DAISY: He said, “Can you work with that?”
I said I could work with anything. So when we got back to the pool house, I started sketching some ideas out. And he did, too. After about a half hour, I had stuff to show him but he said he needed more time. I kept hanging around, waiting for him to be done.
BILLY: She was pacing around me. She wanted to show me what she was writing. I finally had to say, “Will you get the fuck out of here?”
And I…on account of how rude I’d been to her in the past I realized I needed to be clear that I just meant it the same way I’d say it to Graham or Karen, you know? I said, “Please, will you get the fuck out of here? Go get a donut or something.”
She said, “I ate a burger already.” That’s when I realized Daisy only ate one meal a day.
DAISY: I picked the lock to Teddy’s house, borrowed his girlfriend Yasmine’s bathing suit and a towel, and went for a swim. I was in there long enough to prune. And then I went back in, put the bathing suit in the wash, took a shower, and went back into the pool house and Billy was still sitting there, writing.
BILLY: She told me what she did and I said, “That’s weird, Daisy. That you borrowed Yasmine’s bathing suit.” And Daisy just shrugged.
She said, “Would you have rather I skinny-dipped?”
DAISY: I took his pages from him and I gave him mine.
BILLY: She had a lot of imagery of darkness, running into darkness, chasing darkness.
DAISY: When it came to the structure of the verses, his were better than mine. But he didn’t have a really fun chorus yet and I thought that I did. I showed him the part I’d written I liked the most and I sang it to him with his melody he’d given me. I could tell on his face, he knew it sounded good.
BILLY: We went back and forth a lot on that song. Just hours of talking it out, playing with the melodies on the guitar.
DAISY: I don’t think any of our original lines made it into the final version.
BILLY: But when we sang it—when we worked out the lyrics and who should sing what, and refined the melody of the vocal and that interplay between those two things—we started singing it together and fine-tuning it. You know what? I’ll tell you, it was a great little song.
DAISY: Teddy came in the door and he said, “What the hell are you two still doing here? It’s almost midnight.”
BILLY: I did not realize how late it was.
DAISY: Teddy said, “Also, did you break into my house and use Yasmine’s bathing suit?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He said, “I’d love it if you didn’t do that again.”
BILLY: I was going to leave then but I thought, You know what, let’s show Teddy what we’ve come up with. So Teddy sat down on the couch and we sat across from him.
I was saying, “This isn’t the final” and “We just came up with this.” And all that.
DAISY: I said, “Stop, Billy. It’s a good song. No disclaimers.”
BILLY: We played it for Teddy and when we were done, he said, “This is what you two come up with when you’re on the same team?”
And we looked at each other and I said, “Uh, yeah?”
And he said, “Well, then, I’m a genius.” He sat there laughing, real proud of himself.
DAISY: It was like we all agreed not to discuss that Billy needed Teddy’s approval like a son needs his father’s.
BILLY: I left Teddy’s that night and I rushed home because it was late and I was feeling guilty about it. I walked in the door and the kids were asleep and Camila was sitting in the rocking chair watching the TV on low volume and she looked up at me. I started apologizing and she said, “You’re sober, right?”
And I said, “Yeah, of course. I was just writing and I lost track of time.”
And that was it. Camila didn’t care that I hadn’t called her. She just cared that I hadn’t relapsed. That was all.
CAMILA: It’s hard to explain, because I really do think it defies reason. But I knew him well enough to know that he could be trusted. And I knew that no matter what mistakes he made—no matter what mistakes I might make, too—that we would be fine.
I don’t know if I would have believed in that type of security before I had it. Before I chose to give it to Billy. And by giving it to Billy, I gave it to myself, too. But saying to someone, “No matter what you do, we’re not over…” I don’t know. Something about that relaxed me.
BILLY: All those weeks that Daisy and I worked on songs together, I’d work as late as I needed. I’d stay out with Daisy as long as we needed. And every night when I came home, Camila was in that chair. She’d get up when I got home and I’d sit down and then she’d sit in my lap and put her head on my chest and say, “How was your day?”
