Ep. 14: Song “Lonely Day” (Influenced by Smashing Pumpkins)

Growing up, I was a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Their discography (for better or worse) is all over the place stylistically, which I think has kept them interesting over the years. But this week’s song is influenced by the electronica sound of the song “1979“, along with some of dense guitar layers and octave distortion lines on the album Siamese Dream. While I’m talking about the Smashing Pumpkins, they are also somewhat the inspiration behind this whole project. Back in 2009, they started a 44-song concept album called “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.” They have released songs sporadically (on their website for free) as they were recorded one at a time. I liked the idea of a massive project released one song at a time so I decided to put my own twist on it and try this out.

 

I recorded most of the guitar parts for this song using my trusty Marshall full stack. Killer tones, man! But seriously, although this is a little tiny novelty practice amp, the tones sound surprisingly big, wouldn’t you say?!

The background of this song goes back to around 2001. When I started playing it live with Declaration,  it sounded much slower; more along the lines of Pedro the Lion or Low.

Not having access to a drum set has caused me to use programmed beats a lot more lately, which has steered many of these songs so far in a new (and I hope exciting) direction. I also recorded a tambourine and sleigh bells to add a little more texture to the programed beats.

The song also features several tracks of electric guitar played by an Ebow. In case your wondering what an ebow is, it’s a small box that sends an electric pulse without touching the guitar strings and makes them vibrate in a way that sounds like a cello or other string instruments.

Next, I added a few layers of synthesizer parts to give it an other worldy, video game like feel. Another synthesizer part accents the bass hits. Last nice organ sound smooths out the whole thing and adds some glue to make it all sounds cohesive.

This is one of the most densely recorded songs I’ve ever done but the results are pretty satisfying.

Lyrics:
I am feeling all alone when you’re not there
And I am feeling safe all alone and I’m not scared

And now I’ve gone too far I can’t go back

I am feeling all alone when you’re not there
And I am feeling safe all alone and I’m not scared

And now I’ve gone too far I can’t go back

Must have been a lonely day
I can hardly speak at all
And I see you waiting there

Fade away until I’m gone

Must have been a lonely day
I can hardly see at all
But I see you waiting there

Fade away until I’m gone
Until I’m gone

Download “Lonely Day” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 13: Song “I Needed More” (Influenced by Lit)

This one is an oldie written back in high school and left unrecorded until now. At one point, I played it with Declaration as a full band with the distortion and full drums kicking in after the second chorus. Keeping it acoustic gives it a little different feel but I think it works.

When I wrote it, I had something in mind of the Lit song “Miserable.”

So, I guess you could call it acoustic/emo/punk? I think it’s a product of it’s time.

Lyrics:
We’re all, we’re all here begging on our knees for you
Silent, silent spaces left for us to wonder

I needed more, my time has come
Again I cry
What can I do, I need someone to tell me why

Falling, falling faster I think I lost my place
Happily, ever after a smile on your face

I needed more, my time has come
Again I cry
What can I do, I need someone to tell me why

I needed more, my time has come
Again I cry
What can I do, I need someone to tell me why

I needed more, I needed more
I needed more, I needed more

Download “I Needed More” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 12: Song “Hello Hello” (Influenced by Death Cab For Cutie)

So this puts me at about a quarter of the way through this project! Only 38 more to go. This week’s tune is influenced by the feel of the Death Cab For Cutie song, Coney Island.

It’s also influenced by the sound of Portishead (the swung drum machine with the electronic piano – although my voice is not nearly as sexy as Beth Gibbons!). 

When I first wrote the song, though, I had something more in the mind of Train’sDrops of Jupiter

But as I started recording it, the feel just didn’t seem right (maybe it needs a full band?) so it sorta morphed into what it is now.

Lyrically, it’s about a fictional plane crash, which causes a shift in perspective about how one views one’s life going forward (something along the lines of the TV show Lost).

Lyrics:

Hello Hello, Where are you?
Step into the plane
The plans are all arranged

Hello Hello, Where are you?
A Million miles away
And not a bit delayed

All the time I spent away has made a change
I always thought that it would be a big mistake
I was wrong

All of the chance, all of the doubt
The plane is crashing down
Survivors bailing out

Gather around, Gather around
The rescue’s on it’s way
The story’s getting out

Situations turn around and make a change
I always thought that it would be a big mistake
Looking back through time is such a waste
Cause moving forward I can find
A destination leading to place in the cloud
All the times that I have failed to work things out
Change who you are
Cause it don’t mean a thing if you don’t get to far
I guess we’ll see

Hello Hello, Where are you?
A Million miles away
And not a bit delayed

Download “Hello Hello” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 11: Song “Change My Design” (Influenced by Travis)

This week’s song is quite possibly the sappiest love song ever written! I wrote it a long, long time ago (election day of 2000, to be exact)! Although its a breakup song at its core, the lyrics were influenced by the idea of campaigning for an election and how it relates to love and relationships; the idea that the decisions we make during a relationships (our “votes”, if you will) can determine what the future course of our life will be and whether the other people will be a part of it. I thought it was appropriate given that we are in the midst of presidential primaries right now.

