Editors’ Notes American Football is no longer a short-lived alliance. The Illinois-based emo rockers have settled into a new pace following their unexpected return in 2014. It wasn’t until after their reunion tour in support of their 1999 self-titled LP that they agreed to write a follow-up, if only because they enjoyed performing live but quickly got bored of playing the same songs. With their third self-titled LP, they can now lay to rest any concerns about their continuance as a band. “It’s as if you go to a high school reunion and people expect you to be the same,” singer-songwriter Mike Kinsella tells Apple Music. “You would be like, 'This is so weird. Why does everybody think I’m going to be the same 20 years later?' Now that we’re established, we can take many different directions without feeling we’re letting anyone down. It feels liberating.” Kinsella, his multi-instrumentalist brother Nate, and guitarist Steve Holmes reveal the stories behind American Football (LP3) with this track-by-track guide.

Mike: “That one started very American Football-y with a pattern of two interlocked guitars. The most interesting development came when Nate added some bells that were in a different key. It also is different than any other American Football song in how there are different kinds of minor key. It has a major sixth interval from the root, which is different from a natural minor sixth. Anyway, that’s super heady and nerdy, but that’s one difference I made when writing the vibraphone part.”

Nate: “Obviously we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re just feeling it out. That’s new for us, to use pedals and drones instead of so much busy picking stuff.”

“Every Wave to Ever Rise” (feat. Elizabeth Powell)
Mike: “We were passing different ideas and demos back and forth and had most of the music settled on. One of the vocal ideas I had was doing a falsetto, but it didn’t translate. It didn’t land as heavy as it should’ve, so we had the idea of having a girl sing it. We had just played some shows with Land of Talk and we were all excited with Elizabeth’s voice, so we reached out and she was interested. I rewrote some of the vocals in French because I know she speaks French. We sort of wrote it for her.”

“Uncomfortably Numb” (feat. Hayley Williams)
Mike: “It made sense to get a girl’s voice in there to make it sound more like a conversation. Hayley was on board—which we’re still laughing about. At the last minute we decided to write a third verse. It was perfect for Hayley to do. It’s a nice spotlight for her.”

“Heir Apparent”
Steve: “The main riff for this song was written directly after seeing our friends in Pure Bathing Culture live for the first time. Dan [Hindman] is such a phenomenal guitar player. He really blew me away and inspired me to try a sort of Johnny Marr/Smiths-inspired picking pattern. The original demo sounded so much like a nod to the Smiths that we jokingly called it 'Smiffs' in the demo stage. This song is somewhat unique in our catalog, as it’s possibly our most straightforward pop song, at least for the first three and a half minutes. Then it gets more American Football-y in the outro and winds up extending to nearly six minutes.”

“Doom in Full Bloom”
Mike: “This one sounds like more of a callback to an older American Football song, 'Honestly?' Especially the guitar parts. I remember this one guitar part early in the song sort of in between the vocals we liked so much that we wrote the outro around it. It keeps referencing itself in a way, so that’s why it takes seven minutes.”

“I Can’t Feel You” (feat. Rachel Goswell)
Nate: “Lamos [drummer Steve Lamos] sent me a bunch of beats he recorded himself playing. One he sent had this simple driving drumbeat, so I put the guitar over it and made them really slow and in a different tempo. I like how the intro makes it seem like it’s gonna be this drony kind of meditative thing, but then it really takes off once the bass and drums come in. It’s like a total big shift. That part’s exciting.”

“Mine to Miss”
Mike: “The chorus gets a little busy there, but those verses are really sparse and purposely vague and poetic, not to be taken literally. I mean, the first line is 'I miss you like a past life.' Musically, that one seems like it’s going to be really straightforward, and then we try to turn it up just enough to make it interesting.”

“Life Support”
Mike: “I think the album ends pretty bleak. That one moved a lot in the studio, too, lyrically and melodically.”

Nate: "It has a big emotional weight, between having these dark, super heavy phases and lighter moments. I really like that back-and-forth. It has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feeling, a yin and a yang, and I think it works very well.”


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