I’d tell her the highlights and I’d hear about her day and I’d hear about the girls. And I’d rock us back and forth until we went to sleep.
One night, I picked her up out of the rocking chair and I put her in bed and I said, “You don’t always have to wait up for me.”
She was half-asleep but she said, “I want to. I like to.”
And you know…no crowd cheering, no magazine cover ever made me feel even remotely as important as Camila. And I think the same goes for her. I really do. She liked having a man who wrote songs about her and carried her to bed.
GRAHAM: When Billy was off writing with Daisy, it was the first time that the rest of us could be composing on our own.
KAREN: “Aurora” was a great song with a great spine to it and we all had a lot of fun building it out.
Billy tended to want a more spartan keyboard. But I wanted to get into more atmospheric, lush sounds. So when we started working on “Aurora,” I came in with those sustained roots and fifths. I kept some of the melodic chords broken up a bit, to keep it moving. But I was pedaling a lot of the bass notes. Shifted from staccato to legato.
And because the keys shifted, that meant Pete shifted the bass a bit. Now it’s his bass that is keeping your foot tapping, the rhythm guitar is keeping you going.
EDDIE: I wanted to do something a little faster, a little more propulsive. I was really into the Kinks’ new album. I wanted to move more in that direction. I thought Warren should hit harder on the drums, really using the drum and bass as counter-rhythms. Plus, I had this idea of a simple drumbeat for the intro.
We had it sounding really good.
GRAHAM: When Billy checked in at the studio whatever day it was, he said he wanted to hear what we had so far on “Aurora.”
EDDIE: We played it for him. I mean, we weren’t set up in the studio yet. Hadn’t recorded anything. But we got in there and played it out for him.
BILLY: I never would have come up with what they came up with in a million years. I could barely even keep a neutral face as I was listening. It felt odd and wrong and uncomfortable. Like putting on someone else’s shoes.
Every bone in my body was saying, This is not me. This is not right. I need to fix this now.
GRAHAM: I could tell he hated it.
KAREN: Oh, he hated it. [Laughs] He definitely hated it.
ROD: Teddy took him aside and they went for a drive.
BILLY: Teddy made me get in his car and we drove to get lunch or maybe it was dinner. And I was lost in thought, just hearing my own song being ruined over and over in my head.
I started talking the minute we sat down and Teddy put his hand up to stop me. He insisted on ordering first. He ordered basically everything fried on the menu. If it was battered, Teddy would eat it.
Once the waitress left, he said, “Okay, go ahead.”
I said, “Do you think it sounds good?”
And he said, “Yes, I do.”
I said, “You don’t think it should be a bit less…congested?”
And Teddy said, “They are talented musicians. Just like you. Let them show you what you can’t see in your own stuff. Let them lay down all the tracks. And then you and I will go in and pull back where we need to and sweeten and all that. If we have to have everybody come in one at a time and overdub, then we do that. We can change the whole song piece by piece if we have to. But as the spine of the song, yes, I think they are doing a great job.”
I thought about it. And I could feel my chest was tight. But I said, “All right. I trust you.”
And he said, “That’s good. But trust them, too.”
ROD: When Billy came back in, he had very simple notes. All good stuff.
KAREN: Billy changed an octave, wanted me to jump from a one-five repetition to a one-four-five. But in general, he was very supportive.
GRAHAM: The early take of that song is one we never would have come to if it had all gone Billy’s way. By having us all involved, we were evolving.
BILLY: I decided, with every song on that album, to give only the feedback that felt really necessary. Because I’d go back with Teddy when we were mixing it and that’s when I could really refine.
DAISY: I went into the studio to hear everybody play “Aurora” for the first time and I was blown away by it. I was really excited. Billy and I played with the vocals a bit and found a great balance for it all.
ARTIE SNYDER: We miked everything. We must have messed with the setup a thousand times to get it just right. We had Karen and Graham on the side, Pete and Warren in the back, Eddie was toward the front, and then Billy and Daisy were in iso booths but they could still see everybody.