June 22, 2019
Ranking my EP’s:
1. Poison Condition
2. The Ecstasy of Winning
3. Knock Yourself Out
4. An Old-Fashioned Appeal
5. Weapons Against Me
6. The Joy Inside
7. Glass Joe
My current estimation of The Ecstasy of Winning EP may drop significantly at some point. But today when I was listening to my music, my estimation of it was very high. Yes, I was "enjoying" my own music. I do that occasionally. So it took a bit over a year, but the new EP is finally about to arrive! And most crucially, after all the recording, rerecording and editing, I finally like it. Also, when we played “Amazy Dayzee” at Clash Bar last month it went over incredibly well. It got by far the most positive response of the new songs. So I’m feeling good about that one, too. Overall, I’m proud of all of the EP’s and I like them all. The Glass Joe EP I’d rank last, because it’s the shortest and honestly it was the only EP I’ve released where I was pretty much just considering it as a single, with the last 2 songs tacked on as kind of “12 inch bonus tracks”, as if it was still the 80’s.
May 1, 2019
I'm playing at least one show at Clash Bar this month so keep an eye out for that. I MAY play a 2nd one, too, for their acoustic night, but not sure if Michael is available yet. I'm also wrapping up my new EP, The Ecstasy of Winning. Unlike the last 2 releases I'm playing most of this one myself. I'd say almost 85-90% of it is just me. I've discovered that the current political climate is just too intense for it to escape my music anymore. So if you're some kind of backwards MAGA-head watch out, you're going to hate it!! lol Seriously why is mostly only vapid bullshit allowed on the radio the past 15 years. That's rhetorical, I know why (media consolidation etc etc) BUT NO ONE WANTS TO KNOW ("MMM"). I'd love to hear a song on the radio that addresses absolutely ANYTHING that's happening in 2019. That would be amazing!!!
April 12, 2019
So I figured I'd reflect on the Joy Inside EP a bit:
1 “Charmaine”. The oldest of the bunch, I wrote this quite a few years ago. Bossa Nova is not as easy to play as it might sound! Punk rock is far easier.
2 “The Joy Inside”. We rehearsed this one A LOT. Plus I took extra time (and money) to make sure I got it right. I did a remake and the vocals were a bit off. I got that version mastered. So I did it a 3rd time, and it was better. I still had to overdub more parts back onto that 3rd master. I think I finally got a mix and version which is exciting yet pleasant to the ear, without being soft or corny.
3 “Health Again”. Finally got the chorus right. I think I sang the verses too rough, though. I wish I would’ve auto-tuned a few of the verse notes, in fact. This is surprisingly as hard of a song to play as I have. In terms of chords, at least. I had the demo recorded long enough ago that I’d actually forgotten some of the chords, so when it came time to lay it down for real I was struck by my chord choices. Yet it all works so naturally, to my ear. In a way it’s maybe my best pure-songwriting.
4 “My Finest Hour”. This one took a while to record, too. I hadn’t played it in several years, I was waiting for a really pop-py collection of songs to add this to. I was able to remember about 75% of it. And thank God I found the old demo to get the rest. I think it was inspired in large part by “Just Can’t Get Enough”. With that in mind I mixed the piano part unusually loud. Had to record and master this twice to get it right. Money out the window… (but for a worthwhile cause ;))
5 “Red Eye”. One of my favorite songs. I actually kept the demo vocal that I’d recorded previously because I liked it so much. The demo kind of just morphed into the final version, slowly replacing sounds and takes I’d put down on the demo.
6 “Out of Sight” This song forced me to improve my vocal technique. I’d slipped recently. I had to re-improve my breathing, as well as tone and voice control. I did MANY versions of this, some with quite different instrumentation. I think 4 versions, all mastered. Actually, the first 3 were mastered. The final version, the one I used, I mastered myself. After hearing the previous 3 mastering jobs, I could figure out how to master the track myself. Probably with an even more sensitive ear for the track, at that point, than anyone else was going to have.
March 15, 2019
Got a really nice review at Divide and Conquer. 4 out of 5 star. Pretty, pretty good:
November 8, 2018
I've wrapped up our latest release, The Joy Inside EP. It'll be available on iTunes, Spotify, etc on Dec 10!!! Here's a little info:
The Joy Inside EP is a 6-song collection, chronicling the stages of a particular relationship for singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jason Legacy. Opening song, “Charmaine”, concerns the singer’s attraction to a morally dubious, soon-to-be partner. 2nd track, “The Joy Inside”, is about the anticipation of a brand new relationship. 3rd track, “Healthy Again”, is a denunciation of societal norms and expectations that are needlessly restricting both Legacy and his partner. 4th track, “My Finest Hour”, is a celebration of their new found love and time together. 5th track, “Red Eye”, is the realization of the limits of this new found love, and the inability to escape the drudgery of other pre-existing responsibilities. Final track, “Out of Sight”, concerns the end of a relationship, and specifically the suicide of a close friend.
