Videos by American Songwriter
Stevenson has spoken extensively about what went into Sit Resist’s 13 tracks—first through album commentary released in 2017, then through a seven-part podcast series. But the new reissue is actually two LPs: the first is a remastered version of the original, while the second is a cache of previously unreleased demos, alternate mixes, and live recordings (ending with a very Killers-esque cover of Archers of Loaf’s “Web in Front” that we didn’t know we needed).
Ahead of the physical release of Sit Resist (Remastered Deluxe Edition)—out tomorrow—we asked Stevenson to break down all ten tracks on the bonus LP. In doing so, she talks about working with her longtime friend and collaborator Jeff Rosenstock, performing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg during a blizzard, and saying goodbye to her childhood home. Check out her responses below.
“Halloween 1 & 2 – Alternate Version”
Laura Stevenson: The majority of this song was recorded in Jeff Rosenstock’s apartment in Brooklyn, but we trekked out to Long Island to my friend Tom’s studio to do the drums. Personnel was the same as the official album version of the song except we had Sean McCabe on trombone and Wen-Jay Ying on violin. It came out on a split 7-inch with Bomb The Music Industry on which we recorded one original and a cover of one of the other band’s songs; Bomb did “A Shine to It” and I did a cover of their song “It Ceases To Be ‘Whining’ If You’re Still ‘Shitting Blood.’”
“Master of Art – Alternate Mix”
Eric Bennett, who recorded Sit Resist, had given the album a first pass of mixes that, in hindsight, were way better than what we ended up going with. Oh well. Anyway, this mix of “Master of Art” just has so much depth and clarity. At the time, I was going through a phase where I just wanted everything to sound super lo-fi and kind of one-dimensional, maybe because if people didn’t think I was trying too hard I wouldn’t get hurt if anyone talked shit about my music. Pretty good defense mechanism. Anyway, this mix is lush and wonderful and Eric is amazing. Also, I don’t know why we ended up cutting the glockenspiel on the album version but it appears here.
“Caretaker – Raymond Street Version”
I recorded this the night I was moving my mom out of the house I grew up in. After a few chaotic days dealing with packing and movers and junk companies, I dropped my mom off at JFK, loaded her car with the remaining stuff and put it on a truck and when it was all done it was just me, alone in this completely empty house to spend one last night before flying out west to start tour for The Big Freeze. Luckily I had my guitar. You can hear how empty the house is, I had never experienced it like that before, it was all just really final and really sad and I’m really glad I made this recording.
“The Healthy One – Demo”
This one was also recorded in Jeff’s apartment, it’s super slow but the guitars are really heavy which is a nice juxtaposition. As usual, this song just got faster and faster the more times we played it live, so listening to this slower version is wild for me. But, I think with this tempo, the melody takes the forefront so much more, it’s really special. Also, at the end, you can hear me talking about how “I didn’t like that,” which I can only assume is a reference to my vocal… which we ended up keeping so whatever. I assume one of the band members or Jeff convinced me it was good and it turns out, they were right. Jeff would always keep some fun Easter eggs of me saying something ridiculous in the mix until the final version, but this one never got deleted which makes me laugh.
“Peachy – Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg”
Listening to me singing live from this era is really interesting—I was singing at the top of my voice and could barely hear a thing, which caused some real damage to my vocal cords later on, but the energy is pretty great. This recording is from the first time we played Music Hall of Williamsburg; it was the 2012 Don Giovanni Records showcase and I was so nervous. I thought it’d be a good idea to get a guitar tuner for the occasion but I kept struggling with it the entire set. We ended up cutting the slow/sad outro for this song because we were used to audiences not being familiar and clapping before the song was over. In hindsight, we probably should’ve played it because we were playing for fans of our band that night but… you live and you learn.
“808 – Demo”
This was another one of the demos recorded by Jeff in his apartment. It features a LOT of Jeff’s really cool guitar parts. The whole thing sounds really big and beautiful. There was also a ton of improvising going on with this recording, not many of the parts were really concrete yet, it just feels really loose and free and fun. I particularly like the end violin stuff—I remember singing those parts to Wen-Jay and her playing them back to me and then layering it all and it was one of the first times I was able to build a string “section” like that, something that I continue to do and still find so rewarding.
“Barnacles – Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg”
This is another recording from a Don Giovanni showcase at Music Hall but this one is from 2013. That year we were headlining and I was so excited and had been looking forward to it for months, but of course—my luck being what it is—that night there was a blizzard and the Mayor of NYC shut down the subways. The crowd was small but the people that made it out were so, so happy to be there, they cheered throughout the whole set and made me feel really good, I will always look back on that show as being one of the most special ones that I have ever played. This version of “Barnacles” was just performed solo—no horns, so I didn’t really know what to do at the end which is funny. I was just kind of fucking around until I said “thank you.”
“The Wait – Alternate Mix”
This is another beautiful mix by Eric Bennett from the Sit Resist sessions, that we somehow didn’t use for the album version. The scope of this mix is just so much wider, you can really hear all the guitar stuff played by Peter Naddeo. Peter actually wasn’t at the studio for any of the recording (we were making this record around Christmas and New Years and he had gone home to Pennsylvania for the duration) but he recorded all of his parts remotely and sent them to us after we were finished with basic tracking. I remember Eric opening up the files and us all listening to the parts mixed in for the first time and hearing just how much the song opened up, it was so exciting.
“I See Dark – Demo”
This is an example of how all my songs start—just bare bones with me and a guitar, recorded most likely on a laptop or a phone. On this recording I think it’s particularly interesting that you can hear what my intentions were with that loud, noisy part in the middle of the song, just with the intensity and the kind of frantic strumming. Clearly this was just a working demo because the guitar is definitely out of tune (probably from playing that strummy middle part too many times in a row) and I accidentally play the wrong chord toward the end of the song. I like this version because the song was still really fresh and a lot of the emotional rawness of writing it is still very much there.
“Web In Front – Archers of Loaf Cover Live at The Fest 11”
I was really into Archers of Loaf during this record—I still am—but this was when I was like, falling in love with the band. This song in particular is so beautiful; I remember I went and saw Eric Bachmann play and he did an acoustic version of it and the melody just soared so much that it was stuck in my head for maybe a month. I figured the only way I could get on the other side of it was if I played it with the band, and I just love the way we all interpreted it. I really like the dance-y ending, it’s kind of Killers-y, kind of Phoenix-y… all stuff I was into at the time, and I think it really showcases the line-up of players we had at that moment. Everyone was so good, we played so well together and we had a lot of fun.