The record continues to take shape as we arrange the songs into more diverse directions. Last night's practice was our single most productive practice probably since the first one I blogged about, and it was exhilarating. The more we play, the more excited I get about the individual songs we have. They continue to grow into their own and overshadow those old songs we used to play, taking the pressure off my old fear that "Man Vs. Cheetah" would be the only song people would want to hear of ours.
"Dear Abby" got its first band treatment, with Daniel playing E-bow. If he doesn't used the melody I wrote for it, I might make it the bass line. Josh knew exactly how to drum that one, and it certainly stand as the emotional anchor for the whole record. It has the farthest to go in fixing the details, but the raw song itself is so strong that it is really a hard one to get wrong. Getting it exactly right on the other hand...
"Commodity" is different from the rest of the songs we do because I have a very particular notion for how it is to be played and what it is to sound like. It feels so good to do that one as a full band after imagining it for so long. We had to tweak the ending on it because the original one I envisioned couldn't work with the drum beat. We found something else, and I think we'll get it within a practice or two.
"Gold Rush" is Josh's new favorite and maybe Kelly's too. It's based on Southern rock, and we took to it like ducks to water. Stadium solos. This one will require some stage craft, that's for sure. We can now play redneck dives anywhere in Tennessee by just opening with this song. After that, they will just eat out of our hands.
We finally gave a band treatment to "Election: 1800." The problem with it was that we just didn't know what to do with it, so we've sat on it since January, just planning to record it with Kelly and an acoustic guitar. "Dear Abby" is not solo acoustic, but it took away the emotional spot where I'd imagined "Election," so I wanted to try something new with it. I knew doing it with just distortion would yield a song that had nothing to make it stand out. The solution was a LOUD quiet LOUD formula, which morphed over and over until it was more like quiet loud quiet LOUD quiet loud quiet LOUD quiet LOUD LOUDER really quiet BERSERKER. The song that I didn't think would stand out much in a set has turned into a frantic piece that could easily become one of our more talked about songs. Kelly had always done it quietly, and it was interesting to see how quickly it became a shouter in places.
I still need to work out the bass parts on virtually all of these. I'm just playing root notes on them right now and feel that adds little to a song. My bass broke at the last show, so I've been borrowing Jason Manley's bass. It has much hotter pick-ups and a heavier sound to it more like a Thunderbird. I want to buy it from him to use as a back-up, but I'd rather put my money toward studio time. Maybe he'll let me borrow it to record "Let's Go to War" and "Gold Rush" and any other heavy numbers that may come along.
Daniel and Aaron came last night. I was happy to have them there as they are so full of ideas on arranging songs. They're the ultimate consultants for us as they understand the way we work together pretty well and can suggest parts for us individually or as a whole, always looking toward the good of the song and the idea of putting a spotlight on different parts of the song. We also talked seriously about booking studio time and the possibilty of booking some studio musicians to play on the record. I don't want to get into any details on either at this point as the recording process feels like it has stalled since March, and the plans we've made feel so delicate that I don't want to jinx them by talking about them yet. I will say we pencilled in some dates to record, and I'm now confident that we could get in there and hammer out a large chunk of the record in the time we have allotted if it comes together as planned. Here's hoping.