| Story behind Wall Of Sound...
1. SELF POLLUTION
I got the title from my fave British comedy comic, Viz. They define it as
“masturbation” and I like to think this song has a few climaxes in it…This is
the “Inferno” of this album, meaning it`s the “beast” with many difficult parts
for everyone in the band, requiring unusual stamina among other things.
That`s what makes it so fun to play live, because what seems impossible in
rehearsal, magically becomes comfortable about 3 shows into the tour. The
end solo actually is close to impossible as I played it with a speed doubling
effect pedal called the Ocean Machine.
However just playing something and doubling the speed doesn`t automatic
make it cool. I had to do several takes and learn what sounds cool doubled
and what doesn’t before I got the right one. Thank God Jordan plays this
solo when we do it live.
2. SORROW AND MADNESS
It started with a sweet melody that Jinxx came up with on violin, and it
became a monster. Sometimes something can spark an avalanche of
productivity, and this was the case here. The song came to life organically
with me and Jinxx trading ideas for a while. There are sickening piano solos
in this and an unusual interplay with guitar and violin. I had two different
pianists, both masters, play on this. I was very specific about who`s style fit
which part and did not want to compromise-which is what you do when you
get one great musician to play everything. It`s better to get your cake at a
bakery and meat from a butcher, even though you can get good cake and
meat from one grocery store.
By far the song I was most anal about. So many details, I had so many
subtle things that I wanted to be heard and they were all part of this big wall
of distorted noise. So it was painstaking to not only play everything in such a
way that everything was in there, but mixing was excruciatingly tough,
because with all the details I wanted heard, depending on which system you
played the song on, you may or may not hear some of these things, like little
counter melodies, church bell samples and the like. It took 2 great mixers,
Mack (Queen) and Jens Bogren (Opeth) to nail it. The Barberettes sang
sweetly on the intro. There is a breakdown in the middle where I have this
wonderful sustain on my guitar. That melody and performance was inspired
heavily by Patti LaBelle`s teenage performance of “You`ll Never Walk Alone”
in the early 60`s. She changed her vocal style later in her career, but her
earliest recordings give me the chills. I always want to get summa dat in my
playing whenever I can!
I love the piano part that comes out of nowhere before the first “verse”. I got
the idea at the demo stage, so I asked the pianist to send me a few
examples of phrases I could stick there in that spot, and as soon as I heard
them I started laughing, so I know I was on to something. This song had a
longer ending, with another key modulation, which I loved but I wanted to
end the song before listeners would get tired of the slow tempo. It was hard
to part with it, but I think the size of the song is perfect now.
5. FOR A FRIEND
This was the last song I wrote for the album, and what a treat it was to get
Queen`s producer, Mack, to mix it. He hit a home run with it. The main solo
in this song had me going to 3 separate studios to get a sound that was just
right. Sometimes even when you have great gear and great tone, it`s just not
“the” tone that you are hoping you get for that particular part of a song. The
solo itself was not too difficult to play in the first place, but after demoing it
and playing it in so many studios, it was like second nature when the final
takes went down.
6. PUSSY GHOST
As a huge Deafheaven fan, it was a kick to write this with Shiv. He comes
from a different school of writing than most guys and it was fresh for me to
have his ideas to bounce off of. He even had Deafheaven`s drummer Dan
work out some of the drum parts. This is the darkest tune on the album. I
wanted a title that grabs your attention, so it was just going to be “Pussy”,
but I “pussied out” and made the title slightly more radio friendly. As if this
tune would ever get played on mainstream radio…
A lot of the noise work was done by Susumu Nishikawa, a Japanese master
of guitar sound effects. I could have done the noise work myself, but it was
much more fun to direct him and pick and choose from his palette of
banshee squeals. Plus he is way better at getting noises than I am, so we
saved a lot of time. A good producer always keeps the record on budget…
7. THE BLACKEST ROSE
This is classic Marty stuff and it could have come from any era of my career.
This kind of thing writes itself for me, it just kind of flows out. I don`t know if
it`s any better than something I might have written years ago, but it definitely
flows out of me easier than it would have years ago. It`s more of a joy to
write and play. If this would have happened around “True Obsessions” it
would have taken forever to write and I would have really strained to get the
kind of performance I got now. It would have been the centerpiece of that
album, whereas it is kind of an album cut here. I love the song, and it tells
me that I`m evolving.
8. SOMETHING TO FIGHT
Jorgen ruled on “Meat Hook” from the “Inferno” album, so I knew I wanted to
work with him again. This time not only did he play some nasty sax lines, but
he also co-wrote the song with me, wrote lyrics and sang them, as well as
played rhythm guitar and bass. The drums were brutal, and Anup saved this
song for last at his recording session. He killed it. I remember using a PRS 7
string for the solo. Not because I needed the low 7 th string, but because it
just happened to have the tone that completed Jorgen`s rhythm guitar sound
so well. It was one of those cheaper foreign made guitars, but cheapness
has little to do with a unique character of a guitar sound. Sometimes it just
works. The intro to “Whiteworm” was done on a cheap X series Jackson
9. THE SOLDIER
This was new territory, with a long and somber cello introducing the main
theme. I had used cellos before on INFERNO and INTRODUCTION, but
never featured to this extent. I was going for a certain kind of lonely emotion
that I had yet to capture in music before, something really desperate and
sad so the happier ending would feel particularly uplifting. I think it worked.
The main solo towards the end of this song has tone that I think is some of
my best. The guitar is singing.
The working title to this was “White Cat” because it reminded me of the outro
to Cacophony`s “Black Cat” in it`s sweetness and melancholy nature. The
video was fun to do because it was quick! The whole thing was one shot
with no cuts. So the actual filming took 15 minutes-the time it took to do one
camera test and two more takes of the song with different outfits. Usually a
video shoot is long grueling hours (like the marathon 16 hour photo shoot for
the Wall Of Sound album design!) but I was in and out of the studio in no
time for this. And for you guitar players out there, the fingering in the video is
the actual fingering of the recording of the song, so if you just copy the
fingering from the video, you will be playing the song as correct as possible!
11. LAST LAMENT
This has a very “enka” motif as the main theme of the song, but it`s
expressed in a very unusual and complicated way. The goal however, is to
not SOUND complicated, and just get the emotional feeling across to you.
There are a lot of tangents in this song that can sound like they are not
related to each other, but after much internalizing on my part, I have decided
it`s fine. I try to take the theme at the beginning and make you feel like you
somehow know it and are expecting it again at the end. It`s a very
experimental arrangement, and everyone involved brought their A-game to
it. It`s a perfect album closer for my favorite album of my career so far.