Hip hop-adjacent folk punk musician Ceschi recently released his new album This Guitar Was Stolen Along With Years Of Our Lives on Fake Four Inc, which was started shortly before lockdown and finished during it, as Ceschi "[attempted] to analyze what was happening around us in a world crumbling before our eyes." If you're unfamiliar with Ceschi but you're into anything from Jeffrey Lewis to Against Me! to The Mountain Goats, this album is very worth listening to.
We're premiering the video for "2020 BC" (made by morgans brother), and Ceschi also gave us a track-by-track breakdown of the album. Watch the video, stream the LP, and read on for what he had to say about each song...
1. "Long Shot"
I wrote this riff on a friend’s couch….some lyrics in another friend’s backyard….and then finished it alone in a hotel room in Texas….As someone who lives a kind of vagabond lifestyle…any stability is rare...it’s hard to convince people to commit to you in relationships or trust you when you are rarely in one place…I think that’s the perspective I wrote this from….I guess I just wanted to express loyalty even in my absence & periods of silence. From another perspective, an artist friend recently told me this song spoke to them because for them it represents hope for that break or even a heartfelt plea of sorts to commit to this art we make after so many years of having to believe in our own shit & grind alone - that interpretation is also perfectly valid.
Danny Levin on horns & Emmett Glancie on strings gave it a whole new sense of triumph. Like - “listen, fuck with this.”
2. "Consider It A Win"
This song was written at the end of 2019 at a club in Saarbrücken, Germany - I remember kinda burying myself in the corner of that bar & recording voice memos while promoters set up the sound system.
A lot of this album is about processing grief that came from losing some of my best friends over 2018 & 2019. The amount of premature loss I’ve experienced over the last 5 years can probably be considered extreme. Part of overcoming the worst aspects of the grief process for me has always been reaching a place of gratitude for the connections made throughout life even if short lived. This song is pretty specifically talking to a friend about where I’m at in a hectic life, about the state of the world, about the ways I learned & grew because of that friendship - and how I plan & hope to stick around longer than them. Jon Conine played bass & recorded this tune, my brother David Ramos played drums, Adam Matlock played accordion, Alexandra Burnet played banjo, Stephany Brown sang backups on the chorus, and Baz The Frenchman mixed it all.
3. "Heaven At Your Fingertips"
Very specifically written to one of my oldest friends who was a talented illustrator & graffiti artist.
“Teenage tags by friends who are long gone blanket the East Bay” - Over the years three of our graffiti writer friends in Oakland died one after the other & occasionally I still spot their throw ups, tags, characters & murals during visits to the Bay Area. The death that inspired this song was a rare moment when I was actually able to see a friend on his hospital death bed before his passing. Watching him half smiling in a comatose limbo stage as I talked to him before eventually saying goodbye - that’s what I wrote this song about - about a hope that he was somehow recapturing an innocence that a fast life had taken from him long before. Jane Boxall on vibraphone & Max Heath on Farfisa really added that nod to the 60s light psych I was hoping to capture.
4. "Teach A Rat To Fish"
As a felon & someone who has had plenty of arrests, jail & prison time - I felt that the process of witnessing the calculated dismantling of friends & families by a corrupt, greedy, flawed judicial system was a topic that I hadn’t heard enough about in song form. Watching some of my closest friends go through years of federal court for marijuana trafficking not only reminded me of personal trauma but of the trauma my loved ones had to endure over the course of nearly 3 years in court battles. Though the first verse is about once trusted friends turned cowardly snitches, the second verse really specifically talks about the experience of helplessness while being dragged through the system.
5. "If I Woke Up"
The grip of depression can make us feel like we’re never good enough for anyone….like we’re not worth talking to nor looking at nor loving. That’s what this song captures for me. I re-discovered the original voice memo demo I had written in a complete fog of depression during pandemic. Luckily I managed to pull myself out of that hole. Toward the end of the recording sessions for this album with Jon Conine I decided to try to put a live take of this song down on tape & see if I could capture any of the original pain of the fogged demo. In the end, I still felt it & figured it was worthy of putting out into the world. I ended up playing drums on it as well because my brother was too worried about covid to come out to the studio.
