Trees Of Mystery Deluxe Edition Album by American Catapult

(1 customer review)


$7.99 (Member Price)

16 Songs.

Genre: Americana.

AmCat receives all purchase proceeds.

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Read principal songwriter Tom Townsend’s personal notes about this album here.



1. This Time


2. Trees Of Mystery


3. Easily Distracted


4. Whirlwind


5. Crooked Straight


6. Goodbye


7. Avarice


8. Stingray


9. Find Another Way


10. S.O.S


11. Disappointment Is


12. This Time (First Idea)


13. Trees of Mystery (First Idea)


14. Goodbye (First Work)


15. Song 59 (First Idea)


16. Song 64 (First Idea)


1 review for Trees Of Mystery Deluxe Edition Album by American Catapult

  1. Bob Rice

    Read principal songwriter Tom Townsend’s personal notes about the album.

    We were in year two of American Catapult, and had already recorded one full album and another EP. We had recently finished our Tour of the Brave, where we promoted our music and traveled into the Central Coast of California without a plan. We gathered back into the rehearsal space, and Shawn mentioned that he had gone up north on the 101 with his family through the Trees of Mystery park. That was right before we started playing through a song idea that had no lyric (normal for the time), and when we got to the chorus, I started singing, ‘Trees of Mystery, Trees of Mystery, yeah’ – and a song was born. From that idea, we set on writing songs in that vein and found a focus that drew us toward who we wanted to be as a band.

    We wrote 12 songs, and 11 made the record. We put the songs in a specific order, listed as side one and side two, and then our recording sessions followed that list exactly. Starting at the first song (This Time) and moving through one at a time to the end. That whole process was fun, and gave us focus and drive to finish, which we did in about a month’s time. Looking back, I wish we did that every time! That kind of energy and drive to create a specific vibe is gratifying.

    Songs, in order … THIS TIME was written right before a live appearance for a Rock the Vote rally in So Cal, and lyrics probably finished the day before. Second verse, ‘this time it’s 20/20, this time all votes are counting for something’ comes with that event in mind. Also the line ‘all eyes fall hard on the follow, the next big thing’ refers to our future recording effort, and overall the whole lyric is remarking about how different and easy this process was going for us.

    TREES OF MYSTERY came from Shawn’s comments on his trip to the Park, but the song idea was a nod to ‘Driving the View’ by Son Volt. We wanted specifically to have a rhythm section sound like that we could use. The song is about experience, years like rings of the tree, noting the wet and dry seasons within the rings. I threw in a very specific reference to John Denver with one of my favorite JD songs, ‘Shipmates and Cheyenne’ in the last verse.

    EASILY DISTRACTED was a song idea along the same vein, and it was a challenge to figure out at first. I remember that it took a while for the band to latch on to. Lyric came easily, a familiar subject. ‘I am easily distracted, and I’ll point to years of practice, and endless hours of wasted time’.

    WHIRLWIND was written so quickly and recorded right away, I don’t remember much about it at all actually. It was recorded live, and the album version is the first and probably only take. I was thinking of my youngest son at the time. He had a way of approaching my oldest son’s hard work with lincoln logs, or tinker toys, or whatever, and when the moment was right he’d come at it like a whirlwind and knock it all down just for fun. Reminded me of other people I knew like that. ‘He’s bent on this uneven twist, now it’s nervous time’.

    CROOKED STRAIGHT also came quickly, and I don’t think lyric was done until we recorded basic tracks. I remember finding a 12 string guitar in a room and bringing it in on a whim to record an instrumental bit. Also throwing some random sounds in there felt right. These days Michael has stretched out and uses many different pedals for texture when we play, but at this time it was pretty new for him. I think we had to convince him it was cool.

    GOODBYE was Shawn’s version. Mine did not make the cut. We gave each other a challenge to write a song using specific chords and changes, and while mine was in 6/8 I think, his was more straightforward and we agreed it was stronger. We thought it became a kind of Seger “Like a Rock’ sound. Lyrics came quickly after we laid down a basic track idea.

