I finally managed to complete this update of the previous week to detail where we are so far. Its Sunday Jan 20th 08 and it’s getting time for dinner. I spent most of today going over the new songs and sorting out lyrics and writing down any arrangement ideas I think might work. Work tomorrow – what a hassle – always interferes in the process of writing – I get into engineering mode – logical thought process etc and then need to switch back to a less stringent logic with more emotion to aid the creativity side for music – it’s not a tap you can turn on or off at will – still it’s probably part of what makes tmoc what tmoc is to some weird extent.
Here’s a bit of the rehearsal week – hope its not too meandering, meaningless etc – I think I’ll have to stop apologising for what I think is my crap output here – afterall, if you get something out of it, fine, if not fine.
Thursday 10th Jan 08
JDS (John Stanier) arrived on a later flight so was picked up at airport by Kim’s partner. As it was, the day was something like 42 degrees and the heat relentless. Nice weather for someone just coming from the cold of the Northern hemisphere. I got home from work at around 6pm, and called Kim to work out what time for rehearsal that night. Usually when John gets here we rehearse the same day to help acclimatise John to the time zone difference (John’s preference), but John had hit the sack around 3pm and considering it was still exceedingly hot even at 6pm, we decided not to rehearse Thursday evening. As it was Stanier slept till 9pm, then hit the sack a few hours later and slept till 9am. This has helped dissipate the jet lag a little, though I know that wanting to sleep in the afternoon is hard to shake for a while. Kim and I set rehearsal to start at 12.30pm Friday as I had planned to visit a friend who just had a baby and lives in Mount Barker, about a good hour or so from Adelaide on the Friday morning.
Fri 11th Jan
Didn’t visit my friend at Mt Barker as we found out after loading the car and starting off there was an sms from 6am saying she’d had no sleep and that if we could postpone till later, it would be appreciated, so we drove around for about 15 mins as the little one had been looking forward to a car ride and I didn’t want to disappoint, (I’m a pushover when it comes to trying to keep her happy).
The weather for the next few days will be around 28 degrees – good rehearsal weather – not too hot in the practice room.
Every time we meet up again at the practice room it always feels like a time warp. We’ve rehearsed there a number of times with John over the years (John’s been drumming with us for 8 years! – longer than anyone else – though we thought the combined time he’s spent with us is probably 5 months out of that 8 years) however, when we walk in the rehearsal room it always feels like the land that time forgot, and that we only just saw Stanier yesterday and we’ve resumed practice. It’s a weird thing and sort of worrying when you consider where did the time go??
So, we started in working on the new stuff – we’d arranged some of the new songs during John’s visit last Oct 07 – Now we have to tighten things up and complete arrangements etc.
Worked on a song we call “tooling around” that now has a great killer riff in the middle of it that I think sounds great, plus another song we call Interpolter, which bares no resemblance to Interloper, but when I worked out the song originally and wanted some drums I snipped some from an Interpol song and looped them. The song in rehearsal has a completely different beat – but the name stuck for now as a bit of a joke…
Sat 12th Jan
Started at 1pm: We worked on a song called “3-2”, another called “Pelham 123” (these are just working titles we blithely give to new stuff so we know which song is which) – Plus we worked on Left Arm Panic (that will probably remain the song title) Plus there was a song we call Western Decline – I think we called it Eastern Decline instead – again the song sounds great to me – really heavy duty – We finished about 11pm Sat night. Got home at midnight, then as per usual I can’t sleep – it’s 3am now so will hit the sack. Kim is riding in some bike marathon tomorrow morning, so rehearsal will start at 3pm on Sunday and we’ll go through till whenever.
Sun 13th Jan
Awake at 7am as little one woke us as per usual – slept into 9am – till feel tired, might have a sleep before rehearsal. Stanier used the free hours to go to Glenelg and explore what was ‘trash city’, meaning tourists up the ying-yang and various bikers, street kids etc on display. The weather was cloudy in the morning but just as I picked him up for practice the sun appeared of course.
Anyway, we rehearsed through till midnight and recapped the songs we had been rehearsing the previous day. Basically we have been using an idea introduced to us by John to write the songs, that he and Battles use. We get a whole bunch of butchers paper and hang it up around the practice room – we then put down a list of all the song/riffs we have culled from our previous rehearsals from back in Oct 07, and previous to that. We assign meaningful names to each riff, which would seem meaningless to most, but with so many bits and pieces it gets pretty hard to keep track of them all, so we invent names for stuff like the “SSD” riff, or the “Grey-11” riff, “Slobber” riff, such that if one of us mentions the riff name, we all know what it is. At least, that’s the way its supposed to work – and it does work a lot of the time, however there is often the odd pause and someone asks, hang on, how does the riff go for “3-2”, or “7-4”? (Those particular names derive from the time signatures of some of the riffs).
