Episode 643: Tom McGreevy (Ducks Ltd.)

Ducks Ltd. arrived out of nowhere with 2019's Get Bleak. The tight four-song EP offered grad-level crash course on perfect indie pop hits. This year's Harm's Way find the group plumbing the kind of jangle pop that made 2021's Modern Fiction a critical darling. Tom McGreevy, the singing/rhythm guitar playing half of the duo joins us to discuss life in Ontario, railway disasters and balancing the darker side of life with bright music.

Tom McGreevy  0:00  
Hey Bob, I had gone a friend of mine had like texted me, like kind of at the last minute being like, I, he's a he's a Fulham supporter. And he was like, I'm watching the care about cup second leg and I need emotional support. And I was like, All right, I'll go by, and I just thought it would be done before it was done. And then I was like, oh, man, I'm not gonna be able to get home in time for this. So I yeah, I was I was watching a soccer match, and it just didn't calculate my distances correctly. I'm sorry.

Brian Heater  0:43  
The thing about soccer that, that you should know is that it lasts forever, that it's literally unending.

Tom McGreevy  0:52  
Though like I knew, like, theoretically, like when it would be done, but then I was just like, I hadn't adequately understood how far away the place I had met him was from my house. It sounded

Brian Heater  1:03  
like you were there from rural support? Are you a soccer fan?

Tom McGreevy  1:05  
Yeah, I am. Yeah, like, I don't have various times in my life. I've watched it with more persistence and intention, and I really do at the moment. But I like I like it. I'm interested in it. I watch all the international tournaments normally watch the Champions League knockout stages, that's about as far as I go. These days, I

Brian Heater  1:24  
tend to ebb and flow with with sports like for all sorts of reasons. And a lot of times it's the editing part of it is the realization that I get way too emotionally invested in this thing that I shouldn't like, you know what I mean? Like that, that whether or not I am the mood that I'm in on a given day shouldn't be dependent on what a bunch of millionaires did on a field somewhere.

Tom McGreevy  1:51  
That's totally fair. I feel like that used to be more true for me. I feel like I've gotten better at like, compartmentalizing my emotional reaction to it, but at the same time, like, that's not universally true. Certainly,

Brian Heater  2:05  
I'm a 40 Niners fan and there's a decent chance they're gonna be in the Super Bowl. So I'm probably going to be going through this cycle once again in a few weeks. Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  2:12  
that's you got it. You got a good football team over there. That's a confusing football team that a good football team nonetheless,

Brian Heater  2:19  
I have a terrible baseball team and I had a recently very good but now not great basketball team. So it's like a nice thing about being originally being from the Bay Area is that like, there's usually usually one that's doing pretty okay. And I feel

Tom McGreevy  2:35  
like it's been a good like 10 or 15 years for the region. I mean, like basketball had a good run, notably accepting you athletics. Ben are Giants fan.

Brian Heater  2:45  
Oh, I'm an ace fan. So yeah, I'm assuming that you've got a degree of loyalty to some US sports having I guess not been from here originally, but having spent a lot of your life here and growing up here.

Tom McGreevy  3:01  
Ah, yeah, not like honestly, I kind of like I have lived in Toronto long enough that I've I've sort of shifted my loyalties. Like I also like, I like all of the teams I grew up like in the area where I was a fan of all the DC area teams and like with the exception of the Orioles who I have a certain love for all those teams are like pretty easy to to abandon, for one reason or another. Like, obviously, like the football team is like objectionable on a number of levels. Like the wizards have been essentially bad forever. Even when they were good, they were bad. So it's like they're it's easy to sort of to step away from them I I'm I'm a very dedicated Bills fan, Buffalo Bills fan, but that's kind of the local team for Toronto. And I'm, I'm, I'm in I feel like increasingly committed to the Toronto Blue Jays and the Raptors like a little bit more every year almost like I they build more as I build more memories of fandom, the realer it

Brian Heater  4:06  
becomes the Raptors have had a pretty decent run. The Orioles are that's not dissimilar from my situation with the A's. I was gonna say you were where we are now a couple of years ago, but things have been looking up it seems like yeah,

Tom McGreevy  4:21  
what I feel like the the sort of like like it's like a similar but different like noxious ownership situation. And like there's this like, yeah, some things that

Brian Heater  4:30  
tie it together for sure. It's the guy who does diamond distribution, the comics distribution is the guy who owns see Oh,

Tom McGreevy  4:36  
is that yeah, I knew he had like involvement in in various print media. I didn't realize that was part of it. The Angelus is but yeah, that makes sense. He's an absolute goal, and it's suds or even worse

Brian Heater  4:52  
to Buffalo. Now, you know, given what starts already, it was a good it was a good run. It was better than anybody. Anybody thought and the If this isn't a sports podcast, but you know, we're

Tom McGreevy  5:04  
sorry, I feel like I, I pulled us in this direction.

Brian Heater  5:07  
I mean, that was an interesting period during who was was that? I guess? 2021? Well, 2020 It must have been when the Blue Jays were playing in Buffalo. Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  5:18  
that that was happening. I feel like that was weird. I feel like he kept switching around like it was like they some of it they were playing in Florida. Some of it they were playing in Buffalo, if I'm remembering correctly, like it kind of shifted a couple of times. But yeah, they want to get across the border. I mean, there was there was a brief moment that was kind of interesting. Where, like, the Blue Jays were World Series favorites, specifically because of like the border crossing stuff where it was like, there were a bunch like there were significant numbers of players on like their rivals who refused to get vaccinated and therefore weren't allowed to play in Canada. And that was viewed as being like such a meaningful advantage that it like might actually win them like an extra five games in the division. It didn't, but it would have been really funny if it did.

Brian Heater  6:02  
It's the thing that you that we learned now that like social media so prevalent how many of our sports heroes are just complete fucking assholes?

