[04 June 2012]
This pretty sums up the chaos that is always following me around…Especially towards the end of the song there is a section where everything gets particularly chaotic and all sense of rhythm, timing and melody gets thrown into the blender and gets chopped up beyond recognition. I always wanted to create a song with this feeling in it and I think we pretty much nailed it here.
2. BAD D.N.A.
I collaborated on a project called ZETA in Japan with an extremely unique manipulator named Far East Ghost. It was pretty much straight up techno/rave music, but the having me on board added an element of guitar that was never heard of in that genre. I really liked that colliding of two opposite worlds and always wanted to pursue it deeper and to more of an extreme. This song could be easily compared to a ZETA song, but with even more emphasis on guitar.
3. WEAPONS OF ECSTACY
The concept of a "positive" weapon has always intrigued me. We, as musicians, have x numbers of "weapons" with which we can hopefully affect the emotions of the people listening to or watching us.
This song was the last to be written on the album, and least prepared for. All solos and solo type phrases on the album were improvised, but for the most part I had some idea of the motif or feeling I wanted to go for before recording. On this song however, solo wise, I had absolutely nothing, and was trusting in myself that I would come up with something album-worthy on the spot. That`s quite a responsibility, but I like the pressure.
A friend of my manager`s had lent me a bunch of guitars for the recording, and he was in the studio watching on the solo day for this song. I had no idea what to play, so kind of as a joke, I just started blazing as fast as I could. Before I could even laugh about it, the friend said, "Wow, did you just come up with that?! That`s amazing." Now normally I would have dumped this solo and concentrated on something with more interesting phrasing, but there was something about the enthusiasm in the way he was affected by this solo. I looked at it as a rare opportunity to see the fans reaction to what I was playing, at the creating stage, rather than at the performing stage. I took it as clue that if he reacted so positively, other listeners may do the same. Whereas it`s my responsibility as an artist to ignore all other people`s opinions (and believe me I usually do!) at the creating stage, this one time I let it go and went with this solo that got the guy all excited. Of course I had to overdub a lower octave and a higher octave over it to make it a bit more appealing to me, but this is the one moment of the album where I let someone I just met be the producer-without him even knowing it.
This is a phrase my Dad used to use often, meaning an unfortunate, but ironic turn of events. For example if an animal trainer got his head ripped off by a rottweiler, that would be a "hatejoke". I`ve never heard anyone else ever use that term, but he used it often, and I wonder where he got it from. This was tracked on the last day of the BAD DNA sessions. I had just received a prototype guitar from an amazing new maker named Origin. I used it all over this song. It sounded so good I wished I got my hands on it sooner.
5. GLORIOUS ACCIDENT
Malcolm McLaren once described Sid Vicious as a "glorious accident" and that phrase always stuck with me as my playing, when it is at its best, I believe is made up of several "glorious accidents". The "trick" is, if I can call it that, is knowing when one of those accidents is actually any good or not. It`s not really a "trick" so to speak, but it is an ability I have, which comes from subliminally sorting through these "accidents" and mentally deciding what is actually "glorious" and what is actually just garbage. There is a lot of "sorting" but the end result is what becomes my style, for better or worse.
6. RANDOM STAR
My Mom came up with this title which fits the song perfectly. The song is like a journey, probably through China or Asia. It`s one of my faves off the album. This song, and most of the entire album, was written and conceived in Singapore. Life was so chaotic and busy in Japan, and despite that I agreed to add on the challenge of making a brand new album. I knew that if I stayed in Japan there would be far too many distractions to get the album written quickly, so I escaped to Singapore (which I love) with nothing but my laptop. I bought a guitar down there at a local music store and aside from eating the amazing food there and visiting with several friends who live down there, I just wrote a ton of music. The night before I returned to Tokyo, I was out having "steamboats" (Singapore style hot pot?) with my friends and one of the girls mentioned that her husband played guitar. I told her that I would be happy to give him the guitar I bought before I left the next day. I felt great that I was able to make someone happy, and that I didn`t have to carry a guitar on the plane…
This is the kind of ballad that comes so naturally to me, I just can`t seem to do an album without one of these ballads on it. One day I will do an entire album of this kind of thing. There are so many ways to interpret this kind of melody while playing, it is really about choosing a particular performance that I like and letting that be the take that makes it to the record. That is quite time consuming because each note has its own voice and this is probably the part of my playing that I am the most critical of.
8. BATTLE SCARS
The main melody of this is very deceptive in its phrasing. Although the melody is quite simple, it`s doubtful that anyone besides myself can play it exactly the same. Maybe someone else can play it better, though! All kidding aside, it`s this interpreting of a melody that is likely the deepest facet of my playing. To put it simply, each and every single note is approached with the goal of having it sound less like a "guitar interpretation" and with as much of a vocal inflection as is possible that a guitar can give it.
9. SCHOOL SPIRIT DELINQUENT
I was always puzzled by "school spirit" in general. Aren`t we all supposed to be united in the downright loathing of school in general?? Or was that just me and my friends? Anyway, I never understood school spirit or even knew what it was. I always thought it was a funny combination of words. This tune makes me feel like cutting school and hanging out in the parking lot.
10. EXORCISM PARADE
In titling instrumental songs, my pattern is this; I keep a notebook of potential cool song titles, and when all of the recording is done I try to match those titles with songs that fit the titles best. Usually it works out pretty well. I loved the title, "Exorcism Parade" and it seemed to fit well for several of the songs on this album. Especially the title cut, "BAD D.N.A." and its main riff seemed like a demented parade of sorts, so I struggled between the two songs. I love the intro on this tune.
11. TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
Jason Becker is a great fan of Sarah Brightman, and with Jason in mind, I rearranged one of her signature songs. The main adlib solo towards the end of the song, right where the key modulation comes in, took about 100 takes to get done. To me the key mod in any song is an opportunity to really create some excitement, so I had high expectations for that part of this song. I would do a take, and if I wasn`t excited about it, I would just do another one. It kept going and going, seeming like forever, then I asked the engineer, how many did takes did we do-he said "47." And then we kept going for at least that long until I got one that took the song where it needed to go. It was kind of frustrating, but sometimes it happens. Usually I don`t like to punch a solo together bit by bit, I would rather get the thing done in one long pass. Often the first or second take is "the one" but other times it can take hundreds. All in a day`s work…I think it is a great idea for any musician to try to emulate or re-interpret the voice of a great vocalist like Sarah Brightman. I have been doing this for quite a while emulating the voices of the ultimate Japanese singers like Misora Hibari and Ishikawa Sayuri, and it is an extremely humbling and necessary challenge for true growth in musical expression.