Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It Has Begun!

As Peach stated below, the "history record" has officially started! A lot of planning an preparation went into last night's practice. And my 4-track isn't getting a rest any time soon:

Demos. I spent all last week making 4-track demos of three brand new songs. The idea of the history record came from the writing of "Eli Whitney" last August. Since then, I have been conjuring up more songs, more songs than I can keep up with. I got started with "Whiskey Rebellion" because it seemed like a nice place to start.

In 1995, "Zero" was the first complete song written for the Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Following that formula, I figured we needed a very upbeat and rocking song to kick all this off. Fast, rocking, and edgy always gets the juices flowing and the band excited. "Whiskey Rebellion" was perfect, which is why I began with this song first. Plus, it practically wrote itself. I used a drum machine to get the be-bop rock and roll feel across. Of course, Josh is going to do something better, but that beat alone has allowed the song to morph into its 2-minute, three-chord opus. Inspiration came at our show in Chattanooga back in November. Who knew the baritone player in Heaven's Basement was a history professor?

Among the other songs to come in the set are "Election: 1800," which is about the confusion that comes with electing a new president. Perfect timing I guess. It was written recently during the Obama campaign with Hilary.

Peach has written a song or two, but "Bob Dole" has been the only one to come into the light. It started off LONG and wordy, as many of Peach's stuff does, but after its 2nd revison, it's coming nicely. I didn't know what to do with it and sat on it until yesterday. No matter how many times I listened to the demo, it did not click...until last night! I made several changes to suit my needs and even re-arranged a few of the lines. Peach thinks all my songs are symmetrical, and it's the truth, but with pop songs, everything has to match, and thank god "Bob Dole" has plenty of room to breathe. Strong melody and and strong "chordy" chorus. Think Violent Femmes.....

"The Great Stink" was attempted several times in the summer but with no good results. Pressure from getting ready for a show has caused this one to sit since July. The extra time has evolved the lyrics and melody. There really isn't a start or stop. Bass lines and drum lines seem to be coming together. I get to use a chorus pedal on this song to produce the dream-like essence of staring across the polluted Hudson or Thames a la The Cure. Tha D is leaning towards a Murmur/Reckoning style Peter Buck guitar riff. This could be a favorite for us.

More to come in the song bank. Improvising has led to another song, and my 4-track is full of ideas. Stay tuned!

First Practice

With the completion and release of Whimsical in Reverse, the band as a whole feels ready to forge ahead with some new material. Kelly and I have four completely new songs ready to roll out (to be fair, only one is mine...), all of which fall under the theme of history--which will hopefully make it to our new record.

We noticed at the last show that we could go without practicing for the entire week of the show and still pull off a pretty smooth and energetic set, proving that all the Whimsical songs are on auto-pilot. So last night made the first official practice of what I'll call the "History Era," focusing on new material.

We started by warming up on the two songs we've already worked up for the history record, "Bring Out Your Dead" and "Eli Whitney." Kelly had a fresh set of four-track demos that we listened to and played two of the three of them. The first was "Whiskey Rebellion," a firecracker of a rock song with a harder and maybe even funkier edge than the Distractions have attempted. I have always felt that we as a band have done a good job of taking the songs and styles we've loved forever and incorporating them into our songs, and then weaving from style to style as we move from song to song. We transitioned from that hard rocker with Daniel's meanest solo to date to "The Great Stink," which is jangly pop that conjures Kelly's love of The Cure and all of our love for early R.E.M. Then we started working on "Bob Dole," which I wrote a few months ago. Kelly had several suggestions for that one to make it fit his singing style a little better. I feel that after playing "Whiskey Rebellion" and the energy it intrinsically produces, the other two were much more difficult to pull together. We agreed to follow this one up with another practice or two this week in order to keep up the momentum we're starting. The last song we worked on was "Know-It-All," which we've been rehearsing since the summer and have played once live. It regrettably won't fit on the history record at this point, but we still want it included in our sets. We just haven't quite learned how to really play that one yet.

I definitely won't blog on every practice we do, but I thought this inaugural practice of this "History Era" was a good place to introduce myself on this blog as we move forward toward the release of our full-length CD.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Welcome to the Kelly Kerr and Distractions "Making of the History Album" blog.

This blog will take you through the process of writing, recording, and performing a new album. We have started on this from scratch and want everyone to see the evolution.

Hope you enjoy! We will be posting pictures, videos, mp3's, demos, banter, rants, and all kinds of fun stuff.

OK...Now I need to go write some more songs.....

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