MAGNET Classics: The Making Of The New Pornographers’ “Mass Romantic”

The making of the New Pornographers’ Mass Romantic

By Steve Klinge

Mass Romantic snuck out into an unsuspecting world during the fall of 2000. And the world yawned.

Here was a debut released on a small Canadian label called Mint Records, from a gang out of Vancouver, B.C., who called themselves the New Pornographers. Early press releases positioned them as a “supergroup,” boasting members of the Evaporators, Zumpano, Superconductor, Limblifter and Destroyer, plus a nascent American alt-country singer and a filmmaker.

The guy from Zumpano and Superconductor was Carl Newman, the mastermind of the project. The guy from Destroyer was, of course, the guy who is Destroyer, Dan Bejar; at that point he’d released only two little-heard albums, but now he’s a prolific (and enigmatic) institution. The alt-country singer? Neko Case, who earlier that year put out Furnace Room Lullaby, her second LP, and who had begun to get a bit of press acclaim; Newman had been part of the Boyfriends, her loosely cast backing band.

The supergroup tag was a bit of a ruse: Most bands, unless they’re very young, are made of folks who’ve been in other groups, if only local projects, and Case (who herself had been in a passel of Vancouver punk bands, including Cub and Maow) was a draw mainly for alt-country aficionados. But it was a prophetic hook. The New Pornographers turned out to be a supergroup in reverse: Mass Romantic eventually catapulted the band to fame—at least in indie-rock terms—and Bejar and Case built careers that equaled if not surpassed the Pornographers’ popularity without ever leaving the fold.

Mass Romantic started it all, with indelible, joyous tracks such as “Letter From An Occupant,” “Mystery Hours” and “To Wild Homes.” It established the template for the New Pornographers’ giddy, maximalist approach, one that would serve them well over the course of five subsequent albums (with a sixth on the way).

“I’m still struck by the last 16 years,” says Newman, from his home in upstate New York. “It all seems so strange to me, everything that happened. It’s hard to believe, to realize it worked.”

Mass Romantic is a story of delayed gratification. Everything happened slowly, which now seems ironic. The crux of the album is immediate, ecstatic pop pleasure. It’s a kitchen-sink record with glam-rock crunch, cathartic gang vocals, power-pop hooks and stop-start, twist-and-turn song structures.

Not long after the album was released, Newman described the process: “I thought it would be interesting to take all these people and just to put them together and see what would happen. Then after that, it was just very laborious. We just hacked away at it, trying to arrange it; we put a lot of effort into it, basically. It didn’t just explode out of nowhere; it was very sculpted. But we wanted it to sound like it exploded out of nowhere.”

The band started as an idea born, as many good ones are, in a bar. It gestated for a couple of years. They recorded a few songs on their own. Nobody wanted to release them. After they did finally get a green light to finish the album, no one paid attention. At first.

Newman was already a Vancouver rock veteran by the mid-’90s. Both the grungy Superconductor and the ’60s-pop-leaning Zumpano had two well-received but little-heard albums to their names.

“It’s so hard to get anywhere,” says Newman. “I was playing music 10 years—some of it was just in dumb local bands—but never making any money at it, just thinking of it as a hobby. Zumpano was the first band when I was thinking, ‘Hey, we’re signed to Sub Pop, maybe we can actually do something here.’ And that didn’t go anywhere. I came out the other side a little more cynical but also a lot more DIY. I thought, it doesn’t matter who puts out our record; if it’s good, it’s good. Even though I was cynical about some things, I’d also become a purist: I thought, if our record’s good, it’ll find an audience. And the weird thing was, I was right.”

Sometime in 1997, Newman decided to gather friends to work together and see what would happen. “It was all very conceptual at the beginning. I remember having drinks with a few friends, and I’m sure Blaine (Thurier) was there, and Dan Bejar was there, just talking: ‘We’ll be the New Pornographers, and this is what we’ll be,’” he says. (Thurier remembers it differently, that Newman asked him during a break in a pickup basketball game.)

The band name came from a Japanese movie from the ’60s, The Pornographers, combined with a reference to ’60s bands like the New Seekers and the New Christy Minstrels. Bejar, one of Newman’s oldest Vancouver friends, also had a song on the first Destroyer album called “The Pornographers.” Later, Newman would learn about a book by conservative evangelist Jimmy Swaggart that lambasted pop music called Music: The New Pornography, which would affirm his choice of group moniker. But although the album cover is a bit sexual, the only thing obscene about these Pornographers is how catchy the songs are.

