SW: It took you nine years to release the follow-up to your debut, an album that received the kind of praise most bands would kill for. Why?
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Shehan: I would have liked to have made a great second record, and we actually started to make one, but I didn't have it in me. The desire and the drive to actually finish it and have it be what I wanted it to be—I just didn't have it. And the band reflected that back at me, since I was the engine that drove it.
Did something happen recently that made you feel willing to give it all up again and give it another shot?
I didn't have all that much to give up. I was married, and that relationship ended. I had unplugged from the life I'd known before that, so when that ended I was not plugged in to anything. I was just on my own, and had to sort out my life and figure out what I was going to do. For me, one of the things that created meaning and purpose in my own life, and also helped sort out what I had gone through, was making a record.
So it was catharsis?
Attaching things like that to it makes it feel pretentious to me, but the answer is yes.
Is the title an allusion to the time you've been away from the music business?
The title is actually tongue in cheek. "A gentle reminder" is like your God of the universe giving you a little nudge to get you back to where you're supposed to go. It's actually that you got your ass kicked back to where you're supposed to go. It's a not-so-gentle reminder.
What did you listen to while writing the album?
I ended up having to take a drive across the country from Florida to L.A. Two records that I really dug were the Killers' Day & Age and M83's Saturdays = Youth, which I thought was incredible as well. Those were two that I listened to over and over and over. I didn't really seek them out; they just sort of found me, and I got to know them and love them.
Do you have any connections to Seattle?
When I was in Knapsack and we were just a baby band, we somehow got this gig up there. I think it was our second out-of-town show ever, and we ended up opening for Sunny Day Real Estate and Treepeople back in who-knows-when. And then Sunny Day Real Estate got onstage, and I was like, "Forget it, why do we even bother?"