Track-by-Track: Rayland Baxter - Imaginary Man
Rayland Baxter has recorded a track-by-track interview for his album "Imaginay Man" which will be released on August 14th 2015 by ATO Records in the US and by PIAS in Europe. This is what Rayland says about his new songs...
Track 1: Mr. Rodriguez Originally titled "Me and Mr. Rodriguez". Three years ago I went to Detroit, Michigan to spend four days off in between tours. At the time I just discovered Rodriguez (sings "Sugermaaan, Sugar - you know?"). Walking around Detroit seeing the destruction and the empty buildings it was cold and frozen and pretty ugly but at the same time really beautiful. Just like the big beautiful structure of the Titanic sinks to the bottom of the ocean and then you get all these coral reefs and beautiful fish growing and making a home out of it so that's what's happening in Detroit. You know there is a new scene happening there, there's cheap real estate, a cool coffee shop pops up on the corner of your block next to a cool record store that's been there for ages and then a little burger joint and some underground skate parks I was hearing about while I was up there. When I got back home I started writing and really the song makes no sense to me. Before we recorded it, it was one verse about me and Mr. Rodriguez walking around Detroit and then two verses about a couple but when it's tied together with "you are the only one" - you know, to me it now makes sense but it was two different songs mashed into one. Once again, I say this always you can make it up, it is what you want it to be. Track 2: Oh my Captain Seven years ago I lived in Israel for six months and that's when I started writing songs. I was living with my Dad's best friend Andre and his whole family. Andre is a super huge Singer-Songwriter fan of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen, Townes van Zandt, Steve Earle and that's where I discovered Rufus Wainwright. I spent every day, all day and all night watching old documentaries. I come back and I am now a changed person by living in the desert and finding beauty in being in the desert and learning the craft of songwriting and I am still continuing to learn that. "Oh my Captain" is kind of my letter asking for forgiveness or apology letter to whatever you want to call it - our creator who is responsible for our existence on the planet and the existence of this planet and it is kind of like we are all doing a little bit of abusive power, we are given this gift of life but at the same time we are being rude, you can call it being sinners, not necessarily sinning just an abusive power pretty much and so oh my captain is What's going on, man? Give me a sign, tell me something. We're sorry!" Track 3: Mother Mother Probably the shortest songs on the record. It's got the chorus "Ladidadidadida, Ladidadidadida" (sings) but the line before the second chorus is "where do we go when we die, maybe heaven, maybe hell, maybe even somewhere else" and then "nothing matters in the end", "Ladidadidadida" (sings). The juxtaposition of lyrics and happy melody to the question that I'm asking - that's where the power comes from in this song, I think. That's pretty much it, it's a simple song. Track 4: Yellow Eyes The first line of this song is "There's a paper clip resting on my countertop". I was in a relationship for a couple of years and when it ended you have a breakup conversation at the kitchen table "I love you and I wanna be your friend but let's just go separate ways". That happened and the whole time my divorcee, the girl I was breaking up with had a paper clip in her hand she had mended it, she had bended it into this little teepee figure and it sat on the countertop for a couple of weeks and it became a symbol of resilience that this little paper clip was much more resilient than our love for each other and I was not trying to knock it over and wasn't trying to keep it up either but I've been throwing dishes on the counter, rolling an apple over to a friend and then I started to paying attention to it. That thing is still there! And so I sat there and I had a guitar and then just "There's a paper clip resting on my countertop, Sunday morning I forgot what it's like to lose a friend" (sings). Finished it in fifteen minutes and then wrote the bridge when we were recording the song. It needed a bridge. That's it. Track 5: Rugged lovers
It's kind of the quintessential hopeless romantic song. "There is an empty field along the road where all the rugged lovers go to play". There is a character in my mind that exists in this world all the time and this is just a simple way of tapping into that emotion and I think that there is some pretty tangible lines of poetry in here that anyone can grab a hold of but it also gets kind of dreamy with the strings and it gets pretty big in the middle. A little trick about this song is my friend Mikky Ekko who is a great vocalist is doing some vocal tricks along with the string melodies that you can barely hear but now that you know it you can listen for it. I envision this man on a boat in the middle of the ocean, all alone, surrounded by fog, fishing by himself. "Let the feather fall into the hook, cast it out and take look around, the sky is falling down" - you know, these moments when you are so over bearing with the feeling of wanting to love but not being able to or not finding success at it. Track 6: Young Man What this song is about to me and keep in mind in all of these explanations that these are just my explanations of the songs all are left up to their own interpretation so if you want to keep your slate clean and your canvas painted only by you then I suggest you just keep to listen to the album - anyway, "Young Man" is inspired by the purple wizard that lives deep within the venture course of all of our hearts. The part of your soul that keeps you wandering and keep you wandering and gets you packing your car up and driving across country with your dog or keeps you breaking up with your girlfriend, running out to the mountains, living in Mexico for a month and stuff like that. It's like a psychopath in your soul, some people harness it, some people let it go crazy. You'll see when we play this song live that it's a psychopathic song. It gets really quiet and then raging full of screaming guitars and organs just like it is on the record but more crazy. It's like the wandering young man running from