As you’re probably aware, particularly because we ran a brief story about it a little while ago, the inimitable Jon Snodgrass has a new digital 7-inch out today. As you can see from the fancy, iTunes-approved image above it’s called The Carpet Thief, and it features a couple tracks from the Snodgrass canon that had not, until now, been given proper release. The A-side is a track called “1-2-3-4,” and was written and recorded (at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado) shortly after beloved Teenage Bottlerocket drummer Brandon Carlisle passed away. It’s one of those “right in the feels” songs, for sure.
The B-side is a track called “Perfect Match,” and was originally written four or five years ago in support of Perfect Teeth, a graphic novel project spearheaded by Vinnie Fiorello (Less Than Jake, etc). While Snodgrass wrote the music and mans the “vocal duty” battle station on the track, the instrumentation is handled by Stephen Egerton (Descendents/ALL). We spoke with both Jon and Stephen about the unique story behind how the track came together.
Fiorello initially contacted Snodgrass to commission him for the project. “Vinnie always does different stuff,” says Snodgrass, “and he was doing this comic book, and he asked me to write a song for it.” In the initial back-and-forth, the two discussed the bones of an idea: a love song between two young vampires, not all that unlike a Twilight-style saga. This was good news to Snodgrass, who’d “always had this idea that if I was a young vampire, I’d go waaaay up to where more than half of the year is mostly night time. Then I’d go to the other side…instead of someone who’s bicoastal, I’d be someone that lived on both Poles.” Literally bipolar vampires. Seems like a good starting point for a love song. As Snodgrass says, “it’s not an unrequited love song, but a song about how you wish you could be together with this person all the time.”
From there, things developed quickly. Real quickly. Like…absurdly quickly. I’ll just let Snodgrass tell it, because to paraphrase wouldn’t do the story justice: “I literally hung up the phone and I was thinking about it — and thinking kinda cocky about it — and it was like I was riding the wave, like “let’s see how far I can take this!” … But I hung up the phone, hit “record” on my phone, and…I wish there was a way for me to have proof of it, but I texted it to Vinnie literally seven minutes later. He was like “holy shit, dude! You had this for a while!” and I said “no, dude! No!” I’m not trying to brag or make it sound like it’s a big deal…a lot of people can do that. Just cuz I can sit down and write a song in the time it takes to write a song doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good song. But this song? This song I like.”
You read that correctly. From start to finish, the musical bones of “Perfect Match” were written, recorded, and texted back to Fiorello in less than ten minutes. Egerton confirms that “that’s pretty much Jon’s style. He works really quickly…not always seven minutes quickly…but that’s Jon.” Fiorello and Snodgrass bounced around lyrics ideas, and Snodgrass entered Brandon Carlisle’s studio to record vocals. “That was kind of a fun, serendipitous thing,” says Egerton,”that the vocals to that song got recorded at Brandon’s place, and they’re on there with Jon’s song about Brandon.”
Upon completing the vocal takes, Snodgrass recorded a fuller demo and sent it to Egerton. “I sat down and recorded it into my tape machine, and I tried to play it as good as I could,” said Snodgrass, continuing that he “thought maybe some of (his) guitar would get on there.” As it turns out, Egerton got to work in fairly short order himself, first cutting the drums on his son’s drum kit at his house before moving quickly on to bass and drums. And, in typical Egerton fashion, he nailed the entirety of the instrumentation. “He played everything. I thought he would jut play drums and bass and maybe I’d get some guitar on there, but he just sent this thing back and it was awesome!” Snodgrass jokingly (or perhaps not jokingly) continues that he kidded with Egerton (with whom he’d previously worked on the latter’s Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton project) that they should collaborate that way more often, only with Stephen playing all the lyrics and the two bringing in better singers.
The Carpet Thief is available via all normal digital outlets today (October 7th), or you can get it straight from Drag The River’s site right here. If you’re in Europe and and can’t make it out to one of Snodgrass’s upcoming shows, but you still want to get your hands on a hard copy beginning in the middle of November, you can do so through Hometown Caravan right here. If you’re in the States and want to get your grubby little paws one one, you can send Snodgrass himself a message through his Facebook artist page right here.