OK, so for the last album I went through and did this as well, and people really seemed to like it. Basically the idea is that I turn on my album and just write along with each song as they play - when the song is over, I have to move on to the next song. I do this not only to try to spur on some dialogue, but also to share what it is I've tried to do with each song. If something I say interests you, or you want to talk further about whatever issue is brought up, please do email me, and we can rap about it: Donnasummer@cockrockdisco.com
This is the oldest song on the album, and it's also one of the more predetermined ones. I wrote this song to be, basically, a refutation of "The Society Of The Spectacle" by Guy DeBoard. I wanted it to be big, and loud, and brash and unafraid, and happy, and entertaining. I wanted it to represent the spectacle to end all spectacles, like 100 million amusements parks stacked on top of each other. It needed to be so outrageous, so cocksure, that it needed to exist independent from larger cultural entities, it just was. And this is my argument: that there are cultural things so grand, so ridiculous, that they usurp the ability to criticize as capitalistic sham. Who knows if that song IS that or not, but hey...
... We're somewhere else all of a sudden. This is an idea that I've been fascinated by for a long time, that music - sound- can transport you from one place (memory) to another. Sounds that have a sort of linear time-based sound that almost take you from point A to B just based on the timber and frequency. This is probably from listening to all those Yes albums.
Anyway, as I've gotten better at making music I've tried hard to try to find sounds that represent very vague concrete ideas. So I have always been a big fan of Credence Clearwater Revival, and I always loved "Run Through The Jungle" because it always made me think of green-tinted video images of Vietnam.
I was messing around with this song for a while, and I kept coming back to it wanting it to do more, go further. So I realized an idea I had been thinking about for a while, which is to bring in a "real" musician, and have them replicate and improv based on the chords and sounds within the set of manipulated samples I had arranged. Dan Walsh has been my fried for years, and on top of being a fucking brilliant video artist, he's also a wikkid good guitarist; the kind that used to play with their fathers, and then learned Rush and Zeppelin songs. Anyway he came in and started laying down most of the augmented parts of this track, many of which were so good all I did was make them fit into the regimented tempo correctly.
Ahh, here's the loud part. I wanted it to get so big that it would force people at home to stop and say, "Shit man!"
One of my favorite photographers has been Jeff Wall. I love how he sets up these contemporary environments that reference these arcane and academic ideas. I had also stumbled onto a website for arbitrary MP3 recordings of "stuff". So with Jeff in mind, I wanted to create a song around a field recording instead of just grafting a recording onto an already existing song. I really liked this sample, because it was recorded in California in the valley. There was a note on this MP3 saying that the amateur "engineer" stood on his roof and listened to the sound of this helicopter passing, and to the dynamics of the acoustics in the valley as it came. I can see this guy with his headphones on, it's twilight, and the helicopter has a searchlight on. Very cinematic.
This one then freaks out and builds to another noise climax, then into some organ swiped from a Rick Wakeman album and cut up. I really like this part. Maybe it's my favorite part on the album.
Which brings us to 180 mar ton. This one is always a real crowd favorite. I play it live all the time and I consider it so much my song at this point, that when I heard the song that I sampled it from I was really surprised to hear how different it was! This one is pretty much all things Styx. STYX RULE! I don't see how they got so maligned. People think progressive rock was elitist, but they are wrong. Progressive rock was just fucking rock, man. These bands were huge! Stadiums were filled night after night, and these guys were great musicians. They were musicians that tried to push themselves and the state of their craft. Basically, that's what I've been trying to do since the beginning; push myself to making more exciting and dynamic music.
Sorry, I digressed, but basically this is what I think about when I'm working on music. How was it then, what is it now, and what happens in between.
So I wanted to try to make a REAL disco song. One that observed and met the rules that define the genre. Basically a few build ups, a tempo between 110-140 (this one is 140) a big plateau, and most importantly a conga solo.
When I started buying disco records about 5 years ago, I basically thought it would be a good idea to try to open up the sound that I considered "dead". Little did I know that I would come to cherish disco as music that's so alive. Of course as I bought more records I noticed more common threads, and one of them is the conga solo. When Disco came out, it was multiethnic music. It's no secret that Studio 54, etc were extremely multiracial, many of these people blending from radically different social and economic backgrounds, all there united by the beat.
