We know, we know, we didn’t get you anything for Easter, right? Wrong. Because we’re so kind and generous to you, dear viewers, we’ve tracked down Maps & Atlases’ David Davison, begged him to talk us through his new album and then smiled sweetly until he let us stream it. And here it is, ‘Beware & Be Grateful’.
1. Old And Gray
I had been performing the end of ‘Old And Gray’ for a while and had thought that it alone would make a good introduction to an album, but the rest of the track developed quickly and organically during the recording process. The lyrics reference the poem ‘Alicante’ by French poet Jacques Prévert.
The song includes not only sounds from instruments, but also of breaking light bulbs and other recorded destruction.
The initial inspiration for ‘Fever’ came after receiving a text from a friend who had a cold saying ‘I’ll give you a call after the fever passes’. The text seemed poetic and I wanted to write a song about hope, struggle and empathy.
The initial inspiration to write the song ‘Winter’ came on a freezing cold evening during the Chicago winter. The song contrasts memory and the perspective of winter as a season of possibility and creativity with the bleak, stillness of winter nights in the Midwest. Despite the subject matter, the first round of recording on the song was done at a friend’s house in Los Angeles in sunny weather and it was a great time. We did however finish tracking the song in Omaha, Nebraska appropriately during a blizzard.
4. Remote And Dark Years
‘Remote And Dark Years’ is tied more than any other song on the album to a specific location in Chicago where, as the song says, a bunch of plastic bottles were stuck in a sewer grate and I pushed them through. The song was written quickly and immediately following this initial inspiration.
5. Silver Self
‘Silver Self’ was very fun to record and between the guitar solo, 808 drums and wah pedal it took us out of our comfort zone in a very exciting way. ‘Silver Self’ entered the recording process as a simple beat, collection of lyrics and vocal melody, but through experimentation developed into a song that represents an expansion of our palette as a band.
‘Vampires’ is a song that has been around for a while and much of the recording of guitars and other basic tracks was done a few years ago with Jason Cupp, but those demo tracks took on a new, lively energy during the process of recording ‘Beware and Be Grateful’.
7. Be Three Years Old
‘Be Three Years Old’ is the oldest song on the album and it is exciting to finally release it. During the process of recording, it was cathartic to allow the song to evolve into something new in the midst of the looseness of our improvisation.
Many of the existential questions and themes that permeate the lyrics of ‘Beware and Be Grateful’ are at their most potent in ‘Bugs’. The song is also especially fun to play on guitar.
9. Old Ash
‘Old Ash’ is another older song reinvigorated by the loose improvisation that took place during the recording process. ‘Old Ash’ seemed to set the scene of the album as a hostile environment and was initially intended to open the album, but upon hearing the final mixes it felt more appropriate to have the song as part of the ending of something.
The concept of ‘Important’ came from someone asking me what song I would choose as the last song I would ever here if I was able to choose and why. For some reason the question resonated with me and I often found myself reassessing my song choices and also wondering why the question stuck with me.
Maps & Atlases’ new album ‘Beware & Be Grateful’ will be released on 16th April via Fat Cat Records.