01:16 PM on 08/14/09
Art Commentary"When we were writing our new album, musically and lyrically, there were a lot of similarities between the vibe of the songs. Some were upbeat, and some were darker and deeper. We really wanted to capture some different emotions on this album. One of the songs on the album is about our Dad losing his job, and how the Michigan economy has been in shambles for years. The Flint, Michigan area has had a mass exodus not only from the loss of jobs, but even the number friends and the music scene has slowly depleted.
I watched The Big Lebowski and there was a line in it that I thought was really interesting. "Strikes and gutters. Ups and downs." I kept thinking about it until one day I started trying to turn it into a song with our own spin on it. I came up with the lines "sit down strikes and gutters" and "ups and downsizing". I realized the latter of the two quotes could be the basis of the whole album. We ended up putting the first quote in the song "Welcome Back Riders" so the phrase is still hidden in the record.
Now to tie in the art. A roller coaster is the perfect symbol for ups and downs. Not only in the literal sense, but symbolism of the ups and downs of life, and a throw back to childhood and days when we used to be care-free and life was simple. When we realized we actually mention or hint at roller coasters in the songs "2009", "Welcome Back Riders" we knew it was the perfect concept. Since the title has two parts to it, we decided that our 7" artwork should be the light-hearted, happy, thriving amusement park brochure. The title of the release and phrase "Welcome Back Riders" is actually what they say after each ride at Cedar Point. It's full of bright colors, cartoony images and thanks to the art of Derek Deal, fits the concept perfectly.
The full length artwork takes place in the present. The park is out of business, abandoned and left there to fall apart without any help from the outside world. (Sound familiar?) There are no happy colors, just a dark sky and weeds taking the place of tourists. All it needs is someone to bring it back to life again. If you look close you'll even see "Save The Park" spray painted on the ground. We researched abandoned amusement parks for a long time and thanks to some friends we found the perfect spots and some great photographers willing to help us out. The second we saw the full layout from the art department we were floored, it was exactly what we wanted. So once you have the CD, open the booklet, look at the pictures, read the lyrics and enjoy the full experience."
- Jonathan Diener Lyrics Commentary Ups and Downsizing – Lyrical Commentary by Nick Diener
I keep on my shoulders the weight of the world, but I broke when you asked for a ride. I’ll be outside. I guess you’re just bored and you’re boring like me, and if you don’t keep me happy someone will. I’ll be all right. I didn’t know there’s a rollercoaster in town. Been gone too long. I’m prepared for the ups and downs, but sometimes, yeah, sometimes you wanna get off. I’ll never feel the same again, but I wouldn’t re-write anything. Let’s hope your resolution’s made. A minute to midnight, and I’m bailing out. Nothing to kiss but pavement now. We’re counting down. I can’t believe I used to like losing to you, and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, then. That’s what you said. Where are your friends? Who are you gonna tell? Been gone too long. I guess the time alone will do you well. I’ll never feel the same again, but I wouldn’t re-write anything. Let’s hope your resolution’s made. Happy New Year, you’re dead to me. Now that I’ve set the record straight: this is my holiday.
2009: The first track on the record. It's about that moment when you realize that most people are only designed to let you down, so you actually make a resolution to start living for yourself and eliminate everything that might get in your path. This is going to be your year. "Happy New Year, you're dead to me."
2. Fire Away
Load up the flares and fire away. Search without rescue. Of all the times you looked out to sea, you never stepped in. Why wait for me? Abandon ship. Fend for yourself. You’ve got that sinking feeling and nothing else. Priorities change, and hope fades away. How did you get here? At first you thought you had control, now you’re just following. So lost again. Abandon ship. Fend for yourself. You’ve got that sinking feeling and nothing else. With the resources left in your heart, of course you’re afraid. And all you did was break another tie. And all of this can break another time. Abandon ship. Fend for yourself. You’ve got that sinking feeling and nothing else.
Fire Away: The opposite end of the spectrum from '2009'. It's about when someone thinks they know what they want in life, so they drop everyone and everything important to them to pursue it. Big mistake. Sometimes you just need your friends. "And all you did was break another tie. And all of this can break another time."
It’s been a long time, but I’m here. I’m keeping your heart pumping. ‘Cause all the bad guys in your life, they never taught you nothing. And all the bad dreams that you had, I thought they’d amount to something. You’ll stick around, but now it’s your time to get out. And don’t fall, don’t fall asleep tonight. Because I, I won’t fall asleep tonight. Not tonight. And don’t fall, don’t fall asleep tonight. I won’t let you fall. Walking on eggshells, or thin ice. I’m trying to save a life here. Just bite your tongue soon before you end up choking, too. I’m not convinced you’re any different than before. And don’t fall, don’t fall asleep tonight. Because I, I won’t asleep tonight. Not tonight. And don’t fall, don’t fall asleep tonight. I won’t let you fall.
Sleeper: There's always that naive girl who sticks around with that horrible dude. We could have written a song about how animalistic and terrible guys can be, but everybody knows that. It's a fact. This is for the girls. Wise up. "And all the bad dreams that you had... I thought they'd amount to something.”