The Joy Inside EP is a very personal collection of songs, and is the follow up to 2017’s full-length Embracing the Cold Margins, as well as Slow Buildings’ 12-16 cd, which collected tracks from 5 different EP’s released between 2012 and 2016.
October 3, 2018
So overall I'm happy with Embracing the Cold Margins, although like every cd I’ve recorded, the bottom fell out of it multiple times, and it's not as good as it could've been. The first thing that stands out to me is the snare sound. At least I was consistent. I used it on all 12 songs. Some songs I love it on, and some, not so much. I really tried to create an album that sounds really good from beginning to end, like I’ve tried to with every album, as well as EP, I've ever released. I think I succeeded in that. There are plenty of things that I don't think are particularly good about it, lots of mixing and recording and performing moments that could've been better. Perhaps I'm hypercritical (I am). But is it a really enjoyable listen? I think so.
The people I've spoken to (friends, friends of friends, industry insiders and outsiders of all kinds) have mostly given me positive feedback. A few have given me outright praise, which I've appreciated. It's honestly the enthusiasm of the majority of people I've spoken to which has in turn given me the enthusiasm that I need to keep creating. Especially since I haven't played out in a year. There have also been a few heartfelt criticisms, which I also appreciated, although I don't always agree with (though sometimes I do!)
Of course it sounds like nothing else out there. Either present or past. I think the majority of people, if they listen to only 20 seconds of it, may not like it. Because, if for no other reason, it sounds really different than anything else. But not so different that it seems like it's supposed to be different. In fact, I'm not even sure how "different" it's supposed to be. I'm constantly listening to everything, including abysmal Top 40 music, as well as lots of less popular music from tons of different genres. Yet with my own music I'm very insular. I'm constantly going for sounds in my head which, admittedly, I don't quite hear anywhere else. But I'm also limited by both my own ability and my gear.
That said, I truly believe that when most people listen for a few minutes, they start to feel my music is pretty good. That's my experience, at least. It's above average, whatever exactly that means. It's what keeps me going, knowing that although I may have trouble fitting in or getting noticed, I'm making good quality music. I think I still have something to say. I think I have multiple things to say.
September 22, 2018
12. Avenues of Escape
My 2nd most popular track on SoundCloud, whatever that's worth (next to nothing, I'm sure). I had this song title for over a decade. I was waiting for the perfect song to use it. I really like how the guitar part and bass part lock in with each other, but are actually doing complimentary rhythms. I did "So You Think You're So Smart" first, and decided I needed another really good guitar part again. It's not the greatest sounding recording, I guess. I was having such trouble with the snare sound on the whole album, and my co-engineer wasn't exactly able to work his usual magic this time, either. I still don't get it. It was messing up everything we did, it was messing up all the other instruments.
Anyway, the song is kind of self-explanatory. I was particularly frustrated at our new apartment when I wrote it. We'd just sold Grandma's huge house. Suddenly I felt like the walls were really closing in on me. I couldn't see an escape. I'd sit on my couch and the walls would literally feel threatening. I'd always had that huge place to escape to my entire life. Suddenly I was nearing my 4th decade, and it was gone. Every place seemed so tiny and cramped to me afterwards. I felt that the world was a cold and cruel place, and if there was a God somewhere, he or she was completely indifferent to my suffering, or anyone's suffering for that matter. And that pissed me off. It was such a hard time.
It's a good song, but it's hard for me to listen to now. Especially the bridge. I spend the first 2/3 of the song wanting desperately to escape, but in the bridge I accept that there's actually worse violence and savagery in the rest of the world. That as horrible as my prison is, it's way more savage and sick out there. It's a rough song.
September 17, 2018
11. Drunk after Work
We did 2 official mixes of this. The album version is very dry, with the vocals upfront way more than usual. In fact, I mostly kept my guide vocals on the final recording, and Ted recorded his drums over them. So he's playing 2 my vocals. The other mix has a lot more reverb and is more "exciting". It's been dubbed the "Sober Mix". It's the much better mix, but the dryer one fit on the album better. So not sure yet what to do with the superior "Sober Mix"...
