"To achieve harmony in bad taste is the height of elegence." - Jean Genet
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Fluorescent Grey Demos & Out-takes
Today's post is a continuation of what I started yesterday. I thought I'd explain a little bit about why I've decided to post these home recordings and demos.
Cryptograms came out last year on January 29. Since then all of us in Deerhunter have spent all of our effort touring and working to support that album and the following EP, Fluorescent Grey. We kind of burned ourselves out. I retreated to my bedroom and recorded the Atlas Sound record over the summer last year, in between tours. I also lost a pretty decent job as a graphic designer to do this stuff. The worst part of being in a band is the periods in between bursts of activity.
For the past few weeks I've had basically nothing to do. I'm just kind of sitting around waiting for the Atlas Sound tour to start. I've worked since I was 15 (Thanks Wendy's!) so I am definitely not used to all this free time. I am basically totally out of alignment with any type of normal schedule. I wake up in the evening as late as 10 or 11 p.m. and stay up all through the night till the afternoon. It might sound like a vacation but it blows in a lot of ways and I feel pretty useless.
In my never-ending search for "something to do" that does not involve leaving my room I decided a couple of nights ago to, uh, "organize my hard drive."
I have the most whacked out file method of organizing files in the world. I basically found hidden folders within other hidden folders and discovered quite a few 4-track home recordings. I started to listen to them for nostalgic reasons and quickly realized that a lot of the things I liked about songs when I wrote them had changed or been de-emphasized in the final recordings. I figured why not share this stuff and explain how the songs originated. I wish some of my favorite bands would do the same. I always used to love it when bands would put demos or home-recordings on the b-sides of singles. The Breeders did this a lot, and if you have never heard the Strokes home-recordings they tacked on to the singles from "Room on Fire" I urge you to go seek them out. They are part of the reason I still maintain that they were (could not get into that last album no matter how I tried) a totally rad band.
With all that said...
Tonight I'd like to share with you a collection of demos and home recordings from the Fluorescent Grey EP and tell you a little bit about the origins of the songs.
The following images are the original artwork I had designed for the EP. The rest of the band rejected it. I think Josh and Moses said it looked to much like Broadcast's artwork, which in retrospect I can kind of agree with...
1. Fluorescent Grey (Home Recording July 2006)* 2. Dr. Glass (Home Recording July 2006)* 3. Like New (Home Recording July 2006)* 4. Wash Off (First Sketch, Recorded @ Notown, December 2003)* 5. Grayscale (Out-take, Original Mix recorded February 2006) + 6. Kousin Klash (Out-take, Second Version, Home Recording May 2006)* 7. So Many Bodies (Original sketch of what became Dr. Glass, March 2006)* 8. Axis 1 (F. Grey) (Early version of Fluorescent Grey recorded in my closet October 2005)* 9. People Never No (Original sketch of what became Fluorescent Grey, November 2005)*
* indicates these were recorded by myself, i.e. i'm playing all the instruments + recorded with the band
Tracks 1-3: These were recorded all in one afternoon in an effort to better refine the songs. We had a band meeting later that night in my bedroom and I played them the tape and we worked out the details of the songs. I especially like the version of Dr. Glass here. I don't think we really captured the atmosphere and creepiness I was going for on the final EP version. For the EP we actually took the 4-track and sampled the drum machine pattern from this version. I never learned how to program a drum machine really, so I would basically use my digidelay and create a loop in real time, then I'd usually use a microphone to capture acoustic percussion sounds like shakers and tambourine and overlap it into the loop. When we recorded the final version the engineer, Chris Bishop, had to speed the tape up for Moses to play along, then he slowed it back down so Moses' drums are basically at half speed. Lockett wrote Like New on his own. I recorded this version just so I could make up words. I couldn't find his original demo. I actually can't remember if he even made one or if he just taught me the song. I could always go downstairs and ask him I guess.
Track 4: Recorded one night right after Christmas 2003. I was at Notown and it was really rainy and cold outside and it got really late and I was probably downloading Pere Ubu bootlegs or something and lost track of time. When I went to leave I realized everything had frozen over and I couldn't even get my car door open, so I went back inside and banged around and this was the result. Total. Early. Fall. Rip.
Track 5: Greyscale was originally released as our side of a split 7" on Rob's House records. I got an e-mail today and they are about to repress this single. The version on the 7" was kind of "remixed" by Josh using this primitive mac program called Sound Edit 16. Here is the original version. I played drums on this. Moses played electronics. We all huddled in my bedroom and did this on Josh's 8-Track one night. We made it up as we were going along. I wanted to do something that sounded like Glass Candy meets the spacier moments on Swell Maps' "A Trip To Marineville." The drum sound was particularly influenced by Johnny Jewel's production.
Track 6: The original version of Kousin Klash was recorded at Notown when Josh first joined the band. We were bored one night and decided to make an "avant garage" song. Colin played drums, Moses played guitar, Josh played bass, I think I just sang. When we were planning the Fluorescent Grey EP the original idea was to rearrange the song and include it. This my attempt at rearranging it. I don't know what happened but we just dropped the idea of using it and never talked about it again.
Track 7: This weird thing is a fragment of a tape I made labeled "How I Escaped the Prison of Fractals," and after much rearrangement became Dr. Glass. The songs Fluorescent Grey and Dr. Glass were both inspired by panic attacks. Dr. Glass was specifically about this one rainy Saturday afternoon. I was in my bed looking at the New York Times and there was this vivid color image of a little girl in Iraq squatting over the dead body of her mother. I started thinking about bodies and rotting and brutal violent human stuff, wars, all this terrible stuff from history... and literally hid under my sheets, sweating. I made this tape later that night.
Track 8: Originally released on the Hoss Records Atlas Sound / Mexcellent split 12". Recorded in my walk-in closet. Lyrics are improvised about a dream in which I was in a nightclub that became a labyrinth with neon lights and fog.
Track 9: This was the original sketch that became Fluorescent Grey. I came home one day and wanted to make a song that sounded like it could be on both the Breeders album Pod and also on Hex Enduction Hour by the Fall. I was also obsessed with having two drum tracks on everything, mainly because of the Fall.