January 19, 2016 · BTR-034
For me, Every Famous Last Word is “the” Miracle of 86 record. It marked a crazy fertile growth spurt, in confidence, performance, arrangement, intention. Pretty much all of my peak Miracle memories are framed by the experience of writing/rehearsing/demoing/recording/performing this music (summer 2001 - summer 2003) - our first significant US & European touring, first New York headlining shows of consequence, first SXSW, first US/international press support, and a bunch of really fun/blurry shows with some pretty serious indie/punk/emo luminaries.
We were kids, relatively speaking - I was 21 when I first showed Chris & Mike what would become the bulk of the record. We added Skinner in October 2001, and his enthusiasm, intelligence, experience & vision kicked us in the ass & made us a much more serious & formidable (if volatile & unpredictable) outfit. This was first time I remember stepping back & writing lyrics/melodies to songs borne of jamming as a band, and those songs became our best, more urgent, frenetic stuff, including the title track, our finest moment, still one of my favorite things I’ve ever been involved with making. I loved sliding over and being a sideman on “Southern State”, supporting Mike’s development as a songwriter, watching that open up our capacities. And this record brought Chris Bracco into our world; luckily for me, he’s been a producer/bandmate/collaborator ever since.
I could go on, about how I wouldn’t still be doing what I’m doing now (for better & for worse) without this album; how messy & complicated things got for us not long after its release; how silly some of those complications look in the rear view; how thrilling it was doing three shows in 2013 after 9 years apart (an experience that wasn’t without its attendant insanity); and about how brutal and shocking it was to lose Skinner suddenly in September 2014, to know now that those will be our last shows. But that’s all gleaned with the benefit of hindsight, re-contextualizing. It better honors the spirit of Every Famous Last Word, our best record - available now for the first time on vinyl in North America - to let it tell its own story, in its own voice, on its own terms. I hope you enjoy hearing it. - Kevin Devine