September 10, 2018
10. So You Think You’re So Smart
This was really where the latest (live) incarnation of Slow Buildings ceased to be. Most of the band just couldn't get the feel of this song. During rehearsals, Sam just stuck to root notes, and Chris would just strum the chords. It went from a Smiths-type, 2 interlocking guitars groove to a dreadful dirge. Combined with the angular melody and bitter lyrics, this sounded awful when we'd rehearse it. We tried it about 4, maybe 5 times. This and the equally unsuccessful "She's An Intellectual" were actually the last new songs we tried. We managed to learn "Christian Army Falls" afterwards, but that was an older song obviously.
I thought Marx might like this song since it sounds a bit like the Smiths, but he declared he hated the beat. I told him to play it however he wanted. But I suppose some songs really are stuck with the beat they're written with, barring a radical reworking. And Marx was very good at music, he understood what the song needed. And he hated playing that rhythm lol. Still, I like how he recorded it. He was a very good drummer. But it was true, he had trouble with that rhythm because he didn't like it, I guess. Still, he did some great fills at the end as the song crescendos.
I definitely went for a Smiths feel with this song. Honestly, I even tried to use Smiths type words, like "poor boy" and "aching heart". And I think I've figured out how the Smiths wrote songs, and I tried to do it myself: I think Marr would give Morrissey some chords, and Morrissey would come back with a melody and lyrics. And then Marr would make some changes based on what Morrissey was singing. Sometimes he'd flip the chords around to make it more interesting. I can just picture him telling Morrissey, "just keep singing it the same way", and he'd re-arrange something new under it. I've never read this, but I'm SURE this is the exact way that at least some of their songs were written, especially the earlier, more angular ones. So I did that. I had 7 chords, I wrote the words and melody and had the melody really fixed in my head so I was constantly singing it, and then I changed the chords underneath it. Switch where the Bm and Em chords were, as well as most of the other chords. I think it worked great. We played it once in Fuchs basement and afterwards both he and Jaclyn were like "wow, that's a really good song".
I almost managed to somehow get a pretty good Andy Rourke sound and part, too.
September 2, 2018
9. Always Closing In
I wrote this sitting in the back seat of my car waiting to teach a few students. I'd been listening to Wire nonstop for a few months. So I wrote some lyrics down, very Wire-like, that reflected how paranoid I felt sitting in the car. I felt like the neighbors were all staring at me from their windows. The music came very quickly. It's almost ridiculously simple musically. Except for the bridge.
The band(s) always seemed to like playing this song. Marx recorded a great drum part. When Michael started drumming with us he'd always say how hard the song was to play. When Ted replaced him he had to practice that song a lot, too. I remember repeating it with him over and over and over again, which was cool, actually. But besides the drums, it's so simple.
During the recording I added the high harmony part during the first line of each verse, throughout the entire song. Originally it was just in the outro. I remember telling Fuchs at the start of rehearsal, after we'd already performed the song live a few times, that the harmony would now be on every line, and he looked at me like "are you sure?" because, admittedly, it's unorthodox. But that's what makes the song, in my opinion. The flange on the guitar in the chorus just worked out perfectly, too. It was one of those things, when you first show a band a new song, where you start playing it, and when it gets to the part you step on a random pedal just to see what happens and it's a "eureka!" moment. It just worked perfectly. Chris and Marx and I worked for a while on the solo, getting the weird sounds with Chris' pedals.
July 30, 2018
8. No One for Me
I'm sort of conflicted about "No One for Me". On the one hand, it's very catchy, and it's completely heartfelt. But on the other hand, it almost sounds like the Spin Doctors.
And it uses a 1-4-5 chord progression, which I don't think I've ever resorted to.
Lyrically it's kind of simple, too, yet it completely sums up how I feel. The song expresses my frustration and loneliness very well. It's compact, and catchy, and it's good. When we starting playing it live, it immediately took off. It instantly came to life, which is all you can ask for from a new song when played live.
I bought a harmonica in the key of E and spent a few hours figuring it out for the recording. I recorded a whole piano part which I practiced for a week, but once I recorded it I realized it sounded even hokier with it, so instead of recording a 2nd guitar I just kept adding distortion to it until it sounded like a guitar. It actually worked pretty well. To this day I'm amazed that the intro to "And the Cradle Will Rock" is a keyboard and not a guitar.
It's just hard to get past the Spin Doctors similarity.
