Hello friends. We have certainly had an exciting few months since releasing “Tall Tales” and we are ever so grateful for all the kind words you’ve sent our way about the record. Which makes today’s announcement that much harder to make. It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that Ben and Matt have decided to leave Accents in order to each pursue a new personal endeavor. This Saturday, July 12th, will be Ben and Matt’s last show with the band. We can’t express how much these two meant to us as our rhythm backbone, as well as two of our closest friends. We know it isn’t an easy decision for either of them to step away, and we wish the two of them all the best in what’s to come. Although there is undoubtedly a bit of heartbreak that goes along with this announcement, we assure you this departure did not come as the result of any tension within the band. We were friends first, who had the pleasure of collaborating on something beautiful that none of us will ever forget.
Accents has always felt like a story. It ebbs, it flows, and just like a story, characters come and go. Although the exciting second chapter might be ending, the story itself is nowhere near over. “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Accents has always been about the songs, not the individual members performing them. The rest of us are carrying on, and we are extremely excited to continue bringing these songs to new audiences in the coming months! We also hope to have an announcement in the next week or two as to who will be joining the Accents family for chapter three, and we know you will join us in welcoming them with open arms.
Thanks, as always, for your support and kindness over the past few months. It is truly you who makes this experience so much more rewarding. If you are in the Albany, NY area, come out this Saturday night to the Low Beat for one last show with Ben and Matt – we plan on it being one heck of a party and we know it would mean the world to both of them if you are able to make it.
TJ, Lauren, and Jordan
I WASN’T LOOKING FOR YOU – TJ Foster
This was one of the first songs written for the new record, and the first one that Lauren and I actually wrote together. (In fact, I have a tattoo on my arm of one of the lyrics to commemorate the occasion…) The song turned out much differently compared to where it started. The original demo, which we’ll put out there into the universe some day, was a slow, finger-picked duet with a waltz feel to it. The goal we wanted to accomplish was writing a love story from two different perspectives – our back and forth in the verses is essentially me telling my story and Lauren telling hers, and then we come together for the choruses in harmony. As we were developing this song as a band, we wanted to maintain this sentiment, but the song as is ended up dragging compared to the rest. Jordan, Matt, Ben and I all grew up on pop-punk but you’ll be surprised to know the latter half of this song only happened because of a suggestion from Lauren. We tried quickening the pace and suddenly it all came together. It actually made the sentiment of the lyrics come across as more optimistic and celebratory. I will tell you this song almost didn’t make the album; it’s so different from the rest we were afraid it would stick out like a sore thumb. But after all the positive feedback it’s received, we’re certainly glad it made the cut.
Ellie - Jordan Stewart
“Ellie” is such a unique song on the album because I almost simultaneously view it as the most changed song from demo to final output, as well as the song that maintains the spirit of TJ’s original home recording the most. The first time I heard the song, I heard these simple guitar strums turning into these big, distorted hits with all of the instruments. When we brought the song to rehearsal as a full band to work on it, Ben immediately picked up on where my mind was going with the pacing of the song, and the rest just built from there. One of my favorite aspects is that the instrumentation remains really well-balanced in relation to TJ’s lyrics, but when the song does have the room to “breathe” instrumentally, we take advantage of every second of it. The song also went thru continual changes and layering throughout our demoing process, and I think that the work behind it is part of the reason it means so much to me. Despite this song being a story as opposed to personal lyrics, I think the lyrics are some of the saddest and most reflective on the album. I always interpreted it as simultaneously looking at a moment that you meet someone incredibly important to you, and the moment that relationship ends. It’s a sad concept. A lot of “Tall Tales” is pretty upbeat, so it was always important to me to have ‘Ellie’ as a balance to that on the record.
This song was some of the most fun I had with writing my guitars on the album. I remember locking myself in a room one night to work on the bridge, and how excited I was to show the bandmates what I came up with. TJ and Lauren saw me later that night – and in retrospect, I am pretty sure I most closely resembled Doc Brown explaining time travel to Marty McFly as I played back the demo to them.
