I have to say, I’m incredibly proud of the work we did on this album. It’s been a long haul to get here, and there’ve been some difficulties along the way, but the end result is, in my opinion, pretty damn solid. I hope people like it as much as I do, but even if they don’t, I’m still extremely grateful that I got to work with the people I’ve worked with and put out the music we’ve put out.
Sure, there were some downsides – the studio floods being the peak of those, and my ongoing battle with sinus infections making recording vocals difficult, but hey, we got there.
Eric G has certainly been at the top of his game for lyrics. Everything he sent me just “clicked” in terms of my knowing how it’d fit into the songs or how it’d sound. And, as always, his instincts were pretty spot-on. While I’m meandering about in some song with a 3-minute dhol solo, he pulled me back from the brink of madness. More than once. Thanks to his pushing, this is an album of tight pop songs and not epic-but-ultimately-boring 9-minute songs.
Bringing Jill on board was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, bandwise. Oh, sure, she’s worked with ND before as a guest vocalist, but since we’ve started playing live together, it’s become pretty clear how well her vocals fit into the kind of music we’ve been writing. Subsequently, she crops up on nearly every song on Suspending Belief in some capacity, and gives a lot of great depth to the songs. Plus, we’ve worked together enough that we can always bang out her vocals in just a few takes.
The Null Device Rhythm Section – Elizabeth and Chuck – were of great help. Elizabeth contributed some cello on the album, and more importantly helped me refine the studio versions of some of the songs that we played live by coming up with percussion parts. Chuck did the same with bass parts – certainly, the bassline in “Notes from the Fallen” got a bit of an overhaul after I heard Chuck’s take on it.
The most surprising addition to the whole thing was Raya. I’ve known Raya for a while, but until last year I didn’t know she was a singer. Wendy and I were visiting her in Chicago, and I forget why, but on the drive back from a museum she let fly some classical greek. My jaw fell open, Wendy just looked at me, stunned, and the first words out of my mouth were “OH MY GOD I NEED TO GET YOU INTO MY STUDIO.” So a few months later, I had Raya standing in front of my mic, blitzing through some Euripides and some Rabia al-Awadiyya without any especially clear concept of what I was going to do with it, only knowing that I was going to do something with it. So we knocked it out in an afternoon and then went to see “Slumdog Millionaire.” It was all kinds of awesome.
I of course need to thank a number of musicians who helped along the way. Most importantly, the lead guy of The Dark Clan and ND-guitar-hero-emeritus, Dan Clark. This dude has always helped push me as a musician and a studio nerd, and has always been a great sounding-board for some of my crazy studio ideas and my new obsessions with microphones and acoustic treatment. And certainly, there is no possible way we could’ve put this tour together if he hadn’t done about 97% of the legwork (I’m entirely lost when it comes to most of this process). Also, there’s the Chicago contingent of Andrew Sega and Ned Kirby, who are always good guys to bounce ideas off of (and drink beer with). Matt Fanale, for being our primary local hype-man and throwing our little project more bones than we probably deserve. Dylan Wheeler, for doing the same on the west coast and Jim Semonik and Zak Vaudo for hyping us in their respective eastern corners of the country. Ryan Parks, for giving us more interviews and radio time than any band with no album to hype probably deserves. And, naturally Ms. Kristy Venrick for actually, you know, selling our music.
Of course, I cannot fail to mention my lovely fiancee Wendy, who’s been ridiculously supportive of the whole process, and who somehow manages to not get irritated at hearing the same 8 bars of a song played 350 times, punctuated only by my foul language as I try over and over to get some weird detail right. She has to put up with the awful noises, the wall-shaking band practices, half the house getting taken over by classical indian ensembles, the endless hours in which I’ve disappeared into the basement, my long and indecipherable rants about studio acoustics, that glassy-eyed stare I get when I’m getting obsessed with building new bass traps, the late nights I keep at shows, the constant accumulation of gear and instruments in the basement, and all the other inconveniences associated with living with an esoteric and obsessive musician. I can’t thank her enough.
This album has been a wild ride, and it’s been a labour of love, if I may borrow the cliché. I hope the rest of the world likes it as much as I do, but even if it finds favor with just a few of my friends, it has for me been an entirely worthwhile adventure.