STOPLESS- what is, to us, a classic Ryanhood song. We’ve been performing it for the last two years, and it was first available on the recording, On The Radio. All I can say, is that Ryan and Ross (Hogarth, the producer) found the PERFECT way to take this song to the next level. It’s a long, steady build, with drums and bass exactly where you’d want them.
“How pointless is my point of view/ until I reach the point of you?”
o AROUND THE SUN- an up-tempo, minor-key plea for balance between a life-lived in the moment, content, and the longing to see and feel more. We co-wrote it with Boston-turned-Los Angeles singer/songwriter Owen Plant. You can see an acoustic, video version right on the front of our myspace page. Ryan has worked out some extra harmonies, and we’ve thickened up the choruses by having us both sing all the way through. Preeeettty niiiice.
“Don’t you want to stop/ taking personal offense/ and stop talk, talk, talking about love in the future tense?”
o NOTHING BUT THE REAL THING- a Mraz-ish rant about the myriad ways we fake each other out, in order to present a strong, capable, good-looking front. At heart, a sort of love song, about peeling back layers of yourself to another person. Full bass and drums and a bunch of hooks. First available on the live disc, Live At Fiestas ’06, though some lyrics have changed since then. But only for the better. Maestro plays all the guitar, so live, I’ll be dancing and prancing around with nothing but a T-shirt on… and a microphone.
“It’s hard to be/ everything you wanna be/ and to try to do it honestly/ but I know you/ and nothing but the real thing will do.”
o OKAY- Second in the, Who Am I? Series (kidding, no such series exists, except on this record, in our minds). Okay is as tight and tense and hard hitting as a pair of acoustic guitars can be, with the drums joining in for a Led Zeppelin chorus. After we’ve finished the singing, Maestro’s going to unleash a guitar frenzy on the bridge of this song, the likes of which have never before been seen.
“I’ve got Godiva/ Mercedes Benz/ I’ve got fame and Benjamins/ I’ve got the sex, I’ve got control/ and a hole the size of you inside my soul.”
o MATURE- Third in the imaginary Who Am I? Series, following Nothing But and Okay. The crowning achievement. Brooding and very acoustic, with hypnotic drums. Currently, Ryan and I are trading the singing on the verses, so we take turns telling a story about being a little bit lost on the road, and dealing with fears about forgetting who we are and where we’ve come from. A spooky and meaningful song with excellent, Ryan-penned lyrics.
“I don’t want to turn me into/ something that I’m not/ keep me close in mind and body/ you are all I’ve got.”
o ALRIGHT- “Me and Sergio can make a microphone out of anything.” A funky, uplifting party about small things like eating good food and driving around with friends in the 110-degree Tucson heat. I guess it’s the answer to Mature, a balance to the touring life. Maybe the anti-thesis of Okay. Musically inspired a bit by Jack Johnson, a bit by Dave Matthews, and reworked to great effect by producer Ross Hogarth.
“We will all run out of bread/ we will all run out of sugar/ we will all run out of wine/ that’s fine/ it’ll all come back in time.”
o HELPLESS HOPELESS- Ross maintains this is the best song on the record. It’s been my favorite of our songs for a long time, and I was a tiny bit disappointed with the way it came out on Forward. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot about it, especially the mood, but I don’t feel like we made the definitive recording of it, like we did with, say, Army. I’m pleased that now it will get a second chance to live. The drums are more consistent, with a steady 2 and 4 feel (drummers, are you with me?), and we’ve rearranged some of the lyrics and choruses. You can be alarmed if you want to, but I really really really like it this way.
“Today is a day/ for letting go/ of promises I’ve broken/ and words that I have spoken/ when really, I don’t know.”
o BACK INTO BLUE- A beautiful, Ryan-sung song about leaving home to go on tour a month after getting married. There’s a lot of imagery sung over a nice, slow-bounce. But it’s the melody that wins all the Grammys here. No drums on this one, but probably an upright bass and we’ve been plotting to have some cello. I’ve been singing the bridge, which is funny because Ryan wrote it for HIS girl, but I just go to my own place when I sing it, and we both think it sounds good.
“I’ll have you with me/ and there won’t be anywhere we have to be/ you are the ocean and I am the moon/ wading out in your waters/ I’m fading back into blue.”
o DIVIDES- The mother load. An intense, rocking, lyrically to-the-point song that we wrote with Carlos Arzate, singer of American Android. Rhapsodizing on Mahatma Gandhi’s exhortation to “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” we sang, “Be what you want to see.” A moving rocker, Divides features U2/Larry Mullen Jr. style drumming and some of the highest notes, sung for the longest periods of time that Maestro and I have ever done. This song just about defeated us in the studio. Not that it’s particularly hard to play, but I found myself struggling greatly to record my guitar parts in time with the drums. After great duress, Ryan, Ross, and I pushed through it, though, and I’m intensely proud of the results.
“This world divides us all between/ who we are and who we can be.”
o BORN TO RUN TO YOU – the ballad that will probably close the record. First available on On The Radio, it’s a sweet song, told in reverse, about a girl who made up her mind to believe in the love that she hoped for, even though she couldn’t see it yet. No drums here. A couple of acoustics, maybe some mandolin and maybe some violin, to complement Ryan’s beautiful guitar solo. It’s the only song that has a completed vocal, since we opted to have yours truly sing it and play it at the same time. Seems like you’d expect, huh? But recording is strange sometimes. I dug so deep trying to sing with the right emotion that I almost threw up. Mmmm…romantic.
“It took a lot to get there/ she measured distance in days/ while she wondered from miles away/ ‘Is there such a thing/ as a love meant to be/ and if so is one meant for me?'”
The goal for this record has been to make it sound like Ryanhood, as in, Ryan and Hood, with both personalities shining through. I think we’re really making that happen. What we didn’t want was to make a super-produced record with me singing and Ryan getting lost somewhere in a big, soulless backing band. I think that Ross has very successfully steered us clear of that, and in fact, steered us into a really interesting, very personal, very strong musical place. If we keep on putting the work in until it’s finished, though it may take a while yet, this will definitely be our finest record to date. Thanks for being patient with us.