Track By Track: Adam Hattaway’s Crying Lessons One By One

Yesterday marked the release of the debut album by Christchurch band Adam Hattaway and the Haunters.

The album is titled Crying Lessons and was produced by Delaney Davidson.

Adam Hattaway made his way up to Auckland recently to come to The 13th Floor and talk to Marty Duda about the album.

So, listen in as Adam and Marty go through Crying Lessons, track by track!

Click here to listen to the interview:

Or, read a transcription of the interview here:

M: We’re here with Adam Hattaway, we’re gonna talk about your new album Crying Lessons.

A: That’s right

M: And why do you say it like that? How do you feel about the title?

A: Well it’s been a little bit of a saga…..

M: Why’s that?

A: I wanted to call it that straight away, we thought of it early on we just thought it sounded good and then the whole time my buddy who produced the album.

M: Delaney?

A: Yeah Delaney Davidson. He hated the title real bad, he kept trying to talk us out of it and he half convinced me a couple of times and then they called that cause I just feel it’s the right album title but he hates it so much and it’s just like …

M:At least it elicits a reaction

A: What do you think? Do you like the title?

M: Worked for me

A: Most people really like and I’m like why …… it seems like a good album title. That’s all there is to it. Doesn’t mean anything.

M: I think it’s a good title yeah. So you had Delaney producing it. You recorded it up at the Lab just down the street with Jol Mulholland engineering.

A: He was

M: So what was that process all like working with those guys?

A: Well we had the songs for over the year before and then Delaney did a few rehearsals with us cause he rearranged them quite a lot of ways and then we went up and it was much, the basic tracking was much more efficient and fast than I expected because man Delaney works fast. Track six or something is called Cry In Vain, it was one of the first tracks we recorded, we’re all live, the whole album is recorded like a live band cause we really wanted that sound playing together. I was in the room doing a guide vocal, first take like a first thing on Monday morning, first take was the one that we used we didn’t even do another. Delaney said, ‘That’s it!” And I’m like wanna do another one just to be safe and he’s like no we’ve done it that’s it.

M: He’s a man after my own heart that’s what I like to do.

A: And by the end of it I loved that. It’s like he knew how to grab the essence, if it’s gonna be live and that song I kept the guide vocal for the track for the actual vocal take, so that’s what it was like a lot of the time we’d do one or two takes and we’d be like let’s do another one Delaney would be like No, but he’s just full of great ideas and he knew exactly what we wanted.

M: So you guys are all from Christchurch right?

A: Yeah.

M: And Delaney so is that how you know each other?

A: Yup Delaney and I have a real good mutual friend in common and his name’s Al and he’s older he’s kind of like an honorary dad to heaps of us, me and Delaney both included, and we’ve just vaguely known each other over the years and everyone kind of knows each other in our circle.

M: Well let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of the record.` The first track is called I’m Your Man. What can you tell me about that?

A: That was one that I actually, sounds a little silly but I wrote it in my sleep because sometimes, it’s like I think three songs on this album were written that way. I wake up and the song is in my head and they’re always my best ones so I wish it happened everyday cause maybe they’re just untampered with or something.

M:That’s how Keith Richards came up with the riff for Satisfaction.

A: That’s right does he is it that he didn’t even remember recording it just went back to sleep.

M: I can’t remember the story exactly but there was some, he either recorded it while he was asleep or woke up the next morning and went holy crap what’s this .

A: It’s just I woke up with the song, with the chorus just going on in my head cause I feel like it was in the dream somehow, wake up it’s there, record just me singing a line on my phone then it totally just sparks the rest of the song because…

M: This would be a good time to discuss the rest of the band as well.

A: So, there’s Elmore Jones guitar and vocals he’s like a really sought after musician in Christchurch who works at the studio there Sitting Room and he’s one of the best musicians and my buddy Liam Quinn on the bass I went to high school with him, we’re good friends from way back and then Thomas Isbister and he’s just an amazing drummer and on the album Delaney played…I played guitar and I used to play guitar all the time but in this album I didn’t play hardly any guitar, Delaney played guitar with Elmore the whole time, cause they really wanted that Rolling Stones, I don’t know if I’m talking too much.

