"Once we wrote that song, we knew it was a great idea, it could make a great story, it could make a great series of songs, it could even become something more than just a record," says Escovedo. "We got excited right away."
Over the next year, Escovedo and Prophet took turns making trips to Austin and San Francisco to continue the collaboration. "I would call him and say, 'I've got this story about when I met Iggy Pop,' and that would inspire us to want to write a song about Iggy, which became 'Real as an Animal,'" says Escovedo. "At one point, we were both in Austin, and the record company was asking for another uptempo song, and I had this little riff, and we started playing 'People' in his hotel room and I bet we wrote that within 15 minutes. It was a great song to write. Hanging out with Chuck is the greatest time. Every time we would write a song, we would record it, either in the studio underneath his office or at my studio. We were in Austin in the middle of an ice storm, we found some kids who had a studio in their house, and we went over and recorded this song. It was always an adventure, never boring, never dull, never tense."
There is a duality to most of the songs; "Golden Bear" is about the Huntington Beach clubs where Escovedo began his musical education, but it's also about his bout with hepatitis. "Chip and Tony" is about his tenure in Rank and File, but it's also about being in a band in general. "Real as an Animal" is a paean to Iggy Pop, but it encapsulates the visceral thrill of feral rock and roll. "Sensitive Boys" is about the True Believers, but it's also about believing in the promise of rock and roll and the disappointment when it doesn't live up to it. "Sister Lost Soul' is about the Gun Club's late guitarist Jeffrey Lee Pierce, but it's also about the casualty-strewn landscape of rock.
"I don't think you're conscious of these things as you write the songs, and it's never like an immediate thing. Sometimes someone else points it out," says Escovedo. "Is 'Golden Bear' about the music or the disease? Is the disease the music? It's always been that way with songs for me. They've always been kind of a mystery, and I like them being mysteries. It's like making records. You go in thinking you know what you want to do, but it always morphs into something else, and that creative surprise is what I'm addicted to. I don't want to know everything. I'm not Hitchcock who had every scene blocked out with no room for improvisation. I love the accidents, I love the mistakes, I love the messiness. For me, it's important."