Saturday, September 2, 2017

Demos/Unused Tracks 3 - Unspun

Unspun "One" Demos 1998

My old friend from Last Tribe, John Smith and I decided to record some songs together after a 5 year break from writing with one another. Smith and I did most of the writing for Last Tribe and always had great chemistry. We would get together in my apt. and dig into the new tunes on my 8 track Tascam 38 reel to reel recorder. Usually I would supply the meat of the song.... structure, some type of simple beat on an Alessis drum machine, bass, guitars and sometimes a lead vocal. He would stop in and lay down a song idea, do some singing or add his textural guitar stuff, which he does so well. The songs we had were strong and before we knew it we had an album of about 11 songs. We spent a lot of time on each song, taking it slow and trying to not rush to the finish line. As a result we ended up using a lot of the guitar, percussion and keyboard parts recorded in my apt. on the actual album. They were parts that we never could have reproduced, so we did a big transfer at the start of the actual recording at Little Bear Studios in Suffern, NY. In the end we re-recorded all of the vocals, bass and drum tracks that are on the "One" album. Listening to these demo's, John's voice was so strong we probably could've kept those!

Senses In Bloom - This is one of John's best efforts and a perfect example of using tracks from my apt. demo. My loop beat, tom tom verse parts, John's chime guitar parts and his Zoom effected end guitar part, my ebow parts and tremolo guitar, as well as a 2nd effected echo drum loop on the chorus all made it onto the final cut of Senses. We played all of this for drummer Mike Greenfield in the studio and he nailed a great drum part. John's amazing chime parts were totally random and one of those lucky accidents. He played each one without listening to the other and when we turned them both up they formed an interwoven, jagged melody that we never would've been able to create if we were trying. Cool stuff.
Pale White Horses - I am probably most proud of this song. I originally sang lead vocals on this demo but there was no denying Smith's powerful voice and he really owned this one. He also wrote the great lyrics/melody on the descending outro to go along with my "where's the love now?" This is totally influenced by my listening to Radiohead, Verve and other 90's English guitar bands. I tried to keep the parts interesting and atypical. This is just a shell of the final version of the song but the tune holds up.

Here It Comes To Kiss Me - I originally heard this song being played by my friends Dave Corey and Kevin Scanlan back in the 80's. The way those guys did it was kind of punk-ish and the bass line was very catchy.  I asked them if I could use it and write a new song using elements of theirs and I came up with this. Smith and I kind of turned it into an Echo and the Bunnymen/U2 thing.
Made Of Wood - Another of John's. It's such a moody and intimate song of introspection. We came up with a Biko-like rhythm and tried to play with the production on this. A lot of these demo parts also made the final cut as all of the ebow parts, atmospheric keys and guitar swells could never be reproduced. I actually had the massive ebow intro part sitting on tape somewhere and we just put it at the front of this with the dramatic build up and cut to the quiet acoustic guitar.  Synchronicity.
It's Only Blood - A more straightforward tune of mine. The original demo had my voice on lead but again, John did great job with this. Just a basic sketch of the song on the demo, really. All of the guitars on most of these versions were cut direct into the board with no amp involved, hence the shitty distortion and clean sounds.
Bombs Away - All 6:40 of it. Actually two songs in one with a central theme of self empowerment and shedding of skin. I actually wrote the second half of this on acoustic guitar before I had the first. It was decided along the way that John should sing the more urgent 1st half and I should do the 2nd "won't be long" part with a chorus of voices coming in to build to a big ending. People still don't know what we are saying on the vocal call outs at the end but there were a few theories, my favorite being, "It's a long, a long....It's a long a, long a brown 'haya' (hair)!" Pretty funny.