Singer-songwriter Joe Pug has released his new song “Exit” today via CMT. The track appears on his first new album in nearly 4 years, The Flood In Color, Out July 19 via Nation of Heat Records. “Exit” was co-written by Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids, who also produced the album. Listen and share “Exit” here and pre-order The Flood In Colorhere.
“I had been sending Kenneth demos for nine months and he hadn’t picked a single one for the album,” Joe Pug tells CMT. “I was beginning to think that maybe our partnership wasn’t going to work out. But when I wrote “exit” one afternoon, I knew it was a keeper. And so did he. It became the skeleton key for the rest of the record. The songs that I wrote after that were all much closer to the mark. I’m so glad that we didn’t settle for something earlier. Even though at the time I was ready to fire my composition book from a cannon into the sun.”
“Most of the imagery from the song comes from scattered recollections of my early years driving across the country. That was the time between being a kid and growing into a man, the time where you go out to a spiritual desert by yourself. It was difficult at the time but very necessary. Now enough time has passed that I remember it very romantically.”
Joe Pug’s new record “The Flood In Color” is nearly four years in the making. But that betrays the fact that the making of the album was one of the most natural and rewarding processes of his career. Produced by Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids and engineered by Matt Ross-Spang , the album started with the goal of focusing on the simplicity of musicians playing together, live, in the same room. Recently relocating back to his childhood home in Prince Georges County, Maryland after many years spent in Chicago and Austin, Pug wanted take a new approach. The partnership with Pattengale proved to be an irresistible opportunity to do just that.
“The past couple of albums haven’t always been the most enjoyable to record. The process can really bring on all sorts of pressures about what you should be doing and how you should be doing it, both internally and externally. Lots of ‘Songs need to be 3 and half minutes long’ and ‘You need something that will work on AAA radio’. And the end result is this strange gravity that just weighs you down.” Pattengale, a fan of Pug’s music since the days so of his 2010 EP “Nation of Heat”, was eager to try a back-to-basics approach.
“So Kenneth and I sort of had the idea to strip all that away. I was just going to write songs. And I was going to do it in a way that came naturally to me, and that I enjoyed. Get rid of all the external bullshit. Look….music isn’t my entire life. Sometimes I want to write songs. But other times I want to read books. I want to play with my kid. I want to cook. A couple years ago I started a podcast. So that’s sort of how I approached this one. I’ll write songs the way I write songs. And when Kenneth and I had a few that we felt good about, we got together and dialed them in a bit further and worked on arrangements. Almost as friends as much as anything. And when we got them to a place we were happy with, we went to Nashville and recorded them. But through the whole affair there was really no timetable I imposed on it.”
In the studio, the relaxed mood continued. “In the past I’ve been guilty of being a bit too intoxicated with the process of recording, and it sometimes took away from the pure joy of making music. This time we didn’t spend weeks hold up in the studio obsessing over minute details. Kenneth put together an A+ group of musicians. And then we sat around a table, talked about the song for a bit, ran through it, and then pressed record. It was a revelation, and all the credit in the world to Kenneth for recognizing how important that would be. As a musician there are so many things that can get in the way of actually making music. What Kenneth did was to methodically strip those things away. “