M: No, the more the better.

A: I really wanted the Rolling Stones two guitars overlapping and as Keith Richards would say the art of weaving or something, the ancient art of weaving in and out of each other. I really wanted that Delaney and Elmore just do that so good and they did it on another album. Actually the songs of the guy who I mentioned before, the honorary father of ours, Al Park, Delaney produced the album, Al wrote all the songs and the album had different singers on each song. There was Barry Saunders, I did a song, Jordon Luck did one. It was kind of a weird it was like he’s died or something. Delaney and Elmore played together the whole way through them and I was like that’s what I want for this and Delaney played some organ. And we has some horns, there was a couple of tracks with horns on them.

M: Next track is Take Care Of You

A: That was another dream one

M: Another dream?

A: Yeah.

M: You are very productive sleeping.

A: I know cause I’m like always telling myself you gotta write something you gotta write something and then yeah it’s a pretty good way to do it actually.

M: So when you wake up from these dreams with these songs, are they fully formed or do they need some work?

A: They’re usually pretty much a whole chorus which is pretty cool and that’s if you’ve got a one good part you can get another part quite easily. I just find most of the songs I like have one part and then yeah I made even if I write a second part it will be kind shit and then eventually I’ll find another part to fit to it and Take Care Of You is chorus dream, everything else just came together. It started in a different feel then I turned it into more of a soul thing.

M: Think About Me is the next one

A: I gave Delaney like twenty songs to choose from and that was one of the last ones I thought he’d pick cause I though it was a bit average. I wanted to write a bluegrass sounding song but I think he thought it would be a really good fit because it’s got a different feel from all the other songs and I still think, I probably shouldn’t say this but probably the worst song on the album.

M: That’s alright you’re allowed to have an opinion

A: And its about…. y’know when you friend gets into a relationship and you never see them again it’s like, hang out or whatever and my friend who  I wrote it about, I kind of wrote it about it’s about like anyone but he used to always leave like KFC wrappers in my car and I wrote the line ‘You always leave KFC papers in my car’ and Elmore thinks that the worst line to ever happen in music and I was like but it’s ridiculous let’s just …. it’s good.

M: And how you miss the KFC wrappers cause he’s not around

A: Well yeah, oh yeah

M: That’s a sad story man

A: There you go

M: Like A Sailor is the fourth track on the album.

A: Oh yeah, probably the worst song title in the album, Like A Sailor. Bob Dylan wrote songs a lot of the time by it gets pretty close to plagiarism I’d say.

M: Oh yeah definitely he’d be the first to admit it though

A: So there you go I mean obviously I don’t know what that saying is …

M: That’s because Bob Dylan…he knows like every old song from the 1800’s on back they’re all stuck in his brain

A: Super…..

M: So when he needs a melody he just borrows from those.

A: Exactly and why not admit it because if you don’t do it knowingly you’re doing it subconsciously probably anyway. Everything’s been done like lyrics I guess are more original than there’s only twelve notes you can have in a song so I was like let’s do that with this song and then I was like do you know the song Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum from Love And Theft?.

M: Yup

A: We took that feel and then and we just made up different chords and then a melody came out of that…except the chorus, I stole the melody from The Beatles song I’ve Just Seen a Face but then I altered the melody a little bit it and then ended up with something cool. And then Delaney changed the feel completely and it sounds like a country disco feel which is kind of crazy. Oh, I only play guitar on two songs on the album and it’s Think About Me and the guitar solo in Like a Sailor.

M: So you’re borrowing from Dylan and The Beatles that’s not bad I mean if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best

A: Exactly

M: Hopefully they won’t come after you. Until The Right Time is track five.

A: I think I guess this one sounds a bit corny to say it cause with a lot of the ideas in the album which is about like relationship breakups which man who would have thought writing songs about that right?

