|When Your Heart Stops Beating|
|Released||November 13, 2006|
|Recorded||2005-2006 at Ameraycan Recordings, Henson Studios, and Opra Music in Los Angeles, California|
|Length||(See band name)|
|Produced by||Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, and Jerry Finn|
When Your Heart Stops Beating is the debut studio album by alternative rock band +44. Produced by Jerry Finn, the album was released November 13, 2006 through Interscope Records. Three singles were released in promotion of the record: a demo of "No, It Isn't", "Lycanthrope", and the title track, "When Your Heart Stops Beating".
Created in the aftermath of the dissolution of bassist and lead vocalist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker's previous project, Blink-182, the album's lyrical content reflects the harsh feelings felt afterward. +44 initially began as an electronic outfit for Hoppus and Barker, which, after the purchase of a personal studio and the addition of lead guitarist Shane Gallagher, and rhythm guitarist Craig Fairbaugh, evolved into a more basic rock sound. Carol Heller, originally a member of the band, makes a guest appearance on the record.
The album was a mixed success, peaking at number ten on the Billboard 200 and the receiving mixed to positive critical reviews. The album artwork was made available in three different colors: blue (standard version), pink and green (out of print). With the reunion of Blink-182 in February 2009, Hoppus announced that although +44 was not over, "right now all of our efforts are on Blink."
The beginnings of +44 originate with the dissolution of Hoppus and Barker's previous band, Blink-182 in late 2004. Tensions begin to arise between the band members as guitarist Tom DeLonge expressed his desire to cancel an upcoming tour and enter a half-year respite from touring. At a band meeting which coincided with the beginning of Blink-182's final European tour in December, DeLonge expressed his desire to spend more time with his family. He also declined recording a new album. During the band's six-month break, Hoppus expressed his desire for the band to perform at Music for Relief's Concert for South Asia, a benefit show to aid victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. DeLonge agreed to perform, and the band subsequently began rehearsing for the event in February 2005. Further tensions, however, arose between the band members during rehearsals, and they began arguing about a variety of issues, such as the band's "forced" break. Manager Rick DeVoe phoned Hoppus and Barker, who were waiting in the rehearsal space for DeLonge, the following day to tell them that DeLonge had quit the band, stating: "As of today, Tom DeLonge is no longer a member of Blink-182." Jordan Schur, the former president of Geffen Records (distributor of Blink-182, the band's final album before their break-up), reportedly told Barker to "any press you do, make sure you say everything is cool," opting to instead issue a statement calling the band's break-up an 'indefinite hiatus'.
Immediately following DeVoe's phone call, Hoppus and Barker began laying down new ideas. Recording in Barker's basement and Hoppus' dining room, by necessity everything was electronic, with the two musicians experimenting with electronic drums, sampling, keyboards and direct computer recordings. While away on a trip in April 2005, Hoppus participated in an interview with MTV News in which he revealed the band's existence, saying "Right now, Travis and I are using the time off to start this project called Plus-44 […] It's very exciting, like a breath of fresh air." When the two regrouped, they decided to stop giving interviews about the new project. "It was strange to be talking about music that we were just in the very first steps of writing," recalled Hoppus. "It didn’t feel right to talk about yet." The band's name is a reference to the country code needed when placing a phone call to the United Kingdom, where Hoppus and Barker first discussed making music alone. "When we first started talking about ever doing anything outside of blink was on the last European tour where Tom was telling us that he needed to take a year off from the band. […] We never did anything about it until Tom quit the band, but that's where it first started," said Hoppus.
Recording and production
The addition of other members to +44 came gradually. In April 2005, Barker invited his friend Carol Heller to provide vocals on a track. Formerly of the all-girl punk quartet Get the Girl, Heller traded and shared vocals with Hoppus on most of the band's early demos. Meanwhile, Hoppus invited friend Shane Gallagher to play guitar on a few tracks the band began working on, and he was soon drafted as a member. In October 2005, Hoppus and Barker purchased a studio, which he described as "the turning point for +44." After moving all band gear into the new recording center, the entire direction for the band evolved into a more organic sound. Heller became uneasy with the new direction and, with a desire to start a family, parted ways with the band by the end of the year. Shortly afterward, friend Craig Fairbaugh came in to observe and listen and play to songs; by the end of the day, Hoppus and Barker asked him to become the fourth member of the group. In February 2006, the band began recording in earnest for the record.
