2021 Songwriting Challenge: Week 06
This week’s song finds itself fitting squarely into the late-90s Pacific Northwest indie rock scene. If you weren’t into that sound back then, you might have trouble hearing what I was going for in this tune! (Fair warning, neither Emily nor the kids like the tune.) When I initially wrote the acoustic part and recorded it on my Voice Memos as an idea, I very much felt a Microphones vibe, and started writing low, spoke-sung, messy lyrics to fit it. I couldn’t quite get it to feel right, though. When I sat down to record it fully, a few great things happened.
First, I don’t like playing along with a click track when I record — I much prefer playing along with drums. I tend to ignore a click track and lose the tempo, but I can lock-in better with real drums. So, I added a very simple, sparse, garage-rock sounding drum track. And that is when it hit me: I immediately heard a sound right off of This Is a Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About-era Modest Mouse. That sound kinda stuck in my brain, and from there I fell right into the feel. Channeling the sound from that album and The Lonesome Crowded West comes quite natural, both of those albums had a huge musical influence on me and my friends when were in college (if you are only familiar with Float On-era Modest Mouse, I suggest putting on Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine and you’ll immediately be smacked in the face). The rest of the production of this week’s tune were choices I felt fit that general vibe, so you’ll hear heavy Modest Mouse influence, some Microphones, some Built To Spill, and a whole host of other bands that are near and dear to me.
Second, I didn’t write the lyrics — Alice did! Yep, these words come straight from my 11-year old kid, and I love them. Alice has been doing some black-out poetry using old dictionary and New Yorker pages lately. Black-out poetry is where you take another text, use a black marker to color over all the words except the ones you want to make up the poem (usually drawing a picture along the way). Check out one of them:
I asked their permission, and Alice said I could use a few of their poems for the lyrics to my song, and those lyrics ended up fitting quite well. I’ve been super proud of their poetry, and super psyched to now have it find its way into one of my songs.
Lastly, in true form to the sound of that scene I experimented with the vocals a bit. The low/high panned doubling may be jarring for some of you, but I dug it. Oh, and I did an entire scream track, which only made its way into the end of the second chorus, so that was fun.