Monday, 13 January 2014

The Game of Rise And Fall

Taken from the Resonance Project facebook page:

Rise And Fall was a 'game song', where I would attempt to write a particular sort of song with a semi-fixed set of elements. I didn't seem to write many fast riffs, so I decided that this song would have a sixteenth-note riff, possibly harmonised. I also decided to leave room in the verses and put some gaps in the music for the vocal - whatever it turned out to be - to stand alone for a moment. Thirdly, I would have the verses in a minor key, then modulate to the relative major for the chorus while not completely giving in to the cloying sweetness of the major third (this thought made perfect sense to me at the time). With this box of tricks, I set out to see what would happen.

The main pedal tone guitar riff came together in sections quite quickly once I'd jammed around a bit and established a vibe. A bit more 'Euro' than some of my stuff, and once I started tracking guitars, I heard where the harmonies needed to happen. As well as being a 'game' song, it was a 'blurt' song - the verses happened and joined themselves to the riffs seamlessly, and I happened across the chorus changes right after, so it was almost a rush to commit things to memory or disc before the next section bloomed. I got the ideas down, and it was fine just like that. Fun game!
Donna pretty much did the same thing with the lyric and vocal arrangement, was ready to go and before we knew it... had to fly out to India to do some fancy corporate show. She returned quite ill with some serious fluid on her lungs, but was determined to "get 'er done", and managed to belt out a vocal that to this day stands up, unenhanced. The recording was good enough to put on a demo EP that we released, and Donna simply had to repeat the performance when we re-recorded for the Tale Goes On EP. The new version - recorded at a slightly faster tempo - allowed us to hone our parts, and make it just right. There's a balance that needs to be achieved when recording, where the performance is known intimately, yet executed with spontaneity and passion. When you can play a piece enough times to have it known on a cellular level, yet still find joy and freshness in the music, magic happens. Or at the very least, you have a REALLY GOOD TIME.

I had borrowed the famous Ormsby Shark guitar around the time of recording, and used it to double my trusty GG6 on some of the riffing and chorus parts. I think this might have been the Shark's debut release, now that I think about it. One noticeable similarity between the lead vocal recordings is that both times, the singer was up against a health issue, but kicked it to the curb for the song. Donna had been diagnosed with MS before approaching the vocal session, and did the song - and herself - proud, even spontaneously nailing a line that we had previously agreed she wouldn't attempt. Smartass. As she sings in the song; "Don't give up, don't look back..."

Rise And Fall was written around the same time as Kings & Queens and Behind The Dreamer's Veil, so I tend to mentally group them together as the songs we wrote when we started to establish Resonance Project's musical identity. With Tale Goes On and the songs within, I feel we validate that identity.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Remember to Recycle

Taken from the Resonance Project facebook page:

Back in the mid-eighties, I was playing in a band called Flash Harry. Our repertoire was mainly covers, but we wrote some songs that we played in the live set and we even tried recording a few. One of the songs I wrote for the band was a little number called "In The City", and it featured a catchy guitar riff that stuck in my memory long after the original song was dropped and lost to the winds of time. I was still finding my way as a composer/songwriter, and there were many songs that were discarded or rehashed as I developed. Every now and then, the riff would pop into my head and I'd play it a few times, thinking, "Should do something with that one day..."

Around 2008, Resonance Project was formed for our tour to Viet Nam and I was going through a burst of creativity. The vocal tracks from my solo albums had formed the basis of the Resonance Project set, and it was time for new blood. Three songs came out of this period in relatively short order, and it was during one of these writing sessions that I remembered that riff from that Flash Harry song. I started noodling around with it, and before long had added a couple of extra phrases and tweaked some existing ones, and voila- new riffage, new song. The new chords and arrangement were nothing like the old song, and I had fun discovering where my new riff would lead. Some tasty keyboard parts were added to punctuate the guitar-driven backing, and I thought I was on to something. It felt pretty good and - as usually happens with the 'good ones' - it came together quickly, like it knew where it was going and just needed me to get out of the way. Boom. Time for the singing.

With a lot of our songs, Donna will flesh out most of a lyric and melody and then we will fine tune it together, making sure the words are just right and the melody and phrasing are where we want them. Donna has a natural feel for what is right, so quite often I'll just suggest alternatives for a word or line until Donna says "that's it". Sometimes we will both contribute lyrics and melodic ideas, and sometimes (as was the case with The Dreamed) Donna's part will spring forth fully formed, and all we have to do is hit the record button. With this song, things worked a little differently. We sat with the backing track and came up with melodies and phrases but no words, so there was a lot of "la la laaa - da de daa dum" going on. It was actually quite fun, because it was like we were writing an additional solo instrument that sat in all the important parts of the song and carried the hooks. Words and lines began to form from the phrases, and once the roll started, we were minutes away from completion, with a cool story in the verses and a killer chorus with clever supporting harmonies. I still groove when I hear this song, and it's one of my personal favourites to play and listen to. There's no real guitar solo to speak of - the song didn't need one - but the guitar parts are a lot of fun to play, and there's quite enough to get right as there is, thank you.

From a mid-eighties pub rock song to millennium melodic metal - that's how "In The City" became "Kings & Queens".



Thursday, 2 January 2014

Graham Greene - Lord of Misrule EP Promo

My new EP will be out soon on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and Google Music. Here's a taste.