'Welcome to The Reservation' is a dark album, our darkest at least. At the time we were recovering from a studio fire where the band lost everything. We lost all of the gear that we had collectively acquired for our entire lives. We not only lost all of our instruments but also the recording equipment and our creative home. The songs were written during the last months of The Bush Administration. Two wars, a surveillance state and the oncoming financial collapse. incidentally we saw the collapse coming and it is referenced in some of the songs. "Now we're wading through the byproducts of their infinite wisdom, the unforeseen, the alchemy..." as heard in 'Sinking Machines' or "You can stand on the lawn with your megaphone on but even the snipers know, it's hard to get off the Reservation." That's kind of the way I see The United States, as a reservation. We are closed in, sold shit food and misinformation. We have no spiritual connection to land anymore. I think that anyone who was paying attention could have seen the market collapse. Infinite growth is unrealistic and you can only butter things up for so long. That was the world that we lived in. Positive news was doctored and inflated and inconvenient truths were buried. I looked around and everyone was writing songs about their fucking girlfriends or about grape soda or some pop culture nostalgia from when they were kids. I didn't want to come off like 'Rage Against The Machine.' I wanted to examine the realities of the world we were living in. We also wanted to slice through and show how irrelevant all of the cheeky, twee, poppy punky music at the time was. I think that we consciously shifted to a heavier sound as well. The sounds of 'Concrete' and Guerrilla Gorilla' are foreboding, while 'Theatre of Discontent' is simply ominous. 'Sinking Machines' has a dark urgency to it, and I think we as humans and as a band were searching for some kind of soul outside of the grinding gears of the American media machine. In a world full of winks and nods, lies and deceit, breaking things down intellectually became exhausting. "Save me from sinking into my thinking machine..." is the refrain that sums it up.
From a production standpoint I find this album overall and compared to our other albums to be disappointing. We almost scraped together all that we needed to record and mix an album after the fire. We were definitely lacking some fundamental gear and didn't have a proficiency for the gear that we did have. The result to me is clunky and inconsistent. Some of the tracks are muddy or the vocals are too high or too dry. We also tried to put too many tracks on and it doesn't have the flow that our other albums have. That being said, there are some stand out recordings here. We also learned what to do and what not to do throughout this process.
Sonically I think that 'Concrete' is the standout track. This was dreamed up by Doug Shelor and he recruited Paul & I on a few of the technical details. The song starts out on a nylon string guitar before breaking into its otherworldly phased out gallop. They recorded the drums at double speed and slowed them down, then blended a new drum track over that. Doug was always pushing for us to experiment with sounds and I think that the execution here is perfect.
Throughout the process of making any album we always took the time to improv. All the mics are set up, everything sounds good so why not. 'Dreams of Spiders,' 'Never Tell' and 'Subterfuge' were all improvised in the studio while we were making this album. Although they are not pristine, there is a spontaneity about them that we wanted to present.
I think that 'Guerrilla Gorilla,' 'One Thousand Miles an Hour' and 'Radio' came out well too. I am very proud of the material on this album, I just think that we went on to play many of these song better live. 'Sinking Machines' especially evolved from where it is on this album. I hope you enjoy listening to this album and check out the others.
There are free versions of several of these songs available.