Languid guitar chords give way to Tessmer’s gloomy assessment of his past life: “Seems like every day’s the same/ I want everything but me to change/ I don’t want to be the way I am.” Tessmer finally finished the song and achieved his sonic vision with the help of multiplatinum producer Sean Beavan (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson).
“Good So Bad” is a radical departure from the guitarist’s earliest recordings—bone-dry live performances showcasing the six-string wizardry that first earned him attention when he crash-landed in Austin 15 years ago. Tessmer still flexes his furious fretwork on “Good So Bad,” but the song’s slinky hooks come primarily from a different instrument: his voice. “Sean got the best vocal performances because he was like, ‘Don’t do anything to your voice; just relax and sing the song,’” Tessmer says. The starkly confessional tone of “Good So Bad” also shows how far he’s come as a lyricist. “It got me thinking about being the elephant in the room,” Tessmer says. “Oh gosh, why am I always drunk all the time? I’m just a musician. That’s just what we do. But no, it’s not, really.” The mournful, stuck-in-a-rut Tessmer of “Good So Bad” is far removed from the real-life Tessmer, whose sobriety lent him a newfound clarity while writing. “I wasn’t hiding behind anything.” Life hurts, sure, but sometimes it does work out—as long as you’re willing to show up and put in the work to get the results. Eric Tessmer wanted to be good so bad. This is his journey.