M: Right, hardly ever happens!

A: No it happens believe me. We’re just trying to say like well it actually a good thing it’s not kind of trying to look at it in a positive light like you’re in love until the right time rather than oh no it’s over. It’s just it could be a positive thing and a comforting thing and relationships just seem so doomed but instead of seeming doomed maybe they should just be like it happens and it’s good and then it ends and that’s good because it’s should.  It sounds a little pessimistic but I think it’s positive. Delaney changed the feel of that song and it was the biggest disagreement we had about the songs I really didn’t want to change that one it used to be a swing feel and it sounded a bit jaunty and a bit cheesy. He was right of course to change it to the feel we got it in but I was sure that wasn’t a good, I really like my own feel and then I was like  I’m just gonna record it I’m just gonna do a version of it in the swing feel and he just left.

M: Doesn’t want anything to do with this

A: No so it was pretty funny I was like ok so that’s how we’re gonna roll fine and I was like let’s do it anyway and then he’s always right. And then when we did the version his way I knew it was right he just sort of came across and shook my hand which kind of cracks me up but I just like his style.

M: It’s pretty cool. So is he a fun guy to work with or is there tension?

A: He is real fun to work with and he’s actually funny and real good times anyway he’s a good friend but there’s always a little bit of tension I’d say in any kind of situation like that and him just being like no we’re doing this no we’re not gonna do any more takes. We actually need that like that’s what you need from a producer in some way but yeah there were never any bad feelings or any kind of tension like that.

M: Now we’re back to Cry In Vain which you touched on earlier.

A: Yeah one take my vocal take the only thing we changed was overdubbed some organ there’s not much really I can say about that. I know we wrote it because we used to have a soul band, most of us were in a soul covers band and we used to play like James Brown and all that classic stuff, Otis Redding. And I was just like we should try to write some music like this and that’s how all this started I was like ok play the groove from Soul Man or whatever and then do these chords ok now change there now I’m just gonna start incoherently making some Van Morrison-esque noises and then we changed

M: Some grunting with an Irish accent

A: What could be better, Cry In Vain. And that’s also got the idea about relationships ending and it’s ok like, you better find some reason to cry again.

M: I’d be willing to bet that The Stones and The Beatles when they started, out they were writing songs the same way. You know grab an old Solomon Burke tune and something from Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters.

A: Totally and the thing is once you take the thing you can tweak each part again so then it really is you own and all it takes is an original idea I reckon and then it’s totally you’re own thing there’s nothing shameful about that.

M: No certainly not. Alright, She Loves Everyone.

A: Yeah

M: Who is this girl?

A: I actually don’t know what that’s about. Sorry just let me think cause sometimes I forget and the  I remember later on. I think I was just trying to write a song that… again I didn’t think I would have chosen that song and it had a weird disjointed groove and he was like ‘just straighten it out’, and then it was like this rock banger. Yeah it’s kind of just a fun rock song and it’s got this octave vocal thing in the verses with there’s a vocal doing the same thing an octave lower and I think it sounds really cool.

M: So you’re saying you’re surprised Delaney picked this song. Were there other songs that didn’t get picked for the record?

A: There were like three songs that did that I was surprised about and then…oh actually I had to really convince him to have Wanna Take Care Of You on the album but then my friend who is a musician who goes by the name of Pickle Darling

M: Pickle Darling?

A: Pickle Darling. Not Pickled Onion he was like this is the best song this is my favourite song please put it on the album so I was like fine. So there was one other song that was this country kind of song that Delaney didn’t choose but I didn’t mind cause I trusted him and I knew that he would do the best he could for the album.

M: The next one is a co-write, Over It, with Elmore.

A: It’s a twelve bar blues which is actually the one I’m most proud of because people don’t I don’t think, this is gonna sound arrogant but write blues songs very well anymore cause It’s all been done. And I was like that would be my dream but I know that sounds a bit silly but to write a blues song that’s half decent cause I just` love that music. This is the other one Delaney picked and I was like I would love to do it but it’s just this boring twelve bar blues this meandering this and he’s like, ‘That’s because no-one else does that and we’re gonna make it real good’. Oh the Time Out Of Mind Bob Dylan album do you know that one?