July 16, 2018
Admittedly, most everything on the 7th track, "Copalot", was done to antagonize. I remember being in Costa Rica when the Treyvon Martin verdict was announced and feeling so sick. (Yes, I know it didn't directly involve the police). See, I don't hate the police, so I didn't want to record another NWA track. Their job is very difficult. But the entire police culture in this country is horrible. So this song was meant to attack the militaristic, hyper-masculine culture of the police. My thinking is that the correct sort of police officer would not be offended by this song. By correct I mean a non-authoritarian minded officer. They'd get the gentle nudging of the lyrics. But the real asshole type of cop? Yeah, they would be offended by the lyrics. But they're probably offended by the majority of things in life.
Almost every song on the radio the past 10 years has used the same 4 chords. I was sick of learning these mall-pop-punk songs with a few of my students. So I took the 4 chords and decided to write something that actually had some bite. Not the fake "I have spiked hair and wear a ripped punk rock t-shirt" kind of rebellion of 30 Seconds of Summer or whatever they were called. By using the same 4 chords, instrumentation and bland, clichéd lyrics on every song, they strike me as being shockingly predictable and SAFE.
The keyboard sound, called Carz in SonikSynth, was a bit of a joke, too. I thought it'd be interesting playing it along with the punk rock guitars. Making it sound even more ridiculous while I sing about wanting to be a cop. I originally sang the keyboard line, "woo-eee-ooh". Which sounded fine in rehearsals, but sounded really bad when I recorded it. So I reused the sound from "So I Kissed Her". I tried to blend the goofy keyboard sound in with the pop-punk guitars so they'd sound like one single instrument.
I remember Ted having a viscerally negative reaction when he heard me singing the lyrics lol. But I think if he played it with me and really got the sarcasm he'd have gotten into it. Jaclyn doesn't like it, thinks it's silly. Whatever. I know it'll rub some people the wrong way, for various reasons. I'd like to play it live, although it could literally be dangerous to play in certain places.
At least the bridge is genuinely interesting, I imagined Jimmy Page playing an early XTC song. I tried to sound as feminine as I could when I sang the coda. The US police force must start embracing the feminine as a source of strength. I wish I'd emphasized the line about turning a frown upside down a bit more. And sang "big gun", like I'd meant to, instead of just "gun". Overall, I'd describe this track as "tight" and "fun". According to my SoundCloud ratings, after "I Love Myself" this was my least popular track, out of the 26 tracks I posted.
July 5, 2018
6. Endless Seas Ahead
Track #6, "Endless Seas Ahead", started when I wanted to do something a bit like OMD's "Maid of Orleans". I was very impressed by their Architecture and Morality record. I thought the instrumental passages were beautiful. So the instrumental break, as far as I can remember at this point, was actually what I wrote first. I'm not entirely sure that's true, but I'm certain it was the focal point of the song from the beginning. When I finally recorded it I brought the drums, or the snare at least, down about 6 dB so that the keyboard line could be heard loudly while still sounding gentle. I took the same keyboard sound as I used in "Your Celibate Life".
Originally it was called "I Love Myself". This song went through a lot of re-recordings. I posted the finished track on SoundCloud and it was probably my least popular track. I used a pic of a sad-looking dog staring at herself in a mirror. I think the whole thing was just too oft putting. I wasn't totally sold on it myself, so I started rewriting all the lyrics but keeping the music, since I'd worked on the musical part of the song, on and off, for over a year at that point.
I had another song called "Endless Seas Ahead", fully written, which I decided not to use. So I stole the title and rewrote the lyrics, as well as some of the melody. I kept the existing melody, with different words, for the 2nd verse. I wrote a totally different melody for the first verse. By chance the two melodies worked well together, largely as countermelodies to each other, so I was able to sing them both simultaneously in the 3rd verse. I stepped back about 3 feet from the mic to sing the 2nd part and it naturally sounded distant and cavernous. I got a good natural sound.
Somewhat bizarrely, this new version of essentially the same song became my HIGHEST rated song on SoundCloud. I was bored one night and came up with a formula combining likes, comments and shares that I think pretty accurately accesses a song's popularity on SoundCloud, and it was my most popular song. Weird. That said, SoundCloud I noticed tends to collectively like melodramatic and clichéd songs, as well as tons of crap. So I take it with a grain of salt.
I wanted the verses to be powerful and driven, like a Krautrock song. I'd rehearsed this with at least 3 different drummers over the course of almost a year. But none of them were Krautrock fans, so it just wasn't getting the propulsion it needed. So I got the heaviest drum sticks I could find, and really practiced the drums myself. As a result I think the snare hits with more of a wallop on this track than any of the others. It was definitely because of those extra heavy sticks.
