Music - Transference


I made this the summer of 1992. I like Short Notice, but I wanted to do something more "professional". So I saved up my money and went into a small studio owned by a guy named Greg Rakun. He was a real nice guy - very easy to work with and really didn't tell me what to do with my song arrangements (although he did give some good advice on two small keyboard parts). The problem was that he just did not get a great distored guitar sound. Listening to the songs now, the guitar is not that bad, but at the time I was kind of disappointed with it.

I also wanted vocals on this tape. So I asked a guy by the name of Dan Johnston (guitarist and singer from a band in Milwaukee in the late 80s called Scarlet Rayne) whose vocal styling I thought would fit really well, and he did a great job getting all the parts done in one day. In retrospect, I wished I would have had more time with him as he had a couple of slight goofs with the lyrics and I wanted to develop more harmony ideas, but all in all he really added life to the songs. My girlfriend at the time sang on one song - she also did the cover art. And my long-time musical friend Tim stopped by and added some spoken words and background shouts. I like the lyrics - even though I was still in my religious Christianity phase of my life, they're not overbearing and I think they work well.

Greg let me use his drum machine, which was considerably better than the one I had for Short Notice. Plus, he let me borrow it while I was still in my Spring semester of my junior year in college, so when I had time I could develop the parts. I didn't do a great job tweaking the drum fills - they get repetitive here and there, but they sound a lot better. Guitar setup was my Laney stack with the Charvel and the buzzing bass. Acoustic were recorded with a mike so they sound pretty good. Greg also had an arsenal of keyboards (including a Kurzweil!) so they came out really nice. The one thing I wish I would've spent more time on were the guitar solos. I kind of improved them in the studio and it shows. They're just not all that exciting.

Unfortunately some of the MP3s have a kind of "wavy" sound to them due to the tapes I had sitting around for years without being played. Analog tapes had a habit of doing that, and it shows up a bit on a couple of the songs (along with the hiss and buzz ... so you probably won't care anyway).

Song Notes

Walking on Nails I love this song, primarily the lyrics. I co-wrote them with an ex-girlfriend who I still hung around with and considered a friend. I wanted to write a song about child abuse from the point of one who suffered from it, but my parents were nice people who never did anything like that, so I could only so far with the lyrics. I knew her father didn't treat her well at all so asked her if she'd be willing to work on lyric ideas. We got together one night and she did a great job in helping me finish them. As we were writing the lyrics, we had a line that ended with a word that rhymed with "cop". We couldn't figure out where to go with it, and then she blurted out, "Will someone call the fucking cops?!" Needless to say, I didn't use that (in fact we scrapped that entire section) but both of us thought it was funny. I know, child abuse isn't funny, but ... I guess you had to be there.

Eternity You may feel the song is aptly titled after listening to this rather repetitive acoustic piece. I used a really bizarre open C-like tuning and it sounds good, but the song spends too much time repeating ideas and I should've shortened it up. I remember Greg used 2 mics to capture the acoustic: one close-up and one far away. The results are nice, but it was a pain because if a truck went by and I was at the beginning of the song, you could hear a slight rumbling on the playback. Fortunately, Greg had a good ear and picked that up quick so I didn't have to play the whole song over and over. You can also hear me suck in a breath right in the beginning after the harmonics section and I start strumming. I tried to keep quiet!

Fallen World Overall I like the song; the ending is too repetitive, though. The chorus sounds good with a 5/4 rhythm - Dan did a good job with the phrasing. I tried to be "artsy" by having Dan, Tim and I speak some of my poetry in the middle section. It kind of works ... sort of! The acoustic guitar in the beginning was my girlfriends. The intonation was really bad - if I went too high on the fretboard it sounded sharp, so I had to be "careful" with my choice of notes. This songs really shows how good processing can make the bass I was using sound good. No buzzing! And I love the "!" shout. Makes me laugh when I hear it - I thought it would sound cool to do that, and it ended up coming across corny.

Lost in the Shadows This felt like kind of a rip-off of Queensryche in a way. I like the rhythm section under the guitar solo. Dan screws up a couple of the lyrics. Where he should sing, "A taste of success", he sings, "A task of success". He also screws up, "They learn the words..."; he says, "The learn the worlds...". I didn't notice them until later. They kind of fit, and, really, nobody noticed anyway.

The Weekend's Here! As I was writing the songs for the tape, they felt dark and/or moody, so I decided to write an instrumental that had a "happy" feel to it. I think I was influenced by Satriani's "Summer Song" with the feel of this song. The whole spoken stuff with Dan, Tim and I is all improvisation. Dan talked about barium enemas and impersonating Ed McMahon, Tim said something about soloing with a thumb, but the best is at the end when we're walking out and we're wondering how it's going to sound. Dan says, "It's gonna probably be really bad!"

Transference If there's a song that proves that I'm not a keyboardist, this is it. I was influenced by the New Age music of David Lanz for a while (yeah, I'll admit it), and this is my pathetic attempt to fit that mood. There's a bunch of "pauses" in the piano, because Greg used his Mac to record my playing and I could tweak it later. However, I was so used to stopping when I'd hear a mistake that I would pause a bit before my brain would say, "No! Keep going, you can fix it later!" I cringe every time I hear this song - it's so childish! I like the water sounds - a friend of my Dad's had recorded some thunderstorms and I used that tape for this song.

Mind Warfare I wrote this song when I was in Sardonyx, but we never recorded it. I really like the chords at the beginning - remind me of a sci-fi space fight sequence for some reason. Since I had the solo written years ago, this is the only one on the tape I came in prepared. The harmonies Dan pulled off fit very nice with the song's mood.

The Rose In the Field I wanted to have a song that my girlfriend could sing on. She had a good voice, but she never sang in a studio, and she was nervous. We had to go back a second time because the vocal lines she did were pretty weak at points. The end result is good, but the song drags on way too long at points, especially in the beginning. I eventually re-recorded it and I like the 2nd version much better. During the recording of the song, I ran out of tape, so we had to make sure we faded out in time before the tape would wind off the spool.


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