Monday, January 23, 2012

Writing The Next Record

This new record is coming together in a somewhat unique way from After The Plunge. We started recording ATP with only 4 songs really in the can. We were just eager to get a new record together that would feature our then new drummer, Scott Butcher. So, we we took the 4 songs we had and started tracking on those. As we fleshed those songs out, we wrote a bunch more and tracked them as they were written. Many of the songs on ATP were not played in front of people until after the CD was released. And, if memory serves me, there are songs that have never been played out. The record takes on a feel when it's created in the studio. It's a coherent thought from beginning to end, and focused more on a private listening experience.

This new record, whatever it is that we'll call it, is a bit different. We started writing on the new record in early June, having passed our newest member, bassist Marty Dorren, through a trial by fire. Most of these new songs have been written with two main guiding principles:

1. People latch onto melodies, so each song must have a memorable hook. It could be a guitar lick or a keys phrase, but likely it's a vocal melody. Harmonies help reinforce those hooks.

2. If people can't latch onto a melody, give them something they can move to.

I started demoing song ideas in Logic. I'd start with drum tracks created with ToonTrack's EZ Drummer, and then I'd lay down the guitar parts I heard in my head. Sometimes I'd add a simple bass part to communicate the idea. The point of such demos was not to orchestrate parts for the band, or to dictate the changes, but to get the idea out of head so that I could talk over it. I'd come into rehearsal with the demo that I could play for the band, explain the basic thematic ideas and the key points. From there, they'd descend on the idea like an invading army, sometimes pulling it apart and reconstructing, other times merely refining and adding their personalities to the track.

I'm going to take you through one such track from beginning to end. This is a track that initially came in as a Logic demo. There were no words, no bass part. Just guitar and drums. Here's the demo as the band received it:

Planning My Escape by Mike Muscarella

As the band moves this track forward, I will continue to upload samples and progress notes. I may also do that with other tracks.

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