The writing was on the wall, so to speak, for I'll Do It Again Tomorrow, the latest record from Denver band Fern Roberts. Frontman and guitarist Josh Tryan saw the words scrawled on a sidewalk near his house.
“At first it was very creepy,” Tryan recalls. “But then it became something I saw every day written in the cement. It was written in some sort of chemical that was removed and stained on the cement.”
The words became a mantra of sorts for Tryan while he wrote songs that would end up on the new record, on which the band perfects its upbeat, catchy, psychedelic rock with esoteric lyrics that convey a light sense of melancholy.
“I became very disciplined,” Tryan says. “I would wake up at 5 a.m. each day and work on songs for an hour before I headed to work. That creepy sidewalk became my mantra. I would see it every morning at six and every night when I got home.”
He adds that he noticed small improvements in the songs every day, and he’s been amazed about how everything has progressed over the past several months. He’s hopeful about what the band can achieve moving forward.
“I’m chronically way too hard on myself all the time about everything,” he says. “It was nice to say ‘This morning I got a little better at guitar’ or ‘I changed this phrase in the lyrics to make a little more sense.’ The next day I would do the same thing, and it just became a little narrative of celebrating really small successes.”
“I’m reluctant to assume such things exist anymore,” he says. “To see how incremental progress builds into something great over time is boring. It’s not very romantic, but it’s fucking cool.”
The band says the new record “isn't a story of romance or grand heroism," but rather "an ode to subtle action and the power of remaining committed to our highest ideals, even in the face of uncertainty.” Tryan's oblique lyrics tell a story of transformation, albeit a subtle, slow-moving one.
“I have a tendency to narrativize my life and view it as a movie or a novel, almost to a fault,” he says. “I pictured releasing that first record as sort of the climax — like the credits would roll and I would just have a triumphant victory. Then we finished the record, and I didn’t really feel any different or better about myself or the state of the world.”
Drummer Amos Chase enjoyed the collaboration the trio employed during the writing and recording process that ultimately formed the twelve songs on I'll Do It Again Tomorrow.
“All the songs really feel like one part Amos, one part Todd [bassist Spriggs], one part Josh,” Chase says. “It really came together as a passion project. 'I’ll do it again tomorrow' — it’s great. That’s a lyric from 'Catastrophe,' and I think it’s really fitting that we titled the album that way. I’m super proud of the work we did.”
Spriggs agrees that the new record was more of a group effort than the band's debut, which Tryan had more or less written and fleshed out.
“A handful of [the songs] changed from what they originally were when [Tryan] brought them to the table,” Spriggs says of the new album. “We just kind of flipped them on their head. It’s a totally different product.”
Tryan enjoyed the collaborative approach as well. He says that one song, “Flatline Eyes,” ended up being a completely different — and better — tune once the band took a crack at it as a whole.
“That was really cool for me as a songwriter,” he says. “Just to bring an idea that was completely underdeveloped and kind of watch other people believe in it enough to actually put work into making it something good.”
I’ll Do It Again Tomorrow is now available on bandcamp.com. Fern Roberts plays HQ, 60 South Broadway, at 9 p.m. Friday, January 28; tickets are $10.