Holy Bibles And Stained Glass Hotel Windows
“If no one lives for the shit that matters any more then that will just leave us all fucked and alone like someone down on their luck in some cheap motel.”
Dave saw a vocal coach in NYC & wasn’t allowed to drink. Bren was pushed to perfectly double guitar parts after usually staying up all night drinking with me. I had to learn how to play to a click track and the words I was writing (about drinking) were getting challenged in a way they had never been before. It was the year of our emo lord 2003 and we were working harder on a batch of songs than we ever had in our lives.
We pre-pro’d over Q-brews in Somerville, we did drum pre-pro at Poorman’s in Columbus Circle, we did vocal pre-pro around an imac straight out of Zoolander in a tiny room in Brighton. We pre-pro’d in the car while driving down to Beltsville. We pre-pro’d until we couldn’t pre-pro no mo’, until pre-pro just became pro.
We had found the formula that we felt finally worked for whatever this things was that we had been calling Orange Island. We had the five of us. We had Poorman. We had Squire. We had Salad Days. We had Camp Street. We were in full-on craft mode as opposed to writing quickly and playing songs live for a bit just to then hit a record button somewhere and hope for the best. We labored over drum fills, we improv’d with pedals we had never seen before, we built intros from choruses, we jammed bass lines into existence, and, most importantly, we laughed and experienced what turned out to be one of my favorite times to be alive. These were legitimately our best friends and somehow we had convinced someone to give us ten grand to make a record. We knew this had as much to do with whispers in ears as it did from years on the road. We were grateful. We wouldn’t squander this opportunity.
And here we are again. Lucky to be back spending time with these songs. Thankful that after about eight years of talking and dreaming, Casey has enough love in his heart for us to breathe new life into them. With new artwork from the legendaryTom at Man Alive Creative, we’ve reconceptualized the themes present in this record. Going back to the track listing I had conceived originally but had had to compromise on, what once was a record about the purgatory period between childhood and adulthood is now a record about a legitimate purgatory between life and death, heaven and hell. It’s a Twilight Zone episode we’re fittingly calling, One Night Stay.
Not only does the lyrical content gain new dimensions, new light, but sonically we were able to truly open the tracks up and give the songs the room they deserve. We might’ve tortured Alan Douches (another absolute legend) during the remaster process but it was imperative for us to be excited about this record, feel like it had enough new life in order to be confident in its push to you all. Why should you want to hold this in your hands? What makes this special in the sea of reissues and nostalgia-wanking? Because it’s a work of fucking art and an experience for the senses, ya jag!
When I was going through the lyrical content and trying to pick out little images here and there for early tries at the album art, I realized that there is a story here in these songs arranged in this way that I hadn’t ever necessarily picked up on and part of that story goes a little something like this:
You wake as if from dream but recognize nothing. It’s cold here, meat locker frigid. A faint electric buzz. Your blood, unwarm, says did you miss me. The sensation like it’s speeding through your veins faster than ever. Like it shouldn’t be able to. Like it’s mocking you. Like you should be dead.
You remember what eyelids are, open yours. You watch the blur’s hangoverish choreography. But there’s no vomit. Not caked on your clothes, not tidepooled in divots of pillow or bedsheet. Your breath smells air-conditioned and unacidic, like a shopping mall.
Your limbs aren’t right. Your neck won’t swivel. Your torso turns stiffly. Insects crawl out termite holes. Everything dusted in paint chips. You’re no stranger. All those morning-afters.
This is different though. A clunky corded phone brrrings from the mildewed carpet. The blood rushes preemptively to your head. As if all your choices, movements, decisions, thoughts, have been chiseled into stone by an unknown hand. Hello, you tell the phone that’s found its way into the crook of ear and shoulder. Hello, you tell the phone again.
Something metal pierces your cheek and skewers itself into a molar. You’ve never known pain like this. The phone melts itself into a vinyl disc made from the wax of the moon when its waning, welds itself to your face. The needle juts from your tooth. The record is grooveless and smooth. Then it begins to spin. Your bones become a dive bar sound system. The needle finds purchase and carves into the vinyl. Your body knows these songs by heart, of course. They inform you there’s a decision to make.
A projector clicks on and the wall is awash in glowing images of you. Stumbling around as a toddler with schmutz on your cheek. In the backseat of a car lit by moonlight and the awkward shuffle of first times. An inferno in the woods behind someone’s house, hoodie pockets stuffed with stolen cans. You cannot help but smile. All your past selves making scenes. Such horrible acting but you cannot look away. Every clip seems filmed with a thumb smudge on the lens.
The vinyl record remembers who is doing the spinning and starts crying out to no one in particular. The number you have dialed is not in service. Please, would you be so kind and hang up? You realize you’ve been fashioning the coiled cord into a noose. Right. The choice is yours. Everything else feels entirely out of your control. You’re indecisive. The wall is itself again. Your eyelids fall victim to gravity.
You see snakes and apples. You see bites and gardens. Your hair is a tangle of weeds sprouting from the dirt of your cortexes. The glint of blade and the flash of forever. The record whirrs and whines going an unfathomable RPM faster and faster and the needle is digging and digging further and further until the music is nothing but a finely ground plastic dust.
You inhale some, cough it out. And there, in your hands again, the phone. It’s crying out always, to no one in particular, to you.
-Chuck, Orange Island
Clinton, MA 2022
Photo by: Dickie Cummings