The band considered many producers for the album, among those Danger Mouse. Eventually, the record was produced by Hoppus and Barker, with longtime associate and friend Jerry Finn in the role of executive producer. Finn came in late into production to oversee completion, but eventually provided ideas and wrote songs with Hoppus. Producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura was called in to "tinker" with a track. Upon completion, the record's tentative title was Little Death. By August, the band decided on naming the album When Your Heart Stops Beating. "We always thought of the phrase 'when your heart stops beating' as capturing the good and the bad in the world in everything," said Hoppus of the title. "When you fall in love with a lady and your heart skips a beat or something great happens. And also, obviously, when your heart stops beating, the end of things."
The album artwork and photography were created by Estavan Oriol.
The tone of the album has been described as "consistently upbeat," showcasing a variety of influences. The music of the album is influenced by artists such as The Postal Service, Missing Persons, and The Cure. This Postal Service influence is noticeable in "Make You Smile", which makes frequent use of boy-girl exchange and lament. The album fuses many different song structures and temperaments, and the first six tracks of the album alternate between uptempo rock songs and ballads. Many critics noticed the similarity between the sound of the music of +44 and Blink-182's final album before their break-up, Blink-182 (2003). The Blink-182 similarity is featured by the soft verse, loud chorus explosion as heard on their single "Stay Together for the Kids". Many tracks display a traditional punk sound (with a much more melodic touch), but also highlight electronica as a key influence. +44's original electronic influence is an undercurrent throughout the record, although it has "ultimately [taken] a backseat to guitar-driven rock".
The whole album is about everything that's happened, including Blink, and the ugly feelings that were left over afterwards," Hoppus said of the album's lyrical content. "Lyrically, it's some of the most positive stuff I've ever written, but it's also some of the darkest shit, too." The album is composed of both dark and introspective songs, but also upbeat and "positive" tracks. Hoppus also described the music as "the most lyrically personal music I've ever written." For Barker, the writing of the record's lyrics was inspired by the "roller coaster" of new opportunities while starting a new band, such as writing a new song or playing a first show. The feeling is echoed throughout When Your Heart Stops Beating, and Barker described the feeling of the album as being transported to different place. "To me, it brings up feelings of, like, driving too fast or skateboarding down the street in the middle of the night," Barker commented. The song most directly inspired by the end of Blink-182 is "No, It Isn't", which was also inspired by feelings of betrayal afterward. "[The song] is about coming out a year later and telling the truth," Barker said. "For a year, people were saying that what Tom did was valid or called for. It eats at you. So maybe you have to talk about it, and maybe you have to write a song about it."
In June 2011, Mark Hoppus noted that "Baby, Come On" is "possibly my favorite song I’ve ever written."
The release date for When Your Heart Stops Beating was heavily anticipated and publicized by the music press. As early as August 2005, Internet rumors began to circulate that the album would be released in January 2006 although the band's management denied the claims. Thanks to Hoppus and Barker's silence on press interviews, misinformation flooded the Internet in the months prior to the record's release, such as countless impostors posting fake songs online. "It's kind of flattering that some kids would go out there and post songs under our name," Barker added. "I mean, at least it means that people are excited to hear our stuff." "No It Isn't" leaked in December 2005 and caused speculation as it addressed the break-up of Blink-182 head-on.
Hoppus did not give any formal interviews before shortly prior to the release of the album, instead spending time updating his blog, producing tracks for Motion City Soundtrack, and working on the album in relatively secrecy. "During that time, their former bandmate, Tom DeLonge, did the opposite, peppering blogs and magazines with quotes hyping his new band and putting the blame for the Blink situation squarely on their shoulders," reported James Montgomery of MTV News. While it "pained" them to do so, Hoppus and Barker refrained from speaking to media, instead burying themselves in the studio in the recording of the album. "We just bit our tongues and didn't say anything, and now that the record is done, we get the chance to tell the truth about everything," Hoppus said. "We were silent for a year, and we couldn't put into words what we were doing, so we just decided not to say anything and let the music speak for itself," Barker added. "Now it's time for people to hear that music and hear the truth."
