Song Deconstructed: ‘It’s How I Feel’ by Leopold And His Fiction
Frontman Daniel Leopold takes us for a canoe ride through cypress trees as we learn about his most recent single
Leopold And His Fiction released their eponymous debut album back in 2006 and are now four albums into their career. Their most recent album was 2017’s Darling Destroyer which impressed us with the way it “balanced both garage and stadium-sized rock” and so it was a pleasant surprise when new single It’s How I Feel landed in our inbox back in June. Continuing their adventures in rock ‘n’ roll, complete with muppet-heavy video, it’s a hip-shaking success.
So it’s over to Austin-based group’s frontman and guitarist Daniel Leopold to break the track down for us.
Inspiration was so hard to come by for this song. The music was immediate and straight as an arrow. Tour after tour we would vamp into this song without defined direction. The adrenaline and emotional vicissitude within which we’d play was charming enough to want to come back to it when we would be writing after spending far too many hours in each others business.
We wanted to find something that would make sense to us inside a small room and have the same impact on a stage big enough to handle our misled/inflated egos. Hard and steel, the instrumentation was flawless. The lyrics wouldn’t budge. I had to take a trip to east Texas to check in to a location I had never been. Caddo Parish on the border of Louisiana and Texas. Walking around, rowing around in a canoe in between cypress trees everything looked like an alligator in the water. On land living on rice and beans, and hot sauce…
Lyrics mean so much in the moment that you’re writing them. They mean nothing to me today. I could go down line-per-line of the song and say what they mean to me right now. Certainly not effective in explaining what was happening in the moment. Listening back, the whole song is proclamation. I’m THIS, I’m THAT. This main character is a lot of things, and he is adamant about telling you his variations on why.
Straight, stoned, in love, I’m free. Okay, we’ve all felt these things. As a listener, I am glad I can relate to this. As the writer, I am glad I could get these ideas off my chest. Love and death are big concepts I’ve always tried to frame in a passing light, continuously imprinting by fading its absorber, changing and casting awkward and beautiful darkness behind it in shadow. We’re all here for it. We’re all alive because of some version of it.
Guitar, drums, bass. The Stooges, The Three Stooges are not as funny as The Marx Brothers. Jazz. Ample and continuous. The baseline offers a simple structure for the drums to launch off of. Oh! We used an MG-1 on this track. That was really neat. There is no telling the path that animal will ever take. In a world of click tracks and digital grids, this song is entirely in opposition. If I could have this song be a part of a movie I’d want it in a race car scene.
In The Studio
Recorded In Austin, Texas while gathering my bearings in sobriety and not living in the last city I had lived in, which I consider the best city in the world. Hot is hot, regardless of the season. It can be hot in January easily. This is cold music. Its a music birthed out of oppression by the elements. Born from an eternal fog of cold fronts. It’s a tricky thing to emulate. You’ve got this painting you want to paint about Havana but you’re in Berlin. You’ve got a song you want to sing but you’re deaf.
Imagination can take you a distance and what takes over after that, I’m not sure. Probably interpretation. We knocked out basics quick. Always fresh off the road. We did a lot of music at home and then mixed it on a console with blinking lights and meters. This was the first song I recorded with the road line up. They are cool. We are still in touch with one another.
Songwriting is not easy. Even when it comes fast, it is still life-altering to start and finish each song. If it’s not life-altering, I imagine you could spend your time doing other more life-altering-to-you things. I wanted so much to be a professional hockey player when I grew up. No such luck. I couldn’t alter my life in succession to fit the demands that type of life asks for. I didn’t have raw hockey talent. I wanted to play for the Red Wings. But I would have gladly played for the Minnesota North Stars, but never for the Blackhawks.
No matter what age we all need to set boundaries and live by principals. I’m still working on singing in pitch. Still learning Italian and French, still trying to play more than major chords on piano. The longer I song write the deeper in a rut I find myself. It’s not as addictive as it once was. I’ve lived a whole lot more which means two things: imagination recedes, realizing life is only some times as fantastic as we see it is in the movies. Scripted is innovation. Infectious scripts appeal to a universal yearning, but still need an actor, a conduit to bring it to life. We have to feed into the drama if things are ever going to be dramatic. To write a good script and live by it is the best possible life I could ever hope to live.