Tom McGreevy  6:11  
Yeah. Yeah, I guess that is i Yeah, you do you do find out a little bit more about them. Like, I wonder I wonder if we'd like in a slightly different era, if we'd like think that Aaron Rodgers was a totally different kind of asshole. Probably,

Brian Heater  6:27  
we had Ty Cobb. And you know, it's not it's not that we were had a dearth of like really bad dudes playing professional sports at any point, but now it's now it's the thing of you know, it's and I'm conflicted about this to a certain degree is that the like, oh, when you were a stupid 15 year old, you use the N word on Twitter like that. That thing of like, tweet tweets very, very bad and stupid tweets resurfacing from when people were in like middle school.

Tom McGreevy  6:59  
I feel like that's like a kind of an interesting thing. In general, though, of like, of like, the like, I feel like it's like actually indicative of a meaningful shift of like, what social media is, and like how it works in that, like, there was a brief period of time, like maybe two or three years, where like, every time like a relatively unheralded Major League Baseball prospect got his first start, like, by the by the third inning, they would have like, found him using a racial slur on Twitter when he was 14. And now that like, just doesn't happen anymore. And I think it's like, it's not that they've gotten better at scrubbing their Twitter's it's that like, like 21 year old guys never had social media. Like maybe like maybe, like, maybe at Instagram, maybe, but like, they're not just not using it in this like way. And it's like, that is kind of what makes the difference. I also

Brian Heater  7:42  
assume that that the sort of the handlers that they have are watching that stuff much more closely than they would have several years ago.

Tom McGreevy  7:50  
I wonder because it like, it felt like there was a several year period where like, that just lesson did not get learned. But yeah, like, I think there's probably a few factors weighing into it.

Brian Heater  8:01  
I only say unconflicted, just because it's like, it's, it's obviously terrible. It's obviously terrible in any situation. And I've certainly never used like, the F slur in any context at all. But, but it also, like, I certainly did a lot of really stupid things on the internet when I was a certain age. And the idea of those, like, being held over me as a young adult is is horrifying that there would have been, you know, and you know, I'm of an age that I also don't have the same paper trail that they have now, because it didn't really exist in that form. When I was a teenager, and the idea of it exists, the things that I thought existing online forever, is horrific.

Tom McGreevy  8:48  
Yeah. No, I think that's kind of what I mean, I feel like it's like it like it felt permanent. Because we were living through it or something. But it's like, actually, that was a relatively short period of time where like, like, unfettered access to social media was being like granted to 12 year olds to, like, do dumb shit with and then get in trouble for like, when they became professional athletes, and it's like, that window has shifted. But yeah, no, this is not a particularly important observation, just one that I had made that 1.3

Brian Heater  9:18  
Personally, I mean, you were talking a little bit about the border crossing situation with the Blue Jays What role did social media or just I guess, the internet generally play and your ability to make music over the last three or four years?

Tom McGreevy  9:36  
Oh, I mean, I don't know that it really factored too much. I mean, like, it inevitably does, because it's like, you know, that's a big part of where everything exists now. But like, I mean, like we were mostly making their music in person for most of that time, even like even it was mostly just Me in Heaven. So it like that kind of like, created some you Yeah, like, like, we're in a city where you had a pug? Yeah, basically. And it's like, like, I think like, you know, there was some things that we were able to do because of that, that were that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. But like, they were mostly the kind of like, the kinda like normal things that you do that it wasn't, you know, like pandemic related, it was just sort of like, oh, like, yeah, like, we're, it's, we're mixing the record in a different place than like one of us is. So we're like, sending mixes back and forth or whatever. But it's like, you know, we did that on this record do and we made it in a summer in which there were no restrictions. Yeah, I mean, there were a few like little things. But I again, I think it's like stuff that it would have just been the same, like where it's like, we wanted a certain person to sing on something, and we couldn't get in a room with them. And so we just had him do it. But I mean, like, the thing that we weren't able to do on the first record, was like, really get in a space and collaborate with people, that wasn't just the two of us. And we were able to do that on this record, which was cool, it was a good it was, I think it added an extra dimension to sort of like, be able to go and do this thing we never really gotten to do and just sort of like bounce ideas off other people and gather input and stuff like that, which, which was, I don't know, but definitely, it's, it's kind of more fun to do it that way. And I think the results are also more interesting,

Brian Heater  11:19  
how important to your process. And the way the two of you do things is it that you do a big chunk of this in person.

Tom McGreevy  11:28  
I don't think we could do it differently. Um, just because of the way we write like, it's like, it kind of is this like, like, we, we tend to just like, like, pass an instrument back and forth and like add layers to something. And like, a lot of it a lot of the process just sort of like you take a section, you loop a section, then you try and play something over it. And then the other person is like decides whether or not that works or how it should change. And we kind of edit from there. I mean, I guess we probably could do it would just take a lot longer. But yeah, but it's a pretty like, it's it while we kind of like is not quite intentionally. It's not like a band playing in a room kind of thing. Um, it is like, yeah, there's a lot of just direct communication and talking about all the elements. Yeah, which I think would just be it would be very slow to do it in another way.

Brian Heater  12:22  
It seems to me that like a big thing that you were looking for in your many other years being in previous bands was, effectively was a songwriting partner that that that was the thing that kind of liberated as part of you.

