Track By Tracks: Pterodactyl Problems - Esoteric Hobbies (2019)


Most of this record is vaguely autobiographical, and the first song is no exception. To be honest it was originally written about a friend of mine but every time I look at the lyrics I see how her situation of leaving home, and going to school somewhere else, feeling isolated - they were all things I was projecting onto her. I guess I can only write what I know, and then pretend it’s something original and insightful. This song is abrasive and aggressive, and some of the lyrics are disturbing. We do not want anybody to take this song as a reason or a sign to end their life.

2. Protest:

Picking it up a bit, this song came out of a feeling of togetherness and hope for change. ‘You’re all here, what more could I ask for’ sums it up pretty well. I can get pretty defeatist about how fucked up the world seems sometimes, and this song is a good reminder to me that finding people I can share hope and joy with is an important part of being any sort of positive influence in this world.

3. All Alone in the Cold:

I wrote this song because I was fucking standing at this goddamn bus stop in the west end of Toronto waiting for someone to fucking tell me where this party was and it was so cold holy shit. Like an hour later I finally got the address, so I went to the party but it was boring and dumb and I felt stupid for waiting so long just to be disappointed. That’s what the songs about - feeling cold, dumb, and disappointed.

4. Crazy:

This piece tries to name some behaviours I have deeply ingrained in myself that I don’t particularly like. I used to unconsciously seek out people I perceived as ‘broken’ to try to help them, which on one hand seems like it could be alright, but I’ve found that when I base all of my self-worth on how much I can ‘fix’ another person it gets pretty painful for me and them. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions… and self-loathing.

5. Heavy:

This is a wholesome tune I wrote when I was lonely, a little love sick, and listening to a lot of John Mayer. I was living in Ottawa, and there was a park on the canal I would go to when life got too heavy and watch the water flow by, just doing it’s own thing. It’s basically a plea for snuggles.

6. Constellations:

This is one of the first songs I wrote with my longtime friend and Pterodactyl Problems’ bassist Ciaran. The persistent and understated bass line gave me some notion of the openness of space, and the beauty of the night sky. Sharing and caring baby, that’s what this ones about.

7. Lush Lives:

What’s a rock album without a vague ‘fuck the system’ type song, right? I think this song is a fun vehicle with which to express mine and many peoples exasperation at the current state of world politics. It’s just crazy what’s happening in the States and the UK, and France, and Syria, and so many damn places. Canada isn’t exempt by any means either, as we’re selling arms to the Saudi regime and Trudeau is continuing the Canadian colonial legacy, which brings us to our next song.

8. Heroes Killers:

Which is about Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people! I’m a white settler who took one Indigenous studies class in uni, so I’m not saying anything in this song that hasn’t been said many times by many indigenous folks who actually have experienced Canada’s Indian Act and it’s destructive legislation. Despite this, I think that learning about things like the residential schools, and the 60s scoop and continuing problems like the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in state care is an important part of being an informed citizen of this country. ROCK.

9. Breathe:

This is an oldie. I was depressed and in math class so I wrote a song. It was acoustic for years before it was brought to the band, so it was really interesting watching it be changed so drastically. Fun fact: the electric guitar in the intro was recorded through a shitty little plastic ‘guitar amp’ with like a 3 inch speaker. It was so gnarly and it fit well with the feeling of this piece so we tossed it in.

10. Exhale:

Both a brief interlude and an excuse to make a pun.

11. Down the River:

This one was written a while back, thinking about mistakes and growing from them. I brought the song to the band and Ciaran, our resident composer and arranger, created 5 additional harmonies for the song. Then I ate a weed brownie by accident when we had to record the harmonies so there’s definitely a couple tracks on this song that feature a very very stoned Davey. 

12. Slideshow:

Jack, the most metal member of the band, decided to write the softest song on the album. The lyrics were written to thematically preface Pictures, touching on childhood and family, and were modelled on Craig Cardiff, an incredible Canadian songwriter. Enjoy the Glockenspiel.

13. Pictures:

Death and suicide are so intense and so difficult to wrap your head around. This song was written years ago about struggling with these things, and the powerlessness that you can feel when someone wants to not exist anymore. Originally the song, written by Ciaran and Davey, was all acoustic, but the band leaned into the emotion of the song and amped it up. I hope nobody listens to anything on this album and hears that suicide is cool, or that we’re idealizing it. It’s a real thing that everyone, kids and adults alike, have to deal with. It hangs over people’s minds, and I think being able to talk about it, to name it, is important, both for those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, and those who love folks that struggle. I hope we can get better at helping people live lives that are full of joy, and I hope this record can aid that goal in some way.

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