The guitars had to be mixed exactly right with chorus, delay and flange to get the sound I wanted. I'm pretty sure Chris recorded them with me, but I'm actually not sure, because sometimes it all becomes a bIur when you're recording and experimenting for hours and even days and months on end. Anyway, once I got the correct sound and balance, I was careful to keep them mixed this way through all the re-recordings and remixes.
The keyboards are still sounding a bit like both M83 and Cut Copy to me. They just sound like something very modern and important to me. I've been trying to capture that the past few years. As with most keyboard parts that I've recorded for the past 3-4 years, I wrote and practiced it on my regular keyboard, and then played it on my USB keyboard for the recording.
June 6, 2018
5. A Suburban Fate
The 5th track, "A Suburban Fate", is lyrically a sequel to "Bad Apples", obviously. I'm stuck here because of my job and family.
I’d recorded a bunch of demos over the course of a few nights. I had writers block and could basically only manage short little pieces of songs. Most of them were not great. About a week later I realized this song was not only kind of catchy, but that I’d basically written the whole song. Except the lyrics, which I struggled to finish later. Not my best.
Ted's drum part is simple, but great. When I recorded it, it sounded really good immediately. Used Michael's snare. Ted came up with the clicking snare rim part in the verses. I never would've thought of that myself. And his groove is very simple, yet he's so fluid and tight, but not stiff. Really, drumming like that is a real joy to mix. We rehearsed the song I think 8 different times, over the course of 2 months. So it was well-rehearsed lol. That sort of focused rehearsal really helps me mix a song, too, especially the vocals. I practice singing "into the mix" during practice so that I can give the best vocal performance. It really helps me to mix the vocals, so that they're not too loud, when I get to play a song live, so we performed it at a few shows, too. Anyway, it's far from the best song on the album, but it's definitely one of the best sounding.
For some reason it sounded a bit like ELO to me, at least in my head, and probably only in my head. The actual recording has a much more stripped down Kinks-like feel. And I kept hearing George Harrison in my head every time I sang it. Again I'm not sure why, since it doesn't sound like him, but he was nonetheless what I was going for.
Everything I've ever recorded I've tried to do at least one thing new, something I've never done before. I put the bridge in a weird, unexpected place in this song. Reminded me of the sudden bridge in "Frankly, Mr. Shankly". I tried to make it stand out like that. It's actually one of my favorite moments on the cd.
I hate my super-Jersey pronunciation of "years" after the bridge, though.
May 27, 2018
4. She’s An Intellectual
"She's an Intellectual" is an old song that I wrote about a particular ex-girlfriend, although I wrote it several years after we dated. I like how nice and loud the guitars came out. I realized while mixing the bridge that the sloppier the guitars got, the better they sounded.
I remembered this song and started playing it about half way through recording the album. I hadn't played it or even thought of it in about a decade. I started writing new lyrics because I could only remember about half of them, but luckily I found an old lyric sheet. Basically I ended up keeping every lyric exactly as I'd written it originally.
It sounded good in rehearsals, though Chris kept forgetting all the parts, or maybe it was just too hard to play, so we never got to perform it live. I kind of understand, because although I’d always liked this song, I never recorded it before, mainly because I couldn't play well enough when I started recording the Good Things Happen cd. I think that was the last time I'd played the song, actually.
It's kind of funny, the song was about a nasty, self-centered person. The lyrics are really clear. Yet when I posted it on SoundCloud it became one of my most popular songs, and when I looked at who had favorited it, it was like 75% females. I think honestly most of them just read the title and decided to like it, while most of the others probably just listened to the first 15 seconds, heard the loud, thrashing guitars, and thought, "yeah, women rock!!" and liked it. Anyway, lyrically I love it and it somehow fit with "Me Me Me" in that it's a blitz of lyrics and images, and it works in a similar way because of it. So it fit on the cd perfectly, I thought. Glad I held the song back for a few albums.
I tried to get as much separation on the drums as possible. The entire performance is aggressive rock, but the production is not. Whatever, rock's dead. It's a hybrid of some sort. And it still sounds like Slow Buildings. So I'm ok with it.
May 20, 2018
3. Mystery Needs
When Liz killed herself I went down to Maryland, maybe a month later. It's all still so hazy, I was a walking zombie of grief. I had really wanted Liz to meet my Grandmother, in part because Liz was actually raised to be very religious, and I thought they might have some things to talk about. But I was so disappointed by my Grandparents’ reactions. Well, I didn't expect much from Grandpa, but Grandma was always talking and giving advice to people. But it was so disappointing. She just looked at me with a lot of fear in her eyes. Like I was an alien. It was, I’d thought, maybe a chance to get some help from her. I was desperate, I suppose, for any kind of answers or relief. But she just made me feel worse, and even more isolated from the world. I felt even sadder and more alone. She had nothing to say, literally.
