Dear Listener / Internet Surfer / Intrigued Music Consumer-
Thank for you for taking the time to read about our new record, What’s Real. We have been working on this album for the better part of two years. Or maybe I have been working on this album since I was 14. That was when I first heard the bands that made me want to pick up the guitar and learn to play. When I became consumed over the angst, the freedom, the recklessness of rock and roll, the escape it created and allowed, and the feeling of unity with anyone who was discovering and finding the same.
I started writing this album as soon as we got home from touring behind our debut record Out In The Light. All of a sudden, I was sitting still for the first time in years, and I dove into my early musical influences to find that what I once thought were alternative anthems of recklessness, of angst, of societal alienation, were also perfectly constructed songs. It wasn’t pop. But it became popular for a reason. And as a songwriter I began to see that music in a new light.
I approached this album from that place. From a place of seeing that songs can sound big, feel big, and still be incredibly personal. Still be brutally honest. Still leave everything on the table. And while current alternative radio is pumping out songs about the “best day of my life” and “wanting to be like the cool kids”, I wanted to write songs about heartbreak, about finding clarity, about feeling stuck in your hometown. And I wrote it with the hope that people connect with it in a visceral way. In an emotional way. The way I am connecting to it. A connection I feel is not as expected these days.
This record was recorded over a 15 month period while I was living in San Francisco and taking road trips down to record with friend and Grouplove producer/drummer Ryan Rabin. The first song we recorded together was “Got To My Head”. He got where I was coming from and became my collaborator throughout the majority of the process. We pushed this record to the extremes, trying to fit as many hooks at times, capturing throat wrenching vocal takes at others. I was writing while recording. A lot of the writing takes on past tragic relationships I have since moved on from. “I Feel Everything” is a song about the addiction of abusive and extreme relationships, “Over It” is a song about finally getting out of it, and “What’s Real” is about the constant struggle to weed out the impersonal and temporary relationships and yearning for something more. The songs came from desperate times. They came from a place where I would rather be in any situation than the one I was in. Some of them were written while in it, some of them are reflection.
I recorded a handful of the songs with another producer Carlos De La Garza. Among those are “Rebel Yell”, a song about longing for the drive to care about the state of the world like I once did so intensely, but has faded with the distractions of adulthood, and “Mom And Dad’s,” a song about the realities of having to move back in with your parents after you thought you were gone for good, and finding everything both completely changed and exactly the same.
This record could not have been possible without my band. I met them all while living in San Francisco. It’s a new band from the last record. Andrew Wales plays Drums. Brian DaMert plays Guitar. Greg Sellin plays Bass. And Sara DaMert plays Keys. They have helped me take these songs from my headphones to the stage and have realized them in the greatest way possible. they do them every justice I could have asked. I am so grateful to have them.
When we finished the record I felt like we had made a sonic place. It felt like my bedroom in high school. We accomplished my goal in providing a world for someone who needs a real alternative. An escape. I don’t care if that sounds cheesy. I am not worried about it. Come to our shows. Participate in the energy. We will leave it all on the table. We expect the audience to as well. There is something really rewarding in doing so. It’s what I dreamt about when I was 14 and started playing guitar. It’s what I still dream about today. It’s What’s Real.
The record comes out sometime in April. I really hope you like it.
Some words about the sender: Van Pierszalowski grew up in Cambria, CA (a small coastal town halfway between SF and LA). He founded and played in a band called Port O’Brien named after a fishing cannery in Alaska near where he spent his summers as a commercial salmon fisherman. After the split of the band, he began WATERS, his new musical project based out of San Francisco. He has spent a lot of time in Norway over the past few years romancing a particular girl. And has recently relocated to Los Angeles for the space, the cheaper rent, the dream, but not the clean air.