Notes From The Underground: The Lawrence Arms Review Their Own Records – Part Four, ‘Apathy And Exhaustion’

This is a hard one for me to talk about too objectively, because there was a ton of emotion that went into the making of this record. Firstly, after finally getting some attention we got signed to Fat and people were telling us that we were destined for big things. We were excited and scared and we were confused, as this was a time when uh..emo, screamo, whatever you want to call it was getting big and we were being looked at by lots of bands (and lots of kids) as this kind of hilariously out of touch band.

I remember playing a small festival show in Massachusetts where we started playing (we were all wearing ripped button downs with long stringy hair under trucker hats and we were filthy and not at all what was going on at this festival) and the crowd started laughing. They LAUGHED at the music we were playing. Chris went into the first guitar solo (we were playing ‘A Toast’ for anyone who cares) and the whole room fell apart laughing and then dispersed. That kind of shit was happening a lot.

SO, we had all these expectations, we were dealing with a big label that was being run by our personal heroes, and honestly, I think we kind of played it safe on this recording. I don’t’ think it’s got the balls or the uh…I dunno. It’s just not quite there to me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think there’s stuff on here that works really great (‘Brick Wall Views’ comes to mind instantly as one of the strongest tracks we’ve ever recorded), but I think we hedged our bets a bit and didn’t make the record we were capable of. I know this is a fan fave, and I’m not trying to insinuate that it shouldn’t be. I think this is a good batch of songs.

It’s just that I’ve always thought of us as really pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone with each record and really trying to do something that we’d never done before, and this record was no exception, but what we tried to do was make extremely listener friendly songs with discernable choruses and singalong parts and straightforward motivations. I think it ended up being an important stepping stone for our band, and there’s no way that we ever could have progressed to make our next few records if we hadn’t taken on these sorts of challenges, but at the end of the day, this is my least favorite of our post ‘Ghost Stories’ records.