6. "2020 BC"
During the earliest part of pandemic March 2020 I was in lockdown in Los Angeles and pretty fucking confused like everyone else. That bizarro time when we were over sanitizing & lost with no good explanations, watching some doctor on YouTube spraying lysol on his vegetables. I knew I wanted to write about the domestication of humans - about the way we accept rules or react against them, get angry, bark & bite & growl - and feel fiercely independent even when we are under complete control. I didn't quite know how to express that & got super stuck & frustrated after a while so I put it away for months. By the time I drove back to New Haven CT in June 2020 I started adding to it piece by piece. I remember kayaking in the Long Island Sound when the “We are all entrapped by fear” part came to me as an acapella. Other pieces started fitting together with time. Overall it took around 7 months to finish this song. Even when I went in to record it I had to print out lyric sheets because I didn’t know it perfectly. I ended up getting lucky in the studio & recording it on my first take straight live to tape. I did another take but ended up keeping the first. There is only one steel string guitar overdub on top of the live nylon string performance.
7. "Nod Off"
This is my quintessential pandemic nostalgia tune….during that lockdown period in LA I kept wanting to write songs that I would have loved as a 13 or 14 year old. To me this is my version of a Descendents song or something. It is written about the helplessness of loving an addict. As with a number of my songs, it’s an amalgamation of real life stories - some of it is about an early love of mine, some of it is about family members….it embodies that very real pain for me though while still bringing me back to a period of experiencing it all for the first time.
For me, especially during the silence of pandemic, this song felt visceral & necessary. I was torn between doing a version with drums & a broken down acoustic punk song, but when the album came together I felt that it needed a kind of energetic burst & went with the full band version. Vechel Jaynes played bass & my brother David Ramos played drums.
8. "Give Me An Inch"
This could be seen as a song about a romantic relationship going through a specific kind of quiet, slow death. At the very least it’s inspired by that. During pandemic I lived with a woman after we had already broken up. Although we remained friends & pandemic survival partners - that whole dynamic added to the bizarro confusing nature of this time period for me. Everything felt up in the air & uncertain - even though I was pretty sure the relationship was destroyed in part by my patterns & mental health issues. When I eventually drove back home cross country to New Haven, defeated & numb, some of these lyrics came to mind. I remember thinking up the “mountains & silence between us now” lyrics while gazing at the red rocks of Moab in Utah.
The use of violent magic trick imagery: “ripping off lips” or “sawing me in half” or “chopping me into bits” represents this idea of wishing we could have ripped off the proverbial bandaid sooner.
Musically on this song our band Anonymous Inc (in the form of David Ramos on drums, Jane Boxall on marimba / vibes, Max Heath on piano / synths, Danny Levin on horns & Vechel Jaynes on Bass with the help of producer Baz The Frenchman) is loosely referencing Brazilian Tropicalia of the late 60s along with elements of the Smiths & other indie rock. The reason I asked Natalie from Child Actor to do full higher octaves atop all of my lyrics is also an ode to the classic Bossa Nova technique.
The reason this song follows the last is because it was initially written for the same person. I remember writing the earliest version of this backstage at a show in a tiny Czech town. It was a sort of love song about connecting over grief / trauma bonding - which transformed into a song about appreciation, focus & survival after grief. Yes, that’s a theme throughout this album. Perseverance to survive past the struggle - even love itself can be a fight to maintain. Jane Boxall accompanies me on a beautiful vibraphone arrangement she wrote for this song.
10. "Lucky To Know"
Thematically connecting to the last song as well - “Lucky To know” is supposed to be simple & direct - those we’ve lost have built us into who we are. Through our continuing lives we still represent & carry them with us. “From the mundane to your death day, that made me too.” It’s another song about the gratitude stage after grief. With death we’re left with so many questions - at this point - I wanted to stop asking questions & just celebrate moments we did share together. Mostly because of pandemic issues I ended up playing drums & nass on this song as well while Adam Matlock contributed some sweet accordion parts & Baz did the huge electric outro.