Tom McGreevy  12:37  
Yeah, I mean, it that's kind of how I've always I mean, like, to some extent, I think it's like that it was like, a lot of it with this band was sort of Evan like, like Evan, Evan, me and Evan like having kind of like complementary skills, and I think he's a person who has a lot of sort of, like, follow through and believes in hard work. And then like, you know, finishing the thing once you've started it, which is the thing that I kind of struggled with. So I think that's like, definitely is a big part of it, where it's like, I am quick to, like, lose faith in an idea, and therefore, like, just sort of leave it. Whereas Yeah, he is He is not like that at all. Which is, is like a very, very positive trait, and a very helpful thing I think in, in us getting stuff done. When

Brian Heater  13:30  
you say lose faith in an idea, like, how does that play out? Generally,

Tom McGreevy  13:33  
oh, I'll just, like start working on something. And then as soon as it becomes hard, I'll decide that that's because it's bad, and then I won't want to do it anymore. Like, like, that's a that's kind of yeah, that's, that's a consistent pattern with songwriting. For me,

Brian Heater  13:48  
that's interesting to me, because this is something that I like to specifically talk to people who write songs about is there is this idea in pop songwriting, that the thing the ones that come the fastest, or the best, you know, the ones that like that, you know, you're like channeling the muse or whatever, the ones where you wake up in the morning and he pumps something into your tape recorder, and you know, ends up being the refer satisfaction and to certain extent, that does seem to fit in your reading. You talked about 18 Cigarettes, which both you and like, pretty much everybody agreed was the best song on that record. That's one that came together extremely quickly.

Tom McGreevy  14:36  
Yeah, I think sometimes that's true. Um, yeah, that one was like pretty quick and I think like I knew Yeah, I felt good about it pretty quickly. It's I don't know it's simply a mixed bag but like I think like there's like like the one on this record that so far seems to be the one that people are the most excited about was like, it was not easy to write it. It took forever. Train for like gasoline. Like like the parts I guess when I read some kinda came quickly. But it was like figuring out how to make them work and put them together was not. Yeah, but I think I think it's a mix, I think it's like, it's like sometimes that is the case where it just it does like, kind of come in a rush and you can figure it out. But I also think that like, like, even in those songs, there's normally like a detail or two that is really hard to finalize and like that becomes a whole separate part of the process that can take a lot longer. I remember like seeing, I think it was like Stefan from from, from public tweeted this at one point, I'm just like, that, like, like, every song has like one line that you couldn't get right, and you work on forever. And like most of the time, you just put it out and no one ever notices. But I feel like that's true of pretty, like almost all of them where there's always something that I'm like, deeply dissatisfied with, and then like, try and fix and then it's like, time to record the vocals and I still haven't fixed it. And it's just like, Okay, I guess that's gonna be there. And then no one ever says anything about it. Like, it's, it's a weird, it's a weird psychological game, I think like writing this stuff and trying to make it good.

Brian Heater  16:00  
You know what the next logical question on my end is? What is that line in the song?

Tom McGreevy  16:08  
I, you know, like, I think that's also part of it. It's like, like, use you stop remembering. I forget, I forget, like what like, like, eventually you've just like selling it enough times that it works that it goes away. I'm trying to remember that there was something that bothered me about it. I think it was it's there's something in the chorus that just didn't quite scan right to me. And I kept trying to write like rewrite it or write around it and eventually just gave up. It's kind of hard to like think about it abstractly now because it's sort of like especially because we tore that record and stuff in the way that we did we played it so many times that now it's like, like I can't I can't like remember the lyrics but I just like if I've started sick like if we started playing it I would absolutely know them but it's like I don't have them in like a conscious part of my brain right now. Well, that strikes

Brian Heater  16:51  
me is a good sign then that like whatever that glaring thing to what was at the time has since faded away that means that at least to a certain extent that it works. Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  17:01  
means it was probably fine. It's just like the thing itself is always hard when you're when you're trying to do it.

Brian Heater  17:07  
He was the thing that if Evan wasn't around that that would have hung the song song up for you and you might not have finished it.

Tom McGreevy  17:12  
Yeah, probably. That's it that's probably right. Yeah. When

Brian Heater  17:16  
he talked about it not scanning correctly. Are you talking about like meter about the way the words fit in the song?

Unknown Speaker  17:22  
Let me look it up

Brian Heater  17:28  
are you just reading the lyrics now? Or do you have this like yeah, okay.

Tom McGreevy  17:31  
No, yeah, I'm just looking it up. I just I just googled the lyrics to

Brian Heater  17:35  
the file on your desktop that just says like problems. No, I

Tom McGreevy  17:39  
just googled the lyrics or one song sorry.

Oh, yeah, it was a lot is the last line of the chorus. I thought it was I just didn't like it. I didn't like the way I wish that I could say where it got me. But that's not me. I just didn't. I didn't think it sounded like natural phrasing, but I think it's okay.

Brian Heater  18:04  
Like, it's not meter. It's just yeah, it's just the language. That makes sense. See,

Tom McGreevy  18:09  
it's different things. There's other ones that noise annoy me in different ways.

Brian Heater  18:12  
You know, there's a central metaphor to the song was that there from the beginning? Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  18:18  
I think so. I mean, I think it was like, I think that one like yeah, if I'm remembering correctly, that one. Yeah. It was like it was kind of it came. The first verse was like, something that came pretty naturally. And then I sort of like when I got to the end of it, I realized, like, oh, that's like it. Like that's the thing that can I can kind of work off of. Yeah, but I'd like Yeah, I think that was that was like how it went. I honestly I'm sorry. It is It isn't like a thing that I like, it was long enough ago that it's like actually hard to totally recall.

Brian Heater  18:49  
You know, it strikes me as as the kind of song that like, its existence hangs on that metaphor. Just given like the source material and how it relates to the subject matter.

