The 'Mericans keep their heads up on So Late It Hurts

Chasing the dark clouds
By CHRIS CONTI  |  June 15, 2011

UP ALL NIGHT Daltry, Moore, Williamson, and Lima.

"Lift me up, I want outta here/Lift me up, I wanna taste the sky," Chris Daltry sings on "Sky Full," the closing cut from So Late It Hurts, the new album by the 'Mericans. That line seems to capture Daltry's vision on the third release by the "experimental-Americana-roots" quartet (featuring guitarist Mike Moore, drummer Pete Lima, and new bassist Paul Williamson) — a little gloom chased down with a shot of hope and redemption, presented with a well-worn smile. Smoldering tremolo-at-dusk cuts like "Language of America" ("In times of trouble, with wings that don't fly"), "Our Strength In Numbers," and "No One Up There Is Listening" are standouts, but I'll take "Car" as an all-time 'Mericans favorite (yes, ranking up there with "Pawtucket," from their 2006 debut 'Merican Recordings). Fans of Galaxie 500, Wilco, and Buffalo Tom take notice.

So Late It Hurts marks a number of personal milestones for Daltry: the new album is the tenth release in his esteemed musical career, dating back to his days with Purple Ivy Shadows (which he started in 1991), and 2011 marks the 10-year anniversary of the 'Mericans. So we lobbed 10 questions at 'Mericans frontman Chris Daltry on a number of topics.

HOW LONG DID YOU WORK ON THE NEW RECORD? AND I GOTTA ASK ABOUT THAT ALBUM TITLE . . . This album did take a while to make — but this was mostly due to us wanting to go really deep inside of the songs, to explore them sonically — to create strong moods and feelings. Recording the album ourselves afforded us the time we needed to really find the heart of these songs. Our recording process is to start with the drums and then build onto them track-by-track, until we feel they've become something special. Sometimes this process can seemingly go on forever, but in the end I never regret taking the extra time.

As for the title, it comes from a line in the first song, "When a Peaceful Bird Can't Hear Her Own Song." The lyric "so late it hurts" relates to that feeling you get when you're up too late and you start to hear the birds singing before the sun comes up, when it suddenly hits you that you're up way too late. In our case, we'd stay up recording, working, and not watching the clock, and then it hits you.

YOU GUYS SURPASSED YOUR KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN GOAL OF $5000 ("IN THIS ECONOMY?") — THAT MUST BE A SPECIAL FEELING. We are so thankful to everyone who believed in us enough to donate. From the very beginning, it was our dream to take this album to a different level than our previous releases, and we wanted to take it further and make it available in more formats.

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