Train in Reverse

Facing the opposite direction of the train’s motion, I was sucked out of New York City in reverse. Riding backwards uncovered a zoom-out panoramic of the strange transitory territory surrounding the city. That in-between space, with the chess-piece graveyard and the industry.

 

I’m riding comfortably on Amtrak bound for Ligonier, PA to see my family for Thanksgiving. It could be because I’m reading Einstein’s Dreams, but it seems to me that time is pleasantly circular. After Honeycomb’s wonderful release yesterday, it feels like a natural homecoming to return to the place where it was recorded. Riding in reverse, it seems, also encourages the mind to time-travel.


I haven’t been back to Pennsylvania since that blissfully magic month this summer. We were fools swimming, hiking, eating and having our singular focus be music. A stream of visitors took part in the unreality with us, friends and collaborators becoming a special part of the process. The beautiful hills were our terrain for ATV rides by day and we explored the local bar filled with taxidermy by night.


Only after the fact did I realize that it was somewhat ironic that we went to a huge, rural place to record an album about a pseudo-fictionalized version of New York. To be honest, it’s a difficult transition between the two extremes—how much space should one person occupy, should you know your neighbors, do you walk to work or bike or drive, do you live in a building up in the sky? But because we are adaptable creatures, I’m glad that in my life I get to experience both. And hope to oscillate between the two, for a very, very long time.


Cheers to those who are also traveling on this most-traveled day of the year. Maybe, just maybe some of the songs on Honeycomb have been the soundtrack to wherever you’re going. Thank you thank you thank you to those who are listening, have ever listened or ever will listen. Without others we are lost in time.


Wishing you a belly full of turkey and weekend full of love,

Chrissy




What's up with the Honeycomb, anyways? And why we're asking for your help.

Last month, I had the great privilege of devoting an entire month to doing what I love.  How?  A lot of hard work, a little bit of luck, some planning, and the support of a couple very important people.  On the morning of July 24th, I drove my old-ass van out of Queens, down the BQE, over the Williamsburg bridge and into the East Village.  I picked up my partner in crime Chrissy Sandman.  We ate chips and drove west towards a lovely little pocket of western PA.  Chrissy’s family have a lovely home in this quaint little town called Ligonier, and they were crazy/generous enough to allow us to convert the living room into a studio.  A messy, wire-filled, noisy, beautiful make-shift studio.  For the next 5 weeks, we worked tirelessly to record the dozens of songs we’d written in the past year.


We knew the record was going to be called Honeycomb.  (We decided this sometime in the spring.)  We knew we had A LOT of songs.  And we knew we wanted to record as many of them as possible.


For the most part, Chrissy and I were alone - making noise and shaping sounds day and night.  We took breaks of course, but only when our brains couldn’t stand to hear another sound.  And when we weren’t working, we were surrounded by the surreal and calming silence of the Laurel Highlands. If New York City is bursting with motion and noise, then surely this place wasn’t devoid of it - just filled with different versions.  The motion of stillness.  The sound of silence.  

two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

We were making a record about the relationship between nature and civilization; reality and fantasy; life and death.  And there we were.  Two musicians who drove from one of the most insane cities on this earth to the quiet stillness of a forest some 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.  The planets had aligned!  Everything was making sense!  If this were an experiment that Chrissy was conducting, then the variables would have all aligned to create some fantastic, unexpectedly beautiful result!

 

We did it.  We recorded 20 songs and I’m more proud of these songs than I have ever been of anything I’ve ever done.  Now, we wanna do it up big.  We want to share it with everyone we know and anyone we don’t know who is willing to listen.

 

I frequently listen to music while lying in bed at night.  And when I crawl into bed after a long day, I want to hear something that hugs me, whispers in my ear, takes me on a dream-ride.  I want to fall in love with the characters and stories.  I want to feel my existence on this earth solidified!  I want to feel as if I have been shot through with light!  It might be a lot to hope for.  But it has happened.  And it will happen a couple more times, I’m sure.  Isn’t it stunning how a single piano note, or the clang of the right guitar chord, or the energy of vocal can bring us such a sense of clarity?

 

Maybe... just maybe...in the quiet of a couple dorm rooms ... or over the gentle roar of tires sailing down a highway, Summer Underground has brought you some of those feelings.  That’s why we write songs after all, for you.  So we are asking for your help, your generosity.  We want your spirit with us.  Consider joining us on this adventure.  If you can’t donate, share it with your friends.  Play SU at your next party.  Spread the love.

Here's a link to the kickstarter: 


SUMMER UNDERGROUND HONEYCOMB LP

Thanks for reading.
Love love love
- Grant
 

 

Setting Sail

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp127U0EJoI

The day has come! You know the epic "SET SAILLLL" part in Byegone at ~2:38? We are about to go do that.

The van's all packed up- toy piano snuggled up with laundry, books and journals nested with Grant's newly acquired bass, and quarter inch cables tied in sailor's knots holding it all together.

Just like that we are leaving our home in New York for the next month and retreating to the small town of Ligonier, PA where we will record our second full length album called Honeycomb.

We are very excited. Please visit us and send postcards and carrier pigeons.

-C&G

Happy New Year's Eve!

