Monday, August 1, 2011

"You're Playing Too Many Notes, James" (Behind the Scenes)

Marz233 (and Beaker)

Now that $5 Pre-orders have been announced * and we are moving into mastering, I wanted to give some of you a brief look behind the scenes at the 2 years we've put into Murder The World. (It just dawned on me that we actually started writing some of the songs for this album more than 3 years ago. Bloody hell.)

First, the nuts and bolts. Most of these songs began with Marz233 laying down a basic structure. I would then track bass and rhythm guitar along with that, and we'd add percussion, either from Iron Will and I or V-Drums. Then we did a round-robin with Scott Landes and The Illumanist laying down leads, Johan layering on vocals - and more layers of vocals - and synths, and more synths. The only exception to this process was Psychic Seige, which I wrote most of the parts for first on guitar over a drum loop, and then we built the song around that.

During tracking, this was pretty much what you could expect to hear between Marz233 and I:
Marz: "That chord sounds weird."
Me: "I added a 9th to it to give an other-worldly quality."
Marz: "What the hell?"
Me: "How did you write this part?"
Marz: "It sounds good, right?"
Me: "Yeah. It sounds really evil. But these chords have no tonal relation with each other that makes sense on planet Earth. It's all from Neptune."
Marz: "Smoke this and you'll be from Neptune too. Fuck, hold on. You're playing too many notes, James."
Me: "Too many notes?"
Marz: "SHUT UP BEAKER. Yes. Play less of them."
Me: "But that's the tonic of the-"
Marz: "I don't care what it is. Play less notes."
Iron Will. Always the kidder. 
Of course, the exact words are made up, but this is very much like a conversation that we had back and forth throughout the tracking of rhythm guitars.

There's an element to this album that was secretly pretty serious for all of us. It was a channel for a lot of frustration, a punching bag that you could hit again and again without anyone telling you that maybe you should try out some Prozac. But we had a lot of fun, too. Throughout recording, we fucked around with each other a lot. There were moments where I'm sure all of us wanted to strangle each other, but even more than that, I already remember it as one of the most fun projects I've had a chance to work on. We goofed off constantly in a way that I don't think you get with most creative teams- I mean, on one occasion they got me to drink whiskey ceremonially out of a human skullcap, and another time they almost got me to smoke human brain. (There is more to this story, of course.)

I also wandered around constantly at that time with a hand-held recorder, so as a result, you can listen to some of our goofing around that at times almost reaches the level of art, but more often is incredibly juvenile and still makes me laugh my ass off. At times it felt like we were living inside an episode of Metalocalypse. If so, I'm not sure which one of us would be Pickles.

Hartman, rocking out.
(He did the main guitars
for "Drawing The Void".)
Now that the album is moving into mastering, we are also moving on to different things- Scott is prepping for a massive uber-tour with several bands (I believe Mankind is Obsolete, Android Lust, I'm not sure off the top of my head of the rest), Marz is in the wilds of Pensyltucky cranking out electronic music, Johan is studying physics and getting back to some of his own material, I'm getting a bunch of books ready for publication, and Iron Will is roaming India.

Hopefully this team will be unified for another project in the future. If not, either way- it's been real, guys.


*For $5 now you get 8 of the premasters as high res mp3s, and then the entire 13 track album the moment it is mastered.