Elder Brother’s Dan Rose Gives a Track-by-Track Breakdown of ‘I Won’t Fade On You’

Today, East Bay alt rockers Elder Brother drop their third album, I Won’t Fade On You, along with an animated video for “Halloween,” premiering below.

Videos by American Songwriter

“Lyrically,” vocalist Dan Rose tells American Songwriter, “I guess the song [‘Halloween’] is about the transition time in the beginning of relationships, when you’re figuring out together if you want to take it to the next step or let it go.”

“If we don’t ever say what we mean / Every night could be Halloween,” Rose sings in the track with mounting urgency. “A nightly new tradition / A guilty apparition / To scare the living shit out of me / A thousand winters of snow / Can’t bury what we both know.” 

The accompanying flick, directed by Jez Pennington, follows a lonely ghost as he skateboards, plays piano, makes an omelette, and listens to vinyl in bed. Finally, he reaches out to some friends in a group chat (called “EAST BAES,” of course): “hey gang, i’ve been feeling like a zombie lately… anyone wanna link up?” Soon, his friends appear in a grid on his phone screen—the digital equivalent of a group hug, at least in the context of COVID.

I Won’t Fade On You follows Elder Brother’s 2018 album Stay Inside and their 2014 debut Heavy Head. Rose and guitarist Kevin Geyer initially formed Elder Brother as a duo, but the band has since grown to include bassist Morgan Foster and drummer/keyboardist Evan Garcia-Renart. 

We invited Elder Brother to give us a track-by-track breakdown of their new album—check out Rose’s responses and watch the “Halloween” video below.

“I Won’t Fade On You”
Dan Rose: This song is essentially the thesis statement of the album. The music was written by Morgan, but he initially had a whole other set of lyrics. When we worked the tune out as a band for the album, we ended up changing a lot of the lyrics he had written, but the main line—“I won’t fade on you”—was there from the original version. That line stuck out to me and resonated with a lot of the themes that were already going on in some of the lyrics that I already had for the album, so I kind of re-built the lyrics to the song out from that one unifying lyric, and we ended up with a tune that I feel encapsulates a lot of what I was trying to say, so much so that we ended up using the line as the album title.  

For the first two Elder Brother records, while we had other musicians play and help work out parts to our songs, all of the main “ideas” for songs were written by Kevin and I. For this record, we operated as a full band with each member contributing songs, which is how “Halloween” came about.  We flew Evan out to write with us a few months before we were set to record the album, and he said he had a demo that he didn’t know what to do with, which ended up being most of the main parts of “Halloween.”  Lyrically, I guess the song is about the transition time in the beginning of relationships, when you’re figuring out together if you want to take it to the next step or let it go.

“If You Love Me (Like You Say)”
This was one of the first songs we worked on as our new full lineup. I wrote a majority of the lyrics to this song shortly after our friend Tim (Landers, of the band Transit) passed away early in 2019. It’s about showing your friends and family that you love them, not only in the good times but in the bad ones as well.

“I Get So Tired Of You”
“I Get So Tired Of You” is a song we had floating around for a while that we were nervous to pursue because of the prominent keyboard line. Kevin can play piano but we were always apprehensive to commit to any keys-driven tunes because we weren’t as confident on the instrument or that we’d be able to pull it off live. Once we added Evan to the lineup, who is a classically trained pianist as well as a drummer, we were more confident to start moving in that direction. Sonically I think the song is a product of us gaining more confidence in our instruments and as a band.

With “Projector,” we went in with the goal of keeping in a short and sweet, to the point pop song, something we hadn’t really tried to intentionally do to date. When we got together to write it, we played around with adding some keys to it, and the song really came together in the studio when Evan got on Jack (Shirley)’s organ with the Leslie speaker. We tapped a little bit into some ‘90s Americana style influences—bands like early Wilco and The Wallflowers—influences that we all are big fans of but hadn’t really made its way into our music until this album.

“OK, Alright”
“OK, Alright” was the song that may have come together the fastest other than “Hair,” and the song that probably would have fit in on our last album Stay Inside the best out of all these new tracks. Lyrically it has to do with long-distance relationships; trying to hold them together and the initial resentment that can come from when it doesn’t work out.

“The Champion of the East Bay”
Three words: Thin Lizzy Bridge. I have a feeling this is going to be my favorite one to play live.

“The War Is Over”
For “The War Is Over” we tried to channel a little bit of a sleepier, nighttime song similar to bands like Afghan Whigs or The National. We went into it with the plan of adding some orchestral elements over the bridge of the song, and so we sent the song off to Nate Sander, who added the strings along with my friend Matt Stewart of the band Streetlight Manifesto who added the trumpet over the ending. That was special for me because one of my first jobs ever in the music industry was actually working for Matt’s band Streetlight, so to get him to play on one of my tracks was a real cool full-circle moment.

“Hair” came together in about two hours. The chords, melody, structure, and lyrics are mostly the exact same as when I first demoed the song about six months before we started tracking the album. Right before writing this song, I had just finished the book How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, which focuses largely on the effects of microdosing with psychedelic mushrooms, and I had just started to experiment with this myself. Among many other positive effects microdosing had for me, the first time I picked up a guitar after starting a cycle, I wrote “Hair.”  Given the positive results from my initial run, this method was used a few more times on the album.

The first song I wrote for the album was “High.”  It set the tone stylistically for the record, and overall I think acts as a good bridge between Stay Inside and this record.  Lyrically it’s a semi-autobiographical story about flying cross-country for a weekend and ending up smoking weed in your friend’s room alone.

Immediately when I wrote the loop for “Washed,” I knew it was going to be the last song on the album, and I just wanted to hear it on repeat. I must have played the bass chords alone in my room over the loop for an hour straight before I even got my computer out to demo it. I also felt immediately it was another song that I needed Matt Stewart to play some trumpet on, and he thankfully was stoked to do so. I think we were successful in trying to channel some of the weirder Third Eye Blind songs when writing “Washed,” the spacier stuff from the B-sides of Blue and Out of the Vein.  My favorite song on I Won’t Fade On You changes fairly often but I think if I had to commit to one, it would be this one. But don’t hold me to that.

I Won’t Fade On You is out now via Pure Noise Records. You can order it here.

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