Tom McGreevy  19:01  
Oh, yeah. I mean, it like it was something that I just I a friend had told me about it, like, kind of the day before I wrote that song, I think so I was just kind of thinking about it. As a thing that happened, and like I had been had read about it. And yeah, like, I mean, it looked as I read about it, I think that was the thing that kind of like struck me about it, or the thing that I thought was interesting. Was that like, there are certainly like parties responsible for like the thing that occurred. But it was like, there was no like single act that like directly resulted in the outcome like that. It was just sort of like a series of, of like, little negligence is little lick failures to address something that needed to be addressed that just sort of like, silently compounded each other And then, you know, sort of resulted in an outcome that no one could have predicted from any of this single the individual events that precipitated it. And I thought that was sort of an interesting. I thought that was something that I think had sort of resonance. In other contexts. I think that's a very sort of familiar pattern of human folly, if you will.

Brian Heater  20:27  
That's the case with most of these things, you know, to a certain extent, I think is like, very few things are just one specific incidence. And it all ties back to infrastructure, basically, in this case, yeah.

Tom McGreevy  20:42  
I don't know. I mean, of it, like, you know, that that thing happened, because the, the, like, you know, the the rail company, it cuts staff and individuals were inadequately trained. And like, certain people, like, just like, you know, like, I like I forget all the details of it now, but it was like, it was it was a bunch of like it not like, like, there were some like larger structural issues, but also like, the things on the day, were like a lot of just like relatively innocuous, like forgetting to put the hitch on the handbrake things that just sort of like no one of them alone, would have created this result that was just sort of, like, you know, all of them together. Yeah, it's, like I say, like, it seems like a it's a, it's a not uncommon pot pattern.

Brian Heater  21:38  
These are the things that like, I assume, you know, now that I'm thinking about it, these are perhaps the mistakes that are often the most difficult to learn from, if you can't single out that one thing. You know, if, if laying off a bunch of people, if cutting staff was like part of the problem, but not the only problem, then certainly that's not going to stop the company from doing that in the future.

Tom McGreevy  22:05  
Yeah, no, I mean, I think, yeah, I think that's the thing. It's like, it's like, it's why these things are hard to address. I think it's why they like, you know, not specifically this, this catastrophe, but I think like, like, like, the, also the the, like metaphorical errors, errors that I am kind of driving it there. I think it's like, it's a similar thing. You know, it's like, if it was easy to not do that stuff, then people wouldn't do it. There's

Brian Heater  22:32  
a parallel to a slightly older song, and you use the phrase, inertia of depression, which I liked, which jumped out at me, which strikes me as a similar in that they're both it's both this idea of something that for whatever reason that you can't break out of? Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  22:53  
yeah. I mean, I think it's like, it's hard to sort of like, like, yeah, it's so hard to, to sort of, like view one psychological state from outside of it. I think, like, most of the, like, fundamentally, you cannot do that. Which is like, I think, the the crux of the issue, and I think, yeah, like you, it tends to be that things start moving in one direction, and they'll they'll, they'll keep going in that direction. You know, absent an effort being made to, to stop to stop that momentum, I guess. Yeah, no, I mean, I think that I think that's, that's like, yeah, that's, that's a, that's probably a thing that comes up in in more than one one of our songs.

Brian Heater  23:42  
Is there a way in which though, that creating things, you know, that writing songs, or like putting things out in the world, is an attempt to reflect on these things that are difficult to see about yourself? Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  23:59  
I think so. I'm gonna think it's like, honestly, the way that I tend to write them, it like creates a scenario like what sorry, like that? I don't, I'm not always aware, when I'm writing them have like what I'm doing until maybe halfway through the process. So I think it's like it does become Yeah, in some ways, like a reflective thing where you kind of realize in what direction you're going without having without having like an initially sort of, like decided upon, and at least for me, and I think like that, that is is a way to sort of, in some ways, like tease those things out.

Brian Heater  24:39  
Halfway through the process is actually like pretty good in my, from what I understand. I constantly can't remember who I last spoke to about this, but I'm constantly hearing about the stories, the stories about somebody figuring out what a song that they wrote was about, like decades after it was written. Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  24:57  
I think that's the thing I think is yeah, something It's like I kind of will see something in it even later on where I'll be kind of like, become more aware of something I was doing that I didn't even realize I was doing. But I think it's normally like, it'll just be kind of like almost like pure, like non human consciousness, but it just sort of like, I'm like letting the words fit together, or something. When I first start something out, and then it's like, I'll kind of be like, oh, like, that's kind of where I'm going. And I'll be able to sort of, like build direction around that.

Brian Heater  25:27  
I mean, it also strikes me that there's an attempt to, in all this to deal with the things in life that aren't so black and white, like this idea of addressing people growing people growing apart versus like, just specifically a breakup, it's a more it's a subtler concept. And it's, and for that reason, I assume that it's a harder one, perhaps, to, I guess, really just address.

Tom McGreevy  26:02  
Yeah, I did. I was like, I think like, Yeah, I like I, I feel like that maybe gives me more credit for, like, my initial intention than I deserve. Like, like, I think it's, it's more a thing where it's just sort of like, you know, like, that's the thing that's on my mind. And so I try and like it, you know, I start working on something, and then I try and kind of, elucidate it in a way that makes sense. Rather than maybe being something where I'm yeah, like, I'm like, this is the thing that I want to write about, like I I've occasionally, like, done that, and it's kind of gone, okay. But more often than not, I feel like if I start with an intention, I'll like either, like, fly off the rails and end up doing something else. Or it'll be like a bit of a trap. And I'll just sort of get stuck in there. I think it's why like, I really admire people who, who, like, are good at political songwriting. Because I think that like, in order to do that, you have to start, you have to sit down and try and do it. And like that, that part of it. There are many parts of it that are hard, but I think that part of it is in and of itself, like kind of a a pretty challenging thing to do without kind of writing something that's sort of stilted.

Brian Heater  27:22  
What does it mean, though, to write a song without intention, though? Like, what are this, what are the initial steps in that process?