The music was influenced by the Scottish band, Travis. I saw them back in high school when they came to Seattle and opened for Oasis. I remember liking them so much better than Oasis. I went out and bought “The Man Who”, which remains one of my favorite albums to this day. When it came time to record the song, I didn’t have a snare drum so I ended up using a shoe box instead! But I think it works.

Lyrics:
Today I’m gonna drift away
And I know that I can’t stay and live with myself
Only one thing is sure in my mind

I needed your love everyday
And I know it’s my mistake I’ll have to live with
And I hope it’s not too late to be there

So change my design and keep me in mind
Please decide the fate of my heart
And keep me in mind I’m leaving behind
Any doubts I had in my heart

Well if I was wrong then I
Hope you’ll move on your own
Without any pain
If you need me I will be waiting when you call

But in time you’ll see all the while
You needed me to be in your arms
And I noticed your burning inside

So change my design and keep me in mind
Please decide the fate of my heart
And keep me in mind I’m leaving behind
Any doubts I had in my heart

In my heart
In my heart
In my heart
In my heart
In my heart

So change my design and keep me in mind
Please decide the fate of my heart
And keep me in mind I’m leaving behind
Any doubts I had in my heart
Please decide the fate of my heart
Please decide the fate of my heart

Download “Change My Design” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 10: Song “Fictional Heroes” (Influenced by John Vanderslice)

So this song has a corny story behind it…. So, one of my friends was trying to get people to come to an activity he put on every Monday but no one would come because everyone stayed at home and watched 24. At one point he said something along the lines of, “What’s the big deal with 24!? It’s just fictional heroes saving cities from fictional disasters!” After he said that, I thought to me myself, “That’s it!” and quickly jotted the line down, which then became the basis for this song. In a broader sense, it’s about our perceptions of reality and how we sometimes think a situation is worse than it really is.

The production is influenced by John Vanderslice and some of his earlier songs. Here’s “Me and My 424”

I used an old retro organ for the drum beat, which I think sounds a little lo-fi and quirky but also fits the song.

Lyrics:

All the fictional heroes saving fictional cities
From disasters that only television can make
Then as I’m watching the villains stepping right in the way
I keep saving myself from making bigger mistakes
Give me a reason to watch then everything is fine by me

And the fictional victims are attempting to flee
From the big budget disaster that’s so hard to believe
Looking for something to keep them in a safe place again
And I’m hiding away in places I’ve never been
But if we cover our tracks then there isn’t a chance they’ll find me

And it never is what it seems
Until we’re watching the final scene
And the fictional heroes talk
As if there’s nothing wrong at all

And a fictional murder keeps me dieing again
and yet I’m feeling alive more than I ever have been
I’m stepping out of a conflict and resolving the plot
And all the fictional people think I’m something I’m not
They say that people can change but they never move more than an inch

As we act out the final scene
It seems the plot is still incomplete
And the fictional heroes talk
As if there’s nothing wrong at all

And it never is what it seems
Until we’re watching the final scene
And the fictional heroes talk
As if there’s nothing wrong at all

Download “Fictional Heroes” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 9: Song “Predictions” (Influenced by Radiohead)

This week’s song is highly influenced by Radiohead. I’ve been a pretty big fan of theirs ever since OK Computer came out. To be more specific, I would say the song, “Videotape” was a big inspiration for the sound and feel of this song.

I tried a few new things: 2 harmonizing ebow guitar tracks (recorded direct, without an amp), a “choir” of harmony vocals (at one point there are 8 vocal tracks), and a “blippy-sounding” techno beat I created by playing each part on the keyboard, looping it, and layering effects on top. I’m really pleased with the results. I think it’s my favorite song of the series so far. Hope you enjoy it!

Lyrics
You say that I have seen a ghost
And I’ve become too naive to know
And it’s too late to alter my fate

I don’t wanna hear your predictions
Take me down the road where I left off
I don’t wanna hear your predictions
When you tell it like it is again

And now I walk a path unknown
It takes me time to stop these crimes

I don’t wanna hear your predictions
Take me down the road where I left off
I don’t wanna hear your predictions
When you tell it like it is again

And you tell it like it is again


Download “Predictions” on Bandcamp


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Ep. 8: Song “Beyond My Control” (Influenced by David Bazan)

I wrote this late one night when I was contemplating whether or not I should try to keep making music. People always say “follow your dreams” but what if following your dreams means you’ll be broke for the rest of your life? I think ultimately, I concluded to just make music for music’s sake and not worry so much about the outcome.

This week’s tune is a sad song influenced by the songwriting of David Bazan of the band Pedro the Lion.

I kept the recording very sparse: just a vocal and electric guitar along with some reverb.