“It was really very casual,” says bassist and producer John Collins about the origins of the band. “We were kind of a gang anyway. We saw each other at the same bars, the same shows, at my studio. It was a little scene.”

Collins had worked with Newman on Zumpano records and had been working with Bejar on Destroyer’s City Of Daughters, which came out in 1998. He co-owned a recording studio that had a couple of eight-track tape recorders he could loop together. “In a weird way, we were all sensing that our 30s were coming up,” he says. “We had all been in bands and were feeling sort of mature but also not really sure if we were all on the upswing or on the downtake or what.”

Recognizing Case’s “world-class voice,” Newman drafted her: “At that point, I don’t think anybody knew that she was such a massive talent, but people who heard thought, ‘Wow, she can really sing.’ So I thought, ‘Hey, why don’t you be in the band, too?’”

Case’s popularity was growing in the late ’90s, but she had yet to reach the broad acclaim that 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings The Flood would bring.

“I’ve always told people that we all thought Neko Case was so popular at the time,” says Newman. “But looking back, she wasn’t that popular. I mean, she was touring around America and getting two or three hundred people at her shows, tops. I remember touring with her and her band and thinking, ‘Wow, this is insane how popular she is!’ It just seemed that way to us, playing to hardly any people or just to our friends, that having 50 people seemed like a triumph.”

Newman asked Thurier to join, even though the indie filmmaker, who was working in a Vancouver library, wasn’t a veteran musician. He had taken childhood piano lessons but basically taught himself to play keyboards once Newman recruited him. Collins suggested drummer Fisher Rose, in whose practice space they hashed out the songs.

Newman had a clear concept for the band. “He wanted to make a record that you could put on at a party and people could dance to but also make a record that you could put on headphones and listen to intently,” says Thurier.

“The one thing that was happening around then or before us, and the only contemporary thing that we were trying to align ourselves with, was the Elephant 6 stuff like Neutral Milk Hotel, or maybe the shaggier bands like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci,” says Collins. He also credits Newman, who had spent time as a record-store clerk, with turning him on to some notable older stuff: “I was into Eno the whole time, but I didn’t realize that glam rock was cool. I thought that T.Rex was cool, but I never knew that probably the best band that ever lived was Roxy Music when they were in their prime. That became something that we all really dug: wilder, brainier but still mental. There was lots of other stuff. Carl enjoyed the Flaming Lips quite a bit. Dan—it’s hard to know where Dan was ever coming from,” he says, laughing.

“I’m sure it was some sort of late-’70s proto-punk thing,” says Newman about the initial concept for the band’s sound. “Shocking Blue, I’m sure that was a reference point that was thrown around. The Vapors—I remember hanging out with Neko and listening to the Vapors. Maybe early Stranglers. I remember being at a party somewhere and someone played ‘Son Of My Father’ by Giorgio Moroder, and that turned my head immediately. I thought, ‘We should be something like this.’ And when I listen to something like ‘Centre For Holy Wars,’ I think, yeah, that was us doing our version of ‘Son Of My Father.’” He’s also cited Queen and ELO and one-hit wonders like First Class, whose Beach Boys ripoff “Beach Baby” he loved.

“Carl initially described the project as a new-wave rave-up,” says Thurier. “The first thing I heard as far as a description of what we were going to be.” He remembers Blondie and the Cars as reference points.

Although many reviews tagged Mass Romantic as power pop, that genre wasn’t in Newman’s mind. “I never thought of us as a power-pop band,” he says. “I think there’s elements of power pop in ‘Slow Descent Into Alcoholism.’ Yes, we’re guilty: That’s a power-pop song. But there are other songs that I don’t think sound like power pop at all. I don’t think ‘Fake Headlines’ or ‘Breakin’ The Law’ sound like power pop. I always thought we were definitely an indie-rock band. We were trying to do pop, but pop music that’s a little off. It seemed to me at the time that there were bands that were fun party bands, but they were lightweight. They didn’t have very good songs; they were just a party band. Then there were the bands who were the respected, good bands, and they seemed like not much fun at all. I thought, ‘Why don’t we try to merge these things? Why don’t we try to be a fun party band but also sophisticated musically?’ Something you could play at a party, but you could also sit and listen to, with headphones.”