Tom McGreevy  27:29  
I mean, like, it's like, I don't know, I feel like almost like, like subconscious, it's just sort of like, I'll, like figure out some chords that go together that I like, and like, figure out a melody that goes over it. And then like, kind of gradually, like a sort of like, like, an idea for meter will turn into words, or I'll realize that there are sort of like some words in the idea. And then like, kind of just start making them fit together just start kind of being like, oh, like, that's like a compelling image, that's how this could fit to that like, and then like, you kind of realize that there's something there that like, suggest something. And like, I think that's like, when I kind of will engage with it, but it's normally like, the thing is, is is sort of like half formed, it's sort of like a part of an idea. And then like I'll like then that sort of happens without me really thinking about it, or like at least not thinking about it in a kind of like top down way. And then once you've kind of got those pieces in play, then it's like, okay, like, this actually does suggest something, or this could fit into this thing that I have separately been thinking about or whatever. And, like sometimes that's like an like, you know, it'll just be like, I don't know, we'll start, we'll start out with like, an idea for imagery that I like, like, it'll just be like something that I'm like, oh, that's like, interest, like, like, that's an interesting idea to try and sing about that. And then like, that's maybe the starting point. And then I kind of like, see where it can fit. And then like, we'll find find the way from there. And like often with the songs too, it's like, I'll kind of write the first verse in the chorus, and then leave them and then like, we'll just be turning over a second idea for a while, and then find a way to put it together. Like Like, the main thing was a good example of that, where it's like, I had like, the first verse and the idea. The like, the kind of like baseball analogy, like I had that for a long time, and I like thought it worked. But I didn't really know where it went.

Brian Heater  29:25  
We were talking about baseball earlier. And it's and it is an interesting one and it's not something because it's not relief pitchers, it's middle relief pitchers which you know, maybe people who don't follow baseball that closely understand the distinction and for that reason, I think it's a really interesting metaphor.

Tom McGreevy  29:45  
Thanks. Yeah, no, I mean, like I kind of liked it. I think you know, that it's like a like, almost like uniquely unglamorous position. Like it's like which I think was was sort of the the idea that I liked about it.

Brian Heater  29:58  
You're not getting the win. probably you're just you're almost like filling up space in but yeah,

Tom McGreevy  30:04  
like you're not Yeah, you're not like necessarily like all that important. There's not a lot of glory in, in like, I'm gonna guess I guess like the they're trying to phase them out of the game too. But like, there's not a lot of Yeah, not a lot of glory in that particular role which I thought kind of worked in context. But yeah, like that that was one where it's like I had that I thought it was kind of a cool idea, I was playing around with it for a while, I got it to fit into like a thing and fit into a chorus. And then like I was stuck on like, where the song went from there for a really long time. And then had like, the separate thing that I was playing with, when I got really, really interested in like, like black magic, and it's like history in LA. And like the sort of like, like, telematic, like cults there. And like all of these, like these, these things that were involved in and I got, like really interested in that. And I was like, that's like a thing that I think could like, like, like, like, at some point. Like, I think it would be cool to try and use like, summoning the age of Horus as a metaphor. And then I like managed, managed to find a place where it fit and like I kind of realized like, over time just after like playing with that, that I was like, Oh, this is actually kind of works. But it was one of those ones that like, you know, that song sat around in a half finished date for like, six months or something before I realized that I had some things that would work in put together.

Brian Heater  31:23  
Yeah, I mean, obviously there's a big difference between finding a good metaphor that works in a song and like writing a song about the occult in Los Angeles.

Tom McGreevy  31:37  
Yeah, but I mean, it's like, like, I think you'd like somebody else's hands like that could probably also be cool. Guy like, I like you know, like there's a

Brian Heater  31:45  
great mountain goat song in there probably. Yeah, yeah. No, for

Tom McGreevy  31:48  
sure. Like, yeah, like just like a, like a wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald song about like Jack Parsons would be like, I would listen to that for sure. Gordon Lightfoot. Totally is another great Canadian. But yeah, yeah, just like I don't know. It's like I it's, it's not a thing that I've ever been able to sort of, like, do to my satisfaction, I guess. It's an

Brian Heater  32:12  
interesting topic for me, because in a lot of ways, I feel the opposite. Now, granted, I'm not a songwriter, but I, for me, it's a lot easier to enter into a piece of writing with a sense of intentionality of like, at least beginning from a place that I feel like it doesn't necessarily need to go in that direction. But but having some goal from the outset can be very helpful in the process of writing. Yeah,

Tom McGreevy  32:41  
I think so. I'm gonna do I think it's just like different kinds of writing. Really? Yeah. Like, I like I think, like, you know, it's, it's, it's, I think that's like kind of a thing that I maybe like about songwriting, or that I'm maybe something that I feel like I've hopefully gotten like a little bit better at that. It's like that it's allowed to be kind of nebulous that you can let it be that way. And it still works. Like it's sort of more like, you don't need to sort of concretely define your intention for it to be legible, which I think is is, is is not true of pros normally. And like yes, is the thing about it that I have sort of like, tried to relax into a little bit.

Brian Heater  33:27  
You said, half jokingly, I assumed that I was giving you too much credit on as far as intentionality goes, but like, at the end of the day, I wonder, ultimately, whether intention really matters.

Tom McGreevy  33:41  
I don't know. Yeah, I mean, I feel like it's like, like, Yeah, I think it's maybe like it's maybe semantics, but it's like a difference between like,

like, like, like being like, coming at it with a specific intention and a goal. At versus like being deliberate in its execution. And I feel like it's like, like this stuff. Like I definitely the way that I write these things, it's like I try and be as I try and like waste as few words as possible, I try and make sure, like, I think about all of it a lot and I don't normally let something lie, like it's like, like the way that I tend to like, work on lyrics. It's really like, they'll be a first draft and then I'll just, I like will email them to myself. And then I'll just like, it'll be like, an email thread with like, you know, 10 to 20 replies in it of just like editing it back and editing it back and editing it back and like often like changing it, I like to do it like that because it's then you can kind of see the record of the previous iteration and like, the really easily and be like, Okay, well, like that was actually maybe better before. But it's like, there's a lot of like, you know, I'm trying not to like, I'd like for better or worse. I guess I'm trying not to leave anything loose. It's just like when I start, I know don't normally know where I'm going.