    AVARICE was a guitar motive that turned into a song that was recorded with lyric in short order. The opening line I heard in my head with the original guitar move for some reason, and as happens many times, I then take on the challenge of writing the whole song around that wording. Never played it live, it just served as a transitional song to the second side of the album. Purposefully recorded the opening with one mic from a distance before the second verse kicks in, in case you were wondering. One review said, “I don’t know why the opening of this song sounds like it was recorded in a trash can”. Just because.

    STINGRAY. ‘Long days of summer looked good to me, the sun still shimmered, shining down on my banana seat’. If you never spent a summer riding around town on a stingray bike, you don’t know what this feels like. This is a memory song. “Life in the Fast Lane’ and ‘My Sharona’ are two songs referenced, two of many of my late 70s summer playlist. On the AM radio strapped to my bike. Some listeners seem confused on the chorus where I say ‘I bought this 45 and it makes me feel alive’ and I think they’re people who never listened to records. It’s not a reference to a gun, so just stop. Song was used by a group of young skaters on their show off video. Kind of proud of that.

    FIND ANOTHER WAY is a song I heard in my head driving to Vegas during the days before recording. Literally heard the lyric and the whole song. That happens sometime, if and when I have the time to listen. We translated it directly and quickly and put it down. It was a gift, and a spiritual song for me. Some of the lyric still surprises me, lines like ‘No retreat, all advances, circumvent the circumstances’.

    S.O.S. came from a rehearsal as we thought about writing new material after the Tour of the Brave. Working in a big room where the reverb inspired the guitar progression and feel. I don’t remember if we actually recorded it in that room or not, but it sounds like it to me now. I have always been a songwriter who thinks in a pop 3 minute format, tightly formed tunes. This was a chance to write something that gives the band room to roam, particularly Michael. I wish I were better at that. Playing this live made us happy.

    DISAPPOINTMENT IS, speaking of writing 3 minute pop songs, exactly that. One of many songs left over from the previous band Shawn and I were in, where pop songs reigned supreme. I pulled it out of my pocket and we recorded it swiftly. It’s not really an AmCat song. I don’t think we ever rehearsed it, just recorded it. But it did serve as a closer to the record.

    EXTENDED EDITION TRACKS … THIS TIME, TREES OF MYSTERY, GOODBYE are each from the initial work probably a week or so before the final tracks were recorded. Evolving lyrics and structure. Just interesting, to me anyway. I think these tracks are all here to show how quickly we worked at that time, from these brief pre production takes to the final. SONG 59 is the 12th song that didn’t make the cut, had no idea what lyric to put to it but we did want a 6/8 tune, which turned out to be S.O.S.. SONG 64 was an afterthought spur of the moment creation when we were doing the THIS TIME work, and we were moving so quickly that we just forgot about it. I found it recently and just threw this in the collection. Feel free to take it and make something of it if you like…!

    FINAL NOTES … this album was made just for ourselves to make a record with the style we wanted to explore. Our family and circle of friends encouraged us to get it on radio. We weren’t sure about that, but we did believe in what we’d made, and so we hired a radio promoter and ran a 12 week radio campaign with it across the US and Canada. It was successful enough, we proved to ourselves that some of the songs could gain radio play, and that was that. We were already moving on with the next EP (Permission) when we were surprised with more interest in the record. Soon enough we found ourselves spending another whole year (2006-2007) in another radio campaign along with a marketing strategy, a distribution deal made with Cooking Vinyl USA (through our creative marketing team), and an effort to promote the record like we’d never encountered before. Going to a record store, even a franchise like a Best Buy, and seeing our record on the shelf was surreal. Not that anyone was buying it of course, who cares, it was sitting right there along with some of our heroes! And we got a lot of radio play in places it would have been nice to visit but was never gonna happen. We did visit some of those places though, and that made for some great memories. The whole experience forced us to play out so much more than we had, and while it worked against our momentum creatively, it did give us something to be proud of, and for the first time in our lives we felt like what we were doing was something that others might actually listen to.

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