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The Promise Ring

The Promise Ring

Face it: rock bios are a nuisance. You are a rock journo, and by the fourth record, you probably know everything you need to know about The Promise Ring. In fact, you probably wrote a lot of the stuff we stole for this bio. So, let's skip all that and get to the point:

Forget every double-hyphenated-muso-modifier you've ever heard. It's time to put that stuff on the side and get back to what that counts: songs, energy, authenticity-emotions in motion. No matter what you label it, The Promise Ring's ANTI- debut WOOD/WATER is dripping with this stuff. We want WOOD/WATER to be your best friend, the outside influence that makes you feel something when you just don't know what you feel.

So put it on, and check out the following:

February, 2000-After the critically-acclaimed, crowd-pleasing hooks of Nothing Feels Good'(1997) and the soaring follow-up Very Emergency (1999) TPR decides the next album has to be more emo/less core.

April, 2000-Davey is diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a fist. (Finished looking at your fist yet?) It turns out to be benign, and after four routine operations, Davey's computer is OK. Davey reckons the tumor was a blessing in disguise: "If it hadn't been for that, we might have made a completely predictable, uninteresting record. All that time off allowed us to slow down and take the time to make the record we wanted. I still can't sing though."

April, 2001-Head back in hand, Davey lyrically ponders what would happen if he'd never started to play guitar (hear: 'Stop Playing Guitar') and what it would be like to sip his morning coffee in the afternoon (hear: 'Wake Up April").

May, 2001-For the first time TPR demos songs to tape. No more jamming riffs in rehearsal, touring the songs, then cutting them in the studio as fast as possible. This time, there are textures, sounds and emotional nuances to experiment with, plus a self-imposed mission to reinvent the band. "We wanted to do something different and we wanted to be excited by it," says Jason. "When we actually got back to writing it was a bit of a struggle; it seemed as though we were just making 'Very Emergency, Part 2.' We weren't too excited by that. We had to re-evaluate and rediscover who we were as a band. We just tried to let the songs come out as naturally as possible. After a bit they started coming faster than we could write them."

Summer, 2001-With Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Beck) behind the mixing desk and Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish, Air, Moog Cookbook) behind his Fender Rhodes keyboard, 'Say Goodbye Good' is the first song tracked for WOOD/WATER.

Fall, 2001-TPR arrive in England inspired and eager to dedicate their songs to tape. At Jacobs, a residential studio on a sprawling green estate outside London, producer Stephen Street (Blur, The Smiths, Cranberries) completes WOOD/WATER in six weeks. Working with The Promise Ring at Jacobs reminds Street of another record he made there in the '80s-The Smiths' The Queen is Dead.

With no video games available, the band revive British sports table tennis and croquet (Dan-18 wins, Davey-17 wins). The six-weeks away from home are made easier when they find a UK cable channel that carries a single live NFL game at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights.

Jason on Mario and Stephen-"The general feeling was plain excitement, and maybe a little fear, too. We had a bunch of new songs, a new record label, and we were recording with two guys that had made some of our favorite records. We basically picked Stephen because we thought he would understand what we wanted the record to sound like."

WOOD/WATER-It's the first word in "Become One Anything One Time." Don't ask what it means-Davey doesn't know, he just wrote it. The album title and sleeve are also an allusion to the wet, green surroundings at Jacobs.

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