For a while, the band was just a quixotic notion: Newman remembers friends teasing him about not actually doing anything with it. In 1998, the group started practicing together once or twice a week, with the idea that it was a fun side project rather than a long-term commitment. Everyone still had their other bands and their day jobs. On the other hand, they were intentional about what they were doing.

“In a way, we were getting a bit older and we were a bit more premeditated in terms of style, but not too much in terms of image,” says Collins. “There was no pressure whatsoever on us at first. The band didn’t really plan to play many gigs; we were just going to make cool recordings. I wanted them to be not psychedelic but really rich with stuff that grabbed you. We had some practices, but a lot of it was, ‘Let’s just see how far we can overdub stuff before we run out of space.’”

Newman reveled in the luxury of being able to raid Bejar’s catalog. “Dan had tons of demos; it was insane,” he says. “I remember going through the tapes—there must have been an hour and a half of them—and just picking ones I liked. ‘To Wild Homes,’ I like that one! ‘Breakin’ The Law’ I liked on his first Destroyer record. ‘Jackie’ I saw him playing live acoustically. It was a nice feeling watching somebody play and saying, ‘I want that song; that song will be mine!’”

That same batch of Destroyer demos also yielded “Execution Day” as well as “Ballad Of A Comeback Kid,” which would appear on the second Pornographers album, 2003’s Electric Version. For later records, Bejar usually chose songs to bring the band. Mass Romantic contained four Bejar tracks; all subsequent albums would have three.

One of the joys of the New Pornographers is the meshing and contrasting of Bejar and Newman’s tunes. Newman provided the main vision of the band and, with Collins, created the dense sonic arrangements, but it was a gang effort, sharing ideas, especially on the first LP.

Newman remembers turning Bejar’s demos into Pornographers songs. “Because the songs were sort of tossed off in their way, it meant we could rewrite them slightly,” he says. “We could take them and say, ‘How about you sing ‘visualize success’ a few times? That would be cool and bombastic, then we could go back into the song again.’” Come to think of it, “visualize success,” from “Jackie,” seems prophetic, too.

“Carl and Dan’s songs are different,” said Case after the first album came out. “Dan’s songs, structurally, are really odd. I think they really hook you that way. Lyrically, they’re very bizarre, but they’re also very tender, which I like a lot. Carl’s songs are pretty straight-ahead, but they’re very, very catchy.”

After the more baroque tendencies of Zumpano, whose 1996 album Goin’ Through Changes got compared to the Zombies’ Odessey And Oracle, Newman wanted to simplify the Pornographers’ material. The band is built on the tension between immediacy and complexity. They wanted to pile ideas into songs but make them undeniably catchy.

“I thought I was dumbing it down,” says Newman, who says he has little recollection of actually writing the songs for the first album. “‘Letter From An Occupant’ at the heart of it, is a very simple song. It’s got maybe four or five parts, but they’re all based around the same chords. To me, I thought, ‘That’s so boneheaded.’ But I also embraced that. I thought, ‘That’s an interesting thing to try,’ something that I thought was simplistic. But I realized later nobody else thought it was simplistic.”

One of the magical qualities of Mass Romantic is that the overt glam-rock riffs and throwback gang vocals never seem ironic or contrived. Maybe Newman felt he was dumbing things down, but the band sounds like it’s reveling in the simple joys of a good hook. The group stays on the right side of the line between what Newman has referred to as “good over the top” and “bad over the top.”

“They would probably be considered relatively tasteless if you didn’t care about them,” said Case in 2003. “It would be easy to try to duplicate something like that, but I think it would probably come off as really cheesy and shitty if you didn’t actually care about that. But we do actually care about it, so I think it comes out sounding good. That’s never something I would say about one of my own songs, but I have the freedom of stepping outside of it and being able to enjoy it if I listen.”

There’s also a self-aware, meta-cognitive quality to the Pornographers’ tracks; they’re “mental” as in crazy but also as in brainy. “Occupant,” after all, is, in part, a song about a song being on the radio, and there are a number of self-referential moments throughout Mass Romantic.

