Rat Saw God

Rat Saw God

“This record is the first time I went in feeling like a musician,” Wednesday’s Karly Hartzman tells Apple Music of Rat Saw God, her North Carolina rock outfit’s fifth LP. “I've had the idea of the sound I wanted since I started playing six years ago, but it took me until [2021’s] Twin Plagues to kind of arrive there. I think I finally did what I've imagined for a long time with Rat Saw God.” What Hartzman has been chasing until now is a braiding together of what she loves most about shoegaze (the total volume, the sheets of guitar) and country music (the storytelling, the vocals close and clear). Inspired by the narrative-rich rock of Drive-By Truckers as well as Lynda Barry’s 2000 graphic novel Cruddy, it’s an album that leans into observational detail and family history, without burying a single word or placing it just out of reach in the mix. “I wouldn't want people to not be able to tell what I'm saying,” she says. “Even though the albums have a clear tone, it's mostly just life that has the tone and I'm putting it into the songs. It's kind of doing it by itself.” Here, she tells the stories behind some of the album’s songs. “Bull Believer” “It hurts to play. I've kind of gotten more used to it now, but it's not an easy song to perform. Or just to know that there's a song that talks about, even vaguely, probably the worst experience of my life. I remember we performed in Knoxville recently and it was right on the anniversary of the thing that happened that I'm talking about. And I just had been avoiding thinking about it, but it all kind of came out and attacked me. The scary part is finding out, while singing the song, how much I'm going to feel it that day, and how much I'm prepared to feel it. Sometimes I get freaked out and have a moment onstage, but usually it's really therapeutic because I'm vanishing that feeling from my body.” “Formula One” “That song is a love song to my partner, [guitarist] Jake [Lenderman]. On the last record, Twin Plagues, there's a song called ‘How Can You Live If You Can't Love How Can You If You Do.’ And that was kind of a song written about Jake in the beginnings of our relationship when it was like I wanted to be with him every minute and we were obsessed with each other and we didn't know each other's flaws. ‘Formula One’ is kind of an expansion on our relationship, as we've settled in and you get to know the good and the bad and the relationship kind of grows because you’ve accepted parts of your partner that might not be perfect. It describes our nightly routine—him watching TV and me going to sleep before he does, with the lights still on.” “Chosen to Deserve” “I was kind of inspired by ‘Let There Be Rock’ by Drive-By Truckers—just a song that goes through, piece by piece, a memory of your teen life where you were just doing the stupidest shit. In the Truckers songs he talks about driving home drunk from a Blue Oyster Cult concert and backing into his parents' driveway and throwing up in the toilet and stuff like that. I kind of want to tell these stories that I have from my upbringing that I tell at parties and shit, when I want to give people a laugh about who I used to be, because I don't drink much anymore. I hardly smoke. I'm kind of like a boring person now.” “Bath County” “A song I wrote in Bath County, Virginia, when we were visiting where Jake's mom grew up. I enjoy driving scenic routes; I love driving in general. And just on our way there, I took a couple of county roads and backwoods shit, and at one point we stopped at a school and there was a high school football game going on and a kid was drinking a Fanta and I was like, ‘I need to remember this weird-ass image.’” “Quarry” “I kind of gave myself a little creative writing limitation. I was thinking the structure of the song would be describing a street. And I was envisioning this street that my nana used to live on in West Virginia, which was by a quarry. And then just going house by house in each verse and describing the family that lives there by using old family stories or stuff I had read and was inspired by. The first verse is the old woman who's bitter but gives out big candy bars on Halloween. And then there's the twins whose parents are fighting. Those are both kind of fictional people, but the third verse about the kid burning down the field and the Jewish kid getting a preacher's daughter pregnant: Those are both real family stories. And the next one as well.” “Turkey Vultures” “My mom told me a story about getting in a car wreck on the way to her birthday party when she was a kid. And that really stuck with me. I've always wanted to write that into a song. So I started with that memory and just built the rest of it around that line, even though it's in the middle of the song. It’s finding stuff that is the same tone and just throwing it all together—a melting pot of a bunch of shit.”

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