M: Yup.

A: We were going for that for this album and he was like, ‘well it’s a blues just swampy, heaps of organ’, and when I put my vocals through the guitar amp for a lot of the slower ones like Bob did apparently and so he made it work and I just kind of wrote it and then Elmore was like, ‘y’know what else Bob does?’, we just sound like Bob Dylan freaks, ‘he just takes lines out of movies’. So then we watched the movie Angel Heart.

M: Just randomly watching Angel Heart?

A: It was one of the night we were on tour and then it was so good that we had to watch it every night partly cause I fell asleep at different points each time but by the end of the five nights of recording but the end of the stint we were up here, I knew a lot of the lines from that movie and Elmore and I just chucked some of them into the song but we kind of twisted them. But half of the lyrics were written just solely just from my mind.

M: Alright and then we have Delaney Davison tune Control It. Why did you record that one?

A: He was showing us some demos that he’d written for…he was producing Tami Neilson’s album at the same time he’d written a bunch of songs for her and she didn’t want that one and when I heard it, he was just showing us and I think he secretly wanted us to record it he was like, ‘I kind of imagine you sort of strolling down by the river like in that video you did like it’s a rock and roll kind of song’, and I was like this song’s so good we need it and we did it and I think it’s a bit of a sexy song from Delaney.

M: I like your Delaney impersonation by the way.

A: Ha thanks.

M: I think he’ll be thrilled when he hears it.

A: He will be he deserves it.

M: And then we have Elmore’s song Nothing Lasts.

A: I can’t really tell you that much about it cause he wrote it but it must be about his wife. He only got married in the last year and then that song just came out of no where and he said it’s not about anything it’s just a song and I’m like it’s about your wife. Nothing lasts forever so it’s very sweet and sentimental but it fits in with the album lyrically so there you go.

M: The whole Crying Lessons

A: Yeah

M: Sounds like Crying Lessons could be a Roy Orbison album title

A: There you go yeah and each song is a different lesson that’s as far as I’ve got with the idea of the title

M: The last lesson is Heartbreak Heart.

A: Heartbreak Heart, it doesn’t actually make much sense anyway oh that’s a dream one

M: The third dream

A: The third dream and it’s probably my favourite, it’s probably the best one but then it sounds so like Rolling Stones just like a stomping kind of, it’s sound like that and that’s probably why I like it and it’s got I reckon a bit like a 70’s glam rock guitar sound in the chorus that Elmore came up with and I really like that.

M: Do you have a favourite Stones album?

A: Well it’s ended up being Exile On Main Street but I love Some Girls.

M: I’m right with you on both of those, I highly recommend Black and Blue

A: I love Black and Blue, oh Wanna Take Care Of You I stole the falsetto from Mick Jagger and also Van Morrison. You can see what kind of music we like but that Fool To Cry kind of thing and also that was something that I don’t hear a lot of people doing and I was like that’s cool falsetto I’ll do that. There’s one line in Heartbreak Heart so I needed someone on the double bass and I finally found Mike he’s a stand up guy he plays double bass cause my sister quit my sister couldn’t do it, but yeah she couldn’t do it I had to get him then I said he said and I misquote cause he never said this it’s just me, he said ‘Don’t go hanging out in Lyttleton unless you wanna get a fix cause it’s full of drugs and dicks’

M: I could just see the Lyttleton chamber of commerce quoting you on that one that’d be great. Alright so that gets us through the record

A: I hope I said enough about She Loves Everyone cause I just couldn’t….

M: I’m sure you’re good

A: Sweet

M: So what’s the plan now?

A: We’re gonna do a little tour, eight shows around New Zealand and album comes out on Friday and I guess that’s it.

M: Just keep on trucking

A: Yeah, got another record pretty much ready to go

M: Nice one