Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bands We Ripped-Off!!!

My original plan for this week's blog post was to secretly take camera-phone photos of the rest of the guys in the band during rehearsal and then post them to the blog site accompanied by lightly-mocking yet affectionate descriptions of each of them. This would serve as an introduction to the rest of the group and also illustrate what a zany / fun dynamic we have! Unfortunately practice got cancelled, so you'll have to settle for this instead...

One of my favorite new inventions of the past 10-15 years is the Director's commentary in the Special Features section of DVDs. I like knowing little behind the scenes info on my favorite movies and it's cool to hear about the filmmaker's creative process. I often wish there was an equivalent that came with albums, so in an effort to provide a little insight into our creative process, I've composed the following blog.

I realize that, as of posting time, most of you reading this probably haven't heard a damn note from this album that won't be out for another few months. So let this be a little primer if you like. If not, put this post in your digital sock drawer and pull it out once you've spent a little time with our album, if you plan to listen to it that is.....

To paraphrase Picasso, "Artists steal shit...a lot". Any musician dude who tells you he doesn't rampantly steal ideas probably also told you he started playing music for the art and not to get girls...which would be a fucking lie even if Thom Yorke said it.

Here is a list of bands, songs and records that we shamelessly ripped off during the recording of our new album, "Life Underwater"...

1. THE BEATLES!- Obviously EVERYBODY rips the Beatles off. Even if people aren't actually ripping the Beatles off, they say they did. I wouldn't claim the Beatles as a major reference point on any of my other recordings, but we really did rip them off a lot on this record and here's how....

Mellotron- For those of you not familiar, the mellotron is a wonderful keyboard based instrument that uses analogue samples of flutes, strings (etc.) to generate it's sound. In the 40 odd years since the Beatles broke up, the mellotron has frequently been used by talented folks like Jon Brion, but this instrument will forever be recognized as a signature sound of the fab-four. Those warbley notes at the beginning of Lucy?? Mellotron. That lush bed of sound in Strawberry Fields? Mellotron. We used copious amounts of Mellotron on our new record coz the Beatles did it and we thought it might sound rad if we did it too...Exhibit A

Sellout- This is a song off our new record and is as shameless an attempt at Paul McCartney rip-offage as I could devise. The chord progression was HEAVILY inspired by songs like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Martha My Dear". "That horn solo sounds mighty similar to the horns in "For No One" you think? You may be right.

2. Joy Division- I was born in the 80's and was forced to listen to lots of Adult Contemporary radio as a child, so naturally I grew up terrified of synthesizers. It wasn't until Tim Mooney, the producer of my first solo record, turned me on to the wonders of Joy Division synth that I finally realized it's potential for use in non-soul crushing music as well. When deployed tastefully, the synthesizer can be a beautifully ethereal addition, and we used it a lot on this record. Thanks Joy Division and Tim Mooney.

3. Dire Straits- This wasn't really intentional, but when I was getting our album mastered, John Golden, the mastering engineer, noted that our song "Knock on Wood" reminded him a lot of "Sultans of Swing". Far be it from me to argue with John Golden and neither should you. John Golden listens to more music in a month than you'll listen to in your life and if he says we ripped off Dire Straits, we ripped of Dire Straits damnit.

4. Coldplay- Now I realize that in the land of mega-hipster indie shoegazer vegan bike kids, copping to being inspired by Coldplay is the musical equivalent of wearing pleated jeans, but bear with me here. Back in 2001, before they became the Bon Jovi of the naughts, Coldplay was a little Brit-pop band that released a sad, shimmering record called Parachutes. I was lucky enough to be living in London at the time and I used to take the tube to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square while listening to it. My favorite song on the record was a sweet little minimalist ballad in 6/8 time called "We Never Change". I very fondly remember walking around the gallery with my Discman (Ha) staring as those paintings in naive wonder as Chris Martin sang from what sounded like the edge of the world, all by himself. The last song on our record, "All You Want" is a bit of a tribute to that early Coldplay sound. I wish Chris Martin were left to himself a little more often these days.

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