This is Rusty. We're done with the interview thing, I think. At least for a while. But I want to talk a little about the album anyway.
Backstory: Debi split early 1999, so I recorded The 5 Remaining Love Songs EP basically for myself, using only piano and mostly doing unreleased Merritt songs.
Diamondhead: Then I took a job in Diamondhead, Mississippi where I got paid to go to the beach and sunbathe in the swimming pool and hang out with high school kids. And I got two of these high school girls to record with me. The first was Mindy Espey and the other was Brittany Schafer. One of the other people with the job I had down there was T.O., who also recorded with me. After doing this, I decided that The Mnemonic Devices wouldn't limit itself to one me and one female. It would be spread, at least for this album and possible future albums. (The original idea post-Debi was to get Lori Burton to be the other member.)
Hattiesburg: Back in town I had these four songs I'd recorded (one of them was done with me on vocals), so I figured it was time for a new TMD album. And I needed some extra vocalists. This was almost turning into the original idea for The Mnemonic Devices: one vocalist per track--but not quite, which is good. Lori Burton was decided first (obviously) and recorded last. Then members of the English department came to mind: Nyleva Corley and Tricia Sherrer (the latter would serve as my famous girl: she's the singer for Smoke Up, Johnny who are much more famous than me).
The Songs: "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain" was recorded in 1998. So was "Pearl Necklace." Those were going to be on a covers-only album, but I decided not to do that. Love, Execution Style said I could do their song as long as I slurred the lyrics. "Finally" was the first new song, and I pulled out the cheese stops. Mindy was great to work with, very excited about the project. "The Machine" I did next, a song which was very much inspired by Love, Execution Style. "Should I Talk Slower?" was done with T. (Brittany on backups) and will be one of my million dollar hits. T. was a pro. After getting comfortable doing backups, Brittany agreed to do a song for herself, and we did "Go With Me" as a duet--very quickly, before her cerfew. Brittany was great and fun and had lots of suggestions for more songs than just hers, and she ended up being on the back cover and being the inspiration for "Sprite-Like" and all sorts of things. Nyleva was fun to work with, too, and seemed to really enjoy herself: particularly being in the closet (that's where I make my vocalists record for sound reasons). Trish was big-time pro and did her song in one take, kind of like stopping in to grab a bite to eat. Lori is usually quick about recording (she did the original version of "Anyway" in one take), but this time we had her little one-year-old Abi to watch and make sure she didn't cry/destroy things/get killed while we went, so we ended up taking a while and doing things in parts. But it was great, and I wish Lori wasn't moving (again) because I'd like to have her as a permanent something. I guess she could drive in when needed.
I used to think that Midi Skirt was thick in comparison to the older albums, but now it seems thin in comparison to this one. I'm getting so thick that I may have to pull back to thin again on the next one.
The Packaging: When I handed in this album to my local record store to sell, the guy working the counter said, "This is you!?" At that point I almost regretted having my picture on the cover because I like the elusiveness of this music that just exists without any very present person who's responsible. But the picture is so whited-out (I chose it partly because of this) that it almost doesn't matter--though you can't mistake my hair, nose shape, and glasses. Also I felt I had to use pictures since I had such an arsenal of babes. London Bridge? For all sorts of reasons.
Themes: I was obsessing about the last day of the world, and that has nothing to do with the year 2000 approaching. I don't know why that was. Also the idea of longing seems more present than even in other albums.
The Future: Neil Smith is the catalyst for the future of Love and Letters Music, or at least the musical projects I might personally undertake. He wants to form a instrumental, Tortoise-like group, first of all. Second he (along with Tommy Burton) are trying to convince me to play live; Tommy suggests that he and Danny be my backup band while Neil (and I'd have to go with this one if I did it at all) suggests I just use pre-sets on my keyboard or even haul in the computer and do it myself that way (with Lori singing, though that might not be possible; female live show vocalists are being pondered, maybe dropped). Will I do it? I don't know. I played live around here to see what it would sound like, and it wasn't too bad. I just hate that it can't be even remotely representational without bringing the computer, and that just seems wrong. The most present thing, though, and the thing that will most likely happen is that Neil wants to produce at least an EP of Rusty Spell songs, which I want to let him do. He's a good producer for his own stuff, and I haven't been anything but self-produced in years, so it would be fun to let someone else do the hard work again. And I need a change. I get bored easy with everything, including myself.
Copyright (c) Sep 1999 by The Mnemonic Devices and Love and Letters Music