Revisiting The Slip’s Eisenhower Ten Years Later
by Mike Greenhaus on November 07, 2016
Ten years ago today Bar/None Records issued Eisenhower, which to this day remains the final studio album from The Slip. We remain hopeful that the trio of Brad Barr, Andrew Barr and Marc Friedman will yet return to the studio for a new Slip record (they have done so with Surprise Me Mr. Davis, the project that also features Nathan Moore and Marco Benevento).
To mark the 10 year anniversary of Eisenhower (Has it really been that long?) we present this conversation with Brad Barr, which ran in The Core section of Relix back in 2006.
Fresh Sound, Familiar Songs
We started working on Eisenhower in early 2004, passing around a demo which had “Children of December,” “Suffocation Keep” and a few other songs on it. Songs come and go annually, so we wanted to make sure we captured the material we were playing live. We ended up spending a long time just figuring out what songs were going to make the cut and how to make the different parts sound cool. In March of 2005, we finally went into the studio for real with Matthew Ellard, and that’s how this record took shape. It was recorded the way we felt a record should be made, meaning that we couldn’t go back and make the same record again.
The studio is about experimenting, but it’s a different kind of experimentation—it’s improvisation on this whole different level. In the studio you can record these tiny little moments—like crumpling paper—and turn that into something incredibly powerful. The beginning of “Paper Birds” has these little sounds dashing in and out of it. It has a real headphone quality.
We actually spent a lot of time just trying to figure out who is going to put this record out. We tried to aim high and we tried to aim low. We had been sitting on this record for almost a year and, at one point, we were just going to give it away. As a band we have been in and out of so many record deals and we just wanted to get the music out there. Our sound has changed a lot, but I don’t see it as turning left here and right there. It’s really been a straight shot. We’ve just had a very public growth process.
Surprise Me Mr. Davis
Nathan [Moore] is the kind of guy who seeps into your subconscious. He was on the road with us [playing with members of The Slip as Surprise Me. Mr. Davis] and we’d end up in the hotel lobby a lot because we were the smokers. He’d throw lyrics at me all the time while I’d be working on music. I was really inspired by his whole literary angle, which would unfold in this beautiful way. It really stayed with me—it made me less afraid to try out different genres, like country. He made me embrace simplicity in my songwriting. I had to make my guitar solos say more in a shorter about of time.
Not So Heady
For a long time we took ourselves really, really seriously. Playing was as much of a mental workout as it was a fun experience. Surprise Me Mr. Davis became this outlet to play songs which were more rocking, looser and more song focused. I’d always leave those gigs happy. So I tried to bring that freedom and playfulness to The Slip. We don’t have to worry about creating these spontaneous gems night after night. Those things will happen if you’re loose with it and if you have strong songs. Plus, we’re getting older and only have so much more time to really rock out!
Saving The Slip
After 12 years, it was becoming really difficult to see how we were going to survive as a band. We thought about taking an extended break for a while but writing these songs made us want to continue. I listened to “If One Of Us Should Fall” and it made me want to go out on the road and support this record.