It’s A Trap is an album about love in a time of war. Lovers’ stories unfold in a military context (“Holy Moses,” “Back in the Fire”). Caught up in a faceless conflict that is too big to fully comprehend but ever-present and immediate, we respond the only way we can manage; with small, personal gestures.
The record’s sound is a combination of traditional rock elements (electric guitar, verses, bridges, and choruses) and unusual substitutions (digital drums, slightly warped or incomplete pop song structure). Sonic inspiration came from Kanye West (rhythm & drum voicing) and John Vanderslice (weird sounds integrated naturally), to keep up Sally Ride’s practice of not having a drummer.
Lyrically, these stories are some of the truest I’ve ever told. Politically, I am tackled by the largest issue of our time (war – specifically, the Iraq War) and some of the related sub-issues (the “unitary executive,” domestic spying, net neutrality) that have haunted me this year. Emotionally, I’ve never cut so deep in to my own heart, and I don’t know how I feel about releasing these songs – except that, to continue to be myself, I can do no other thing. Sometimes the lyrics feel entirely too true to be singing – the joy of rock’n’roll bashing against my tiny keyboard’s stoopid drum sounds keep things in a kind of barely-hanging-on perspective for me.
Cory Sez: Howie said it all concerning what the record’s about; I’d just like to add that I was extremely honored to be able to take part in this second Sally Ride record. I feel like our co-writing and especially co-recording processes have improved exponentially over the past 5 or 6 years or however long we’ve known each other. Since it’s just been 3 or 4 projects that I’ve worked on with Howie where he’s the main boss guy, I’m finally able to listen to a demo or whatever and think to myself, “yeah, this would work really well and I bet Howie would like it!” Just like Howie knows that if he puts piano and weird BGVs on my stuff, I’ll be happy :) What else… Oh yeah. This album WAILS. Pump your fists! Speak up! Sing like you mean it!
“Lookers” – “In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, permitting the government to conduct electronic surveillance on citizens in the United States if it first gets a warrant from the FISA court, which exists for that reason only. The FISA court rarely has denied such a request. But the NSA has repeatedly conducted such surveillance without going to the FISA court for warrants. Every forty-five days, President Bush has been issuing Executive Orders saying that it is within his authority to bypass the FISA court. And he says he’ll keep doing so.” (Brian Gilmore, “A Conservative for Impeachment“). “Don’t look back at us!” expresses, in negative, the solution to the surveillance society; that We the People supervise the watchers, and watch back with our own cameras (concept from David Brin).
“Cause 2 B Uneasy” – So, I (Cory) write songs way differently than Howie. When Howie writes songs, he’ll get a muse or an idea and just crank songs out until his inspiration is exhausted. Although it’s a lot of effort, it’s a very natural lighting-strike process for him. When I write songs, I have to conciously schedule that “Today after work, I’m going to make some coffee or drink a beer and write a song.” I almost never pick up my guitar for fun, because just playing guitar by itself isn’t very fun for me; it has to be in the context of a song. I can’t doodle. So when I wrote “Cause 2 B Uneasy,” I consciously tried to write a Sally Ride tune. I was also consistenly trying to rip off Spoon at that point. Finally, the title comes from a chaper in C.S. Lewis’ book, “Mere Christianity.” I just thought it sounded cool.
“Holy Moses” – I had thought Sally Ride was a one-off band after Don’t Let Them Take Us ALIVE! but “Holy Moses” didn’t make any sense for months, until I realized that SR wasn’t finished.
Cory Sez: “Well my dear, what can I say? Our misunderstandings cause real pain” is one of my favorite lines from any song, ever.
“Baby Bells on the Warpath for Profit” – I (Cory) was not so sure what to think of this song at first, because it’s so weird and kind of dark and this and that until the end, but this turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the record. And listen to our f*cking guitars coming out of the breakdown thingy! It wails! WAOOOOOOOOOOAARRRRR!!!!!!
“Just Observing” – There’s a part of me that’s very cold, looking at my interactions with others as a doctor to a patient. It’s unsettling, to say the least. It’s not included in the song, but that metaphor also contains the possibility of real warmth (think Patch Adams).
Cory Sez: “Just Observing” was my favorite song when I first heard the demo versions of the record, and I still really like it, but it’s taken on a much darker tone for me. Howie can get a little doctory with me, especially when he tries to “examine” me while he has his big long white coat on. “Owie!” I say, but there’s always more pressure. I probably expect Howie to edit this part because it’s inappropriate and has nothing to do with the song, and plus, it might even detract from the seriousness of the song, but I’m having a good time writing this. Boner-Party Weiner-Sex. There. I said it. Happy???
“Loose Lips Sink Ships” – The best-laid plans of mice and men…
“David S. Addington and Your Democracy” – Addington is VP Cheney’s chief legal advisor, and comes up with the legal justifications for all kinds of unconstitutional, unethical, and just plan ineffective policies Bush/Cheney decide they want. He’s not very well-known, because when people find out about him they tend not to like what he does. Now you know (and knowing’s half the battle).
Cory Sez: Knowing IS half the battle. And I didn’t know about Addington until recently. He’s a d-bag! He had his morals removed at birth. I hear they are in a jar in the Oval Office, right next to the White House copy of “Future Love/Sex Sounds.”
“New Slow Sea” – Actually named before lyrics were written, it was the last song completed for It’s A Trap (“New”), is relatively mellow (“Slow”), and is in the key of C.
Cory Sez: This is my favorite tune off of the record, because I love sweet melodies and sad songs, and any well-written break-up song always snags me. If you can do it well and without sound like you’re bitching, I’ll love it. Howie knocked this m-effer out of the park.
“We the People” – America is built on public infrastructure, education, and the freedoms in our Constitution. The economic elites who do not recognize the value of a level playing field, and the religious elites who would turn our free nation into a theocracy, are a serious danger to your children and mine. But they can only win if we sit back and let them. Our grandfathers and grandmothers, since independence, have managed to keep them in check and at this decisive hour we’re entering, I hope we will too.
Cory Sez: I loved yelling during this song. YES THIS IS A CALL TO F*CKING ARMS! WE’RE SERIOUS, GOD DAMN IT!!!!!
“Back in the Fire” – A sharpshooter falls for his target.
Cory Sex: Joel’s little blues vocal makes me smile every time. Too much soul for his little body. Also, the ending of this song (like with “The Last Song” off of DLTTUA!) always gives me goosebumps and chills. I love everybody singing together. So much hope.