So, as we work our way through the songs, arranging them etc, we’ll get to a point where something isn’t working, and we’ll decide lets pop in say, the ‘Avenger” riff in here and see if it fits. Then as we get some arrangement we like, we write it down onto one of the blank pieces of butcher paper, so we can all see it and know what comes next in the song’s progression. If, after a while the page gets too messed up, another piece of paper goes up over it and what worked is transcribed onto that, and we continue updating the song.
Once we’ve got something we think works, we then record it onto a portable protools set-up using 2 room mics and a mic for the kit – this makes it easy to refer back to at the start of each day, or 4 days later say – plus it makes it easy at the end of the week of writing to bounce everything into an MP3 or AIFF or WAV file and then burn a disk for each of us for porting into iTunes and onto iPods for constant listening and learning, or deconstructing if the end result still doesn’t seem right. We used to use a 4 track tape recorder, but it was too much double handling – I’d have to dub off the audio from the 4-Track into Protools and then bounce it down and burn the disks – but we invested in a MacBookPro laptop and a DIGI003 rack and this has streamlined things considerably. It also means that you can record everything as well if you want and therefore occasionally you might catch a weird mistake that sounds great and you want to repeat.
Monday 14th through to Wednesday 17th Jan 2008
This is written after the event – it became much too difficult to write this after getting home after rehearsal, as it was always too late.
But we continued writing and rehearsing on the Monday and Tuesday and used the Wednesday to go back over a few songs that we had completed but hadn’t yet recorded a full version of. We’d been working on a song we call “The Argument”, and it was almost finished except we’ll work on the last section in the studio. The song got its name from Kim and I having an argument over just how the riff is played – I blew up last time John was over about the riff as I had written the damned thing and then people had the audacity to suggest I was playing it incorrectly!! It was true though – I had added a couple of extra guitar picks here and there which did change the feel of the riff – I walked out the room in disgust – I guess we all have our bad days – I just hate being wrong – But this time, now about a year after the riff was first recorded, now everyone had their own interpretation of the riff, and Kim was now adopting my bastardised version of the riff and I had reverted to the version of the riff that he and John maintained was the better version, the original riff. We had to track down the original version we had recorded down just to check it and there was the original version I was now playing, but just to confuse the issue I’d also recorded the bastardised version as well – to cut a long story short (and probably a boring story for those reading this), we decided that the original riff sounded best and that the bastardised version was somehow an inversion of a Hendrix riff from his Band of Gypsies days, I think the start of the song where they sing “Power of Soul” – great song by the way – that album is one of my favourites still –
Anyway – by Wednesday we were all feeling pretty tired – I’d even suggest that at least 2 of the band members seemed grumpy – I was feeling tired but not grumpy – anyway, we started on “The Argument” and completed most of it bar the end; then we attacked a final version of “Tooling Around” and “Interpolter”, plus a version of “Pelham123” which I think will be great in the studio. I think we started at 1.30pm and finished around 10pm on the Wednesday, a short day really, as John was leaving for the BDO on Thursday and still needed to pack bags, make calls etc. We bounced down all the songs we had and found we had about 10 all up, plus there are about another 4 songs that need touching up in the studio. These others are suitably along enough that Kim and I didn’t think needed working on as we will record them at the studio and mess around with them there.
After listening to the songs back on bounce down and on my stereo at home, I think we have some damned fine songs which will sound fucking malevolent once recorded and mixed – plus we have some songs which are, frankly, melodic in places and they sound great too – I’m not talking melodic top-10 for fucks sake – I’m just saying there is some melody for which I need to hold notes rather than talk/shout/yell whatever my vocal style is described as. It’s a closer style to when we recorded Battlesick all those years ago.
Wednesday evening ended about 10pm, and we all said see you after the BDO and we went our separate ways – Kim and John left for Kim’s joint and I left for mine.
The next 2 weeks Kim and I will be working on the songs, polishing our own parts and messing around with the recorded arrangements and see what if anything, needs to be done. I’ll also be putting some vocals down to various tracks as well.
John Stanier returns from the BDO to Adelaide from Perth on about Feb 4th I think. We will then load in all our equipment and get the drums set-up ready for a 10.30am start at Broadcast Studios in the Adelaide CBD.
Will write more soon….