Lyrics:
You think by now I’d have learned my lesson
To never buy into the lies
You’ll go far with ambition they told me
And it never hurts to keep trying

But there are things beyond my control
My ambition is digging a hole

Up again at 2:30 in the morning
My wandering mind just can’t sleep
There’s gotta be a better way to make use of my time
The story can’t stay incomplete

Because there’s things beyond my control
My restlessness is taking a toll
You can keep on telling me that there’s somewhere I should be
But I still fall short of the goal

Maybe in the morning I will put it all into perspective
and maybe I will see a better day then I predicted

But there’s things beyond my control
Pessimism is taking a toll
Now I’m waiting for my day to come
The calendar changes but it’s never the one

Download “Beyond My Control” on Bandcamp

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Ep. 7: Song “I Waited For You” (Influenced by Tom Petty)

This one’s an oldie written back in my high school days. It tells the story of someone being stood up for a date and not knowing what to think or do about it. Did the person not care? Were they in an accident? Should I keep waiting? It’s the uncertainty that kills you.

I was going for a rootsy-rock along the lines of Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”

The recording is fairly simple: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lead and harmony vocals and tambourine. I may go back and add drums to this some day.

Lyrics:
I waited for you the whole night through
I waited for you and I don’t know what to do
I waited for you the whole night through
I waited for you and I don’t know what to do

I want it so bad I don’t know why
Searching for answers I just wanna cry
Tell me what it is I can do for you
I just want you to notice that I’m there

I waited for you the whole night through
I waited for you and I don’t know what to do

I waited for you the whole night through
I waited for you and I don’t know what to do

I wanted so bad to hear your voice
I was convinced there was no choice
You get to the point where you no longer see
Our greatest thoughts and mysteries have nothing to do with me

I waited for you the whole night through
I waited for you and I don’t know what to do

I waited for you the whole night through
I waited for you and I don’t know what to do

An hour later you stop on by
And waste my time again with another lie
Tell me what it is I can for you
I just want you to notice that I’m here

I waited for you the whole night through
I waited for you and I don’t know what to do
I waited for you
I waited for but it’s too late and I just wanna cry

Download “I Waited for You” on Bandcamp

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Ep. 6: Song “Apology” (Influenced by Beach House)

I wrote this song when I was a freshman in college. It was one of those tunes that came out at 3 in the morning when I couldn’t sleep. I remember playing and singing it super quietly so I wouldn’t wake up my roommates.

Lyrically, the song is about a hopeless crush and trying to sort out whether or not I had a chance.

Originally, I envisioned the song as sort of a early Radiohead style acoustic power ballad like “Fake Plastic Trees.”

As I started recording it and adding elements, it morphed into something a lot more along the lines of Beach House’s “Silver Soul”

and if I’m being perfectly honest, there’s a little bit of Yo Gabba Gabba influence thrown in there.

Some of the elements included are the lo-fi drum machine, the weepy sounding slide guitar, the soft churchy organ, and the heavy reverb effects on the vocals, which are both double tracked and song at octaves. There’s also some interesting spacey synth parts including a really disjointed blippy solo I played by clicking the notes on the screen with my mouse.

This was really left field for me in terms of trying something I’ve never done before. I think the results are pretty satisfying.

Lyrics:

She’s got a perfect smile and she never has the time to see
I’m feeling so alone. I’m withered on my own and she’s not home

Living through the days where everything just floats away into
The corner of my mind and could you be so kind to let me know

Better days are on their way again
And having you there lets me know
That I won’t have to take it on my own
And I’m still acting out my last apology

I’m sick of guarantees and always feeling incomplete, it seems
To hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m dreaming when my time is running thin

She is my only choice cuz when I listen to her voice it’s like
A sparrow in the wind. She whispers out my name and I give in

Being with you I can be myself
And I don’t have to act so strange
Well you won’t ever have to stand alone
And I’m still acting out my last apology

Better days are on their way again
And having you there lets me know
I’m sick of always feeling out of time
And I’m still acting out my last apology

Download “Apology” on Bandcamp

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Ep. 5: Song “Petals and Roses” (Influenced by Elliott Smith)

I wrote this song back in high school. It’s about boldly going into a relationship without knowing what the outcome will be. With the girl I was dating at the time, it became apparent to both of us that we had very different plans for the future and that it most likely wasn’t going to work out in the long term but we still tried to enjoy the moments we had together.

I was listening to a lot of Elliott Smith at the time. Here’s a one of his songs, “Clementine”

A borrowed a lot here from Elliott’s signature lo-fi sound: keeping the melody in a soft, low register, double tracking the vocals, double tracking the acoustic guitar, and a sense of melancholy in the lyrics.

Lyrics

Waiting for the right time to speak
Staring at the ceiling trying to sleep
And I’ll pray for you
I will pray for you

Sitting in the darkness by your side
Hiding all the thoughts up in my mind
And I’ll say to you
I will be your friend

It’s just a chance we take without
ever really knowing how it ends

I’ll be there for you
I will be your friend

It’s just a chance we take without
ever really knowing how it ends
It’s just a chance we take without
ever really knowing how it ends


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