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Story Behind The Song - Wall Of Sound
29 August 2018
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.

 

3. STREETLIGHT

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!

 

4. WHITEWORM

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

Marty model.

 

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.

 

10. MIRACLE

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.

 
 
 
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