So the dream that produced the 3rd song, "Mystery Needs", is intriguing on multiple levels. Basically I was having a dream one morning at our apartment, and the dream took place in Maryland. My parents, Ted, Grandparents and Uncle Peter were all in my dream. Basically we were playing in the yard having a cookout and everyone was having a nice time. Uncle Pete said something silly and I remarked that he sounded tipsy even though he was still on his first beer, which cracked him up. I feel like that actually happened in real life before. It was a very nice but slightly sad dream, but then it took a very intense turn.
I walked into my Grandparents’ bedroom and Grandma followed me. She looked serious and took me by the hand and told me, "She was given judgement at 12. And at 13 she accepted her fate". We were face to face and I didn't know what this meant. Then she leaned in and whispered this beautiful song in my ear. She sang, "She took a vow when she was 12 not to live in the world, where only bad things could grow/ And she knew when she was 13 she could live in the past, and only her friends would know". It was half spoken and half sung, but it had a real rhythm to it. Then she sung a very simple but absolutely haunting melody, and I can still hear her voice deep in my head singing it: "Mystery needs/and mystery signs/and all God's children/get left behind". It sounded hundreds of years old to me. It was so deep in my ear. I was speechless and overwhelmed with emotions in my dream. I wanted to speak but I choked on my words. I was trying not to cry. Then I woke up and I remembered most of the dream pretty clearly. I immediately ran over to my phone by the hamper and sang the melody and words from the dream into my phone’s voice memo.
So basically I had the pre-chorus and chorus before I'd even picked up the guitar. After a minute I found the 4 chords that seemed to naturally go with the melody of the chorus. And the pre-chorus chords came so naturally too, like they'd already been written. Honestly, I've googled the lyrics multiple times and it seems like they're original.
For the first month or so I thought the song was about Grandma. That she was telling me her story. My parents always told me that she used to be somewhat secular, but living in NYC made her become very religious. She became scared of the world and disillusioned at some point. But after a few months I came to feel it was about Liz. It makes more sense. It fits in with the timeline of her losing her faith, and her Mom becoming schizophrenic when she was hitting puberty. By 15 she was in a foster home. I now think the song was my Grandmother's way of connecting with me, of telling me she’d come to understand Liz like I'd originally hoped she would. And maybe giving me insight to what had gone on inside Liz's head. She also gave me a beautiful song, which I really needed, and it kind of made up for her cold distance all those years ago.
April 22, 2018
2. What’s Wrong With People
The 2nd track, "What's Wrong With People", was a verse idea that I was playing around with, but which I wasn’t sure about. It came together when I walked into the bedroom playing my unplugged electric and the chorus melody and chords came to me all at once. I was kind of doing a Jonathan Richman impersonation. I'd been listening to the Modern Lovers and some of his solo material nonstop for a few months. Jaclyn was in the bedroom and I was half joking around, but it really worked.
On the recording I tried to put the guitars a little louder than normal, extra jagged, to take some of the light-hearted sweetness away. I wanted an XTC-type guitar attack. Plus, I used words like "whoring" and "fuck" a few times, because I could, and because I was actually very angry. I tried to be conciliatory in the chorus and post chorus. I hate sanctimony and sanctimony rarely ever makes for a good song. But I was genuinely pissed off at how stupid people are the majority of the time. This was basically during the year leading up to the 2016 elections.
Added the handclaps from, and tried to make it a bit of a singalong like, the first track, "Me Me Me". I always like when I do a new rhythm or chord progression that I've never used before. In this case "Rocking Shopping Center", the first track on Richman's debut album, provided the rhythm.
I like the guitar solo a lot. I wish I could always get such a soaring sound. Surprisingly it’s just flange, not delay, though I really played around with the flange settings to basically get a delay effect.
Overall there's a lot happening in this track both lyrically and musically. There's also a funny little keyboard part that I probably should have mixed a bit louder. It was really ironically funny coming out of the solo, but I think it’s barely audible, unfortunately. One of the guitars went slightly out of tune before the first chorus, but I thought it sounded fantastic so I kept it, and even copied and pasted it into the 3rd chorus as well.
April 5, 2018
So I released Embracing the Cold Margins in November, 2017. It’s been about 6 months now, so I thought I’d look back on it. Check this space every couple weeks or so, as I'll be going through every track.
