Some albums are more difficult to make than others are. While some albums just come together, even better than you expected. That is because some albums are more inspired than others.
On Adam Marslands latest, Go West, the Los Angeles, California-based musicians inspiration and motivation was enough for two bands. Or, shall we say two albums. The result: Go West is a double album.
But, it didnt always look like it was going to be a double album. Or even an album that would come to fruition.
"During the recording of [Go West], I literally got to see the best and worst of life. My brother dropped dead [of a heart attack]. A crazy man murdered my other brothers wife [a victim in the Binghamton massacre].
And I got my stuff stolen to boot."
A passing of a family member, a murder, or having your house broken into and your possessions stolen, any one of these three things would be enough to make someone lose their mind and give up. But all three, together, in such a short period of time is crippling.
Not for Adam Marsland, though. The light at the end of the tunnel helped him pull through, as corny as it sounds.
"In between [my brother passing away and my sister-in-laws murder], right in the middle of the recording, thieves broke into my house and stole most of my best gear: my Telecaster, my desktop, my synth, and most of the recording stuff. Gone. The recording files had been backed up but I had to borrow gear and buy a new interface that I didnt have the money for. I was flat broke and I needed that gear to be able to work.
"It was pretty devastating."
Than an encounter with people he had previously never met turned into his saving grace.
"These beautiful people found the three things I really needed at a swap meet, figured out they were stolen, Googled me, and I got them back. I offered them a bunch of stuff and they wouldnt take it. They lost like $900 on that and they were happy to do it."
He pauses for a bit, taking it all in, before further exclaiming his gratitude and disbelief at the kindness he was shown, "These two people I never met did a completely random act of kindness for no reward. As in the song Half Life, (off of Go West) they just did the right thing because it was right."
Throughout all the difficulties, and recovering from a long-standing illness that had affected his hearing for several years, he had one positive thing to focus on: making the best and most ambitious album of his 13-year indie-recording career.
Following up 2008s "Daylight Kissing Night", a best-of collection of songs culled from Marslands previous solo releases and his band Cockeyed Ghosts four full-lengths, Go West is Marslands first new studio record since 2004s "You Dont Know Me".
"When my last studio album came out in 2004, it was a low point. Nobody really wanted to hear it and I was burnt out from too much touring," he says, discussing his enthusiasm for Go West. "Now things are totally different."
Marsland compiled "Daylight Kissing Night" because, "I had all this disconnected positive energy from fans and friends, old and new. I wanted to use the compilation to pull everybody back together and hopefully then propel a new album, and it worked. A lot of people wanted to hear a new album and that really boosted my morale."
With so much going on in his life while making Go West, he was able to find a frame for the life experiences that helped shape and develop the theme of the album.
"Its roughly about being a young adult gradually finding out life isnt what you thought it was and neither are you," Marsland comments on the albums theme.
"We all have this conflict between our desire for security and freedom, and finding acceptance for who we are. As life progresses the self-discoveries get more painful and the moral choices get harder and harder. Theres no right answer," he says after much self-exploration.
"Go West is about moving away from what formed you as a child and confronting the reality of who you are and how life is. Theres the physical journey when you strike out on your own, but West is really finding yourself, and facing yourself.
"In different ways, the songs are all about trying, and mostly failing, to connect and find your place in the world."
Through this journey, Marsland was able to let go in the studio, which he feels helped him make a better record. His work as a session musician with members of the Beach Boys, 2008 Tony Award winner Stew and the legendary 60s Wrecking Crew had sharpened his musical skills. The goal was simple, make a record that he was happy with, and not nit-pick over everything. Get in, find the soul of the song, get it on tape, and move on.
"These are among the best songs Ive ever written, its easily the best vocals Ive ever done, and its the best Ive ever played. I think its both a personal album and one thats about everyones experience," comments Marsland without hesitation.
"The best part of it is, we didnt spend years and years trying to make a masterpiece. The band and I just sat down and did it step by step, half-spontaneous and half-planned, and it came out great. Some of the tracks I did more on my own and others were more with the band (which includes soul legend Evie Sands, who does a memorable, funky vocal turn on "Two Children in a Bed"). We didnt dick around with it forever. It doesnt have this under glass quality. Its basically a rock n roll album in terms of attitude."
When asked about his favorite moments on the album, Marsland pauses to think, and realizes he cant answer that question.
"If you asked me to play the best song on the album I would have no idea what to tell you. Every song is different and although there are a few songs designed as links or introduction tracks, I think its a double CD without any filler."
Further explaining that comments, he adds, "When I Lied To Everyone, 1 in 4, Go West, Despair, This Is Hard, My Pain, and No Return are all among the best Ive ever written. The music is pop, but these are songs about sexual abuse, mental illness, moral ambiguity, and peoples interior lives. Theres this prejudice that a pop song isnt capable of depth. Screw that. Ive lived enough to write about these things and I think they resonate better with a good melody. Im going to do it.
"I got to try a disco song, a funk song, a Krautrock thing, the double album format let me experiment a little, and having a larger story to tell kept it all in focus. Its the most Ive ever enjoyed doing an album. The music just came out."
Unapologetic and true to himself, Marsland made Go West for him, and his fans that have stuck by him through thick and thin. Yes, he ultimately hopes new fans, critics, and others will listen and agree with him, and take something away from the album. But, if they dont, he feels happy sleeping at night knowing that he made something that he can be very proud of.
"I dont expect everyone to be into my thing," he admits, "but thats not important. Whats important is that I satisfied myself and that the people who Im singing to relate to it. You have to stick to that. How much fame you achieve or how many times you check the box marked cool isnt really relevant because if you dont have a strong sense of who you are and relate that to the people you are playing for, then you wont hang onto any of that even if you do succeed. Youll just blow in the wind.
"Honestly, I hope people like it but if they dont, I do not care. I was trying to do a lot of things at once: write a double album with all good stuff, tell a continuous story from beginning to end, and at the same time make each song its own separate and special thing, musically, lyrically, emotionally. I wanted the album to be like a treasure chest with all these different jewels in it. I had pretty high expectations for myself and for the band and I believe we met them all."
Marslands next goal?
Get out on the road and tour as much as he can to support Go West. "Albums to me are like children, and youre responsible for them. Some grow up to be mechanics and you dont have to worry about them. Others are special, and you have to send them to medical school. Go West is one of those."