Us and Us Only | Full Flower
Us and Us Only...
Sean Mercer - drums, all recording/engineering stuff, A+ harmonies
Mike Suica - some keys, some guitar, some violin
Nick Hughes - bass, tiny keyboards
Kinsey Matthews - singing the songs, playing the songs on guitar also
The "Super Long Version"
I was playing a show as a very early and hardly legit version of Us and Us Only, it was just me playing in this warehouse, doing Phil Ochs covers or something. I forgot my guitar that night and Sean, who I had just met, picked it up and let me know later that he had it and I should come pick it up. So I went by his house a few days later, we sat and played with his cat for one very long and awkward hour. One of us, probably Sean, suggested that we play some music.
So I asked Mike to come along because he knew Sean and I was way nervous. And we started playing these folk-ish songs that were like, 90 seconds long. We did that for a while, put out Denim Everything which you can't find anymore, Dark Cloud Past, the Lifting Lake Eerie 7". At this point, Nick, who was a friend of Sean's, started playing bass and it made perfect sense right out of the gate.
Our good friend Dan Windsor, of Dungeon Kids, joined the band and we worked on Bored Crusader which was probably the first time we were like - damn, ok, we can be pretty and heavy without going too deep into either.
That was also the first release that Lindsey Mills sang on. Lindsey had been been a good friend of mine from the way early UAUO days and is an wildly talented songwriter and extraordinary human. She sang on a bunch of songs from "Full Flower" as well and we put out a tape split like way back in the day.
At this point, we were fortunate enough to be picked up by Topshelf Records who are total angels with a true love and passion for what they do. We finished Full Flower not long after and I feel like we finally had the most realized vision of what we wanted to make.
We included little vignettes (as Sean calls them and feels like it makes good sense) like "sun4u" or "way2loud" which made it actually feel like an album. We found a home for songs we had been working on for years like "Dresses" and "Winter Sails" which I had originally written for short film a friend had made.
So that was the super long version. Is that cool? Lol. Um, short story is that I was making bad music and almost lost my guitar but then Sean, Suica, and Nick came along and we made some cool stuff that I'm proud of and thankful for.
Baltimore is unique and there is nothing like it. I think there are artists from here that speak so truthfully and eloquently about what makes this city special, often in light of or in spite of what's wrong with the city, such as Abdu Ali, Jana Hunter, and Dan Deacon.
I think that in a city with so many different types of people and environments and landscapes, of course there is going to be the weirdest and most wonderful art. Like, in the last twenty years, Baltimore has been home to Double Dagger, Celebration, Matmos, JPEGMAFIA, Beach House, Nina Gala, and TT The Artist. How lucky can we be?
As far as how we've been received here, I feel like maybe we've always occupied a weird space. When we started, we were the folk band on the punk show and the other way around. By this point, we've had opportunities to play with people I never imagined playing music with. We've been able to connect with people who are music resonates with and meet incredible artists, so besides actually making dope money, you can't ask for much more than that. Lol.
I am the probably the first person to feel like I'm stuck in a place that I'm tired of, but Baltimore will take the most jaded person and surprise them year after year with incredible shit that you can only find here. I wouldn't make music without Baltimore and I feel like I'm probably not alone in that sentiment.
We've been so beyond fortunate to be able to work with incredible artists across all mediums. We’ve worked with Michael Tunk on art for the Lifting Lake Eerie 7” and Full Flower. I had followed him on Tumblr because he did the incredible art for Angel Olsen's Sleepwalker7". If I remember correctly, we had been chatting about him doing a flyer or something, and that turned into him doing the art for Lifting Lake Eerie. Same as I can't imagine any of the last few releases without Lindsey singing on them, I can't imagine any other art than Michael's.
Monolith Productions did "Rapture" which was a great vid and turned into a meme or thing that kids post and turn into t-shirts and I'd guess that none of the people on their team get credit for it like they should, but yeah. Glad that people like it still, no doubt, haha.
Our most recent photos were taken by our friend, Noorann Matties. She's an incredible photographer who I'd wanted to work with for a long time. Wanna do that again sooner than later. We had worked with Micah E. Wood before that who is a fantastic photographer here in the city too. We're lucky to work with my favorite people in the city. It's great.
As far as influences, we all find a common ground on Wye Oak. That's always my go-to. I know we all grew up on different things, but came together on semi-dramatic indie rock and variations of things like that - Spencer Krug's bands, Modest Mouse, Mirah, Fionn Regan, etc. I don't know how much those things ever came through in our music though. Thematically, I've spent the last five years heavily influenced by Joan Didion, old horror films, Richard Brautigan. And I just heard Broadcast in the last year so now I want everything I write to sound like them.
The record took a few years to come together. We all grew so much, musically and personally, after Bored Crusader. So we had the mind to realize we don't want to rush an album that we're not confident in and proud of.
I had been bouncing around some of these songs for years in different forms. It took a while to find the thread between them all and make it an actual vibe. We did a little bit of writing in the studio like Sean and Nick adding various riffs and keyboard parts, but largely came in with everything ready to go. John Toohey had played with us for a little while and absolutely shredded on "Full Flower". That's the only guitar solo I've ever enjoyed. Also, RIP Mobtown Studios, the home base, the best place. We did most of our records there and I wish it were still around so we could do the next five records there too.
As far as favorites on the album, I feel like "My Mouth" is like, peak Us and Us Only. It's got a lil groove and also gets a bit drone-y. That or "Veiled / Forming" which I think is just gorgeous thanks to Mike's violin. And it's about having a panic attack at the car wash which is the most "me" shit ever.
So now we're here, I guess? We're demoing songs for the new album now. We're trying to skip the part where we wait forever to put something out again. The new album will be a little lighter in vibe. Full Flower was me processing a fucked awful sad time of my life, so I want to be writing more songs about beautiful stuff I usually miss throughout the day or songs about being too stoned and thinking I'm seeing ghosts at the Giant on 41st street.
We have a remix of one song from Full Flower that our friend Hans, who goes by White Wreath, did that is dope. And a way weird version of "My Mouth" that I want out in the world so badly. We'll drop some stuff here and there in 2018, no doubt.
Cool! Ok, I think we covered some ground there. Ummmm beyond that? 2018 feels like the end of the world so please god try to be nice to everyone you meet. Hold the door open for people that cut in front of you in line. Treat everything good that happens to you like a birthday gift. Pray that the lord grants us more Frank Ocean singles in before Trump gets us all killed.