1. Me Me Me
I think “Me Me Me” came out really well. It was one of the songs we rehearsed regularly for the cd with Marx, along with “Always Closing In”, “She’s An Intellectual”, "Avenues of Escape", and I think "What's Wrong With People". I tried to introduce a 5th new one, “So You Think You’re So Smart”, but the band couldn’t get it. It was turning into a sluggish dirge. Anyway, I thought “Me Me Me” could be an album opener once we got good at the song and were ready to record it. At first I was embarrassed by its awkward changes and whatnot, because I know that’s so unpopular right now. Not only in NJ, but pretty much everywhere else in the world, too. And it seemed weird and obtuse.
But to my surprise they all took to it pretty naturally. At least Marx did (“it’s a punky garage rock song”, I guess he was right). It was simple and blunt enough that we could really throw ourselves into it. Plus Fuchs worked kind of hard on that song. His efforts were all really good. Together we came up with some nice guitar parts, which contrasted but also complimented the looser, thrashing guitars everywhere else in the song. I appreciated his work on that. Sam, meanwhile, kept playing simple half notes, giving it a grounded dub feel. He's not really into punk rock. Live this approach worked well, keeping the song clean and simple, and the audience liked it. But on record it was sounding lame, so I had to re-recorded some of the bass myself.
Anyway, “Me Me Me” is one of the loosest recordings on the album, but it's also very "alive". It’s a CONSTANT struggle to make things sound alive on record. Too much, or too little, compression and the whole recording can sound neutered. Same thing with pretty much every effect or EQ adjustment. It all has to be balanced correctly to properly capture a song. Anyway, I like the way this recording came out.
I started to feel it as the next opener after “Good Things Happen” and “Nice Guys Finish First” as soon as we started recording it. That’s the way I kept looking at it. But actually it had a lot more in common with “Aggressively Stupid” as an opener, which I hadn’t realized. And actually “Vicky’s Dream”, too. I wonder if I’ll ever rerecord that one, lol. That drum beat would be brutal for a real drummer to play all the way through. And on my first 2 demo CD's I mostly used drum loops and pieces. I don’t think I’ve ever played with a drummer who could play that drum part for real. I recorded it in pieces and looped 90% of it. Now that I think about it, it was “Vicky’s Dream” and “Acid People” that Oce most wanted to play but which we didn’t. Since I'm reminiscing, I remember my friend Ami liked “Vicky’s Dream”. I think he definitely liked Everything like This more than either Good Things Happen or This is Dead Aesthetic Junk. I actually got a lot of fantastic praise for Good Things Happen, but not from him lol. And I remember Am telling me he thought “Nice Guys Finish First” was such a letdown as an opener after the previous 2 cd’s openers. Anyway, my vocals are so off at times in “Vicky’s Dream”. But there is probably NO WAY IN A MILLION YEARS that I could stomach re-recording it. “Out of Sight” was SO painful to labor over for months. Too emotionally draining. Ugh.
Lyrically, "Me Me Me" is basically about being in a non-world-famous rock band. It's about finding the motivations to push forward every day, despite the numerous failures wounding your ego. It's 50% tongue in cheek and 50% serious. I felt it was as close to a theme song as we had in 2016.
November 18, 2017
Wish I could write more songs like “Amazy Dayzee”. It’s my favorite song that I’ve written in a long time. It’s one of those songs that no matter how I record it, it’ll at least be pretty listenable. Honestly, a lot of my favorite songs have come from video games, mainly “Glass Joe”, “Cruise Elroy” and now “Amazy Dayzee”. Although “Glass Joe” wasn’t actually about the game, per se. It was more about feeling a connection with what a pathetic, hopeless loser he is in the game. Aw.
Sept 16, 2017
Got our new cd Embracing the Cold Margins mastered, and it should be out next month!!! Everywhere including iTunes and my personal favorite Bandcamp. Super proud of this release, I think it's our best collection of songs to date. can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of it. We'll also be selling it at any upcoming shows (along with some t-shirts and bumperstickers (!) I've printed up. See you at the shows!!!
Aug 26, 2017
So I've been thinking about what to do for the album cover of Embracing the Cold Margins. I remembered how I had that powerful vision last week while lying in bed and contemplating where I go when I fall asleep. I saw myself slide into darkness, and fall miles down into the subconscious like on a waterfall of black liquid. I was shocked by HOW FAR a journey it was to get to my subconscious, or wherever I was going. The slightly out of focus and blurry, not to mention ignorant and painful, waking world I’d just left was SO FAR AWAY. Then suddenly I entered the most brilliant, glowing liquid lights. I was taken aback by their brilliance as I suddenly approached them. The colors were not unlike the Christmas tree lights we had this year, very bright but darker shades, very rich and amazingly bright and beautiful. But the round bulbs were more like rocks of light. Whatever that means. Anyway, it was a vison of my subconscious, and I’d like to think a deeper understanding of reality in some way. But I also like that image for my new cd cover. I think I’m going to paint the grey surface with a tiny, blurred figure on top towards the side, the blackness underneath with the lights at the far bottom in a cluster. I’ll paint the top and photoshop the glowing bits at the bottom. Have to just play around with it to make it look good. I think it will convey the loneliness of the cd title Embracing the Cold Margins, as this waking world is so lonely compared to the reality underneath which I can never be a part of when I’m awake.
