I’m sitting here listening to “Cold Fact” by Rodriguez and thinking about how he never achieved the spotlight or fame some thought he deserved. I don’t think he really cared about the spotlight and worried about chasing it. He was just unique guy and made music that was true to him. He didn’t need to move to Los Angeles or New York to be part of a scene of wanna be musicians. In a way, that kind of mirrors the way I look at being in a band or writing music. I just want to do my own thing and don’t really have an interest in being part of a scene or making friends. I’ve always been kind of a loner and I’m happy with that. I’ve never felt the need to belong. It’s the creative process and escapism in writing music that has always drawn me in.
Yes, I moved to the East End of Long Island because I was overwhelmed by the city, but let’s go back a little further. I moved to the Lower East Side of New York when I was 21 and lived in a ground floor apartment in Suffolk Street. I had a neighbor named Vinny. He was the only real artist I’ve ever met. He was so true to his art and it was all that mattered. He had this boyfriend named Pablo, who was a spanish poet and musician, and the two of them made New York seem like the place you read about. They used to knock on my window at night and invite me up to come smoke pot. Pablo and I would play some songs on guitar and Vinny would be painting and creating hanging mobiles. There was always a flow of interesting people coming up to say hello and share ideas. It felt like I had found a place where I could be myself and create. This is why I moved to New York; to find inspiration, to be myself, and to learn. I never went to college, so New York gave me an education, and I loved it. A few years after that it seemed that New York had changed. Firstly, I couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan, and secondly, it seemed like the underground had disappeared.
Last fall I decided that I just needed to get away. I felt it was time to explore life and break all of these routines I was living in. I wanted to be close to the ocean and far away from the city. Try looking at brick and concrete buildings exclusively for 7 years. It will make your mind explode. So in late October I packed up and bid New York farewell. The first thing I noticed was how much I missed driving. Many of the lyrics to Tides End were written at the end, or sometimes in the middle of long drives. Sometimes I’d just sit on the dunes and space out and then come home and write down some ideas that would end up becoming a song. It was a huge change in the writing process and it made writing an album feel very creative. I had taken a bunch of photos over the past few months during some of these drives or walks by the ocean and I’m happy to share them. I hope you enjoy.
It was a Monday afternoon in October and I had just put a new base coat of wax on one of my boards. The surfing out here can be really good, especially in the fall. Nothing beats when the water is still warm but there is a crisp fall breeze in the air. Sometimes you can be the only person in the water and you really feel connected to the ocean. One of my favorite feelings.
This is my wife standing in a parking lot after the first high tide of Hurricane Sandy hit the coast. There were two more High Tides before it was all over. We lost power for 8 days. At first you think it’s so great to have lots of candles burning, but by the end it wasn’t. We had no idea what was going on in the world around us. I wrote the song “Doomed and Cool” during this blackout. There wasn’t much to do at night besides drink wine and play guitar.
This is in November overlooking the bay. This car has no radio, so I was probably listening to the water and silence. I wrote most of the lyrics to the album just like this. I would drive to the end of this road called Sebonac Inlet and sit there for hours.
Another photo from one of my drives. Just before dusk near Little Plains beach. This is my favorite photo in this group. It’s wild how there is one light on in the house. Kind of like “ A Light In The Attic” by Shel Silverstein. Theres nothing more beautiful than the ocean in the early winter.
This picture was taken on New Years Day 2013 right near Montauk Point.
Mark Verbos who worked on Tides End with me is obsessed with Buchla synthesizers. This is one inside of his studio. If you look closely you’ll see that it’s made up of about 25 different modules. About half of these here were made by Mark himself. He has a cult following of synth obsessives and sells out his modules as soon as they are released. We used this particular machine on quite a few songs on the album
This is another photo from the recording session. We are both big fans of Brian Eno, especially some of his production techniques. In 1974, he and this guy Peter Schmidt came out with this set of cards called “Oblique Strategies” to help resolve a creative dilemma. I became obsessed with reading from them. They’re pretty interesting.
In the winter a 63 foot whale washed up on Napeague beach. I had never seen a whale like this so we jumped in the car and went to see it.
This was sitting around the studio for weeks. We never used it on the album, but it’s one of the coolest looking synthesizers I’ve ever seen. The notes are activated by a touch plate and it fits into a suitcase type case.
This photo was taken January 28th on my birthday. I remember listening to the new My Bloody Valentine album on repeat. I’m not sure why it took Kevin Shields 20 years to make another album but i’m just happy he did. My favorite track off of the album is “She Found Now”
This was taken right when we started to record Tides End. I had just come back from the city when the demo for “Everything’s Fine” and was here working on the lyrics, which ended up being scrapped and rewritten one day before we finished the album.
This is Mark Verbos and my brother Michael, who records music under the name Green Eyes. We were in Brooklyn having coffee before we went to the studio. That day we did the vocals to “Painted Indian” and Michael sang vocals in the chorus with me.
The downside of living in such a beautiful place is that rich people want to live there too, and build houses like this. To me it looks like a middle eastern prison. This is from another one of my drives. I’m standing on a dune with the ocean at my back.
This is inside the Sag Harbor Cinema. My favorite place I’ve ever watched a film. I came back from recording in the city one Friday and saw that Sound City, the movie about a recording studio in Los Angeles was playing so I went and saw it. All of the details both inside and out are very art deco. I’d love to play a show here.
Driving into the city to record. I went back and forth probably 12 times to Mark’s studio over the course of the winter. They were choosing the pope at the time and I was laughing to myself that they had chosen the new pope because the smoke was rising.
This is Tides End from the road. In the spring and summer you can barely see it, but in the winter you can see through the hedges. The first time I went there it wasn’t boarded up like it is now.
This is Tides End from the dunes. The ocean is at my back. You have to park further down the beach and walk along the shore to get to it. The dune is really built up now so you can barely see the roof sticking out from the sand. I love the briar arch over the pathway to the house.
This is a photo I took at Montauk Point a few months ago just after I had finished recording the record. It was a perfect Saturday and the water looked so blue.