My hero John Cassavetes once said, “I’m a great believer in spontaneity because I think planning is the most destructive thing in the world.” And I follow that wholeheartedly—which isn’t to say you shouldn’t work hard on something. You should work incredibly hard on everything, but when it’s time to lay it down in its indelible state you’ve got to let it roll out there and let it roll fast and if it fails it fails. No over-thinking. No intellectualizing. (And don’t think of it as “art,” think of it as a natural reaction to how you’re living.) I should also say I’m a big proponent of allowing yourself the liberty to fail. Safe things are generally lifeless things, so I’ve taken a lot of risks in the past, but I’ve also done my share of falling on my ass. You pick yourself up, laugh, dust yourself off, and keep moving. Life’s one big messy experiment; you should never be embarrassed by any of it. So, Trailerparks. There were two versions of the record, the first using a lot of drums and electronics and a million instruments doing a million different complicated things. It looked okay on paper but when I demoed the thing it was boring and sounded dead and, above all, it was very careful and self-conscious and thought-out. So I scrapped it. I got rid of everything but the initial idea I wanted to convey: that fear is one of the most debilitating things people deal with and that if you let it rule you you’ll waste every minute of your life and end up a sorry sack of shit on your deathbed with nothing to show for yourself but carefully considered life choices, a “respectable” reputation, and maybe some money. I don’t want any of that, and I hope the album says as much. Records played nonstop for inspiration during the Trailerparks sessions 1. Jana Hunter Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom 2. Ohioan Being of the Good River 3. Castanets First Lights Freeze 4. Jonquil Lions 5. John Fahey Rivers and Religion So I started again, from scratch. I wrote most of the lyrics one night when Thaddeus Christian, who produced the record, arrived with a giant bottle of absinthe, handed it to me, and said, “write a record.” The lyrics are dark, but there’s hope in the end. The plotline curves towards the light midway through, when the characters—who are the same characters from the rest of my songs and from my book Hymn California—find adventures and try to shake off the doom they’ve been living with all spring and winter. Trailerparks follows the course of 12 months, which is one of my favorite themes: a year in the life. Using the “12 months model,” I wanted the record to have the sweep and scope of a novel but not take all damn day telling what it has to tell. I wanted something that never wastes your time and doesn’t hammer home anything or dwell too long on one idea. Trailerparks track-listing 1. “November - You’re Just a Skull on a Body, Baby” 2. “December, January - Ruin and Strange Worship” 3. “February, March, April - It’s Frances, She’s Singing” 4. “May - Let Go and Let’s Go” 5. “June - Who Wants Rest?” 6. “July - My Flesh is Clean!” 7. “August - Miracle Whip” 8. “September - Shit’s Just Busted” 9. “October - This is our Last Halloween” 10. “November - On Mt. Soledad I’ll Ditch My Blues” I wrote the basic parts of the songs for banjo, five-string drone-guitar, six-string acoustic guitar, kalimba, piano, noise, and, most of all, for my four-string guitar I named “Holy Shit.” Then I sketched out the ideas for the drums, bass guitar, and lead guitars—which I wanted Thad to play—but set nothing in stone. When it came time to record I knew the only way to do it was in one long take, recorded live in the studio, and not using the chord charts and tablature I’d written down. Instead, we uncorked the absinthe and a bottle of tequila while it poured rain outside, toasted the session, turned on the mics, and I sat down and, besides the second track, played the whole record straight through. The basic ideas were there but I let improvisation take over and stretched everything out, slowed it down, sped parts up, turned songs into fragments then turned fragments into whole songs. Originally I’d written a good chunk of it for the banjo but ended up playing a lot of those parts on Holy Shit, because it was sounding so right-on at the moment. With the basic structure laid down, we went back—now deep into the absinthe—and set out to record a layer of noise. The result was subtle and that was just how I wanted it. Breathing drones, field recordings from the woods surrounding the Columbia River, wisps of reverb that rise up then dissipate, deep-buried bits of vocals you can only hear in the quiet parts where the instruments drop away, and a lot of short, rustling, microcondensed bits of free-noise and percussion. After the bombastic stupidity of the first version I wanted something with space between the notes, silence in the midst of songs, a minimal record. My last album on Try Harder was a party record made with five of my best friends. It was a record full of “everything,” in the way that Dr. Walker Percy said “American novels are about everything.” Besides Trailerparks’ second track, which is a full-on marching band number with two drummers and the eighth song which is also full band, Trailerparks is very sparse. Structurally, what I wanted it to feel like is the progression of imagery you have during dreaming when you move through different dream landscapes where the scenes change but sometimes you don’t notice them changing; strange new things emerge out of the fog and then you’re indoors and then you’re laying in a bed of flowers while the grass writhes beneath you. I wanted it barely-there but I wanted it sensual. To really write what it feels like to be alive you have to be a sensualist. You have to enjoy your senses—but not in a decadent way. Everything must be real and human if you want it to feel real. So as a record and as a reaction to how I was feeling and what I wanted to say, I think Trailerparks does what it needs to do. Whether it’s a good record or not isn’t for me to say. But, anyway, that’s not the point. The point is in making something as honestly and as spontaneously as you possibly can. If people like it or not, I’m not too concerned; but if they feel something, something beyond the work and school and money rut—the rut we’re forced into when we’re born then plucked up out of when we die—I’ll be happy. –Adam Gnade, September 28, 2008 The Trailerparks album will be out on Try Harder Records in late 2008. Adam’s debut novel, Hymn California, will be released September 30th. You can hear his songs at www.myspace.com/gnade or www.adamgnade.com