Monday, March 2, 2009

Untitled Conflict Song #1

It's not the weight/wait
That brings me down. The aweful/awful way You treat me. You treat me. OK It's just that I don't think You see me. You see me. You see me at all/et al.

JOHN: This is a product of sitting around late one night.  One of the reasons Screeching Weasel did so well was because we ventured away from where hardcore had gone.  They had lost any sense of melody and harmony, and lyrics were all sung identical to the chord changes being made.  So with Even In Blackouts Liz and I worked hard on trying to come up with melodies that stray from the the base chord, and we try to create lines that often contrast with the rhythm of the chord changes.  Once I felt we had a grip on that I brought back the parts where we sing exactly what is being played (in rhythm and in notes).  We did this in 1,000 Stories.  It seems to go well with the songs inspired by bluegrass.  I don't know if this is remotely like bluegrass but the intention came from that.  Then I liked the idea of using a talkbox.  I have always been fascinated by the talkbox.  I love the way it sounds in Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion.  I thought it would be cool to try it on an acoustic guitar.  So now the guitar exactly mimics the vocals.  Then I wanted the second half of the songs without lyrics to sound like an explosion of emotion, so we sat in the studio and came up with as many melody lines as we could that sat together well.  We layered about 6 of them on top of each other.  This section was inspired by Neutral Milk Hotel.  I wanted a trumpet player to record a very distorted lead over the music and vocals but we couldn't find a trumpeter in time.  The lyrics I am pretty proud of.  They sound fairly simple but each sentence has one homophone, giving each sentence two slightly different meanings which adds to the whole.  I'll let you put the pieces together.  It's not a puzzle as much as it is a short story about what we expect from love.

517 E. Highland

I called you at home but your home isn’t home for you anymore, anymore.
I called you at home but your home isn’t home for you anymore, anymore.
I put on my make up. I put on my old shoes that I wear when something goes wrong.
Goes Wrong.
Goes Wrong.

Your home isn’t your home anymore.
Your home isn’t your home anymore.

Now I’m tired of mascara running down my face.
I’m tired of our life and my feet are aching.
The sun is rising.
The sun is rising.
The sun is rising.

A man on the corner drinks a bottle of after shave. We get on the bus.
Heading west. He laughs into a handkerchief. And I smile for him and the mascara runs down my arm.

My hands are tense and tired. And your not at home. We have no home.

JOHN: Although it sounds influenced purely by Pop punk, the initial inspiration for the music came from Madonna and Sublime.  I love this song by Madonna called "Music."  I felt jealous that she had someone sample an acoustic guitar for a pop song.  It's a pretty damn great song.  I structured the beginning of 517 based on that style of sampling, but we didn't have the time or budget to make that happen, so I dug up a casio out of my closet and we used that instead.  I think it was a good choice.  It gave it a 80's feel that I hadn't originally intended, and it lead to the great bass part Phillip created.  The mid section is definitely straight forward pop punk, with simple repeated lyrics like the Ramones, but I am proud that we could bookend this pop sound with other influences and still make the song flow.  The ending I modeled after Sublime.  I didn't know much about that band until Jesse Michaels introduced me to it.
The lyrics are based on a "before and after" exercise in writing.  You get the beginning of the story and the end of the story, but you are not quite sure what happened to her once she put on her good shoes, left her home and went out into the night.  You only know that she is now sitting on a bus early in the morning watching a homeless drinking aftershave, and she begins to cry.  The man drinking aftershave image is borrowed from my Neo-Futurist friend Jessica Anne.  She wrote a play about a man on the bus drinking a bottle of mouthwash.

We're So Tough We're So

We’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so
We’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so
Got your cotton lined armor on paddling out receding into the distant sea now
I’m on the shore waving my trusty sword made from balsa wood and tinfoil
Shouting names kicking holes in the sand as you paddle faster with the palm of your hand now

We’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so
We’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so

I’ve got a horse in need of repair made of Boiserie paneling with fibrous insulation
He doesn’t float but I’m sure if he did, I’d paddle him out and have him kick you in the ass now.

We’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so
We’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so tough we’re so

Don’t wave that white napkin flag at me, you’ll take that mop handle off it and pop me in the knee. Yeah.
So forge ahead lost and thinking your free, I’ll always be here waiting, and wading, wasting my time on the shore of this Sea.