Brian Heater  34:57  
I think I know the answer to this question. But do you have a Problem with overthinking. Like

Tom McGreevy  35:01  
in general. Yeah, like I think so.

Brian Heater  35:05  
Yes, in general, I'm curious just in your life generally, but also how that manifests itself in your songwriting?

Tom McGreevy  35:12  
Yeah, I think I think so I think like, that's kind of what I'm talking about when I say that, like, I feel like I've gotten a little bit better at letting stuff hang sometimes that it's like, like, I, I'm trying to learn to not do that. But I'm sure like, you know, like Dave, who produced our record. He i He would definitely say that, yes, I have a problem with overthinking. Like, it's, it's, it's, yeah, it's very easy to do. I think that's kind of also just the state of I think that's the way that most things are in the context of like making a record in general, I think, like, there are some bands, you know, like, I feel like, like, I'm sure like the big thief guys are like the king gizzard guys, or whatever, I don't suffer from that. And they're kind of doing a different thing. And their thing is cool. But I feel like for the most part, it's like, you know, you get wrapped up in this thing that you're put a lot of time and energy into, and, and it's sort of like permanence. And it's very easy to kind of get tied up and in psychological knots over trying to make it as good as you can make it

Brian Heater  36:09  
this gets back to that idea of the best songs come in quickly. It's hard not to feel as listen. As somebody who suffers from deep anxiety and absolutely deals with overthinking. And in every aspect of my life, it's hard not to be jealous of those people, for whom it seems to just come effortlessly.

Tom McGreevy  36:31  
Yeah, I mean, it's I'm sure. I like I mean, I'm sure it's some products it does, but like, like, I feel like it's just like with music stuff. It's like that's sometimes part of the it's just a different different appeal. Like I like, you know, like King gizzard as an example. Me and Evan are both like fans of those guys. Like, like, yeah, like, like part of part of the leg appeal of it is that some of it is kind of under thought that it's like a little half baked and a little goofy. And it's like, like, like that's like,

Brian Heater  36:57  
it's like the Ramones. It's just dumb and fun.

Tom McGreevy  37:01  
It's enjoyable for that reason. Yeah, it's just I think, like the thing that maybe comes more naturally to me. And evidence is not that I don't think I don't think we're very good at that. Like, but just IS. It's fair enough.

Brian Heater  37:14  
Do you feel that like that going forward, that you'll attempt to be maybe a little bit looser or more abstract in your approach? No, I don't. I mean, like I, you know, obviously, this is working for you. So, you know, it's not a problem on that front?

Tom McGreevy  37:33  
We've tried, we've tried to do that to see if it would be interesting. And the answer has always been that it was not particularly like, Yeah, I think I think that's the thing that like, that we've got to learn is that it's like, we actually we like going over the details. Like it's it's actually a part of the process that we have fun doing for the most part. And it is sort of like the key to making the thing that we do work. Insofar as it works. Like I think that's like it's pretty. The kind of like, the detail oriented iterative thing is, is a big part of of our of our approach. And I think I don't think I don't think we would give it up easily without a fight.

Brian Heater  38:14  
Are there times that that makes it difficult for it to get out the door.

Tom McGreevy  38:20  
I when it used to be more of an issue, I think. But I think we've gotten kind of we've the process has been more streamlined. I mean, the joke used to be that like, like that Evans, mental health suffering was what made it good. But we've, we've kind of gotten outside of that, I think now, like it used to be like, when we made the first EP, especially it was like, you know, Evans Evans, like kind of perfectionist streak. And like, both like desire and willingness to just like, pour over it forever and ever, and like, keep trying to fix it and keep trying to make it better. Like, you know, it would result in in like, cool results in some ways, but it would also result in a lot of like churn and a lot of stuff that didn't need to happen. But I think we've kind of like through that we've like figured out the techniques a little bit, we figured out how to how to get the results that we're looking for, and which parts of the process are waste a little bit more, which I think has like kind of calmed it down. And I think like, I mean, that was the nice thing about working with Dave on this record having like an outside voice because I think it just kind of like it, it helps a lot to have to sort of just like, be able to ask someone else outside of our process that like who we trust to be like, like, Is this done? Is this fine? And like I think that kind of like takes a lot of like, allows the allows things to like kind of Yeah, run a bit smoother in some ways. I guess.

Brian Heater  39:55  
I wonder if part of sort of overthinking or the difficulty or I guess like, you know, again, tongue in cheek, but talking about mental health in, you know, compulsion is maybe a word that comes up. But I wonder how much of this has to do with like, when you're writing songs that are, in some cases based around this parallel between societal collapse and interpersonal issues, then it's like, it can be difficult not to be a little bit miserable in that process.

Tom McGreevy  40:30  
I mean, like I say, like, it's like the, I think the like, I think the ways in which like, the process is fraught for us are like, the very common ones that I think just affect trying to make records like, like, for the most part, like I don't, like, like, I think, like, I think like, you know, we're both very invested in it. And, like, I'm part of my investment, and it is maybe that, like, the songs, you know, like, mean something to me. But I think it's, it's, you know, like, for the, for the most part, it's like, we have fun doing it. It's just like, I think there's normally a part near the end, where it just makes us both kind of anxious and to get warmed up. I think that's also like, you know, that's just the that's just doing something you care about,

Brian Heater  41:20  
there's definitely a sense of fascination for you, you know, I can't remember what interview or piece on you that I was reading that mentioned, like, part of your, your COVID recovery process was reading about the Bronze Age collapse. So like, obviously, there's a there's a big there's a big fascination for you in in cycle collapse.

