Just like my last post, I’d like to recount to you a cool thing I did many months ago, but that I’m just now getting around to sharing with you. I’ve been doing the Amniotic Buzzsaw project with my coconspirator Jake Frye since about mid-2009, when he called me up one night and asked me if I wanted to get drunk with him and write a song.
Well, we’ve now produced 13 songs, 10 of which will be seeing the light of day as our first album within the next couple months. Just gotta finish those final mixes. I am proud to say that alcohol has been involved in each of these cases.
This newest one comes after a long absence. Quite a long absence, actually. We pretty much took 2011 off because we’d both finished grad school and were in the process of learning how to make money with our liberal arts degrees.
For him, that took him down south of Seattle, which put a nice 100 mile barrier between us. We did try a Postal Service-type song—which I’m sure I’ll get around to posting eventually—but we’ve still got to iron out that process a little bit before we try again.
Anyway, this was the first time we had the opportunity to get back to our old ways. I drove down and met up with him in Auburn, and after the first night of just getting good and hosed and reacquainted, we set to work writing our new tune immediately the next day.
To recap, the rules of the Buzzsaw go something like this: 1) Try to write an entire song in a night (though mixing/editing occurs later), and 2) Create some arbitrary rule for writing and/or recording that can maybe be bent, but definitely not broken. We didn’t want to get too complicated this first time back around, since we had some cobwebs to shake off. So, the rules were fittingly simple.
We listened to three or four songs selected at random, made notes of their key characteristics in structure and dynamics, chose the elements we liked, and set about crafting a tune.
The key characteristic that we both really wanted to focus on was that idea of building. Start with guitar, then slowly work in vocals, drums (first kick, then hi-hat, then snare), lead guitar, keys, and finally a cheesy synth trumpet section.
We also wanted the chorus to follow a very simple statement that repeated. Lyrically, we liked the idea one of the songs had, in that it was about a fairly innocent-sounding picture of a childhood tea party. We didn’t know how to approach that, but later that night after dinner we were talking about my experiences selling Beanie Babies while working at McDonald’s (as me about that sometime).
This hum dinger experience in my life ended up being a fertile platform for writing lyrics that roughly follow this idea of commercialism, authenticity, and innocence. Overall I’m pretty happy with this one. The recording is deliberately low-fi, especially because I wanted that sound of me singing in an empty room, far from the mic.
I think you can tell that I’m a little tired in the vocal performance, and part of me wants to retake it, but that would be against the rules, and I think the fact that I drift in and out of being in tune probably matches the tone created by the music.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts either on the song itself (such an awesome feature of Soundcloud) or in the comments below. Here’s a pic of the working draft of the lyrics, or you can read them below: “DNR (Beans & Betrayal)”:
Post your trauma in the aftermarket place
Ashbury Lane is so very very plain today.
Stitching together these crossed eyes divide in time.
Mind’s no matter when you’re circling the drain.
You can tell me later, but only if you feel like.
In the corner office I still dream of lullabies.
Princess, I promise you
princes whose thoughts don’t run too deep.
Let’s stitch this together now
with beans and betrayal.
DNR, I know who you are.
At least you let me think I do.
Let’s tie up the garbage
and ship it off to the third world.
We’ll cinch the faucet dreams
and counterfeit their names.
We were peasants long
before you upped the ante,
but in the meantime take your pick
of fire sale merchandise.