Bad Bad World 3:560:00/3:56
One Way Ticket 4:540:00/4:54
All songs written by Michael Jeffrey Stocksdale ASCAP.
Mike Stocksdale – Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass
Anders Mouridsen – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Keyboards, Piano, Frankenslide
Ulf Mickael Wahlgren – Drums, Percussion
Kate Strand – Backing vocals
Jason Swift – Backing vocals on Matador
Engineered and Mixed by Mark Rains at Station House Studio in Los Angeles, CA.
Additional recording by Mike Stocksdale at his home studio.
Mastered by Eric Conn at Independent Mastering in Nashville, TN.
Produced by Mike Stocksdale.
Listen now on your favorite streaming platform.
On the recording process:
The basic tracks for these five songs, along with ten others for an upcoming full-length album, were recorded over four days in February 2022 at Station House studio in Los Angeles, CA. Mark Rains engineered, Anders Mouridsen played lead guitars and keyboards, and Ulf Mickael Wahlgren was on drums and percussion. I played acoustic and electric rhythm guitars and sang scratch vocals. We tracked everything live and then went back and did a few overdubs with our extra time. Anders and Ulf are old friends of mine, and I can’t stress enough what incredible players they are. These guys are responsible for making the record come alive. It was such a blast creating music with real human beings again after working alone on my previous two releases. I think I had forgotten how rewarding it can be to feel the ebb and flow of other players and to collaborate in the moment. We planned on tracking eight songs and ended up doing fifteen. That’s how you know the sessions went well! Afterward I took the songs to my home studio and over the next few months tracked bass, more guitars, lead vocals, and Kate Strand came by a few times to add her amazing vocal harmonies and textures. Jason Swift, the lead singer in my old band, Three Minute Mile, sent me the backing vocals for Matador all the way from Austin, Texas. Mark Rains mixed the songs superbly back at Station House, and Eric Conn mastered the EP at Independent Mastering in Nashville, TN.
Bad Bad World
“Bad Bad World” was the first song I wrote for this record. It’s laced with references to the pandemic and the general dark vibes of 2020 and 2021, but it has a hopeful tone. If you look too hard and too often at social media and news feeds an odd and untrue sense of reality can start to form. Things feel bleak, but the truth is there is so much good in this world, and it gets overshadowed, especially on local and personal levels. Every person you’ve ever passed by on the street has a story and it’s probably full of love and kindness and heartache.
I wrote this song with my guitar tuned down a whole step because my voice was wrecked for almost a year during the height of COVID. I didn’t think it would ever come back. I thought maybe it was residual from when I was sick, but in retrospect it may have been more psychological than anything. Thankfully it’s back now and stronger than ever.
After I finished college at Indiana University my band, Three Minute Mile, moved to Chicago to give it a go in a major city. The five of us, seven if you count girlfriends, lived in a four-bedroom one bath apartment in Andersonville, a neighborhood in north Chicago. We’d rehearse in the living room. Even though it was a while back, I can still get there in my mind and the memories are vivid. I recall walking to Argyle station, passing by Vietnamese pho restaurants, and taking the red line to work like it was yesterday. Those were young days for me as a musician. I could make some hip sounds on guitar and was having a blast, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was writing songs and playing lead, but I hadn’t taught myself to sing yet. I wasn’t in a place where I was ready express myself as an artist, but it was coming. I think I could feel it deep down. Those were formative years for me, and without a doubt they shaped my musical identity.
I had the music for years before I could find lyrics to do this song justice, and I was thrilled when I discovered something that worked and resonated with me. At its heart, “Matador” is about the search for truth in this world, and it’s about how surprisingly difficult that can be. The lyrics are a conversation with a science denier who’s been tricked into believing things they have no evidence to support. The denier is the bull, and the tricker is the matador. But I think we’ve all chased matadors in our lives, and I hope the song is a bit of a reminder to everyone to check themselves a bit. Check their resources. Think twice about what they believe, why they believe it, and who’s telling them to believe it. I know I’ve been the bull to someone else’s matador many times, so the song is a reminder to me as well.
“Thunder” is all about feeling isolated and alone and like you’re barely scraping by in the world, then posing the question, “am I the only one who’s like this?” Sometimes it can really seem that way, especially when you’re only seeing people post the best versions of themselves online. But we all know the answer to the question. We all know everyone sees the lighting and feels the thunder too.
One Way Ticket
I really can’t believe this became a song, let alone one of my favorites on the record. “One Way Ticket” is a combination of six different ideas that I really loved but couldn’t quite turn into standalone songs. I stole an old Beatles trick and slapped them together while tweaking a few lyrics and chords to give the whole thing a subtle through-line, and I think the result feels like a life-long journey from childhood to old age. I’m thrilled with how it all turned out. My favorite lyric is toward the end where I reference how my parents met. The story goes like this: they were both waiting in line at the airport and my mom randomly asked anyone for the time. My dad, who’s a tall and lanky dude, was further back in line but leaned over a bunch of people to make sure she heard it from him. They got to talking and decided to share a cab home because they lived near each other. Only thing is my dad lived nowhere near her and had lied as an excuse for them to ride together! The rest is history. Without that I would have never existed. It’s amazing how certain small moments and choices can be instrumental in shaping our lives forever.