John: I originally wrote this song as a very serious short short fragment with just me on guitar. We had the idea on Fall Of The House Of Even to have short musical fragments in between the "normal" songs. We didn't have the time to get these recorded so some of them turned into songs for Thresholds. It originally was just the chorus done once, in a sad low voice, similar to how Romantically Inclined sounds on the new record (which you haven't heard yet.)When friends started to say that that chorus was very catchy I decided to try and make it a full length song. This is when I realized it was a humorous anthem. It is now the humorous counterpart to the song Castaway The Days That Run Upstream Through The Past. Thresholds is the theme of the record, and I began to think of the divide between the water and the land as a threshold. I also liked the idea of combining adult themes with childish themes. We're So Tough is basically a picture of a Quixotic character standing on the shore in a childish rage yelling at his just as Quixotic nemesis who is sailing away. Castaway is about looking out at the Sea and remembering vividly the one you love, so vividly that you can see and feel them sitting next to you. Love and Hate/Land and Sea. We're So Touch We're So could have easily been done with electric guitars, it is very straight forward, and is influenced by the Ramones and my former band. The song sounds like it should be done with distorted heavy guitars, but we liked mirroring the contrast within the song of tough, machismo, being described with things made out of cardboard, balsa wood, and tin foil, with the tense downstroking being performed with acoustic guitars. I love this song. At the living room shows this became an instant hit, I think because it is so easy to sing along to. One night, Liz skipped the whole middle verse, so the audience made us do it again to close the show. This version may make it onto the live living room cd recording, just because everyone was singing along. It was a pretty great moment.

Phillip Hill: This was a fun one to record, as you can tell by Liz and Bice goofing around at the beginning of the rough-mixed version. Bice's "HI-YA!" karate yell in the middle makes me laugh every time!

Lizzie: almost everyone that heard us play this song at our living room shows left singing it! my best friend still had it in her head a week after the last of the shows. late that night we started laughing, talking, and praising johnnys writing abilities and ended up directing the video in our heads. you just picture us blackouts and our little punk counterparts yelling, pointing, and waving our tin-foil covered nerf swords across "vast" puddles at stereotypical grade school bullies. were so fuckin tough! i couldnt help but pump my fists as i laid down the vocal track for this song. actually, that happens every time i play or listen to it. :)

Gub: This song brings me back to feeling like how it was to be a little kid and how clear your mind felt about making decisions. If you did not get your way "You would paddle out have him kick you in the ass now" feeling. It is so intresting how creativity and clarity go hand in hand sometimes.
The song makes me feel like we are all at the beach building sandcastles together.

On The Road In Between

Liz: Hello Sir do you do?
Phil: I am fine.
Liz: Is there anything in particularly new?
Phil: Bice?
Bice: Yes Phillip?
Phil: Please show this beautiful young lady that new...

Liz: It was something so delightful
It was down right frightful adamant..... corse..... construe
I was thinking who would want it
Then someone took and bought this
I was furious and stormed out of the room.

Liz: Hello do you do?
John: I am miserable
Liz: Is there anything in particularly new?
John: Doubtfully not
Liz: Then I saw it
Boys: (Yes she did)
Liz: Then I saw it
Boys:(Yes she did)
Liz: I saw something so delightful
I saw something so frightful
It was ghoulish , caul .......obtuse
It was not far from my hand when a bird flew up and grabbed it
In awe I stood staring at the clue...

Liz and Gub: I was staring at a light falling into darkness
I was carving out the night crawling into darkness
I was starving alive standing in the darkness

Gub: Hello mam how do you do?
Liz: I don’t know
Gub: Is there anything in particular we could do?
Liz: Hmmm
You could wind up that jalopy
Drive out of the mohave
And get me to the station by noon.
It was so catoptric humiliating neurotic
I will definitely half to buy something new!!!

- Lyrics and music by Gub Conway

Gub - The thought of this girl needing to buy something but not knowing what to get turned into this song. I wanted her to be in this fantasy world of shopping. Where everything around her is unnoticed except for this unknown object, what happens to it, and how it makes her feel. When she realizes that this place is not real, all of her problems come out. They consume her. At the same time this fantasy world is trying to mantain its place with her. Giving her comfort from her problems and to keep reality at bay. It is sometimes hard to accept that you must confront your problems and solve them. Most of the time we all want to run away and hide. Pretend they do not exist and hope that they solve themselves on there own.

