The record is a concept album about funerals.
I asked fans, friends, and family about what songs they wanted played at their funerals--and why. They sent me their songs as well as stories about what the songs meant to them.
...And I wrote an album based on their stories.
Although Justin's solo work is what he likes to call "wuss rock": melodic, introspective, almost ballad-y reflections on love, loss, and leaving, Justin's early music career was less vocals, more shouting. The San Jose, California native played guitar with punk band The Blamed on their first Tooth and Nails Records release. He released one record with industrial band Mortal on Intense Records and two CDs with Spitkiss, whose remixed single “Violent Consumption" landed a spot in a Mercedes-Benz television ad.
After the release of his first album, whose songs were used in television shows and movies, he sold everything he owned and departed on a year-long driving tour across the United States in a tiny red Fiat convertible. Everything he didn't sell was crammed in the car with him, and along the way, he stayed with fans of his blog and people who had contributed to the production of that first album. The impetus for the second album was born out of the success of the first.
Recorded at the Aerosol Grey Machine studios in Malmo, Sweden, with Swedish band Brainpool's frontman Christoffer Lundquist, "Leaving", like Justin's previous solo album "Thirteen Songs About Love" is reminscent of Shearwater, Bon Iver, and The Shins...if they joined forces with Brian Wilson.
"His music is so much who he is, and he really writes what he knows," says Lisa Klein of OpticNoise Music Licensing and Distribution. Far from morose, "Leaving" layers songs celebrating the sweetness of kissing next to songs making wry observations on the nature of heartache. The cover of "Don't Fence Me In", originally made popular by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, he explains by saying, "That's what I want played at MY funeral." The title song and the album's coda, "Leaving" was written for Spitkiss bandmate and longtime friend Adam Bannister's mother.
Despite the recent release of this album, he is currently working with Mark Mazzetti of Mazzetti Entertainment Worldwide to produce an as-yet untitled CD for release in 2010. Of this music's sound, Mazzetti says, "The new batch of songs, while rich in Justin's unique character, are more closely tied to American Folk Music and Pop Music than anything he has done before. [They are] very, very firmly rooted in his love for story-telling married to a very catchy tune." The upcoming album promises to be simpler in the way it sounds, although the production will remain equally intricate and complex.