When Your Heart Stops Beating was officially released November 13, 2006. On October 19, 2006, When Your Heart Stops Beating debuted at #22 on the ARIA Albums Chart, and #2 on the Rock Albums Chart. In the United States, the album debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200 with approximately 66,000 copies sold in its first week. The album artwork was made available in three different colors: blue, pink, and green. Interestingly enough, many of the edited versions were pressed on the versions with blue covers; green contained the unedited.
As of September 2011, the album has sold over 274,000 copies in the US.
The album received generally mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 60, based on 11 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews". AbsolutePunk's Drew Beringer deemed the album "a very diverse and potent debut album", and suggesting it as "one of the most honest records of 2006". The Washington Post described +44 as being in the same spirit as Blink-182 ("adorable, cuddly pop punk,") and Gauntlet called the record the best post-Blink project. The Maneater's Joey Vergara compared the album to Blink-182's previous self-titled album, believing it improved and a solidified version. Aidin Vaziri, writing an editorial review for Amazon was in agreement and noted, "songs like "Baby Come On" and the spooky "Little Death" show the musicians finally delivering the substance that was promised on Blink 182's self-titled 2003 release." Deseret News named When Your Heart Stops Beating both better and "fuller" than former bandmate Tom DeLonge's new project, Angels & Airwaves' We Don't Need to Whisper, and The New York Times described as it as "zippier and catchier" than Whisper. The latter newspaper, however, ended their review with the conclusion that neither band was as good as Blink-182.
In contrast to The Daily Princetonian citing +44 for "lacking originality", The Avion Newspaper declared the band as "undoubtedly original [...] and sure to please with every track". Channing Freeman of Sputnikmusic called the album "standard pop punk music", stating it was not a large departure from Blink-182. While many punk- and a few mainstream-oriented publications gave it a high grade, other namable sources such as Rolling Stone and Alternative Press were less impressed with the album.
In May 2011, When Your Heart Stops Beating was released on blue/white swirl vinyl. The LP, limited to 2000 copies, was available exclusively through the retail chain Hot Topic.
All lyrics written by Mark Hoppus, all music composed by +44.
|When Your Heart Stops Beating|
|2.||"Baby Come On"||2:46|
|3.||"When Your Heart Stops Beating"||3:12|
|10.||"No, It Isn't"||3:32|
|11.||"Make You Smile"||3:44|
|12.||"Chapter 13/Non-Musical Silence" (includes twenty seconds of non-musical silence to make up album time of exactly forty-four minutes)||5:09|
- "Baby Come On" (acoustic) — 2:54
- "Weatherman" (acoustic) — 4:17
- "145" (acoustic of "155") — 3:36
- "155" (acoustic from the album The 97X Green Room: Volume 3) - 3:31
- Mark Hoppus — lead vocals, bass guitar, lyrics, guitar
- Travis Barker — drums, percussion, keyboards, electronics
- Shane Gallagher — lead guitar
- Craig Fairbaugh — rhythm guitar, vocals
- Carol Heller – vocals on "Make You Smile", background vocals on "Weatherman" and "No It Isn't"
- Mark Hoppus — producer
- Travis Barker — producer
- Jerry Finn — producer
- Chris Holmes — engineer
- James Ingram — assistant engineer
Songs and history
- "Lycanthrope" was the second song released by the band. It was available for download on their official site on September 1, 2006.
- "When Your Heart Stops Beating" was first released over KROQ-FM radio. The song is also played as a bumper song on The Jim Rome Show.
- On October 25, 2006, the song "Cliffdiving" was leaked on the Internet from the album sampler. Even though it was the fourth song given to the public, it was the first leak not initiated by the band.
- On October 28, 2006, the full album was leaked onto the internet.
- On October 31, the acoustic version of "Baby Come On" was released on iTunes and the acoustic version of "155", titled "145" due to the song's slower tempo, was released on Yahoo! Music.
- In late October, an electronic mix of "When Your Heart Stops Beating" was added to the band's official website and MySpace.
- The full album was available for streaming on their MySpace during November until the album's US release on November 14.
- On November 8, the album was available for streaming on MuchMusic, almost a week before its American release.
- The acoustic version of "Weatherman" was leaked on November 10.
- On May 29, 2007, the German band Wir sind Helden and +44 participated in the iTunes Foreign Exchange, where the German band covered "When Your Heart Stops Beating."
- On August 28, 2007 the song "155 (Acoustic)" was released on the album The 97X Green Room: Volume 3