Sep 8, 2017


Hi friends - we just released our new compilation Rare/Unreleased (Available now on all streaming and download platforms!). This is a bit of a behind the scenes take from me on each of the songs. Thanks for being nerdy enough to want to read some thoughts on these random tunes. In a weird way these are some of my favorite songs we ever recorded, so don't ask why most of them remained unreleased until now(the answer is "poor decision making"). I wrote some of these blurbs back in 2011, when we kinda secretly released about half of these rare recordings to our "fan club" - so some of these thoughts are 6 years old, and some are from today. I've always found album leftovers and b-sides to be an interesting window into learning more about my favorite bands.  It can often highlight inner-workings, and show off some (often failed) attempts at experimenting with your own art.  This is by no means a "greatest hits" collection, but hopefully you'll find something that compels you!  Again, thanks for reading/listening and hopefully these notes will shed a little light on these songs for those that are curious. Thanks for digging deep with us! -John

1. Mona Lisa Overdrive.  (Mar 2009)  We recorded a grand total of 26 songs during the sessions for our second album, Horror Vacui (many of which ended up on our two EP's, The Beached Margin/Done Waiting in addition to the twelve on Horror Vacui), totaling 50+ days in the studio, spread out over a full year.  The plan for the album gestated many times- the initial tracklist and proposed running order being incredibly different from the final product.  "Mona Lisa Overdrive" was recorded during the second set of sessions for Horror Vacui, and at the time was intended as the first song on the album.  It was to replace the former contender for opening track, which you'll read about in a bit.  Most of us are still relatively proud of MLO, but I'm quite glad that at the 11th hour, we wrote "Beneath You All The Way", halted the mastering process, and had it recorded a week before the album was due at the pressing plant.  May the best song win(it did)!  (originally appeared as a digital bonus track to the Get Big 7")
2. Waiting On A Wire.  (Apr 2011)  Probably my favorite song in this collection, "Waiting On A Wire" is a prime example of IWTDI's ability to do some of our best work under pressure.  I wrote this song around January of 2011, the band half-learned it, but it just wasn't connecting, so we let it fall into the void of forgotten songs.  For some nutty reason, we decided to book a few days in the studio for the week immediately after our return from a month on the road in April 2011.  We had a last minute change in what we planned to record during those sessions, and were left in need of an additional tune.  We spent one afternoon relearning and finalizing "Waiting On A Wire", and tracked it 2 days later.  To add to the pressure, James had to miss the first few days of recording to attend his grandfather's funeral.  It was a rough time for him (his dog passed away on the same day!  Can this guy catch a break??), and recording drums last is highly unusual, but he came in on the final day and nailed it, of course.  (originally appeared as a digital bonus track for the compilation Live From Nowhere Near You Vol 2)
3. Ladybug. (Apr 2011)  So this song definitely needs an explanation...We were asked to write a children's song for a benefit compilation that never actually got released. We've been sitting on this song for six years hoping the compilation would be completed, but it never was, so here's our song! I'd had the music and melody since the early IWTDI days, but it always seemed weird/out of place to me for some reason, so we never used it for a "real" IWTDI tune. When the children's comp idea was presented to us, Rachel and I wrote some playful lyrics and laid it down first chance we got. It's just the two of us - Rachel on vocals and banjo, and me on everything else. This is weirdly one of my favorite IWTDI songs. I'm not quite sure why. But I'm proud of it. (previously unreleased)
4. Yours Truly. (Aug 2015)  Our most recent recording/release. Rachel wrote the bones of this song for her solo project around 2014, but it didn't quite fit with what she was doing, so in the summer of 2015 we recorded it with a new full-band arrangement at our house with Aslan Freeman handling production. It's easily my favorite sounding recording we've ever done. One of these days we're going to make a full album at the house with Aslan... (originally appeared as Yours Truly digital single)
5. Halloween.  (Nov 2010)  Written way back in 2005, James and I even played "Halloween" once or twice in our old band, En Garde.  Called "Halloween" because a)it's one of my favorite words b)it's my favorite holiday c)it's my favorite scary movie franchise, and d)the titled seemed to fit the spooky nature of the music.  I was pretty happy with the way the song was turning out during the Preludes sessions, I'm not even really sure why we decided to not include it on the album.  Our publicist wondered the same thing!  Oh well. (Originally appeared as the b-side to the digital single, Regulators)
