I’ve closed almost every show I’ve played since 2003 with this song. The guitar solo has morphed and transitioned so many times. It used to be more improvisational but I think after playing it so much I decided to piece together my favorite bits to make a definitive arrangement. I like knowing where to go as a guitar player and it’s always been a bit of a handicap to improvise on the spot. I am always working on getting better though! This outtake came from the “Acoustic Sessions Volume 2” sessions. The only reason it was ultimately left off the album was because there is an earlier version on ‘Volume 1’ and I didn’t want to repeat myself. I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times and have gotten in a bad habit of re-releasing songs (Can’t you tell?!) I will justify that in saying it at least gives the listener some insight as to how an artist can grow and change the same song throughout their career, and it gives you an alternative listening experience. At any rate, enjoy!
Open Road was intended for the unreleased album “Snapshots.” It’s a lyrical picture about life on tour with my wife/best friend. We’ve gone everywhere together, many times more than once. I’m so thankful and lucky to have a partner that’s willing to live life on the road with me. It’s a rare thing and I cherish that so much.
This unreleased version of “Fix Me” is about a full minute longer than the official single edit. It differs in that it features a small instrumental section followed by an additional chorus. 2010 was a very quiet year for Five Times August musically, only two singles were released, this being one of them. Plans were made to record a new album entitled “Snapshots” but a failed attempt to raise the needed funds halted the project indefinitely. Since then most of the songs for that album have fell by the wayside. “Fix Me” was a song written out of the frustration of needing help from someone you’ve been there for time and time again and not getting it. This has happened throughout my career and very much the sad reason “Snapshots” was never made. Several unfinished demos may be heard throughout the “Rare, Live, and Unreleased” collection.
I was 18 or 19 when I wrote “Hover.” It’s one of my favorite early songs that never really got it’s due. It appears on “Acoustic Sessions Volume 2” in a stripped guitar/vocal performance, but this live recording from the Sweetwater Sound Theater is probably the closest to what it would have sounded like with full band instrumentation on an album. I always had plans to record a studio version but it just never happened. Well, perhaps someday.
This acoustic novelty was recorded for a YouTube video back in 2008. One of the great things about covering a song like this is that you don’t have to take it seriously, which I didn’t. Unfortunately there were several YouTubers who didn’t get the joke and were upset that I didn’t change the lyric from “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it” to “girlfriend.” Oh well. Enjoy!
This ‘cute’ little recording was originally sent out to fans on the FTA mailing list in early 2006. “Chains,” written by Carol King and Gerry Goffin, was released in 1962 by The Cookies, and later recorded and released by The Beatles as well for their first album “Please Please Me.” I’ve been a huge Beatle fan since the age of 11 and though this tune isn’t a Lennon/McCartney original, I supposed was a lite nod to the Fab-Four. Normally when I decide to perform a song that I did not write myself I want it to almost be educational for the listener so they go “Oh what was that song, who wrote that?” Hopefully in doing a little research I’ve turned them on to some music they wouldn’t have known otherwise. Check out both The Cookies and The Beatles version of “Chains,” as well as the songwriting team of Goffin/King.
I was about 20 years old when I wrote “Up To Me.” At that time the lyrics were the most personal I had ever committed to a song, I didn’t think anyone would get it or relate to what I was going through. I think when you are getting over someone, especially when you are younger, your mind tricks you into thinking you’re the only one in the world dealing with a breakup, nobody could possibly understand how hurt you are. As it turns out, more than any other song in my catalogue I get more fans mentioning this one when it comes to “your music helped me get over my ex.” I love that this song can do that, I’m very proud of that. It taught me to be an honest songwriter, not to worry about what people will think and just write.
The original home demo experiments with some electric guitar padding throughout and is certainly not as aggressive as the final product, in fact, much more delicate. You can find the definitive version on the album “Life As A Song” to compare.
In contrast to the raw rock sound of the early live version posted previously, this mellow home demo of “So Typical” shows how drastic a song can change from it’s original inception to the final recording. In typical “That Thing You Do” fashion the song started out slow but by persuasion of the other band members sounded better sped up, so ultimately you hear the faster rock version on “The Independent” album. However, slow and mellow is more often how you will hear it performed live at one of my shows. If you were to map out the song chronologically you would start here, then listen to the early live version, then it’s official release on “The Independent” and follow up with it’s most recent incarnation on “Acoustic Sessions Volume 2” - a lot of versions, but pure insight to life as a song.
This recording dates back to December 8th, 2004 - exactly seven years to the day that I am now uploading it online for the “Rare, Live, & Unreleased” collection. At that time I was still a local artist, often playing a place called RBar in Denton by the University of North Texas. It was during one of those shows that I met Chris Hawkes who helped piece together the earliest of FTA band line ups. After recording the “Something Clever E.P.” together we decided to do a full album and began demoing. “So Typical” was originally a mellow acoustic tune that quickly turned into something of a Gin-Blossoms-influenced rock song. I had trouble finding my voice within the new band, feeling like I had to project over all the other instruments. I don’t sound like myself here, and it’s probably the most “garage band” Five Times August has ever sounded, but it’s an interesting little time capsule for a young band getting to know each other. This specific recording was originally given out as a free download to mailing list subscribers as a preview to what would eventually become the album “Fry Street.”
Much of the earliest Five Times August recordings are layered with countless acoustic guitar parts. I didn’t have many other instruments to record with so I just used what I had. However, this 2003 demo features the addition of two unique sounds not heard in any other Five Times August recording to date. The first sound was more experimental and came from what’s called an eBow, a piece of gear used to infinitely sustain guitar strings for solos. I used it with a distorted electric guitar and created a small lead lick for the intro of the song. The other sound is that of a mandolin. I bought a cheap acoustic guitar online for $100 that actually came with a free mandolin. After spending a short time getting to know the instrument I pieced together a little mandolin solo which I’m still proud of to this day… not bad for having it only a day or two!