Tom McGreevy  41:43  
I forgot that that faded into into prints that were in the pixels. Yeah, yeah, that was I was I was very sick. And I did read about the Bronze Age collapse for many days in a row. That was like, I think, that was more of fascination with like, like, the collapse part was less it because I mean, that's the thing was was kind of interesting about it is that the collapse, like it might actually be that there was no collapse. That the collapse is like is is in fact like an artifact of a sort of like an era of like, significantly less peer reviewed, archaeological publishing. But what was interesting to me about that was was basically that it was just sort of a, an era of European history or not European history strictly like, but like, like history in sort of, like, the Mediterranean and into Northern Europe. And, like, in like, sort of that general region of the world, about which I knew almost nothing, and was very fascinating to get into it. I love those kinds of those kinds of history, things I like, I've gotten like, like that. But David grant book about the Amazon, I was really into 1492, I really liked like, you know, that's a stuff that I find super interesting. I think that's that's kind of what I found interesting about it was it was like reading about like Bronze Age Europe, there were like a surprise there, there are parallels to reading about sort of, like indigenous cultures of the Americas in sort of the ways that like, both in the ways that like, what evidence we have from the archaeological record, and also in some ways and in like, in some, like, sort of cultural elements, sort of social organizations. And I found that really interesting. That's, I went on about that for way too long. But I did read a lot about the Bronze Age,

Brian Heater  43:20  
I completely, completely get it i as I'm, as I get older, I understand more and more why there's this middle age, man fascination with reading history. Like, I don't know what it is, but at a certain point in my life, like that, I was reading all fiction, and then like a switch flipped in my head. And all I wanted to read about was, you know, World War Two, or the Civil War, like I completely get that fascination. Essentially,

Tom McGreevy  43:51  
I'm a big civilization six player, you know, I think that like ties in on both sides. Yeah. Because you're talking

Brian Heater  43:57  
about, like, real far back, not pre history, but you know, the development of societies? Well,

Tom McGreevy  44:04  
I mean, in a sense for history, right? Because it's like, the thing that is one of the things that like is interesting about both of these things is like certainly the sort of like a lot of Europe in this sort of like Bronze Age pre pre bronze age period, is is like pre the written word. Which is like also a similar thing, in a lot of a lot of them not all of like the sort of indigenous cultures, the Americas that we just don't have a written record. So it's like it becomes a it Yeah, like, like the sort of some similarities that you find just because it's like it reading about them and because it's just like, it's sort of like physical evidence being interpreted and extrapolated upon without, you know, sort of contemporary sources

Brian Heater  44:48  
because I think what you were you were getting at earlier is the the idea that that this specific collapse was a collapse is something that was perhaps it introduced like, well after the events actually happened because there were shortcomings as far as historical record.

Tom McGreevy  45:09  
Yeah, that's the idea that it's sort of like that. There's like one set of thinking that it was basically like the term Bronze Age collapse was like, coined by one guy in like the 60s, I think. And like that, basically, like he had, like willfully misinterpreted some evidence in order to kind of like, tie all these ideas together into one, sort of, like, broad historical concept.

Brian Heater  45:33  
He had a good title for a book. And then he built his theory around

Tom McGreevy  45:37  
like, he maybe kind of worked backwards. Yeah, from like, the exciting idea. Were like, yeah, like, it was actually like that, you know, there's these were sort of, like a few sort of cities, city states that, like, went down around the same time, but like, not really in a related way. And then, like, you know, there's other things that are like that, where it's like, there isn't even evidence of a sudden collapse, but he interpreted, interpreted as such, and it's now been sort of reassessed, and they think, like, No, probably not. But yeah, there's a bunch of funny ideas in that. It because also a lot of it's kind of speculative, which is also sort of fun. Of like, yeah, like, like sort of things that were their reasons that it happened. Or, like, what the sort of social situation was at the time, there's one that I thought was particularly fanciful, that essentially like this, like that, like, there had been this sort of like growth of a, like multi national warrior caste. That was like, like, basically like a large group of mercenaries like traveling around like Europe in the Mediterranean, at like, serving various, like barons and kings.

Brian Heater  46:47  
You're describing Assassin's Creed? Yeah, basically,

Tom McGreevy  46:49  
basically, yeah. No, that didn't like they didn't become too powerful. And like, this is like, like, this is like the like, like, like, what precipitated this collapse is like, these guys essentially, like turning on their masters. There's like, there's very little evidence for that. But it's like, it's the thing that like people. Yeah, have written about. I know, it's it was it was like a fun fun couple of days on Wikipedia. For me,

Brian Heater  47:10  
I think that's an underrated thing about studying history is when you stumble on something that causes you to just completely rethink all of these, like, fundamental ideas that you have about a specific topic.

Tom McGreevy  47:26  
Yeah, I mean, that's like, 1482 is a really cool one. For that reason. I feel like a lot of people read that one. But it's, um, yeah, like, it's really like kind of changes your perspective on on both on on sort of, like the history that like, that most people were taught in school about, like, you know, people in the Americas and then also sort of like, the scale of the tragedy of like, what colonization was contextually it's like, just, it's just different with that, the ultimate Yeah, in the context of the information in that book, in like, in raw numbers, and in other words,

Brian Heater  48:03  
I do feel like specifically, that subject is one that like, and this is, you know, I think this is a testament to why it's important to have more kinds of people from all different walks of life involved in writing and the entertainment industry is that, you know, there, there is a big push to tell some of the stories right now, I think I was saying, I don't know if you've read, you know, speaking of Canada, I don't know if you read Kate Beaton 's last book, ducks. Fittingly, it's called ducks. But, but it's about the oil sands in Canada and working there. And, you know, there's a lot about because I think something that I didn't appreciate, not appreciate. I didn't recognize until fairly recently, as an American is that like, with the residential schools and everything, Canada wasn't much better than we were as far as treating indigenous people.

