American Heritage: Album Stream and Song-By-Song Self-Deconstruction

I didn’t realise it, but I’ve been a fan of American Heritage for a long time. When I say I didn’t realise it, it’s because the band which is split between Chicago and Atlanta haven’t exactly been the most prolific of outfits since forming in 1997, have probably played fewer shows than they have releases available (11) and they themselves say, “…we’re not really around anymore.” That doesn’t lessen the quality of any of their works, but admittedly, it’s easy to forget about bands when they’re not always in your face as bands are these days. I do, however, remember when American Heritage was an instrumental outfit and writing songs with goofy titles like “The Psychoreactive Flow in Cavernous Passages Under the Villas, Manors, Castles, Haciendas and Mansions of the Superpredator Class Has Poisoned the Potato Crops and Caused Eyes to Blaze with Blind Tub” back in the day. Today, the band’s sixth full-length, Prolapse is officially out and available via Solar Flare Records and the Deciblog is providing you with both a chance to give it a preview spin and read a little about it via a track-by-track “analysis” by guitarist Scott Shellhamer. Ordering and contact info below.

By Scott Shellhamer
“Eastward Cast the Entrails”
This song was the biggest pain in the ass to write. We kept unfinishing it. Well, to be fair to the other guys, I kept unfinishing it. We’d have a practice and have it pretty much done, then six months later we’d have another practice and I’d want to completely rearrange it and add different parts or take stuff out. I was clearly a pain in the ass with this one. This song made our bassist Erik [Bocek] cry in the practice space hallway once.

“Anxious Bedwetter”
[Bassist/vocalist/guitarist] Adamn [Norden] and [drummer] Mike [Duffy] had a writing session on their own down in Georgia. This came out of that. When we write it usually works that one person brings a bunch of related parts and then we all shove them together and add more riffs to that as a group. They already had half of this one in the bag, then I shoved a bunch of stuff in and Mike did his arrangement tweaking. Writing on this one went really smoothly [which is] a rare treat for us.

When we were writing our last record Sedentary we decided to stop over-thinking things as much. This was pretty liberating for us. We got into the habit of writing what we called “burners” when we would be struggling with another more involved song. These were songs that we would write very quickly and then not be able to change later. This is one of those “burners”. Mike wanted to give vocals a rip so he did the yelling on this one.

“Constant and Consuming Fear of Death and Dying”
This is another song that came out of the Adamn and Mike’s Georgia writing session. This is one of the few times where someone came to the table with a song pretty much complete.

“Mask of Lies”
I dig having guest vocals. In the period between Sedentary and Prolapse I did a tour filling in on guitar for Enabler. Jeff Lohrber seemed like an obvious choice for this song. I think he knocked them out in one take.

Right about the time Sedentary came out, we all went down to Mike’s place in Georgia to drink all of the beer, hang out on a boat, and blast fireworks off at his neighbours. Most of this song was written down there on that trip. Erik drank all of Mike’s whiskey (which was a lot) in one night. Here’s evidence:

“Hürtin’ Crüe” [Descendents Cover]
I’ve always loved the Descendents. Enjoy! was my first cassette by them and I listened to it endlessly. This song always struck me as uncharacteristically aggressive for them.

“Thirsty and Miserable” [Black Flag Cover]
This was a no-brainer. Mike did the vocals on this one as well. [Producer] Sanford [Parker] made us do it all in one take. No do-overs.

“Bulletproof Cupid” [Girls Against Boys Cover]
This one may seem like an odd choice to some. We all loved Soul Side. We all really dug GvsB. This song has always haunted me. I first heard it in Erik’s basement back when we were still in high school. It is the first riff I ever learned how to play on guitar. I’ve been friends with Mike Lust (Tight Phantomz, Football) for close to 20 years. His voice suited itself perfectly to the smokey-sex-slime feel.

Order the record from Solar Flare here.
American Heritage on Facebook