Between working on Grand Hallway's Winter Creatures album and recording with Raymond Byron and The White Freighter, Portland, Oregon musician of many hats and even more projects, Cory Gray, recorded his upcoming album A Plan To Tell the Future under the handle of Carcrashlander. Recorded in the post-session evenings and days off in a studio dubbed Scenic Burrows in SW Portland's Goose Hollow for Jealous Butcher Records, Gray shared an early listen to the flickering freeway rained cadences of, “All My Light Begins to Dissipate”. With a résumé that checks musical collaborations with The Dandy Warhols, Graves, and a recent album called Wake The Dreamers from Shelley Short and the Sure Shots that involves various members from The Decemberists, Black Prairie, and Pure Bathing Culture; Carcrashlander brings new song sketches to life birthed in those after hours that beckons the creative forces to materialize out of the insomniatic ether.
“All My Light Begins to Dissipate” chugs down the rambling interstates with tumbling and turning engine drums and burning 8-bit synthesized minor keys. Talk and tales of being done wrong and pained are met with the blood bought glass smashing sessions, anchored by a sleepless Northwest weariness. “When I arrived, talk was cheap with better things to do than sleep, my weakened heart dropped miles deep”. And then by a minute into the song, the new day dawning brings the titular call of the chorus with all the guitars, pianos and horns Cory can throw in the mix. And like the song title's allusion to the dissipating light, Gray lives up to his adoptive name and car crash lands “All My Light” in a break-up/breakdown of instruments and components that become exhausted and extinguished at the end like the passing of the day's light by the meeting of night. Stick around after the premiere for our conversation with Cory Gray on the making of A Plan To Tell The Future and more.
I'm sure everyone asks you this, but how did you come up with Carcrashlander?
It was from a picture I clipped from a newspaper when I was a kid. I didn't remember where I had thought of the name until I recently rediscovered this clipping in an old book.
How do you feel that your work with so many artists, like Raymond Byron and The White Freighter, The Dandy Warhols, Graves, etc have informed your solo-ish sounds of Carcrashlander?
This record was written before working with most of those folks, but its inevitable that influence comes from friends and projects. I've learned so much from everyone I play with, and though this is a “solo-ish” record it definitely feels like a community effort to me.
We're also really curious to hear about your experience of making that Shelley Short and the Sure Shots record Wake The Dreamers, with members of Decemberists, Black Prairie, and Pure Bathing Culture.
Ah man that project was great fun. It was produced by Adam Selzer at Type Foundry in Portland. Shelley and Adam sent over a list of cover songs, and we booked three days to record the record, all live straight to tape. That group of musicians was an extreme pleasure to play with, I felt like we clicked immediately, and even had the half the record done by the end of the first day! Most of my recording projects lately have been very overdub heavy so it was really refreshing to do something live.
What was it like recording the clairvoyant leaning, A Plan To Tell The Future album? Do you fancy yourself as a kind of medium or fortune teller?
I love this question, by the way, in the title track I muttered something about how trying to tell the future is a bad idea. But I have noticed that sometimes when I go back to old Carcrashlander records the songs will seem like riddles that I wrote then for my future self to solve. I'm sure my clairvoyance skills are just as shabby as the next guy, but it's always fun to look at albums as a documentation of a particular time period. Sometimes a little subconscious reckoning slips out, and you don't notice it until later. And you know maybe I just need to give it some more time but I can't help feeling that I just don't do nostalgia like I used to.
What inspired the morose modes and mighty bursts on, “All My Light Begins to Dissipate”?
Its a story of the natural cycles of escapism. Musically I think I was imagining something between a desert caravan and a volcano. A fiery life and a quiet death. I think I had just been listening to Mercy Seat by Nick Cave when this one happened.
Projections and possible future projects planned for 2014 that you care to share?
There is an awesome short cartoon by Mike Smith I've been scoring with John Askew called “Cooped”, which will be coming out. It's sort of a drunken sounding dirge about about a dog who is stuck inside all day. Super funny. And I wrote the music for an ESPN documentary on the world championship putt-putt golfers called “The Perfect 18” which was quite fun. Oh and I'm now wrapping up a new EP of slow and dark wintery songs that features Ji Tanzer on drums and Pete Holmstrom on guitar. It has a Harry Nilsson cover and a Lee Hazelwood cover on it.
A Plan To Tell the Future will be available January 14 from Jealous Butcher.