4. Welcome Back Riders
I’ve seen my fair share of ghosts but what scares me the most is seeing what’s coming. Growing older and giving up, and I won’t believe it. I won’t believe it. With sit-down strikes and gutters tonight, there’s nothing left in this town. We’ve all been sold, it’s not rock and roll. Don’t beat us when we’re down. It’s okay. You didn’t even listen in the first place. Welcome back riders, it’s another rat race. All of your words are safe until the show, and soon the world’s gonna know. An empty promise, so here’s a toast. From your empty office, no lawyer will take it. This case is as good as closed, and I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it. Away for years, and now you’re here, so tell them where you’ve been. Wait in line, enjoy the ride. It’s coming back again. It’s okay. You didn’t even listen in the first place. Welcome back riders, it’s another rat race. All of your words are safe until the show, and soon the world’s gonna know. These streets are the same to me. These songs won’t mean anything without a place to call our home. A place to call our own. I’m staying tonight.
Welcome Back Riders: Metaphors about the music industry, growing up, seeing the trends change, ghosts, sit down strikes, gutters... basically, all we're saying, is we're still here. Doing the same thing we've been doing for 7 years. "It's all been sold, it's not rock and roll. Don't beat us when we're down."
5. Feet First
Watching the waves crashing beneath me. Blue and silver, chaotic and serene. And I can’t describe the view from up here, because maybe I won’t be able to tell you what I see. Don’t waste your tears on me. Don’t stop, now. Just carry on, carry on, carry on. You always said that things were gonna get better, but maybe the fog holds answers I can’t reach. And I can’t decide if I’ll ever shake this, because maybe I… wait, nevermind. Don’t tell me how to live. It’s just water under the bridge. Don’t stop, now. Just carry on, carry on, carry on. And you’ll never know how bad it feels right now. Twenty-one years now in the making. Mom and Dad, you didn’t waste your time, because even the greatest architect’s masterpiece can be torn to the ground. But I’m still around. And you would build a ship or pack my parachute in time for the fall. Yeah, this is love by all means. And I’ll continue building with you. Don’t stop, now. Just carry on, carry on, carry on. And you’ll know how bad it feels right now, but at least you know that it won’t end.
Feet First: This song is about jumping off of a bridge, and halfway to the water, deciding that you want to live. Landing feet first after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge gives you the highest likelihood of survival. Life's a beautiful thing even at its worst. Look around. "It's just water under the bridge."
6. Do You Feel Better Yet?
It's been a long couple years, but I need this, too. I miss the ringing in my ears when it didn't come from you. No more heartstrings left to drag me down. Do you feel better yet? There’s nothing I’d rather do than be happy and write a love song or two, but they’ll turn their backs on me. Should I lie and say I’m sorry now? Do you feel better yet?
Do You Feel Better Yet?: Sometimes you just want to write a song about being happy for once. Nah. Too easy. This one's for anyone who's ever asked us to play our music a certain way, to not sell out, etc. "Should I lie and say I'm sorry now?"
7. Ups and Downsizing
There’s so many songs of sitting cold in the waiting cars outside. But someone had to build them right. And if we ever sell this house, we’ll pack our bags and move down south. Somewhere warmer where no one will notice the car we drive for the first time. And so we freeze and then thaw out. Do you ever wonder if we should leave or ride this out? Do you ever wonder was it worth it now? It’s hard to be afraid. You’re singing rustbelt lullabies. I’ll fall asleep if you give me time to find out where I’ll wake up. There's not much room left in this state. It hits home harder when you're still days away. The “for sale” sign is familiar but never feels right. And so we freeze and then thaw out. Do you ever wonder if we should leave or ride this out? Do you ever wonder was it worth it now? I’m finding the beauty in everything since we said our goodbyes. Now we take what we get. I have clothes for every occasion now. I know. Don’t feel so alone. It’s looking up. And so we freeze and then thaw out. Do you ever wonder if we should leave or ride this out? Do you ever wonder was it worth it now?
Ups and Downsizing: The title track. A real-life story that has affected thousands and thousands of families in our home state. Jobs are being lost, homes foreclosed, and families being torn apart. People focusing on feeding each other, and not loving each other. "I'm finding the beauty in everything since we said our goodbyes. Now we take what we get."
8. The Iron
Which one is the loser? Which one is the faker? Drown again, it’s part of the act so don’t hold me back. I’m sick, and I’m tired of throwing the anchor down, but it’ll keep us all on track. We either do this now, or we don't. We need to do this right now, or we won't. You came a long way with crutches to save yourself. I know, it’s part of the act. Bullshit, try again. Once you earn some credit you'll spend it, too. No big surprise again. We either do this now, or we don't. We need to do this right now, or we won't. No time left for anyone.
The Iron: "Do it or don't. Life doesn't care." - Rollins. Enough said.