Reminders - TJ Foster
The story goes that Ben challenged me to write at least 30 songs before we started the follow up to Growth and Squalor. I graciously accepted this challenge Barney Stinson style, and only recently followed it up with an infinity five that nearly knocked both of us on our ass. While I was writing these songs, I was listening to a lot of Rilo Kiley (which shouldn’t surprise anybody since they’re one of my favorite bands). I had reached the threshold of 30 when I realized that there weren’t any songs with a powerful, raw female lead. The kind of lead Jenny Lewis fans live for, that says “I’m going to belt this line and don’t give a sh*t what you think it sounds like because I’m having a blast singing it.” Almost simultaneously, the chorus to “Reminders” popped into my head while driving home from work. I immediately recorded it into my iPhone (in an awful falsetto), and when I got home, forced Lauren to stop what she was doing so she could come try and sing what I’d written. This was uncharted territory for her. She has a beautiful, somber voice that fans had already experienced in “Sorrow,” but never before tried singing a straight-forward pop/rock song. The end result turned out to be a fantastic blend of the 3 vocalists from Growth and Squalor: Lauren and myself splitting the verses with Ben taking the chorus harmony.
The other side of the coin is that I wanted to write a song that was easily accessible. Up until this point, my songwriting style has typically been very personal from a lyrical standpoint, and more obtuse from a musical one. This song is structured like a pop-rock-radio-single should be and is catchy to the point where my daughter will randomly start singing it without being provoked whatsoever. It’s about finding inspiration in negative situations, reminding ourselves that at our core we are all simply human beings with beautiful flaws, and realizing that sometimes we need to be torn down to be fulfilled.
At Your Weakest – Ben Hemingway
There was only one song on the record that wasn’t fully written when we went into the studio; At Your Weakest. It was a song that had a real basic structure and melody and nothing else. TJ loved the idea of going into it with no expectations and letting the studio atmosphere shape the song. The harmonies were layered in the moment, and the instrumentation came from more of a feeling than a well-executed plan. It has the most heart of any song on the album.
My favorite part of the process was scoring the orchestra. I’ve done some scoring in the past, but really only strings and some keys. This was the first time I had added in so many instruments. I loved the scope of the song, and figured adding French Horns, Clarinets, Flutes, Harp and Timpani could only enhance the string section and the song as a whole. It succeeded in linking the lyrics to the music on a very primal level, and went from being a song that was on the fence for all of us, to being an obvious choice.
Hold Me Close - Jordan Stewart
In the late Summer and Fall of 2012, TJ started sending around the first new batch of demos he and Lauren had worked on after the release of Growth and Squalor. At the time, we had just “officially” become a band and played our first round of shows, so it was a pretty exciting time to begin with. I was really impressed by all of the new demos, but one of them absolutely knocked me off my feet – and that was the demo for what would become Hold Me Close. Despite it starting as just TJ with an acoustic guitar, I could tell from the first time I listened that the song had the potential to really hook a listener. I’m a child of 90’s pop rock, and there were a lot of elements to the song that really reminded me of the music I grew up listening to.
To me, Hold Me Close was an obvious first song from the album because I think it allows us to explore all of the different elements to the album in a few minutes time. It picks up very similarly to the vibe of G&S, with just TJ and a finger picked acoustic. But then the sound transitions, and the listener is introduced to the rest of the band, from Lauren’s soaring cornet, to the groove Matt and Ben bring to the table, and then the buzz of the ebow filling everything out. The song ebbs and flows between gang vocals, harmonies, and even a little “disco” bassline from Matt in the second verse/bridge. I love playing it live because it is a fun song to have a crowd sing along with, and its also a challenging song because of the different moving pieces throughout. It’s been awesome to see the really positive response to it, and brings me all the way back to me sitting at my computer with a pair of headphones, listening to TJ’s demo with a huge smile on my face.