Standout Track: No. 2, “Intercity,” an instrumental that suggests perpetual motion with its chugging drum sample and metronomic guitars. It’s music for traveling, which is appropriate: All of Chessie’s songs are either about trains, traveling on trains, or standing around on train tracks.
Musical Motivation: “I think that the key elements of the song are speed and complexity—different terrains are encountered,” says Stephen Gardner, 32. “A feeling of progression and forward motion is what we wanted.” Gardner (who’s also in local indie-pop band Lorelei) crafted the song’s basic structure, then expanded on it in his Clarendon home studio with bandmate Ben Bailes, 34. They also amped up the distortion in order to suggest looking out of the window at blurred scenery. “You know, the feeling when you’re traveling really fast of things being kind of blown out and saturated. Everything is pushed to the limit.”
Rail Mix: Gardner, a staffer for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, has been a train junkie since childhood, and he’s worked as a conductor, a track worker, and a train dispatcher. Bailes’ knowledge of the rails isn’t so deep, but he does vividly remember one experience on the tracks in 1994. “I took a two-and-a-half-day trip in a sleeper car from Shanghai to Kunming, a city in southwest China. On that trip you go from a city of however many million, through this amazing countryside, beautiful mountains, and farms. It was an incredibly memorable trip, and I went with somebody who I ended up falling for in a major way,” Bailes says. The relationship ended, but the two remain friends. “I hope my wife won’t be too mad at me for telling that story.”