Avoid One Thing’s Joe Gittleman Breaks Down “Right Here Where You Left Me” Track By Track

It’s Friday the 13th, which means that it’s the official release date for the brand new Avoid One Thing album! The album is called Right Here Where You Left Me, and marks the group’s first full-length since 2004’s Chopstick Bridge, and finds the core trio of Joe Gittleman, Amy Griffin and John Lynch joined by a crew of guests that includes original Avoid One Thing guitarist Paul Delano (Mung, Darkbuster), Tim Brennan (Dropkick Murphys), Dave Minehan (The Replacements, The Neighborhoods) and the one-and-only Ted Hutt.

You can pick up a copy of Right Here Where You Left Me wherever you buy music – like here – and you can also head below to catch a track-by-track rundown of the album from the one-and-only Gittleman himself!

Right Here Where You Left Me

At its core I suppose this one is pretty much what you’d think. Being left behind by someone who has better things to do than take part in the nothingness we sometimes fall into. A few people I’ve known play a role in the scene I imagined when writing this. Jamie and Elizabeth were classmates of mine who probably would have been friends if I wasn’t such an asshole. We skipped school a lot in favor of hanging out in “the Pit” in Harvard Square and eating cheap Mug n Muffin breakfasts. A previous version of this one was recorded during the Chopstick Bridge sessions. The song wasn’t finished at that time and It’s evolved a lot since. I really like the guitar stuff on this. I remember hearing Amy’s lead in the second verse and being shocked she wanted to solo over the second verse! I love it though. That interplay between guitar and voices is one of the things I dig most about how Kolderie put the record together. This also got a healthy dose of David Minehan rhythm and Paul Delano guitar as well, so it kind of volunteered itself as the obvious album opener.

Crashing Kites

This is about a blurry weekend spent drinking and flying kites on the beach in front of Day’s Cottages in Truro, MA.

Disassembly Line

This one is about being stuck without the skills, strength, or faith needed to improve your circumstances but blindly plugging away regardless. I love that John Lynch background vocal on the second verse. He had a third answer line in there we took out. A few people have said this sounds like The Replacements, but I always imagined Evan Dando singing it. I wasn’t at all sure I’d be the one to record these songs. Or that they’d ever be recorded at all. I think that brought some freedom to the writing.

All the Same to Me

Back when The Bouncing Souls were recording “Lean on Sheena,” there was some talk of writing additional lyrics. Greg or maybe producer Ted Hutt asked me to contribute some new ideas. The middle part of “All the Same to Me” was written as part of this assignment. Ultimately, we settled on a smaller alteration to the existing Sheena lyrics, but I held on to these words and kept trying to figure out what shape the tune should take. So yeah, in my mind this one is very much a part of the same Sheena story. I should add, I don’t think this new Avoid record would have been made if not for The Bouncing Souls. I got a big boost from seeing them play “Lean On Sheena” over the years. The inevitable, “wow, people really like that song!” feeling inspired me to pick back up and start writing again on many occasions.

Enemy

Amy reminded me recently that this one was written on an Avoid One Thing tour the day after we and our tour mates tried to extend last call by unplugging the clock at the end of the bar. I didn’t drink anymore by this time but still took great pleasure in encouraging those who did. An early demo of this was recorded somewhere around 2003 on an old Roland zip disk 8 track in the basement of 123 Jersey St. in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood where Avoid (and a bunch of other bands including the BossToneS) practiced. Dave Tree and some other Boston band guys worked at the t-shirt shop upstairs and hung out after hours. The song changed remarkably little from the initial demo.

Fresh Pond Parkway

For a time, I lived in Central Mass and I’d drive into town on Route 2 which put me on Fresh Pond Parkway a lot. This song is about being lonely. I remember asking Paul Kolderie and Amy if setting the story somewhere along Fresh Pond Parkway made the characters less interesting. Paul said, “You mean because Fresh Pond is like too Buckingham Brown & Nichols or something?” I found this really funny which made me want to keep it as is. I hear Amy’s guitar as another vocal on this. I mean, she also sings the song but I’d really love to learn how to play that flowing and circular guitar theme. The “how did I wash up here without you…” vocal at the end was among the last things we recorded on the record. It was a while after we tracked the tune and Kolderie was busy getting mixes in shape. The lyrics that were there felt more like a placeholder and we were running out of time. Amy helped find the elusive sentiment by patiently fielding my many late-night lyrical inquiries and chiming in with her own ideas.

Solitary Man 

These lyrics were written by my friend Greg Carr. Greg was Ben Carr (from the BossToneS) older brother and a hero to us both growing up. He was also probably the funniest guy I ever met. And, he always looked out for us. When I was a Freshman at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Seniors had a tradition of attacking first-year students on their way home and ripping their clothes off. It was a pretty barbaric and terrifying custom that Greg made sure I didn’t have to endure by walking me home some that first week. Greg also was our gateway into punk rock and even taught me and Ben how to be roadies. The “Solitary Man” lyrics were shared online by Ben and Greg’s sister Rebecca shortly after his sudden passing. Rebecca referred to the words as “Greg’s poetry” but I believed at the time they were intended to be lyrics because of the repeating chorus lines. They appear in the song exactly as Greg wrote them. Greg has some beautiful and amazing kids, the youngest of which I hear are busy exploring his record collection these days.

A Million Maids & Janitors 

Loneliness, isolation, bad decisions and regrets down at the Motel Sunrise Inn.

Shutting Down the Radar

This one is about losing friends and trying to find a way back from anxiety and panic disorder.

Better Left Alone

Sobering up. Making amends. A reconnection between friends who no longer really know each other but still care and remember.

Where We End Our Days

This is about Angie.


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