July 22, 2017
Recording a new track “Drunk after Work”, which we haven't gotten to play live yet. It has 5 different tempos. It was a very elaborate recording. I played back our rehearsals I’d recorded on my phone and figured out what the bpm’s were in each section. And then recorded the acoustic to different speed metronomes. And layered everything, including the drums, on top of the initial acoustic guitar. Not at all the usual way to record. But I wanted a very intimate and focused lead vocal track and I think that I got it.
February 30, 2017
Great show at The Alphabet Lounge!! thanks to everyone who showed up. Also thanks to whoever brought all the balloons ;)
January 3, 2017
Happy New Year!!! This year will hopefully be even better than 2016 (fine, could it be any worse?!). I have a feeling we're all going to unite and grow as we stand up to the Orange Clown in a myriad of different ways. Right now things look bleak politically, but I seriously think we're going to end up prouder and stronger as a country in the end. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The country can even survive a fascist in the WH. At least until he gets his thin-skinned self impeached!!! Cheers.
December 20, 2016
So I've finished 10 of the 12 songs that'll be on the new cd. Looking at a 2017 release date. Also releasing a comp cd 12-16 compiling our last 5 EP's from the past 4 years! Hence the title. Will be nice to have these songs on a physical cd at last (you know for the 10 of you who still buy cd's)
November 11, 2016
Recording "Mystery Needs", "What's Wrong With People", "Copalot", "N1FM" and an as-yet-untitled song. Tempting to put it all on Soundcloud but can't post everything right? Have to save a few things for the actual release. These are all new songs that haven't been played live yet..
September 25, 2016
Put up a new track "Endless Seas Ahead" on SoundCloud. Let me know what you think! It's a reworking of a track called "I Love Myself' lol we'd posted a while back. But now it's quite redone and I'm really happy with it. Would it be good live?! Sounding kind of epic to me but the keyboards live right now would be a problem since Chris is just doing guitar live at this point. We'll figure something out, we always do lol and maybe post a new track tmrw stay tuned.
August 15, 2016
Recording is going well so far. Busy schedules all around but we're making the time, and what we've layed down so far is sounding really good. A lot of re-recording going on. Sometimes a great guitar take will result in new ideas for an already-recorded bass part; so we have to redo the bass, which might then lead to a new guitar part etc etc. We try to arrange everything as much as possible in rehearsals, but sometimes you can't fully hear what you've got until you start recording. Posting new tracks to Soundcloud soon.
July 31, 2016
Great show last night at Dingbatz!!! Thanks again to everyone who came out. I know we're not the typical sounding band that usually play Dingbatz but both the crowd and management were great. Maybe it was the free merc?! ;) Anyway more shows coming up in the Fall but we'll be spending the next 2 months or so recording in Tenafly, NJ. Details coming soon...
June 20, 2016
We've got 2 shows booked for July at Clash Bar and Dingbatz, should be great, check Facebook for more details as we get them (starting time, etc).. Both in NJ but hoping to do more NYC shows ASAP.
April 22, 2016
So Chris (guitarist) texts me 3 hours before showtime: "I bought an engagement ring and I want to dedicate "Secrets Kept, Secrets Lost" to Katie and get down on my knee at the end of the show". Wow. Just wow. He proposed from the stage and everything. It was downright amazing, and we got the whole thing on video for them, too. So sweet and so happy to have been a part of that!!!
April 3, 2016
Great show at Clash Bar last night! A lot of people came out and it was an overall great night. It was also Michael's debut with us and he was fantastic, he really led us up there and the audience responded well. Super-psyched about our Jersey City show in 2 weeks...videos from Clash Bar to be up on Youtube by Tuesday...
March 13, 2016
Weapons Against Me EP is still pretty new and we continue to get a few nice mentions in the press. Check it out on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc if you haven't already!
Feb 21, 2016
We have upcoming shows, with only a few booked so far but more to come...check shows tab above ;)... Also getting some nice reviews so far for the Weapons Against Me EP: