The Secret History Sing Their Life

Cataloging the beautiful losers

Some of the songs are about close friends (he had to talk one into letting him use his nickname in a song by arguing for the importance of art); some are people he played one show with then watched cry into their hands backstage; others are composites. “I was quoting Whit Stillman's Metropolitan when one of the characters gets called out for lying about this person he met, and they say, 'They're just a composite, like in The New Yorker.’ Quoting Whit Stillman movies probably underlines the ceiling of our band's potential success," he notes wryly.

All the characters, though, have one thing in common: struggle.

“I realized how much struggling my friends and people from my generation, even some of the younger people that we had met playing shows. . . . There was always kind of a longing that was being unfulfilled,” he says. “And I really thought that these guys really do tell a certain story about America, and I've always been a guy that had a lot of European influences in terms of the music that I listen to. So I liked the idea of writing about America, even if some of the bands I like are not like that. I wanted to make an album about America because I felt like America was kind of in a crisis, but a lot of indie music wasn't about that.”

The Secret History: American storytellers
Jackie Roman
The Secret History: American storytellers

The band's members are hashing out as much as possible in their home studios, then recording as much as possible during day-long sessions at New Pornographer producer Josh Clark’s studio, then sifting through the sessions to make sense of it all. Because everyone in the band has jobs, they have limited ability to tour, so they’ve had to fund the making of this album with their own savings and sales of their recent single "Sergio," which Grace calls a “hazy class-warfare anthem." The band used the crowdsourced-funding platform Kickstarter to help out with touring costs last time, but that pin hasn't been pulled yet.

What label releases the record is also up in the air. “The amount of money that labels are going to give you is a lot less than it used to be," Grace notes, "because they can only actually sell, I don't know, 20 percent of the times people are actually getting their music? You know, the idea of artists bartending and waiting tables to write books or make films is nothing new, so we don't mind working and scraping and putting it together.

"Has it slowed down the progress of making the record? Absolutely. But you kind of have to have some inner peace about that.”

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