Bad Books released their second album, II, on October 9th, 2012 and have already finished one leg of a tour in support of the most recent addition to a stunning collection of works. Along the two week run, stretching from Seattle to Atlanta, Andy Hull and Kevin Devine stopped into Alternative Press to record intimate acoustic versions of a few of their new tracks.
“The After Party,” II’s Hull-penned opener, sets the mood of the album perfectly.
“It’s sort of like talking to a combination of a certain character,” said Andy. “Like a character that involves either somebody at a record label that we knew that was lost or somebody that quit the band. You know, we’ve had a bunch of people leave the band over the years. Just like kind of having this feeling of, ‘Am I ever gonna really find somebody that’s dedicated to this thing?’ And so it’s sort of talking about the idea of hating and wanting and never wanting to be alone.”
It’s that duality of loneliness that makes this song catch on so quickly.
“I feel like that’s a really economic way of saying what it feels like to be a person which I kind of feel like is what all songs are about on their basis level. Figuring out some part of that experience and that whole ‘I need to be alone,’ ‘I hate to be alone, but it’s good to be alone,’ that’s an all the time coin toss thing, at least in my life,” Devine said. “So hearing it articulated so simply like that is a big part of that song’s appeal and one of Andy’s strengths as a writer. I think [Andy’s] good at that. The economy of language thing, getting at a big thing with like six words is a songwriting challenge for sure. It’s certainly a talking challenge for me too.”
Hull mentioned that the song had been floating around, and explained why it ended up on II.
“I had that riff for a long time,” Hull said. “We had this wild night where these hip hop dudes came in while we were making the first Bad Books record and asked if there were any rock singers who could sing on their track. I was like, ‘You’re looking at the rock voice, man. Where we going?’ We were led to a closet sized studio with fifteen enormous dudes all offering us every drug we could possibly imagine. We ended up staying at that studio, and not partaking in any of their “skittles.” But we recorded this thing and then once we got back to our studio we started a full-band freestyle with these dudes.
“Eventually they left, and Kevin and Ben and I – Ben is our drummer – were all sitting in the room and Ben picks up the bass and Kevin went on the drums and we kind of jammed up the original idea for that song. It would never come back around for another year and a half, I guess, when I kind of was jamming with it as a Manchester idea right after we had released Simple Math. So eventually it felt like the origin came from such an incredible series of events and, you know, it’s serendipitous.”
The video for “The After Party,” which has Hull and Devine along with guitarist and producer Robert McDowell, features the intricate melodies and guitar work they’ve become known for. It and handful of other similar videos will have to suffice for fans until Bad Books hits the road again in the new year.