Now for a look back at where this album came from. The story of it began just a few months before the world shut down in 2020. The first song started finding its feet as we moved into a new house and started rebuilding our studio, still riding the high of our last album release. Pandemic and lockdown kicked off before we’d even finished unpacking and derailed all the many grand plans we’d had in place for 2020.
Art follows life follows art, as it goes. We thought the shutdown would last two months, but as it became clear that we were in this for the long haul, we rolled with it as best we could. We realized that the way our whole musical journey fit into the world was changing. We kept writing. Kept experimenting. Like so many others, we figured out how to livestream.
The weekly livestream gave us a goal to work toward–working on new songs so we could debut them and refine them every week. And as things started opening back up the following year, we were able to start debuting them in a live setting that was at once familiar and completely changed. And we noticed an interesting thing starting to happen–as we wrote songs without any kind of certainty of how, when, or where we would play them out live, we looked at our creative output and realized that we were our only critics, and that we had an opportunity to turn this into whatever we wanted it to be. We ended up making some changes and simplifications to our gear and to our writing style. Make no mistake, it’s still the two of us, and we still write songs at both ends of the spectrum, from loud and energetic to fiercely quiet and introspective. But what we learned during this time was how to speak in our true voice.
By Summer of 2022, we had enough songs to start recording. Full of energy and hope for this new record, which had a shape we couldn’t quite see yet. We kicked it off in July. But in August, John had a fairly invasive surgery to remove a cancer spot on his head. Around the same time, our cat Newman was diagnosed with lymphoma. We lost Newman in September, and it knocked us down pretty hard.
We eventually started finding our feet again, and we felt a second-wind energy for the album. We also realized through much conversation that this record needed a very simple production style. We also realized it needed a drummer, so John decided to learn how to play drums. No big deal. We recorded rough tracks of all the songs, to a click track (ugh), and John rehearsed drums for these songs almost every day in October, November, and December.
By the time January of 2023 came around, it was truly time to hit record, and “hit record” we did. We spent every free moment over the next three months working on this record. Drum tracking was first, followed by guitars, all of which gave our neighborhood a daily preview of what the songs sound like (shout out to our neighbor Marla who miraculously still talks to us after all that). It was seriously loud in our little house. Bass sessions came next, and vocals kicked off. This thing was finally starting to take shape.
Just as we were almost done, our dog Omie began suffering from canine cognitive disorder (Alzheimer’s, basically). We lost her at the end of March. Omie came into our lives right as we were beginning our life together–and quickly settled in as a fiercely loyal studio dog. Any of y’all that have lost a dog understand how hard this is.
Grief is always complicated. In some ways, it was hard to find the motivation to keep this project going. In other ways, that was all we wanted to do. We were already this far into serving these songs–songs that originally came to life when hope was hard to find–and we found (another) second wind, borne of sheer stubbornness. That feeling when you laugh, cry, and scream all at the same time? That was how we finished recording this thing.
We call it FIREBALL for a lot of reasons. Fire is an element that treads a thin line between great comfort and utter destruction. And in looking through the songs for a potential title track, this notion caught our attention. This record has that loud rock n roll sound we’ve always had in our heads. But it also has sparse piano and some very quiet, reflective moments. It is, in every way, a true picture of our lives, our personalities, our creative process, and our view of the world. And it perfectly captures the feel of everything that’s happened since late 2019. Most of all, it’s a celebration of adversity, of change, and of gratitude for so many friends and so much family that prop us up.
Album release day is June 17th, 2023 y’all. Come help us celebrate.
June 17, 1pm: LIVE at Cactus Music for an in-store performance
June 17, 9pm: RELEASE PARTY: LIVE at Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge, with the Mighty Orq