“Maybe I read too much about Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis in college,” says Newman. “The whole idea that the medium you are working in alters your message. There was this ‘meta’ sense of this is a pop song about being a pop song a lot of the time, although not always. Dan always dabbled in that sort of stuff, and I thought it was funny. His songs would, maybe in vaguely Bowie-esque way, hint at some sort of musical revolution. I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll go down that musical route, too.’ For ‘Mystery Hours,’ I thought I would give the lyrics what I thought was more of a Bejar tilt and I would sing about this fake revolution.”

A lot of ideas came from other sources, but they were either transformed by the band or so deeply embedded in the songs that they slipped past unnoticed. That’s one of the Pornographers’ secrets, one that the band continues to employ. “At the end of ‘To Wild Homes,’ I put in this countermelody over top of Dan and Neko singing,” says Newman. “It’s almost the exact melody from ‘I Know I’m Not Wrong’ from Fleetwood Mac. I thought that was so obvious. And no one ever noticed it. I always had to explain it to people. That’s when I realized, there’s a world of ripping off that I haven’t explored.”

Collins calls the process “pilfering”: “From the beginning we were trying to make it seem like a real hash. It’s not a garage band, it’s not a ’60s band, it’s not a this-or-that band. It’s how many cool ideas can we pilfer from other things and simultaneously have them all going on. We wanted to make it sound like a little bit of a lot of stuff.”

Sometimes, the process of trying to re-create something from another song resulted in something original. Thurier says his lack of keyboard skills led him to come up with the opening riff to “Mass Romantic.” “We were trying to jam on that song, and Carl said, ‘Play such and such a riff from this other song,’” he says. “I couldn’t do it. But I came up with that riff, and Carl said, ‘Yes, that’s it!’”

“The template was basically, work until you can’t stand it anymore, then give up,” says Collins. “Try everything that occurs to you and don’t be afraid to throw everything out. That’s our strategy.”

Newman knew from the start that Case’s voice could make the songs something special. “When I was touring in her band with her, I was struck that she’s not just a good singer, she’s a really fucking great singer,” he said, when the album first came out. “So I was very lucky that I had that voice to work with. It’s amazing just to write a song and go, ‘You can have Neko Case sing it.’ It’s just a real secret weapon. The songs probably didn’t have to be any good and people would have liked them I’m sure just because Neko was singing them.”

Their first gig was at Good Jacket, a clothing store in Vancouver, but mostly they just practiced and worked on songs. Eventually, they recorded four tracks in Collins’ studio: Newman’s “Letter From An Occupant” and “Mystery Hours” and Bejar’s “Breakin’ The Law” and “To Wild Homes.” They were all recorded to analog tape, and Collins remembers spending seven days mixing “Letter From An Occupant” alone, partly because of the laborious process of linking tape machines and constant rewinding. They were hoping those four songs would be a calling card to get a label to sign them so that they could finish an LP.

But that wasn’t easy. They tried Vancouver’s Mint Records, which had put out records by Collins’ Evaporators, Case’s early bands Cub and Maow and her first two albums, but Collins says, “They were encouraging but not interested.” In the interim, they continued recording, now with Kurt Dahle on drums instead of Rose (who opted out so he could focus on his four other bands). Newman worked on a Zumpano album that was never finished. Bejar and Case worked on their own LPs. Collins, who was playing in the Evaporators, too, was frustrated with the lack of interest in the Pornographers’ recordings.

“I thought they were pretty sensational, all four of them,” he says. “When I would listen to CITR (the University of British Columbia radio station) like I’d always done, I thought that these songs would be the best things on the radio. People would really like them. This would be like ’98. But every time I played them for a label person, three or four labels, no one was interested. I think they thought we were weird.”

Newman sent the four songs—on a cassette—to Nils Bernstein, who’d been Zumpano’s publicist at Sub Pop and moved on to Matador. Although Bernstein and others loved the songs, the cassette got submerged in the flood of music. “Lots of other people at the office were fans of that cassette, but, again, the stereo systems were kind of spread out, and there was plenty to listen to—not to mention to sign—that wasn’t a cassette of four demos from the Zumpano guy,” says Bernstein.

Finally, the owner of Good Jacket decided to put out a charity compilation of all the bands that had played his clothing store in the previous few years. It was called Vancouver Special, after a common type of house in the city. Mint released it in early 2000, and it included “Letter From An Occupant.” At last, things started happening: Canadian radio began playing “Letter From An Occupant,” and that led Mint to finally sign the band. And the Pornographers finished the dozen songs that make up the album.

