George Morris - "100 Years" (audio) (premiere) + Interview
Detroit songwriter releases glam rock-meets-synthpop anthem ahead of third solo album.
George Morris has a singular ability to make his stardusted songs sound both expansive and tight, indefinably anachronistic yet fresh. Listen to “100 Years”, the wisely chosen first single off his forthcoming LP, for proof.
Composed of three movements orbiting each other like celestial bodies, the tune opens with shuffling drums, evocatively plinking keys, and a subtle acoustic guitar. “All of my friends are dead”, Morris sings in his serpentine falsetto, before the 45-second mark hits and the buildup shifts down to an undulating groove in the pre-chorus. When the refrain arrives, the ebb and flow tension culminates like a torrent breaking through a dam. On reaching this catharsis, the breakneck percussion and sparkling ambiance make the cut an unabashed anthem.
The song’s elliptical lyrics deal with the relativity and impermanence of time, but in a liberating, almost celebratory manner. Temporal fleetingness is something not to be resisted or bemoaned but embraced for reveling in the present. As such, it certainly sets the tone for the eponymous album’s eight-song tracklist.
George Morris is the third solo album from the singer-songwriter who made a name for himself fronting Detroit indie rockers the Satin Peaches. It’s also the first to feature his live backing band, the Gypsy Chorus, in the studio with him. As with prior releases, it bears the experimental marks of St. Vincent and Radiohead, with the overarching influence of Ziggy-era Bowie and a general glam swagger. Morris answered some questions on the song and the upcoming album, which is due out Friday, Feb. 10.
Your press kit says you're up for questions about all things sci-fi, so let's get into it — what'd you think of the Westworld finale?
I loved the whole show. I thought the finale was good, a little exposition heavy, but still good. I'm done with the fan theories, though. They're too good now. I wish I hadn't gotten into them. Next season I'm canceling my internet.
Tell me about the inspiration behind "100 Years". What was its inspiration, musically and lyrically? To me, it seems to be about embracing the transitory nature of time as a positive rather than a negative.
The song started out with just that first line — “All of My Friends are Dead” — which is the title of a children's book by Avery Monsen, then the rest formed after that. I wouldn't say it's autobiographical. I guess it's imagining what it would be like to live forever and how lonely that would be, but yeah, also embracing the positive.
How would you say your sound has developed with this album compared to the previous two, or even since your time in the Satin Peaches?
I think the writing has gotten better. I hope it has. My goal has always been to keep improving.
Your last two albums featured you playing all of the instruments, whereas this one had the Gypsy Chorus in the studio with you. Why'd you opt to go with recording with the band rather than solo again?
Well, it just comes down to the fact that Zach Pliska is a better drummer than I am and Helena Kirby is better at piano. Bassist Aaron Nelson left the band right before we went into the studio so I ended up playing the bass lines. The biggest difference with this album was having someone else produce it, namely Zach Shipps. Shipps and I got along really well, and I think we work in similar ways. I had Helena in a few days, and I think Zach got all the drums done in one day (he's a machine), but most of the sessions were just Shipps and me.
Why'd you choose to keep the album billed as "George Morris" rather than "George Morris & the Gypsy Chorus"?
I like to separate the writing and recording from the live show. With the writing and recording side of it, I guess I like to have complete control. When it comes to playing live, though, that's where collaborating is exciting for me. I guess that's why they're billed differently.
What're you most excited about with this new album?
I'm just happy it's coming out, and people can hear it. I'm proud of it; I think it's a good record.
What's coming up on the band's horizon?
Hopefully a tour in the spring. I want to do a house party tour. I'm sick of venues. Who wants us to play at their house?
1. 100 Years
2. Full of Stars
3. One & Only
5. Round World
6. No Feelings Left
7. All My Money
8. Still Waiting