story of A Telephone Built For Two as
told by Henning
I grew up in an age of albums. Before my time, the music world was all based on singles. Rock and Roll came in 45's but I cut my teeth in the age of albums. Nowadays, it's back to singles. Even if you have albums on your mp3 player, you generally just shuffle the singles. I miss the album.
One of the most heartbreaking moments in buying music is when you invest in an album based on a song you heard and you find that the rest of the album is filler. Do bands really knowingly make filler songs? I don't know. But it sure seems like it on occasion, doesn't it? Sometimes you read about bands that have some songs and then, when they are in the studio, they need more so they quickly write more. I don't get this approach, but maybe this is the kind of thing that happens when you are under contract, when money, rather than inspiration, dictates creativity. Since there are no outside forces pressuring me, I've always had the luxury of creating music at its own pace.
When songs have been born and have been given time to grow up a little, then they are ready for an album. A Telephone Built for Two has no filler. Each track is as important as all the others. All of the songs are individuals who grew and matured on their own time. For some of them the process was swift and smooth, for others it took years, some more than a decade. I hope this all comes across to the listener.
All of these songs have been nurtured and have been given the freedom to evolve. The band has had a chance to mold them, to let them become instinctual rather than forced or learned. I hope this comes across to the listener. All I ever try to do is make an album that I think I would like if I were me.
A Telephone Built For Two, is, I believe, the best record we've made yet.
My favorite songs are those that capture a moment in time. Sometimes it's a snapshot, sometimes it's a feeling, some of the times it's just a thought. But I dig a song that takes that split instant and gets across the emotion of it. I've tried to do that on a number of these songs; for example, Periscope, which takes a shot at that moment when you are sitting inside a parked car while someone else is clearing the snow off of it. It's a private moment of clarity and of security and Periscope is a picture of that moment.
I like a cathartic song. Feel Like I Should is my approach at examining a long period of vertigo, wooziness, and grumpiness, that I was enjoying. While the music does its best to display a positive face, the story focuses on the impact that a malady can have on one’s self esteem, sort of like how you might try to put on a happy face while not feeling well inside of yourself.
I like a sunny-day song. This Time It Looks Good has a sunny quality to it. Harmonicas and acoustic guitars can give you that sunny feeling. The song is another in a long line of relationship songs. You know that volatile couple in your life, the one that is always on again and off again? This is their song. This is when they are telling you that This Time they are going to pull it together. You want to believe them, really, you do.
Save My Place is a phrase I've yelled a zillion times when I've gotten up out of my chair. This song is a more of a eulogy than a trip to the refrigerator. It's a plea from a grave stone. The sounds in the background are a pair of loons on a lonesome cold lake around midnight in the middle of nowhere in the backwoods of Maine. The shouting in the middle came from somewhere in the dark across the lake. The watery sounds are frigid waves lapping at the edge of a rowboat.
I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm scared of them. That's the first line of Journal of Lies and it's actually true. We all walk around everyday just stuffed full of contradictions. This song is about the lies we tell ourselves all day long. Because the music is practically a marching band arrangement, this turned into a celebration of these contradictions. Is it a contradiction in itself? It's a really fun song to play. It's also fun to lie to yourself. No it isn't.
There's a rite of passage that comes at the end of that final summer following one's high school graduation. Your circle of friends, that have been everything to you, is about to be busted into pieces and scattered all across the country. Chances are that the same goes for any romance that may have been going on. Back To School is the story of one such relationship and of the melancholy of that time of year when autumn is looming and upheaval is imminent. It tells of the struggle for communication during that long distance relationship - the telephone, the long rides, and the email and how they all inevitably fail. As Ari Vais sang, "Haven't you heard? Long distance relationship is a four letter word."
Boring Dream. I really did have a boring dream and I really did wake up and say, "Last night I had the most boring dream." This was a long time ago and it birthed this song which is about that crushing sense of malaise that can sometimes overtake you. Each verse starts off with the word of the moment: boring, dreadful, dismal. Each chorus finds the singer feeling utterly worthless. The bridge, however, is that always fluttering flag of hope within us all. It's sometimes at half mast, but it's always there. Musically, this song is a choppy mad dash through spy-thriller riffs and Soft Boys-esque chord changes.
Some of my most proud lyrical moments are found in the song Disgruntled Lover. It's a fun fast tongue twister avalanching cavalcade of puns and rhymes set to a jaunty country twang that the band took by storm and it all came about because I thought "disgruntled" was a really funny word.
For some reason I can very clearly remember writing the song Map. I had detuned my guitar to a strange new setup, which is something I rarely do and in fact don't do for this song any longer. I was pacing through my empty apartment on South Street in Northampton, MA playing this never-ending super simple part and I just starting singing the words. I was in the kitchen looking out over the backyard and parking lot and I pretty much wrote the whole thing right there and then. It's another romp through nostalgia-ville with a more lush and dramatic sound than the rest of the album.
Super Hero is a fun little pop ditty. It's a herky-jerky tumble-down view of a pedestal being built up. It's a simple theme with a real fun stop-and-start part for the band to play. This recording is a super simple classic, two guitars, bass, and drums arrangement. I just wanted to keep it simple.
The final track on this record could easily have been the first track. It's a goofy telling of my specific journey to the town of Northampton, MA. It's sort of like flipping through a chronological photo album of those days. The song is called Thinking of a Time and that is literally what the lyrics display. It's a step by step journey of my life in the mid to late 1990's. Me, me, me. Yeah, I know
that's it. That's the album. I hope you dig it. Thank you.