Tom McGreevy  49:03  
Oh, yeah. That absolutely. I mean, like, that's, yeah, that's the funny thing about Canada, they like it like, it, it often. It's like feeling its own perception of itself is often sort of based on like, this sort of, like reflexive, like, at least we're not America, we're like, at least we're not as bad as the Americans thing, which is like, both like, a, an odd way to define yourself and also often not true, historically. But it's it is

Brian Heater  49:32  
a very Canadian thing, and understandably so from the standpoint that like, you know, obviously, America has a very outsized influence on the world and the population is much larger and the two countries are so close. But you know, language wise, obviously, and, but, but just in terms of culture, that it's probably it's impossible to not as a Canadian, I assume to serve accent compare yourself to the US?

Tom McGreevy  50:02  
Yeah, I feel like it in some ways, I think it like is an impetus behind some of the better, like parts of of like the politics here, which I think is not unique to Canada. Like, I think it's like, I feel like you often have kind of like, situations where, like that kind of like, oppositional like definition does result in those things. I mean, it even happens within Canada, I think there's like a lot, there's a, you know, there's a really like the sort of like, the movement, the sort of like green movement in Quebec, I think, like, at least some element of that of the politics behind that is, is, is in opposition to, you know, the rest of the country here. And the way that it's the way that they're sort of like, they're the like, yeah, that I think, like, in some ways like that, that does like sometimes spur positive things, like, you know, I think, like, part of the reason, like, the people in it here are so proud of our nationalized health care is because America doesn't have it. Like, and like I think there's like a lot of examples of things like that, where it's like, it actually is kind of, like, it ends up being a positive thing. In the way that like, you kind of get there, but yeah, I don't know. It's like, yeah, I feel like you see it in other places, too. Like it like, you know, when the way that, like, Scotland is, is is progressive and pro European versus like England. I think it's like some of that is coming in, in, in opposition as well to as well as just like, you know, people liking those things. You were

Brian Heater  51:34  
born in the UK, you were raised in the US, how did you end up there?

Tom McGreevy  51:41  
Just like my dad's work stuff, you moved

Brian Heater  51:44  
as your family moved there, and then you stuck around? I went, I went to the University of Toronto, What's kept you there? I like it. It seems like a good place. And I don't know, like, you're I think you're, you're a citizen now. And I don't know how I don't know how something like can con applies to bands whose members are from outside the country, but it's it Canada does seem like a much better place to try to be in a band at the level that your band is at.

Tom McGreevy  52:17  
There's definitely some cool things. Yeah, I mean, I think like, you know, the, the funding stuff is definitely not perfect. But it is like a cool thing. And I like I you know, I'm like grateful for the stuff that we do get, obviously, and I think it's like, I like that, that is a thing that happens in this country. And you know, some stuff that happens in especially in some other provinces, like, I mean, like the some of the stuff that Quebec does is really, really cool. Then it's kind of just like, changes the entire, like, structure of how how, like, the arts industries can function in a way that I feel like, could and should be sort of a model for how other parts of the world do it. But, ya know, it's definitely a cool thing. Like, I mean, it has like, I think some some pitfalls as well, I think we don't, in some ways fit into it's like mainline maybe, but I don't think that's like necessarily because we're not from here, originally, we've been as soon as you're your permanent resident, you qualify as part of the whole thing. So we've been permanent residents pretty much the whole time this bands existed,

Brian Heater  53:20  
one of the big downfalls seems to be touring across the country seems extremely difficult.

Tom McGreevy  53:26  
Yeah, I mean, that's, that is like, I think the biggest structural kind of thing and a thing that like, you know, that, like, it would be cool to see some of that kind of like that grant stuff and the sort of the people who organize and facilitate that, like, maybe adjust that kind of stuff more directly, because it isn't really done isn't really built into how it works. That it's like yeah, like, like the touring within the country is one thing. But the big thing is, is that like crossing the border is is far harder than it should be. Not at all like reciprocal like us bands coming here don't have to go through nearly the same hoops and it's like, it's incredibly expensive. It's incredibly complicated. It's the thing that it's like that we've been kind of finding which I think is is wild when you think about it is that in a lot of ways because of the expense and complication of diseases. It's it all it's like it almost works out the same to go to Europe. Like it almost makes more sense to fly across an ocean than it does to like drive to New York part

Brian Heater  54:25  
of the reason why I say Canada is hard to tour and it's just because of how spread out everything is obviously the US is spread out in a different way one of the one of the benefits of going to Europe is that everything is like relatively tightly packed over there.

Tom McGreevy  54:40  
Oh yeah, I mean yeah, relative to North America for sure. Yeah, and like that is that is a nice thing. It's like it it's funny going over there and sort of like finding out what qualifies as a long drive. Like after you've like after you've done the like Denver to Kansas City, like one trying to make a four o'clock soundcheck. It's like it all seems pretty, pretty goofy. But yeah, I don't know. I mean, like, like it's like when we're grateful to get to do any of it for sure. It's just like yeah the visa thing with us is definitely I it just seems like a problem that could be addressed so it kind of gets to me it's one of those things that I Yeah, does that

Brian Heater  55:17  
affect you personally though, because I assume you saw of US citizenship.

Tom McGreevy  55:20  
I don't know. I was wasn't wasn't in the US long enough to become a citizen. I

Brian Heater  55:24  
used to have green Oh, you weren't born here? Yeah, of course. Yeah. Our

Tom McGreevy  55:27  
drummer is American, which is helpful. But the rest of us around the music