Posted: April 3, 2022 in MUSIC

You can hardly walk through Los Angele’s hipper neighbourhoods without bumping elbows with one of your favourite artists who’s probably on the verge of realizing that the block they live on is home to half a dozen of your other favourite artists, and will imminently start recording with them. It felt like a huge moment a few years back when Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst surprise-released their debut album-length collaboration, for example, which has since become the foundation of a number of other projects incorporating a wider net of talent.

One such collaborator is Christian Lee Hutson who, in addition to enlisting that duo as backing musicians on his major-label debut a few years ago, brought Bridgers and Oberst on as producers for his follow-up release, “Quitters“. Hutson’s new record also features contributions—ranging from co-song writing credits to drunken guitar solos—from Hand HabitsMeg DuffyGreat Grandpa’s Al Menne. The result is something much more nimble and comfortable than the constraints of a supergroup might allow, swapping the inherent competition of such an arrangement with a reflective sense of inspiration. 

With “Quitters” arriving via ANTI- Records, Hutson break’s down each track on the record to give us a better sense of how the project came together.

1. “Strawberry Lemonade”

This is vaguely inspired by The National’s song “Not in Kansas.” I wanted to write a long marathon song that was just like a collage of memories and images from my life. During the recording, I fucked up the opening chord like 10 times in a row and my friend Harry, who played bass on the song, couldn’t stop laughing. My favourite part of mixing this album was throwing his laugh on a fader and pushing it way up at the very beginning of the song.

2. “Endangered Birds”

This is one of my favorite songs on the record. It’s about a guy visiting his ex-wife and her new husband at their new home in California. We borrowed this Mellotron that was used on an Elliott Smith record and had Nate Walcott write and play a three-part string arrangement for this one.

3. “Rubberneckers”

This was the last song written for the album. I like to think this is the same character from “Endangered Birds.” The opening lyrics came from watching this guy’s sky writing proposal and thinking, “God, it takes so long for them to write this whole thing out.” There’s also a little nod to my friend Scott McClanahan’s book The Sarah Book, which I read probably seven times while making this record.

4. “Sitting Up with a Sick Friend”

This song is named after a creepy Cassius Marcellus Coolidge painting of some dogs partying. I wanted to write something about someone with family money but kind of absent, estranged parents. I think the subject of the song has “the world at their fingertips,” but doesn’t know what they want out of life, so I imagine them just sitting around joking their life away.

5. “Age Difference”

I wrote this the week “Beginners” was released. The narrator of this song is a middle-aged guy who has never really grown up describing his relationship with a person much younger than him. He goes on a trip to meet his partner’s family for the holidays and is just kind of taking an inventory of his life and their relationship. 

6. “Blank Check”

This song was written with my friend Al Menne over FaceTime. At the time, I was reading Bob Mehr’s book “Trouble Boys” about The Replacements. So the song is loosely inspired by Bob Stinson getting kicked out of the band by his own brother and best friends. Phoebe and I asked Meg Duffy to take an intentionally drunken, shitty solo at the end of the song.

7. “Cherry”

I had the music for this song for years and kept writing new words for it because nothing felt quite right. Conor wanted to try and build a drum kit out of random shit for this song. It ended up being an 808 kick sample played manually, a super effected snare, a bag of pennies, and a miniature church bell. Nate Walcott plays pump organ. 

8. “State Bird”

I’m a big blink-182 fan and wanted to try and write my own version of a blink song. Marshall Vore and I wrote it together. At one point it had the lines, “IMDb AARP / Got a DUI on an ATV.” 

9. “Teddy’s Song”

This song is a series of vignettes. It’s a collage of little LA scenes. The person in the song falls in love, it doesn’t work out, they isolate from friends and try to make a change for the better. Some of my favourite memories of places growing up are in this song: bonfires at Dockweiler Beach, The Roosevelt Hotel, walking around Sunset Junction. 

0. “Black Cat”

This song is a kind of experiment for me. I just let the words fall into place where they felt natural without trying to connect anything or make it mean anything specific. One of my favorite moments on the record is Marshall’s psychotic drum solo at the end. 

11. “Creature Feature”

The working title was “Postal Service” because I originally felt like the drum machine sounded like “Such Great Heights.” This song is another collage. I feel a lot of isolated pandemic energy in this one. I think it’s about watching the world fall apart and retreating into your mind to escape it. 

12. “OCDemon”

The title comes from a fake band name Sharon Silva made up. I have Pure OCD, so this song just kind of started as a therapeutic exercise. It’s about intrusive thoughts and obsession with morality. I think I subconsciously wrote the hardest guitar part I’ve ever written to distract me from having to think about what I was saying lyrically.

13. “Triple Axel”

I wrote this with my friend Al Menne. It’s about an ice skater who injures themselves and can never skate again. It’s about new beginnings and finding yourself again after losing what you love. I’m not much of a piano player but I do play a lot at home and this song is heavily inspired by Paul Buchanan’s solo album “Mid Air.”

The record was produced by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst and features contributions from Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy and Great Grandpa’s Al Menne.

Released April 1st, 2022

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