The Unattainable and the Attainable
Some bands/songs/albums seem unattainable. Like, I could never make something that good no matter what. Weezer's Blue Album comes immediately to mind. Not to mention the elite pantheon of something like The Dark Side Of The Moon.
But other albums, some of my favorites, I sometimes think “Yeah, I could do that”. I'm talking Green Day Insomniac or Fall Out Boy From Under The Cork Tree.
The latter was produced by Neal Avron who co-produced Everclear's So Much For The Afterglow which remains one of the best albums in the universe. He also produced some New Found Glory albums, a Weezer album, and Blurryface by Twenty One Pilots, the latter of which I love for its eclectic style (it has ukulele prominently on several songs, despite the main hits being more like hip hop songs). I think I have a new producer crush.
I think to myself – if I had the money, the producer, the studio and.....hmmm....the bandmates probably – I could make a record like this.
So the real first thing I'm missing is the band, to be realistic. I would definitely need a drummer. Probably need a bassist too, which would put me in “punk rock trio” territory. But I'm not a good enough guitarist to carry everything myself, so we would need either a lead guitarist or a keyboard player to round things out.
That's a lot of people to pay in a world where musicians make on average less and less each year.
Maybe the question isn't “Could I make this record if I had all the resources in the world?” but “Could I write this record in my recording studio/kitchen today?” I think that's a more salient question to ask. I may not be able to play any drum parts, most bass lines, and barely any lead guitar parts. But could I “fake it 'till I make it” with what I have, and at least write the songs that would be on Insomniac 2.
One idea I have is that for my punk numbers, I need to record multiple guitars. Even if they're playing the same chords, I could play the chords up on the neck a bit, with a different rhythm, with a different guitar timbre and different overdrive effects etc. Just to give some variation to the tunes. I think this would help a lot.
Another idea is that I should embrace my electronic music production/chiptune skills, and try to make a record, like Blurryface, which works despite being ridiculously eclectic. So far I've added lots of shiny synths to punk rock tracks and called it my “signature sound”. But I bet I can go past that.
Also I will say it here to immortalize it for all time. It's not New Found Glory's “lyrics” per se that I don't like about them. It's not their “melodies” either really, those are fine. It's more of the lack of prosody. There's no vocal hooks, lines that set each other up, that work like a poem, lyrically, unfolding and revealing a catchy whole. It just sounds like a bunch of rhythmic whining. But I love the music, always have.
Which makes me think, I haven't always given much credit to lyricism in music. I know, intellectually, that most people can think of only the words to a song, sometimes the rhythm, sometimes the melody. People think of lyrics first. Yet I've always thought lyrics aren't that important and I've let it show in my songwriting. I need to reverse that thinking, and put big, shiny, lyrical hooks front and center in the next songs that I write.
So who wants to start a band? As always I'm Travis Briggs, of travisbriggs.com fame. If you'd like to comment on this post you can do so on Mastodon (@firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@audiodude) or send me an email at email@example.com.