Music - Sidetracked Project - Installment Two
Mike and I decided to get the band back together, which isn't hard when there's two people in said band. It took us about a year or so to write and record the songs. I think Mike's basement flooded as we were recording, and I was trying to finish a book, plus other life things got into the mix, which put a dent into the timeline. But we got them done and released in 2014.
I did all the guitars and bass, and Mike did the drums and vocals on two songs. We had Dan Johnston do the vocals on 4 songs, and Justin Jones added violins to "Restraint". I liked our first recording endeavour where we mixed up instrument responsibilities, but this time we agreed to stick to our strengths. I used my PRS and Les Paul for the guitars, and my Warwick 5 string for the bass. There's only a smattering of keyboards - I made a conscious choice to not try to add keyboard parts unless absolutely necessary.
First World Problems This was a song I wrote years ago. The original lyrics were along the lines of having "first world problems", though I had lost them since I wrote them. Mike decided to stick with the theme and write his own. But seriously, who runs out of disk space?
Fractured A straight-ahead rock song, but there's a lot going on (if that makes sense). I really like how this song flows. There's a lot going on with the riffs and chordings, but it keeps moving along. I got lucky with the guitar solo in how the high D note sustains like it does. I finally got a take where the note was holding on like that, and I did not move an inch until the part was complete.
Gone This song has a Fates Warning feel to it, in fact we called this the "Fates Warning Song" until I wrote lyrics for it. Lyrics were actually kind of hard to write for this set of songs. I generally feel like I have a decent life, and it's not easy to write lyrics when I'm in a good mood. Not that I think lyrics have to be depressing, but I want them to be realistic, and writing about how my kids are doing ... I dunno, maybe I should do that in the future.
La Villa Strangiato Yes, a Rush cover. I have never done a Rush song with any band I've been in before, and I wanted to do our cover tune as a Rush song. This was a lot of fun to learn and record. The bass parts were probably the hardest to pull off.
Hope of Certainty I always teased Mike because he tunes his guitar a half-step lower and drops the lower string to D (or C#, to be correct). One night I decided to be stupid and tune my E string down to an A, and I just stumbled across the chords in the chorus. I had to be a bit careful playing this song because the string was so floppy it would go out of tune fairly easily. The middle guitar section is in 11/4...I think. I really don't know, I just came up with the groove to the riff and hoped Mike could figure out how to play it, which he did. That's probably my favorite part of the whole song.
Llamas and Alpacas Mike has (in my opinion) an unhealty obsession with these two animals. So we wrote a song about how they will eventually take over the world (and the galaxy, I think). This came up in one of our practice sessions. Just a very simple monster rock riff. He added the animal sounds - I don't know where he got the clips. Maybe it's actually Mike making the noises ... I think it's better not to ask.
Now Listening to so much Rush and other prog rock, playing riffs in time signatures other than 4/4 isn't that unnatural to me. But what I like to do is make it so a listener can groove to it without realizing the signature isn't straightforward. The chorus is in 7/8, and there's a smattering of 3/4 thrown in here and there, but overall the song comes across rather naturally. I really like the message of the lyrics.
Restraint I was playing around with some simple guitar riffs, and as I was piecing them together, the phrase "restraint" stuck in my head. I really wanted to keep the instrumentation bare on this song. Just drums, a bass, and a guitar (with some violins at the end). I tried to add some piano parts, but it just didn't sound right. I think what makes the song work is that it never "takes off" and gets overbearing; it stays simple.
Studio Supplements I think Maker's Mark was involved with this song. And a bunch of instruments and other various noise makers, along with some David Lee Roth sound bites. A ridiculous "song", but hey, sometimes you have to have fun.