6. A Way Out Of Here (Jun 2012) We were way too prolific around 2010-2011, so much so that we started a second band - Idiot Family. IF didn't do much, played a couple shows, etc - but we came out of it with 8 or so songs that seemed more appropriate for IWTDI than anything else. The weird thing about Idiot Family is that we switched instruments - so it made the songs difficult for IWTDI to play live, and the writing process was way different as well. We came out of those sessions with the Blood On The Beach EP. A few tunes were left on the cutting room floor from those sessions - and "A Way Out Of Here" is one of them. (previously unreleased)
7. Sugar Settle Down (June 2012) Another Idiot Family song that we turned in to an IWTDI song. This song is technically unreleased, unless you count the few dozen people that signed up for our email list during a short period of time when the promotion was "we'll send you an unreleased song!" (previously unreleased)
8. Better Side (June 2012) "Better Side" is from the same Blood On The Beach/Idiot Family sessions, but is actually more of a traditional IWTDI composition. I just happened to write the basics of this song around the same time, so we tracked it during those sessions, thinking it would come out as a single or on a compilation release, etc - but it never did. We played this song live a couple of times, and it worked best in the concert setting, but it fell by the wayside pretty fast nonetheless. (previously unreleased)
9. Actors (Acoustic).  (Apr 2011)  From the same session as "Waiting On A Wire" and "Ladybug," this acoustic version of "Actors" was intended as an alternate of a track planned to be featured on Vexations.  We indeed recorded the full-band, more rocking version of "Actors" up in Minneapolis in summer 2012, but it ended up being the one song from those sessions that did not appear on the album.  I'm very proud of the tune, I'm very proud of the lyrics, but it just didn't seem to fit Vexations thematically or musically. (previously unreleased)
10. Actors (June 2012)  The full band version of "Actors." I think I prefer the acoustic version. They're pretty similar overall, but it's interesting to hear the acoustic version as essentially a demo - since the full band version has some producer-touches from Josh Cain and Ed Ackerson. I'll never understand why they felt the intro of the song needed to have four passes before the vocal starts instead of three. Three is right. I'm right. Right? (originally appeared as the b-side to the digital single, My Internal Din)
11. I Keep My Head Above It.  (Jun 2007)  "I Keep My Head Above It" is the oldest recording in this collection, coming from the sessions for our very first album.  I still like this song a lot, but hearing it shows how much we've grown as performers (Rachel and I really stepped up our singing over the following years).  In retrospect, I wish we'd dropped two or three songs that turned up on the album, left those as b-sides, and put "I Keep My Head Above It" in their place.  (Originally appeared on the cancer research benefit site
12. The Hollow Men.  (Nov 2010)  One of the first songs we worked on during the year-long writing process for Vexations, but it actually ended up on the cutting room floor of the Preludes sessions.  "The Hollow Men" stemmed from a jam between Curtis & Joe, and then Rachel and I fine-tuned various elements.    I like this song decently, but I don't think we quite nailed the presentation- it was one of our first attempts at a "slightly different" IWTDI approach (fun fact: I played bass on this one, and Joe played guitar) for Vexations, and we got WAY better at that after a few more ideas made their way into the practice room.  (previously unreleased)
13. Like A Hole In The Head.  (Aug 2008)  One of my lesser favorites, "Like A Hole In The Head" was one of the many songs attempted during the first sessions for Horror Vacui, and it just didn't come together as well as the others.  Clearly a bit underwritten, I guess you could say it was an exercise in breaking the "big chorus" habit we were in- doing the "loud verse/quite chorus" trick The Pixies perfected so well.  It certainly has a couple little things that I like, but listening back, I cringe at all the details we could have fine-tuned to make a better whole.  (originally appeared on the cancer research benefit site

14. Benediction.  (Aug 2008)  Remember how I said "Mona Lisa Overdrive" replaced another song as the planned opener for Horror Vacui, before we came up with "Beneath You All The Way" at the last minute?  For quite a while, "Benediction" was that planned opening track.  Change is good!  Definitely not one of our standout tunes, although I still think the lyrics have some merit.  Also, fun fact: it's only in hindsight that I'm able to see this, but all three of those potential lead tracks were "us against the world"-type love songs-- an interesting coincidence considering the jilted, loner, fuck-off vibe of every other song on Horror Vacui.  (originally appeared as a digital bonus track to The Beached Margin/Done Waiting 12")