The day Collins delivered the mastered LP to Mint, he walked out of the office and ran into Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen at the crosswalk. Collins says he had “revered” him since childhood and was starstruck. “I didn’t think about it until probably 10 years later that it was a harbinger of good things,” he says. “It was not too long after that that people were comparing us to Cheap Trick. It was good mojo. It was weird: It was like he was summoned by the delivery of the record that took three years to make.”

Still, when the record came out, expectations were low. Collins says he thought that Mint might make 500 copies; Thurier says he thought they’d make 1,000 and then let it go out of print. “I hoped we could at least do one tour,” he says. “I really wanted to tour North America.”

None of them thought the band would become their main project. They had only played eight or so live gigs before the album came out, and because Case’s career was beginning to take off, they weren’t sure they would ever tour. And, a month after the album came out, Bejar announced he was moving to Spain.

Newman was crestfallen. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, of course. Give me a fucking break. Of course you’re moving to Spain,’” he says. “It wasn’t like he was leaving the band; it was like, ‘This is what I want to do with my life. I want to move to Spain right now.’ I feel like a few months after the record came out, the story was that Dan left the band because he thought the popularity was getting out of control, like New Pornographers mania is getting out of control and he wanted to jump off that hamster wheel. Which is absurd because he essentially told us when the record was virtually unknown. But the legend was the classic indie-rock punk thing: ‘I don’t want to be popular.’” The Wikipedia entry for Destroyer’s Thief, which came out a month before Mass Romantic, speculates that the album is an anti-music-industry rant in reaction to the Pornographers’ lack of success.

Bejar had played guitar and keyboards at some of the early Pornographers gigs, but he wasn’t in the country for the band’s first tour in early 2001 of 10 dates, four in Canada, six in the U.S. The band brought another pal from Vancouver, multi-instrumentalist Todd Fancey, into the fold, not so much as a replacement but to help re-create the album’s dense arrangements.

Mass Romantic was well-received in Canada when it came out at the end of 2000, but it took some time to get noticed in the U.S. Mint hired Neko Case’s American publicist, Amy Lombardi, to work the record in the States.

“I think it was in the fall of 2000 that Neko gave me a CD-R of the master and said something like, ‘Oh, here’s a record I made with my friends awhile back. You should do the publicity for it.’ I listened and loved it immediately,” says Lombardi. “I remember thinking it was so different than I’d expected from her, style-wise and comfort level. I was excited to learn there were other layers to what she was willing to do.”

Newman was surprised when people began to notice the album: “The first few months we got some Canadian attention, which I thought was super cool. Then we got on the New York Times 10 Best Records You Didn’t Hear This Year list. That was the first one that really blew my mind, because that was our first piece of national U.S. press. That was the first time I realized we’re on the radar. Then we got to number 60-something on the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll. I remember thinking, ‘Holy shit, we’re on the Pazz & Jop poll!’”

Case’s name helped get the band noticed, but no one wanted to make the story about her. Newman was and is the face of the band, and Case generally avoided doing separate interviews. And still does: MAGNET tried to corral her and Bejar to talk about Mass Romantic but without luck. (“Welcome to my world,” says Newman when told that they were hard to track down.)

Newman remembers several record stores, including Aquarius Records in San Francisco and Other Music in New York, as being key to getting the LP heard. College radio was supportive, too. When the band toured the U.S. in early 2001, they were shocked.

“When we played Brownies in New York City with a capacity of about 150 people, we pulled up and there were two fans waiting for us. That was amazing,” says Thurier. “The show was completely sold out, I got to meet Nils Bernstein from Matador, and I thought, ‘We’re really hobnobbing now!’”

“We were happening in the States, which was ultra-rare for a band from our Canadian milieu to have any sort of notoriety in the States. It’s funny; it seemed almost like against all odds we were perceived as being an American band,” says Collins. “When we sold out at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, that was kind of a mind blower. People were throwing panties at us—I mean at Neko; maybe that was the moment when all our jaws dropped, when panties were flying at Neko.”

