The first 3-4 years of any band is probably always the most fun. We had a big group of friends all in the same life phase - post college, constantly hanging out, working jobs that nobody was too serious about. Cold War Kids shows became the center of a social circle of about a hundred people, so we just had this built in audience. Now, When people ask us now how to get started in bands and find fans, I had no idea how lucky we were. We were driven by a desire to impress our friends. There was no really no expectations beyond that.
Eventually 4 of us moved in to a dilapidated back-house in Whittier CA where we had a little rehearsal space and could write more often. I remember that's how St John came, we were in the middle of a party, people all around and we picked up instruments, wrote that song, played it the next night.
This was when Maust gave me a loan to buy the CP80 piano we saw Richard Swift playing with. In hindsight, I think the addition of piano was one of the most crucial things that set us apart from other guitar indie bands.
I wrote lyrics to “Hospital Beds” while substitute teaching a high school math class. “We Used to Vacation” was one that came while repeatedly listening to Jon Brion’s original version of Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine.
I’ll never forget the first time we played St John at Silverlake Lounge watching our friends reaction like we really tapped in to something special. Or writing “Rubidoux" in Maust’s parents living room the day before we recorded with Jason Martin in Riverside. “Robbers” I was reading Infinite Jest and thinking about the character Gately, his insane thieving. “Sermons vs the Gospel” I recorded my first time using GarageBand on a terribly out of tune piano in our neighbors garage. Everybody said we should just put that version on the record, so we did.
We never had the time to overthink anything. It was just about go, go, go. Everything was new. Blogs were new. My friend Doug told me about them and we sent CD’s out. They responded, and they cared ! We recorded demoes of songs and posted them to Myspace.
It was that kind of spontaneous, whatever works, constant writing recording and playing that lead us to recording Robbers and Cowards in about 10 days. 10 years later, of course its different now. I always want us to grow and explore new avenues, but that energy, the scene around us, being so constantly in the moment, is a feeling you always try to get back.