Oh, here's the big string-hit repetitive part. Sometime when I play this one live I just go berserk and attach people in the crowd. I mean, I'm a big guy and when I run through a crowded room, drinks get spilled. I also want to send out a shout out to my man Markus from Enduro. He was the one that basically insisted that I understand that repetition is not a bad thing...
This is just a transition into the next song. I always think that's funny when that girl says "nice venue" I mean, what a fucking boring show if that's what you have to say between songs. Recorded at a show where a critically acclaimed NYC band was playing...
Holy shit! This one still kills me. I wanted to make a real shit kicker with this one. Basically, I love rock music, and I'm been wanting to make new music that tapped into the kind of excitement that you get when you hear a Deep Purple album. But I also love Midwestern hardcore, like Doormouse and his Addict label, so this one is sort of the love child. Funny thing is those guys actually all love the rock musics as well, especially Stunt Rock.
So I have these 2 basic modes. One is to always be trying to make my songs "pop", and the other is to make experimental songs where I'm pushing what I think a song is. I'm constantly changing between the two many times within the process of making the song what it is. This one started out really weird. I mean like "Wha?" Then I actually threw it away, and had been working on that big disco sound that keeps coming up. When I stumbled across that sound, I couldn't get it out of head for days... oh, and I was also going through my normal 6-month Abbey road obsession. This end noise part kills me, I have no idea how I made this sound at all. Really, no idea.
I love sampling from people who are obviously imitating their heroes. This song contains zero Moroder samples, it's from some other really broke-ass disco tune. You can bet they were hoping, praying, for this to be the next "I feel love".
"Ceci N'est Pas Du Disco" is also me trying to pull off conventional techno. I know I failed at this, but I think you can hear it in there somewhere.
Oh, that "hey" sample is funny, Originally "Post Disco Crash" included an older song of mine called "Dragonattack" (you can grab the MP3 from the website). I wanted to go through and take little samples from some of the songs and then re-plant them within other songs at the beginning and end of the album, so that you get a sense of unity, and also at the same time, misdirection. So that "Hey" was placed into this song and then Dragonattack got edited out. I left it in anyway.
So if you didn't know I'm a part of a group of younger musicians all doing this crazy insane fast stuff like Dev/Null and Xanopticon. When I first heard their music, I was sooo intimidated. I kept trying to make these songs that were 300 bpm, and they all just SUCKED. This one at a mere 240 and I'm proud to say that I think I can still "keep up". Also, I absolutely adore ELO and Jeff Lynne, and there's nothing you can say that will change my mind!
The big one...
Yeah this is THE song that everyone asks about now. It used to be "The Man Who Was Thursday", from the last album, but this is it now. In the process of making this album I have been really trying to not only make songs that were technically and conceptually interesting, but also songs that just fucking rocked! I listened to all these records thinking about chord structures and pop hooks, and then I stumbled on the combination you have in this song. Holy shit. 2 fucking notes repeated a few times, but they are 2 killer notes.
I also thought it would be funny to have a drum solo. Drum solos have a different logic: they are flashy, can meander a little too long, and often show off the personalities of the drummer in funny ways. Because of the rest of the song, peeps always think this is Keith Moon- but in fact it's Mr. Ringo Star. Ringo was a drumming bad ass. He gets way short shift in music history.
Anyway, if you looked at this album as a topographic map based on loudness, I wanted it to be full on rolling hills and valleys. But the end of this mofo has to be fucking Mt. Everest. IT HAD TO BE LOUD GOD DAMIT!! I WANTED IT TO ALWAYS DISRUPT EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING ON AT THE TIME. I WANTED IT TO BE A CELEBRATION OF SPEAKER-CRUSHING. I KEPT LAYERING AND LAYERING SOUNDS UP. THIS SONG CRASHED MY SYSTEM 28 TIMES WHILE I WAS TRYING TO MAKE IT AND IT MADE MY COMPUTER OVERHEAT. THIS NOIZE NEEDED TO MAKE YOU BREAK OUT IN A FUCKING COLD FUCKING SWEAT MOTHERFUCCKKKKEEERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!