“From my end, I could feel the momentum,” says Lombardi. “I’d gone from pitching to having requests pour in. SXSW 2001 was important. People had started to hear about the Pornographers, they were definitely a band to watch. Carl did a lot of interviews that week. The New Pornographers show at La Zona Rosa was one of the shows everyone was trying to get into. Ray Davies joined them onstage for ‘Starstruck.’ It felt like everything was coming together in a big way. We were all really excited.”

Lombardi remembers the band listening to an advance of Daniel Johnston’s album Rejected Unknown non-stop in the tour bus. Thurier, who had never been to the U.S., remembers the revelry. “We had a fantastic time,” he says. “We were young enough to party every night and be hungover every day. It was just a lot of fun. That really hasn’t changed over the years, although the drinking is more like a drink and a half a night rather than a case of beer. I dare say we love each other.”

Mass Romantic has sold more than 113,000 units in North America. In 2001, it won the Canadian Juno Award for best alternative album, and it made the upper ranks of many American end-of-year lists, including MAGNET’s.

The record established a modus operandi that the band still uses. They’re on their third drummer and, when they tired of needing to work around Case’s schedule to tour, they added vocalist Kathryn Calder, Newman’s niece, but the rest of the band remains. Logistics are more difficult, with Newman and Collins on opposite coasts and other band members scattered across the continent. And trying to schedule Case, and to a lesser extent Bejar, is a challenge. Everyone else is involved in other projects, but ever since Mass Romantic, the New Pornographers has been the primary one, not the side.

And the band has the same goals: to combine the catchy and the weird, the straightforward and the eccentric, the simple and the bombastic, the “cheesy” and the “meta.”

“I realized I have a style,” says Newman. “I can’t really place it exactly, but there’s a kind of song that I write. At some point, I just give into it and say, ‘I’m going to write what I’m going to write.’ There’s different things you can do with arrangements and all that, with vocals and tempo and electronics. But there’s still that template. Our newest songs we can play next to Mass Romantic and say, ‘That’s the same band.’”

The band has become an indie-rock mainstay, much to Newman’s surprise: “One of my most enduring memories of the beginning—it was probably around 1998—was of when we practicing with our first drummer, Fisher Rose, at his space, and we had a smoke break, even though I didn’t smoke, and we were hanging out and listening to the early Belle & Sebastian stuff and listening to Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. I remember just feeling so defeated, like we’re so shitty next to this music. And then going back in to hack away our songs.

“I think back on that moment because it feels like a sort of validation as the years passed, like, ‘Wow, we actually did it.’ So when in 2006 we found ourselves touring with Belle & Sebastian, I thought, ‘Oh, this seems so conceptually perfect, because when we started, they were like the guiding light, like, let’s try to be as good as them, let’s try to be as good as Belle & Sebastian in 1998.’ They’re literally peers because they’re friends of ours now. They’re way more popular than we are, but still we’re friends.

“That’s the part that I’ve always loved about our career. I never wanted to be a massive rock star. I looked at my favorite indie-rock bands as a measure of success. When years would pass and all of a sudden, I realized Belle & Sebastian and Yo La Tengo and Stephen Malkmus, these people are our peers now—that seemed crazy. I thought, ‘Where else are we going to go now?’ I’ve gotten to where I want to be, so now what? Of course, it turns out, there was more to do.”

And, of course, the band members look back on Mass Romantic fondly. “A couple weeks ago, I listened to a bunch of our tunes, and I didn’t know what to make of it all,” says Collins. “I haven’t listened to Mass Romantic front to back since it came out, probably. My impression was how excited we all sounded. Sometimes I’ve listened to it, I thought it was a pretty shitty recording. At other times, I’ve thought, ‘This is brilliant.’ The last time I listened, I thought it was brilliant.”

Newman credits Mass Romantic for changing his life. “The cover, which is this weird thrift-store thing that I bought in the ’90s, is hanging on the wall in our house. I look at that, and that album is what catapulted me into my life in so many ways. That album got us signed to Matador, and at Matador, I met my wife, who was the marketing manager there, and now we have our son. It’s like everything in my life that I value, including a career in music, it’s all come out of that record. I knew I had to continue afterward: I knew I couldn’t just put out that record and sit back. But it was the foot in the door to the life that I have now. I’ll always love that record for that reason. Even if I listen to it and hear things I don’t like about the production or about the way I sang it—the way people can pick apart their record. I shouldn’t pick on that record because I owe it so much.”