Phillip - This song is so "Gub". And that's a GOOD thing! I can't help but think of Bice's visual of 'Dracula on rollerskates' during the funky part! Ha, ha! This song was totally fun to record and always a repeat listen for me.

John - I think this is my favorite Gub song. It has a bit of acting, good song structure (strange too!) and you can dance to it. Having another songwriter in the band allows me to concentrate on parts that are not controlling the rhythm of a song. I feel I can be more creative with "guitar playing" when I haven't written the song. I decided to play this song through a DI, which I normally hate. But I remembered when I first got my old old four track years ago, and how I used to plug my electric guitar right into the unit without an amp. And I remember really liking that sound. When we tried it on this song, I immediately starting playing this disco-esque lead part, Bice and Phillip laughed. We then tried it with the song and it seemed to fit in wonderfully. Like Phillip said, it truly made all of us picture a vampire on rollerskates. I could even smell the dank, scraped, rubber floors that coat the roller rinks.


By Micky Dolenz

She's a wonderful lady
And she's mine all mine
And there doesn't seem a way
That she won't come and lose my mind.
It's too easy humming songs
To a girl in yellow dress
It's been a long time since the party
And the room is in a mess.

The four kings of E.M.I.
Are sitting stately on the floor
There are birds out on the sidewalk
And a valet at the door.
He reminds me of a penguin
With few and plastered hair,
There's talcum powder on the letter
And the birthday boy is there.

Why don't you cut your hair?
Why don't you live up there?
Why don't you do what I do,
See what I feel when I care?

Now they've darkened all the windows
And the seats are naugh-a-hyde.
I've been waiting for an hour,
I can't find a place to hide.
The being known as Wonder Girl
Is speaking I believe.
It's not easy tryin' to tell her
That I shortly have to leave.

Why don't you be like me?
Why don't you stop and see?
Why don't you hate who I hate,
Kill who I kill to be free.

[Progressive scat vocals]

Why don't you cut your hair?
Why don't you live up there?
Why don't you do what I do,
See what I feel when I care?
Why don't you be like me?
Why don't you stop and see?
Why don't you hate who I hate,
Kill who I kill to be free.

John - I have always loved The Monkees, especially Micky Dolenz. This song has always been on my mind as a cover and as a musical influence. It is fun, a little rebellious and has a swing jazz feel to it. And I think many of my attempts at having the lyrics of the verse repeat over the chorus in previous EIB songs came from my love of this song.

Phillip Hill: As the bass player, this song was fun for me to record. That's Bice playing the toy piano in the beginning and ending. That's me at the very end saying, "When you're ready...". That wasn't intentional. I was actually talking to Bice from the control room to let him know that I had pressed record and he could start playing the toy piano. It sounded so "Beatles-esque" that we decided to leave it in the mix. I love the sound of Liz's stacked vocal tracks on this song.

Romantically Inclined

I could come up with 2, maybe 50,000 reasons why you should stay.
I could come up with 2, maybe 50,000 reasons why we should go our separate ways.
Our logical hearts aren't romantically inclined.
Our logical hearts aren't romantically inclined.

JOHN: This is one of those songs you write as you are playing it, and only perhaps a word here or there you alter on the second or third take.  It is simple and says exactly what I want it to say.  And that's all it has to say.


She’s tired of countless fights with her son, who is born once more but drunk again. Nothing wrong with feeling the sadness of life bleeding and needing repentance. But often words used against each other are only distractions for one’s own defense. He was drinking with money from her wallet and with tears in his heart. He cried out in fear, “It’ll be a lonely place in heaven when my family’s all in hell. You’re damned for all eternity. And there’s nothing more that saddens me. You need to be saved, or I’ll be lonely in heaven without you.”

Holy is the sinner sacred is the stone, drinking bloody holy water and stumbling back home. Damned are the loved ones who struggle in their lives, damned are the loved ones who struggle in their lives.

JOHN: It took me this song to express the anger I felt at my brother for making my mother very sad. I was surprised that recording this actually caused my anger to subside. I can't say that I will ever see eye-to-eye with him, but this did allow me to step back and remember the things I liked about him. And this purging produced one of my favorite songs I have written to date. I love the lead and harmony parts that Liz came up with, and I think Gub's grubby-man rap part is pretty incredible. Plus I think the song honestly expresses an opinion that people with born again friends and relatives can relate to.