The Knock

This song changed a number of times. Once we got to the studio, we weren't quite satisfied with the chorus and ended up rewriting it just before recording. In regards to it's subject: the question of faith will always be a conflicted one.

Buddy In The Parade

I read that [turn of the 20th century jazzman] Buddy Bolden's band would close the set with a song called "Get Out of Here and Go on Home." I think that's one of the best titles I've ever heard. I wish I could have heard the song.

Horseshoe Crabs

I heard “Tumble in the Wind” while I was painting a friend’s living room and I thought it was the most beautiful song I’d heard in years. I didn’t know who [1960s folk singer] Jackson C. Frank was, had never even heard his name mentioned anywhere. When I read about his life it stuck with me.  A sad, but massive and packed life. I started writing this song before I knew of him, I changed it after I heard him sing.


We wanted to lead the album with this track, it's about the familiar faces you get to see when you live in Philadelphia.  Occasionally, I have a very strong feeling about instruments that need to be on a song.  For "Young and Happy," [from 2012's Get Disowned] it was a steel drum.  For this song, it was a sitar.  Luckily, John had an electric one handy.  

Happy To See Me

Once, I got to see the bats fly out from underneath the Congress Ave bridge in Austin [Texas]. I almost feel like this whole song came out of that experience. I'm also guilty of jogging through a cemetery.

Texas Funeral

An older man once actually told me “I’m not worried about it, it’s not going to happen to me in my lifetime,” when we were talking about the state of the planet (I think I had asked him why he didn’t recycle).  He had kids too, which made his statement pretty unsettling.  I think it’s the pervasive attitude of a lot of people today. I was also watching Hud, and thinking about what Paul Newman’s character would be like when he got old and had some kids.  I think he’d probably have that same attitude, that defensive “I did what I had to do” crock of shit.  A whole lot of people just want to be rich.  They still have to die like everybody else.

Powerful Man

When I was a freshman in college in Baltimore, maybe a month or two in, I was walking to the dining hall one evening with my friend. We were passing by an elementary school when we saw a grown man had a little boy pressed up against a red car, and he was striking him about the head. I can’t imagine the child was more than 10 years old. I stared at them, I had never seen an adult hit a child like that. The little boy looked at me and his father said, “Don’t look at her, she’s not gonna help you.” He was completely unaffected, unthreatened by our presence. There was nobody else on the street. We walked on silently. It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes you see a part of yourself and you’re just not ready to know what kind of person you are when you get scared.

I Saw My Twin

A song about a real Waffle House and a real waitress. The usual fear of small towns looms heavy in this one. Fun fact: the mention of West Virginia is in reference to the 2014 Elk River chemical spill.


I've said it once and I'll say it again: our society wasn't built with most people in mind.

Sister Cities

We were conflicted about closing with this one but it's just so appropriate. It's a triumphant song.  

Painted Shut is out 4 May on Saddle Creek.  Stream the album in full below.