I am sitting somewhere in southern Florida surrounded by grapefruit rinds and electronics, listening to A Sun Came!, and staring off into the Atlantic Ocean. If we swam directly across the sea in an impossibly straight course along the latitude line, where would we land?

photo (12).JPG

Because my parents are of an older time, they don’t think to immediately look up the answer online, so this has been the topic of debate this vacation.  Dad says Portugal and Mom’s all for Egypt. (They’re both way off, but boy are they passionate about it.) There’s something nice about wild speculation sometimes.

Western Sahara. That’s the answer in case you’re curious. But if you were, you probably already googled it anyway.

But Western Africa is not important. (Woah, woah, woah! okay yes it most certainly is. please help me with my segue….) What I’m talking about is the wild speculation part. What better setting is there to wildly speculate about the future than staring across the ocean and wondering about where you’ll end up on the other side?

It’s New Year’s Eve, also known by some as the-most-introspective-day-of-the-year, and by most as drinking-your-sorrows-away-and-dancing-inappropriately-to-beyonce’s-single-ladies. I’m planning on doing a little bit of both.

2013’s been a crazy year for SU. Since last year’s New Year’s, which we spent together in Pittsburgh making weird drinks involving pickle juice, we have done a lot of music-ing. Somehow we made three recordings! Last January we ate a lot of meat while recording the Ligonier Sessions in snowy, PA. We spent the remainder of the year crafting and polishing Arrivals EP mainly over the internet. In the meantime, Grant fucking graduated college (what is that) with a BFA in musical theater and moved to fucking New York City, settling in Astoria, Queens. We started living in the same city for the first time (pretty much ever). We have band practice. More recently, we drank a lot of coffee and recorded a little Christmas album with some old favorites and two winter originals (Here's a little Auld Lang Syne if you're in the spirit).

2014’s got big plans for us, and we’ve got big plans for 2014. We’re a real band now! Right? Right. We’re going to play shows! In front of real people! With other real musicians! We’re in the process of writing and starting to record our next LP! I’m going to graduate from university! And move out of cozy Manhattan to more spacious Brooklyn (probably)! We’re a real band now. And I absolutely cannot wait to start this year.

Cheers to you! May you get fantastically drunk tonight as you wildly speculate about your own 2014.

Love,

Chrissy

From Postal Service to Dropbox

Making Arrivals has made me start to wonder whether we should change our band name to "Dropbox."  

...Let me explain. Just as Ben Gibbard & Jimmy Tamborello used the US Postal Service for their collaboration and their namesake moniker, Grant & I have been swapping audio files back and forth through the USPS's digital analogue- Dropbox. 

First of all: I fuckin' love Dropbox. It's great. I use it approximately two hundred times a day and it has made my life approximately two thousand times easier. And it has freed me of weirdo file sharing web sites like these. (If any Dropbox employees happen to be reading this, YES, I would happily allow you to be our official band sponsor! Or what about an extra free Gig or 2 in exchange for my endorsement?) But for real, it just wouldn't be possible for us to record at all this summer with Grant in Pittsburgh and me in New York. 

I've found that working remotely has a curious yet surprising effect on both the writing and recording process. We're not strangers to working apart from one another- in fact, since we've each been at different schools we've spent more time in different locations than we have together. But after all, we are millenials! And therefore we are internet people. So this album, as well as our others, has been born from an exchange of shitty iPhone recordings, often independent ideas we that eventually fuse together. Then when we do collaborate in person, it's a really fun but really intense recording process during which we consume wayyyy too much coffee, alcohol, fatty foods and other substances for our own (and our digestive systems') good. 

But unlike our other recordings, so far Arrivals has been made entirely through the computer. Even though it's sometimes difficult to be unable to transmit a musical idea instantly, the delay can also be really fun. Receiving a new song file on Dropbox is like opening up a Christmas present. Errr.... maybe it's more like that drawing game you played when you were a kid (my family officially dubbed it the Doodle Game), where one person makes a nonsensical scribble, and passes it to the other person who transforms it into a discernible figure? Either way, what I'm trying to say is that it's really awesome to hear someone else add onto a piece of music in a way that is totally (pleasantly) surprising that I would have never thought to do myself. Plus, when I've hit a wall with a song and don't know which direction to take it, it's refreshing to send it away into cyberspace, have Grant work his magic, and see how it boomerangs back to me. 

In sum, thank you internet for all the glorious things you've done for us. (Even though you are both a blessing and a curse). Love ya. 
 

-Chrissy

making arrivals

i find there’s a strange phenomenon that happens towards the end of the process of making an album.  

a moment when every song has sort of taken its form, but the record is still a month and a week or two away from getting out there on the internet - some songs are more polished than others - some are quieter than others, some instruments are too loud - those drums are out of time.

but the general skeleton is there.

i think, ‘okay lets put these on a CD.  in order.  and I’ll listen through, and see what we have here’

so i do.  in my car, in my bed in the dark, on old weird boomboxes, on my living room speakers.

and suddenly my car is littered with blank CDs all marked with permanent marker:

arrivals june 6

arrivals june 30

arrivals july 17

arrivals july 30

arrivals july 31

arrivals august 7

all these semi permanent documents - records of a project in a state of constant flux - each one rendered old and outdated with the burning of next week’s disc

a project that seemingly will never be perfect nor finished.

its a strange impatient-patience we experience while we hide away in our basements and bedrooms making these songs.

for now, the sounds on arrivals are private, unfinished, ugly things.  slowly becoming the tunes we’ve been scheming up.

as the permanent marker date on the face of the blank CDs inches forward, the sound gets closer and closer to the final product.  and we are so excited for everyone to hear it.

-grant