everything but loving everything at the same time. Track 7: All in my head The title of the album is "Imaginary Man" - we all know that by now. This was one of the tracks that helped push that title through, to be the final title, I had a list of literally 180 album titles that I've been collecting for the last year. "All in my head" is just that imaginary person, you know and this is the trick about imaginary man - I am not taking credit for being that person, that part of that person, there is the guy you make up this unobtainable lover in your mind and then you always hold everyone up to that. Whether it is with your friendship or with a romantic friendship and this is just one of those songs where I wanted to get across the point where it’s nice to stay in a dream. I don't ever want to wake up, I wanna keep on dreaming, I wanna keep on dreaming - I am totally that guy all the time. And when I have to break down the reality usually I still treating it like this is just a dream. You know, I just had a glass of wine on a rooftop in Berlin and I am working court on quo, you know what I mean? It's the dreamiest sounding song I think on the record and it's exactly that - trying to sing about the unobtainable lover. Track 8: Freaking me out This song is about whatever you want it to be about - keep in mind - but for me, the older we get, sometimes you gain friends and you lose old friends and you might find yourself diving off into a tunnel of thought that may not be so positive and all of a sudden you thinking about things in a whole different way, you are seeing the world through a whole different lens. That thought of losing your mind is terrifying. There you have the chorus. You might stay up all night just doing bad things and paying for that the next day, you might decide to take a left when you should have taken a right, you might decide to associate yourself with certain people that you shouldn't or miss an opportunity but also this song taps into a lot of different things - it's about losing and gaining friends, it's about learning how to love and not necessarily having a bible of love to read from, you know what I mean. My favorite part of this song is the piano at the end. It starts off with a really psychotic intro and it ends with the most peaceful thing. It’s kind of our musical way of saying "It's all good, it’s all good." Track 9: Memories of Old Hickory I grew up in a town outside of Nashville called Old Hickory, TN which is just 15 minutes north of downtown Nashville. I have amazing memories of walking to school there, I have amazing memories of my mother being really busy but really happy raising us, driving off go-karts in the neighborhood, getting chased by dogs and then some other darker memories that we are not tap into but some weird shit went down in that neighborhood. Mikky Ekko once again is singing backing vocals on the chorus here. The song started 'cause I started thinking about my first girlfriend ever, her name was Miranda and we dated in 5th grade for like two weeks, she broke up with me over the phone, she had her best friend call me at my house in 5th grade saying, "Miranda doesn't want to date you anymore." so that's the reference to her in that song. This song almost did not go on the album. At the time I was too deep into it and I didn't think that it fit but when we went to master the album, Jon Baldwin - the guy who mastered the album - was like "You are crazy, man!" so I said "Cool." and now it's a bright light in the album. This song out of all songs matches the color scheme of the album art. Track 10: Your Love Going back to my time in Israel this is a pretty self-explanatory song almost along the same lines of "Mother Mother" - Track 3 - it's like "What are we doing?". There are lots of major decisions that affect our future as human beings but specifically when it comes to the kind of crusades, the religious wars, how hypocritical it seems to me and to a lot of people - I am not the only person who believes this. Living there, seen what's going on, I don't wanna tap too much into politics of it all, just seen some hypocrisy happening and the thousands of years that people have been fighting over who's god is better and I just wished that we could snap our fingers (snaps) and see beyond all of that and see that we are all creatures of love and that's where we feel the most happy, when we are loving, when we are in love, we are giving love, when we are selfless and it seems to be quite the opposite but that seems to be the most important thing that governs all of us, not war - just give everybody a hug once in a while (making a knick-knack sound with his mouth). Track 11: Lady of the desert Lots of musicians have to tour all of the time - not all the time, they have to tour to make a living and especially to get their music out there. If you are going about the way that I have been going it's not a so rare journey that I am on, lots of other songwriters and bands have done the same thing - you tour, you open up for other bands for a couple of years, you continue to open up for other bands and getting in front of their audiences and hopefully surprise people every night. That's how you gain a fan base. Take a little bit of that and take a little bit the desert, me living in Israel for 6 month. I went back and forth, stayed for 2 more weeks, come home for a year, come back for another month and come home for a year so I spent a lot of time out there and also I spent a lot of time out in the Colorado desert, the Utah, the West out there where I used to live as well after college. All these ideas and images and mental snap pictures that I have been taking with my mind over the last ten years, really over the last 31 years. This is the farewell song. Every chorus starts with "Bye, Bye" and it seemed fitting to be the last song. It takes place in the imaginary world once again. It's not like a reference to anything that I have done in my life other than make up movie scenes in my mind while on tour or while travelling and it's the end of the album and it ends with a couple of notes and it drifts off into the dreamy desert.
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The audio recording of the track-by-track interview will be uploaded to Soundcloud (click here) every time ATO Record premieres a new song. Up to now you can hear the commentaries about "Yellow Eyes", "Mr. Rodriguez" and "Young Man".