Originally titled Arrivals and Departures, The Golden Age of Glitter, the new album from Sweet Apple, the band that features J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr), Dave Sweetapple (Witch, Varlokk) and Clevelanders Tim Parnin (Cobra Verde, Chuck Mosley) and John Petkovic (Cobra Verde, Death of Samantha), reflects the degree to which band members have to commute long distances every time they play a show or record. The album features catchy rock songs with introspective lyrics about the many contradiction of living in the 21st century. The disc includes guest appearances from the Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan and Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard. The album is out this week, and the group will eventually issue six corresponding music videos. The band doesn't plan to tour in support of the album and will instead focus on releasing another album in early 2015. Parnin and Petkovic recently talked about the songs over a few beers and some chocolate cake at Rocky River Brewing Company.
"Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)"
JP: This song is about how the band was always in different locations. It's not like we're creating a grandiose ideology but that's the point of the 21st century. People are not in proximity. They're spread out. Even when they're close, they're close to their devices. Mark Lanegan, who sings on the song, is a long-time friend. Every time we go to L.A., we hang out. He's such a great guy. I met him in 1988.
TP: We layered the jagged guitars on it, but even the acoustic version is spectacular.
JP: You think about reunions and our existence in the 21st century and throughout all time, do you reunite with someone or some place? Is it geography or is it history that triggers your memory? We reunite in the present sense and then you think about ex-lovers and they do reunions too. We live in a constant state of reuniting. You're going to go home tonight and there might be a reunion. Tim totally rocks the riff on that.
TP: I'm not a Kiss fan, but this song has a Kiss kind of arena rock thing to it. I played a Telecaster and a '68 Les Paul. Going out to California regularly, John and I have gathered some good guitars and we have a nice arsenal of old gear.
"Boys in Her Fan Club"
TP: It's a rip-roaring rock song.
JP: I love the sound of crowds. In solitude, I hear not silence but the roar of thousands. Everyone lives in this virtual world. You can be a Facebook super model or literary genius. You can be Vladimir Nabokov. It's really weird. Our world is necromantic, self-absorbed. Everyone travels in a mob and everyone is in some fan club. You're never satisfied.
"Let's Take the Same Plane"
JP: In the video, [Firehose's] Mike Watt is paddling out in the Pacific Ocean. Rachel Haden, who's on it, is a great singer. Mark Lanegan comes in on the end too. It was cool to have different people involved. Rachel did three songs on the next album too.
"Another Desert Skyline"
TP: This and "Wish You Could Stay" have great crunchy chords.
JP: It's inspired by the band Suicide. If you look at Suicide, they're one of the greatest bands ever. I told the guy when we were recording that I wanted the vocals to sound like Charlie Feathers. He's so good.
TP: That demo hit right off the bat.
JP: And [local producer] Mike Seifert played keyboards. I always loved the Glen Campbell song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." It's heading in one direction but then goes in another. It's like with this song. One thing supersedes everything around it.
TP: John played Brian Eno's "Needle in the Camel's Eye" and wanted to layer sounds on this track like that. This is one of my favorites.
JP: I like contradictions. What Tim does on this song is a total contradiction with the rhythms. I don't like to base things on literature but one thing that struck me as a kid was this book about this soldier who's a complete disaster of a soldier. And the song also reminded me of a guy I know who was very lazy. He fell asleep on a boat in World War II and the boat crashed. All these people were hailing him as a saboteur. I thought, "It's better to give up and become someone else's problem." America invades all these dysfunctional countries and the best thing for these other countries to do is to just surrender. The song's not even political.
JP: The original riff was once a Cobra Verde riff. If you think about it, the night would not be the night if it weren't for the lights. It's just negative space. When I see car sirens and lights, they bring a cubist reality to the night and they bring a depth or three-dimensional quality. People don't give enough credit to the lights.
TP: There's a Tommy James, tremolo thing in the song.
"We Are Ruins"
TP: There's crazy ass instruments on this song.
JP: It's an ode to free jazz. I know people who are enamored with death. Once people experience death, it shapes them in a deep way. Oftentimes, we torture the living and honor the dead. People think of ruins as signposts for death, but I appreciate an empty building more than one filled with people.
TP: One time John said we should have a funeral for people who are still alive because they might as well be dead.
"You Made a Fool Out of Me"
TP: John played everything on that one.
JP: The inspiration for the song was sitting on the floor of the bathroom smoking cigarettes and crying. It's an ode to death. People think of vampires as True Blood or The Walking Dead or some shit like that, but vampire life is real. That's the idea that you can continue to live even though you're spiritually dead.
"Under the Liquor Sign"
JP: The inspiration for that song was that Tim was under a liquor sign in Las Vegas.
TP: We went to downtown Vegas. We played the Palms on Valentine's Day. We were kicking it and drinking forties in paper bags. Sometimes, it's good to end a record with a slow song.
JP: Bob Pollard, who sings on it, always wants to be under the liquor sign. We wanted to get him involved too.