All tracks written, performed, produced, mixed, and mastered by Tom Hummer, except:
- Alcatraz: Written by Tom Hummer and Jake Jackson
- Water Damage: Written by Tom Hummer and David Cox
- Ex Post 5: Written by Tom Hummer and Mike Bal
- Drums on Alcatraz, Amnesia, and Ex Post 2,4, and 5 performed by Mike Bal
- Violin on Amnesia performed by Dan Hummer
Artwork by Tim Bolar and Tom Hummer
Kelsey Hummer, Frank Hummer, Catherine Olsem, John Hummer, Pat Hummer, Dan Hummer, Sandra Hummer, Craig Groehn, Mike Bal, Jake Jackson, David Cox, Tom Keinert, Darren Hushak, Quinn Eggink, John Van Roekel, Ryan Martin, Tim Bolar, Ian Anderson, Ryan McColley, Coleman Jackson, Sam Jackson, Chris Covell, Brandon Kester, Nate Vance, Ian Barker, Nate Logsdon, Wes Fuhrman, Jeremy Nifras, Rachel Johnson
About the Album
Above all, I made Pairs to be an enjoyable album. I set out to make music that I would like, with the hopes that others would like it as well. I mean, isn’t that at the center of what almost every musician is trying to do?
But at the same time, I’ve always loved artists that try to do more than that with their music. I’m a big fan of concept albums and musical works with recurring motifs or themes. I love music with subtext, something that gives me several layers to peel apart and discover, whether instrumentally or lyrically. Basically, seeing an album in the “big picture” rather than just as a series of separate tracks is something that always enhances the experience for me.
That being said, the basic idea for the concept of Pairs came to me in the spring of 2008. A series of storms had recently ravaged the Ames area (as they tend to do), and I was walking home from an English final. While I watched people clean up the debris and get the town back in shape, I thought it would be interesting to make a couple songs based on the themes of water damage and electrical damage. I figured “Water Damage” could be washy and moody, while “Electrical Damage” could be digital and noisy.
Soon after, it hit me that I had already been working on two songs called “Amnesia” and “Hypnosis”, which suggest a connection as hypnosis was a treatment for amnesia patients. Also, I had recently started a couple songs based on my favorite character from Lost, Charlie Pace. Once this all came together, I realized that it was an idea I could apply to an entire album.
Still, there was a problem at the heart of the idea: If each pair of songs is its own idea or unit, but each pair is isolated and has nothing to do with the other pairs, how is it really that different than having an album of individual, unrelated tracks? I needed to find a way to connect each theme and set of ideas.
And so I got the final format for the Pairs concept. Each song would have its “true pair”, which complemented it thematically, and a different “lyrical pair”, which would be a song from a different pair that shared a few of the same lyrics. Since the shared lyrics would show up in different actual pairs, those lyrics would be used in a completely different context and apply to a completely different theme. Also, because of the series of links that connected each pair, the album would essentially form a circle, as illustrated on the back cover (shown right). The lines on the right side connect each song with its true pair, and the lines on the left connect each song with its lyrical pair. So starting at “Free” and going to the right, if you follow the lines, you will eventually end up back at “Free” on the left side and will have gone through every song (except “Note to Self”).
It’s important to understand that while I would consider Pairs to be a concept album, it doesn’t follow a narrative or have a central character. It is merely a set of ideas and themes that are designed to be connected in different ways, in order to get you thinking. Some of the major themes include memory, water, war, survivor’s guilt, traumatic experience, death, and the ambivalence of nature. Of course, I could get into detail about the meaning and intention of each song and its pairs, but that’s not really the point. The point is for you to interpret it how you will and explore the possibilities of the themes. Or don’t, of course, and just listen to the music for what it is. That’s entirely up to you. Regardless of how deeply you like to dive into the music you listen to, I hope that Pairs gives you something positive to take away from the experience.