We’re writing you this letter for a few reasons. First, we want to thank you for your patience as we’ve been working on our new album for quite a long time. Since we started off selling tapes in high school we’ve had an audience that felt a lot like family, so we thought we’d fill you in on what’s been going on with us. I think once you know our story you will understand where these songs came from and what this album truly means to us.
When we began work on it we thought we knew exactly what we wanted to say, how we wanted it to sound, and how long it would take us to get it done. We spent a week at each of our respective home cities arranging songs all day and plotting the album’s story and sound at night. Album titles got thrown around, interlude ideas were talked through, and we looked to fill in parts of the story we thought were missing. We thought we had all the makings of a great record and could have it out by summer. Last summer. But, we also promised each other that no matter what, we would not settle. We wouldn’t finish the album until the story was told. Period. We wanted to, for the first time, take it easy.
So for the next few months we went from weeks in Chicago, Virginia and Columbus to recording songs live off the deck at Avatar in New York City, out to LA to cut vocals and overdubs, then back to Columbus for the horn section. It sounds like a lot of locations, but it seemed completely appropriate and the songs went along for the ride. But as we closed in on finishing the album we realized we hadn’t told the entire story. We had more living to do and more songs to write. So we went off on tour that summer, planned on finishing the album along the way, with no idea that the next year of our lives would be one giant test.
We parted ways with Atlantic Records. While we had great success there and we all remain friends, we got to a point where it didn’t feel like their system and our system were going to continue to fit together in this ever-changing music business. And we are thankful for all we accomplished there. Yet even without a label, we kept working on the songs and trying to put together the album we’d dreamed about. As the summer came to an end we felt real close to being finished but we still didn’t have what we were all looking for. So we continued to write, got to planning a fall tour, and really just looked forward to time off.
Then everything changed.
In late September my wife was diagnosed with cancer and a tumor had to be removed immediately. Suddenly life became a lot more real, turned us inside out, and focused everything on the family. I think we seldom understand what we have until it is nearly taken from us.
Our band is a family too, so when one of us is down, we are all down. Music could wait. I can’t imagine it was easy on anyone, but it was time to be there for one of our own. I have never in my life seen someone jump into a tough fight with such courage. I’ll always admire her for that, and so much more. She is doing very well now, I think because she decided it was just going to be that way.
I finally understood what this life and this album was really about. At some point we have to realize all we have is right here and we can either own it or let it own us.
As 2011 moved along things got better every day. And as the world started to make sense again, we decided as a band that it was time to brush ourselves off and finish the album. We revisited some of the very first songs written for the project. “Back To One,” “Gotta Be Wrong Sometimes,” and “Taking on the World Today.” They all made a lot more sense now.
But it wasn’t until we wrote the very last song that the entire picture snapped into place. It’s always funny how that happens. We knew we had one more spot to fill and it needed to be the one that summed up everything we’d been through. I remember the first time I heard the beat for “Heaven.” It immediately spoke to me and the song came together quickly. It reminded me of all that confidence and hope we had in the very beginning of making this record, positive energy jumped off the track. We finished “Heaven” and the album was done.
Then we signed a deal with Wind-up Records. I’m glad we spent the extra time finding the perfect home for our band. Wind-up has all the things we want from the major label system along with that burning independent spirit we based our entire career on. It’s a place where we can do what we do and have an entire staff of people focused on helping us do it better.
And in the end, the hardest year of our lives delivered us every song that was missing from the record and our story. So, thanks for listening to our music and coming to our shows. We are so proud to have made this album for so many reasons. We hope you enjoy it.
We call the album King.