9. Watch It Go
I got a call from you, and I’m all right. I just wanna go outside and ride my bike. If I’m not at your house in twenty seconds flat, there’s something wrong. You know there’s something wrong. Forgive me if my tenses aren’t right. I’m fighting time instead of watching it go by. The walk to our bus stop got longer every day. You’re late for school. I’ll never get to you. I’ll never get to you. We rode home, and we took the long way back. What is a bad day for you my friend? Yeah. We rode home and we took the long way back. We were killing time, and no one seemed to mind. Didn’t take much to get me out of bed. In the morning when I woke up I’d be in my basement listening to High/Low every day before the sun. And I’m good with everyone. And I’m good with everyone. We rode home, and we took the long way back. What is a bad day for you my friend? Yeah. We rode home and we took the long way back. We were killing time, and no one seemed to mind. No one seemed to mind that we were killing… We would always say we’d never end up this way. Sorry I can’t remember now. We used to come this way a lot. Yeah, more often than not. Sorry I can’t remember now. Sorry I… We rode home, and we took the long way back. What is a bad day for you my friend? Yeah. We rode home, and we took the long way back. We were killing time, and no one seemed to mind. No one seemed to mind that we were killing…
Watch It Go: A throwback to my life in 4th grade. Riding bikes, listening to Nada Surf... now I'm wondering why my friends are trying to force themselves into being adults. We still have so much time! And riding bikes and listening to Nada Surf still rules. "We were killing time, and no one seemed to mind."
I’ve got these chords I can’t play anymore ‘cause they’re all that I’ve known for so long. Now they ruin all the songs. This one’s for you. Yeah, this one’s for you. The old songs must be hard to believe. I’ve ruined everything. You’ll be someone I, I can learn from. And over your voice, I’m screaming, “Love, it takes time, it takes time.” I wish I could take my time and your worries away. I’ll take my time and your worries away. I’ll be okay ‘cause I’ve got the stars. And you said you’ve been free for some time and you prove it with the scars. This one’s for you. Yeah, this one’s for you. If I’m lost before you hear all of this… You’ll be someone I, I can learn from. And over your voice, I’m screaming, “Love, it takes time, it takes time.” I wish I could take my time and your worries away. I’ll take my time and your worries away. This one’s for you. This one’s for you. I’ll be okay ‘cause I’ve got the stars.
Stars: Explaining to the one you love that you need to pursue your destiny, at any cost, even death, may be the most epic/heartbreaking conversation one will ever have. Only a select few martyrs will ever have these thoughts. Here's a story about it. "I wish I could take my time and your worries away."
This is for all my friends and family. Something I need you to understand. The accident, the overdose, the suicide whatever it was. Malpractice, the homicide, etcetera. Something took me sooner than we planned. Now take these steps for me. It might not be what you wanted, but it's what I need. No funeral. There's not a goddamn dime you need to spend. I won't be there to thank you in the end. Put me in the ground to decompose and inside of your heart always. This is for all my friends. Who are these motherfuckers? Behind my eyes, they never knew me in life. No, no casket please. I'll rot out with the leaves. No clothes for me to wear. The dirt won't care. Don’t scatter any ashes. Scatter all my things to the deserving ones who really need. No production here, so assholes walk around and try to get your sympathy and say, "I'm glad it wasn't me." And with that said, don't say a prayer for me today. God and I, we never really spoke anyway. I tried sometimes, but he never wrote back. And I know there's no headstone where I'm lying. So where do you go when you're crying? Just hold on to a memory of me inside of your heart always.
Dirt: The furthest place you can go to get away from the stars is the dirt. This song is about what I want done with my body when I'm gone. It's about how I want my friends to try to deal with it. Morbid, but I'd figure I'd get my will out of the way now. Now everyone can have a copy. Goodbyes don't matter. It's the memories. "Just hold onto a memory of me inside of your heart always."
01:20 PM on 08/14/09
Also, HUGE thanks goes out to Kenny, the band and FBR for making this all happen!
01:24 PM on 08/14/09
this is pretty sweet. can't wait for the album. one of the best bands in MI.
01:27 PM on 08/14/09
i hadn't heard UPS was downsizing. thats was dumb. anyways i like what i've heard from them so far and i might check them out with paper route and paramore this fall.
01:33 PM on 08/14/09
I love this band, really hope they blow up from the Paramore tour.
01:37 PM on 08/14/09
I appreciate when a band puts time, thought, and effort into their artwork to really tell a bigger story. This is awesome.
01:41 PM on 08/14/09
Artwork looks great. Now I just need more songs to hear.
01:46 PM on 08/14/09
Absolutely can not wait for this. The Swellers are amazing.
01:53 PM on 08/14/09
Cover is awesome, I like their apparent roller coaster theme on their last two releases haha
01:55 PM on 08/14/09
wait until you hear this record. It's lifechanging
01:57 PM on 08/14/09
That's one of my favorite album covers of this year. I'm really loving photo album covers lately (Thrice and this one).
01:58 PM on 08/14/09
I really like the artwork for this and the meaning behind it. it's really great how much effort this band puts into everything they do. looking forward to hearing the album.
02:05 PM on 08/14/09
Also, any word on a pre-order deal? I would absolutely hop on a t-shirt/album pre-order in an instant.
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