For The Lonely Forest, the inspiration behind their new album, Adding Up The Wasted Hours, out now on Chop Shop Records, initially came from paintings commissioned by the band. After touring extensively behind their 2011 album Arrows with bands Death Cab For Cutie and Minus the Bear, the Washington State indie rock band returned home and began writing songs with a specific intention in mind. “We had the paintings for the album art done before we wrote everything so we were playing off the artwork a lot,” Tony says. “We wanted it all to be a complete piece. On the last record we purposely used broad strokes, and on this record we purposely mixed that all up.”
The fourpiece, who initially formed back in 2005 during a garage session, wrote 26 songs during the writing process, all playing off the idea of time wasted – for better or worse. After the release of Arrows, which earned the No. 14 slot on Amazon’s “Best Albums of 2011” and was featured heavily on NPR, The Lonely Forest left major label Atlantic Records, leaving them in limbo when it came to recording a follow-up album. The band, who feel that the new disc is largely a breakup album, were also focused on the idea of squandered time in their own lives, whether on tour or in relationships.
“Originally the name came from being away from our lives on tour,” John says. “Or our families. Later on the name kind of took on so many other meanings. The title was relatable to different situations we were going through. The record label negotiations we were going through felt like a beautiful waste of time in a way. And meanwhile I was going through relationship stuff and ended up getting married. It felt like adding up the wasted hours, in a way. You have all these things that didn’t really go anywhere and it felt like a waste of time but in the end, you learn from your mistakes and it’s not actually a waste of your time.”
Chris Walla was again deeply involved in the creative process behind the album. Once they were armed with the slew of new material, they went to record in Chris’s Seattle studio. There, they produced the songs alongside the producer, who had also worked on Arrows. Chris was instrumental in urging some of the less likely songs on the album throughout the process. “Pull The Pin,” a layered indie number that opens the disc, allowed the musicians to venture into new territory when it came to songwriter and production.
“I think it’s one of the weirdest songs we’ve ever written,” Tony says. “We started out wondering whether this could even be a song and Chris encouraged us to try recording it. What you hear is the third or fourth take, live off the floor what happened. It has this really
“We knew what we wanted in the studio,” John says. “The last time we went in the studio we’d never worked in a real studio or worked with a real producer. So there was this nervous energy and maybe a bit of fear. This time around we wanted to be more confident in our abilities and everyone, including Chris, was more relaxed. That energy made its way onto the record I think. You can tell that we were more calm and collected.”
The first four songs that emerged during the writing process set the tone for the rest of the album, and many of the tracks had taken root in some form on tour back in 2011. Boisterous album standout “Left Hand Man,” which Tony calls a “building block” for Adding Up The Wasted Hours, urged much of what followed. On the final track, a fuzzed rocker called “The Stars, Like Dust,” John repeatedly sings, “I just wanted to say/Oh what a beautiful way to waste our time,” leaving the listener with the sense of forward motion, a conclusion by the musicians not to waste anymore time. The overall album works together with the aesthetic of the commissioned artwork and its gray/blue/black color scheme, and feels notably optimistic.
“We decided ‘We’re really going to put everything into this,’” John says. “We’re going to move forward, and write and perform the music we want to write and perform. There’s a sense of moving on with our lives from relationship crap or label crap or whatever it was that we felt weighed down by. I feel like that was an important moment, even just philosophically, for us to feel like we were moving in a good direction again.”