I am a music fan just like the next guy and when my favourite bands and singers go on tour, I like to go see their show. For years I happily bought my tickets through Ticketmaster: in the old days lining up outside of a record store that housed a TM outlet. Then the internet came along and made ticket buying so much easier: crawling out of bed and running to the computer in time to log in for the 10am on sale time.
If I had to describe this album in one word, that word would be “Epic”. If I had to use two words, it would be “Epic Monster”. Dan and I have known each other since his previous full album release (Arrivals and Departures), and we’ve tossed the idea around of doing a record together for a couple years. After working on an EP project together we finally said, “It’s time!” So we set out to make a standard format “12 song” album and since day one I should have known that was not going to be the case. Dan and I got together to share ideas, visions and any pre-existing demos, needless to say he already had an albums worth of material! The list of songs and ideas just grew from there, with the addition of some musical material that I had written for the project and a couple additional songs Dan threw at me along the way.
I took a listen through all of the material that Dan sent me, which was basically him singing along with an acoustic guitar, and I had to make the decision of how to mold the songs (does the song lend itself to being soft/light or does it lend itself to being harder/heavier) which song to leave out and what types of songs do we need to write to compliment what we already to have to create a well balanced record.
I personally come from a heavier musical background and Dan comes from a lighter perspective, but there was a common element that we both knew we wanted this project to be… Epic! So I thought to myself, perfect! This is a great chance to challenge each other to write out of our respective comfort zones and really create something special and unique. It was a challenge for me to re-work and shape so drastically material already written, knowing how far to push an idea and how to take song in a new direction. That was one side of the coin, the other side is I would write the music to a song and tell Dan, “Ok, I want you to sing about this”. I try to convey an emotion or some sort of theme when I write music and that can sometimes spark an idea for what the lyrics should be about.
About half way through the project it became clear that we had a handful lighter and darker material. We initial had the idea to split the content into 2 disc, one lighter and one darker. This was mainly to avoid any great contrast between the content of each disc, for better flow. Then we realized there were some themes musically and lyrical in the content that we had written. We then decided that maybe a concept record was the best way to deliver the music to the fans. Just to make things more cohesive we wrote 2 additional songs that would become the final track on both disc 1 and disc 2. These tracks would really hit the concept home, reoccurring musical themes from songs that came before it while still introducing some new ones as well as lyrics to conclude the unfolding story.
One of the final challenges of producing this monster of a project was the fact that none of us had been in the same room together. In fact, the only time that happened was at the end of the project after everything was recorded, for an “end of recording” celebration. It was funny, a couple guys meeting each other for first time, even though they had just played on the same project together, which I thought was really cool.
I then had the fun task of sorting through everything. We really took a “go big or go home” mentality with this record, sometimes there were over 10 guitar or vocal tracks, drums, bass, multiple keyboard tracks and any other additional instruments, sound effects or textures. It was a really daunting task to sort through everything and figure out how to use it all to the advantage of the individual song, while still keeping a clear vision of continuity for the entire record, to make sure the concept (musically) at least was evident. Maybe one day we will release a box set with all the original demos and alternate take and version of the songs. And maybe one Dan and I will actually do that 12 song record we talked about, but for now I will enjoy the monster we created.
Any one who writes a song...somewhere down deep inside...perhaps in places they don’t like to talk about at parties...wants to hear their song on the radio. There...I said it! Now, some may act like it’s not cool to have your song get played...they may call it selling out...whatever! Every song writer wants there song on the radio!