"Courage": This is about misunderstandings and reaching a boiling point in a relationship. When I wrote the lyrics, I pictured an argument with your better half. It's to the point that the girl's going to hit you, but it never actually crosses over to such brutality. I sing in the chorus, "You should try not to be so courageous," because you know that courage isn't going to last. It's like a "Jenga" game, right before the pieces collapse.
"Movies": "Movies" is one of my favorites. It's a very honest, real story felt by everyone in the band. I compare a bad relationship to the movies. Lyrically, everything in it relates to film, like the line "At slow speed we all seem focused." My writing used to be much more cryptic, but this song is more direct and it has a happier feel. Terry wrote a cool Pacman riff for it.
"Flesh And Bone": We're not the most religious people, but Tye suggested I write about God. The first thing that came to mind was bashing those fanatical people who force religion on me. But it seemed classier to write something positive about religion, something that embraces it. This song's about knowing there's something greater out there without saying exactly what it is. The Bible doesn't play into it, though I borrowed a few lines from it for the benefit of rhyme. It was challenging to write.
"Whisper": Terry asked why we even named the song "Whisper" because it's a very heavy, pissed-off song. The band was going through some tough times when I wrote it. We'd been showcasing for labels and midway through the set, the record executives would start whispering to each other. We're trying to play our best, but we're wondering what they're saying about us, or if they're even talking about us at all. I don't think we were bitter, just fed up with the people whispering about us.
"Summer": "Summer" is straight lovey-dovey and not supposed to be anything particularly deep but rather a cool play on words. Lyrically, I go through all the seasons. Throughout it, I say things like, "Tried to give you summer, but I'm winter/ Wish I could make you spring, but I fall so hard."
"Sticks And Stones": Everyone has heard that saying "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me." This is another one where I play with words. It's full of angst. I was reminiscing about past phone conversations that led to arguments. They happen for no reason, just because one person is moody. The beat is driving and has a reggae vibe to it because the bass drum is constant.
"Attitude": This is my favorite song on the record. I'm not very good at relationships and have done bad things in the past. With "Attitude," I'm telling a girl that her feelings of rage are acceptable - everything she does is okay because the guy she's in a relationship with did such horrendous things. It has a cool Latin vibe.
"Stranded": This song is all about the ocean and has as many puns as I could put in there. My ex-girlfriend was really into whales and marine biology. She hated me at the time, so I thought I would try and woo her with this song. It didn't work. Maybe flowers and dinner would've been better.
"Wish": This is the very first song we wrote - it's amazing it's lasted so long and has made it to the record. It relays the message that people should make their own thing happen and not worry about the critics out there. For example, my thing is music, and I tell people who criticize that to create their own wish. This is my dream - they should find their own thing instead of tearing into mine.
"Calico": This is basically a feel-good breakup song with a waltzy groove. I wasn't trying to be deep here - the words just sound cool when they're sung. When the guitar comes in, it creates a perfect intro for a yell.
"Death Day": "Death Day" is pretty morbid, but I wrote it strictly for fantasy purposes. We've all gotten frustrated with certain people, sometimes to the point where you wish they would die. But you also realize that if they actually did die, you'd be devastated. I'm singing, "Papa's got a brand new body bag for you" - it's like James Brown's line "Papa's got a brand new bag," but cooler.
"Smooth Criminal": We're all big fans of Michael Jackson, and this cover is an ally for us. Terry and Tye were messing with it in the garage one day, and the riff screamed out to be heavy. We played with death metal bands while we were in Europe, and people would go ape shit when they heard our version. People that don't even like us like this song.
"Universe": Awesome, moody, Radiohead-influenced. [Arranger] David Campbell turned it into a monster with his string section, but without making it corny. The lyrics relate to some unforgivable things I've done, things I could never share with anyone.
"Orange Appeal" (hidden track): The title is another play on words, like "orange peel." It's made up of quick, little lines that reminded me of my childhood. I say "apples" and "oranges" in Spanish, and then refer to a family tree. Musically, it starts with nylon string acoustics, then slowly builds up. The vocals are out of key because I had a nice wine buzz on during the recording