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Story Behind The Song - Inferno
[31 July 2014]

1.   INFERNO

The theme for this is something I had for a while, it was part of a guitar solo I played for a Japanese TV drama a few years ago. I took that motif and expanded on it enough to make it new, but more importantly I made sure it was strong enough to repeat it 3 times in different interpretations within the song, 4 if you consider the “reprise” at the end of the album. It was crucial to have a solid theme as a base so I could flesh out the rest of the song with some serious ripping.

2.   RESIN

From the very intro of this, I envisioned a cave or some kind of ancient cavernous black hole that opens its imaginary gates and there is the new blindingly bright world flying by at warp speed. I could be wrong, but I don`t think I`ve heard any other music that sounds quite like this. The ending is the same motif as the beginning, but it builds into complete noise that comes to an abrupt stop and drops you off a cliff. This was one of the first ideas I had for the album. Anup Sastry`s drumming in this buildup is fantastic 

3.   WICKED PANACEA

To get the most out of the contrast between Rodrigo and Gabriela`s sweet  acoustic rhythms and my heavy music, I placed it right next to the noisy ending of “Resin”. It came out great, and then the song itself is like a game o catch between myself and Rodrigo and Gabriela, with us answering each other separately, then playing together. The climax at the end of the song is friggin` fast! Overall I think it`s a fresh way to add something to the already unique flamenco-ish style of R&G. 

4.    STEROIDHEAD

A girl I know was having problems with her roided out boyfriend so that`s where I got the title. This is a collaboration with me and Skyharbor`s Keshav Dhar. You can hear both of us clearly on this song, Injecting my melody sense is almost a romantic interpretation of Keshav`s “djent”-ish riffing. This song sounds less “mathematical” than most in that sub-genre. Although I really like a lot of the “mathematical” heavy songs out there, I knew that I would want to play this live, and since I like to play live from my balls and not counting numbers in my brain, I arranged this song in such a way that I could really lay into it live. 

5.    I CAN`T RELAX

Danko Jones and I talked about writing a song one day, and in about 1 hour we both cut demos to this and the basic idea was born. This tune suits both of our personalities to a T, since we are both hyperactive, straight edge people and performers. The solo is just about the same as what I did on my first demo, it`s a very demented rock and roll solo.

6.    MEAT HOOK

I heard the band Shining (Norway) and immediately saw sax in a different light than ever before. For the first time I saw it as an instrument that could mesh in the world of some real intense metal riffing. When Jorgen from Shining told me he was up for doing an over the top high energy song, I knew I had to come up with some wicked stuff-first to impress Jorgen, and then to make use of his fantastic musical sense and abilities.

7.    HYPER DOOM

This reminds me of something we would have done in my first band, Deuce. When I hear it, I can smell the Michelob beer, barbital and the smoke from our wood burning stove as well as other kinds of smoke that blended into this very unique and fantastic stench that permeated the place where we used to jam our asses off every night.

8.    LYCANTHROPE

Alexi from Bodom originally wrote the song, I added to it and arranged it, and we tossed it back and forth for quite a while until it became great. As it was coming together, I was working with Danko Jones on a different song. I got a brainstorm to make a “vocal duet” with these two completely unique singers. At the risk of being immodest, this song kicks ass. 

9.    UNDERTOW

This is the song that came easiest to me on the album. This is my strong suit, so to speak. I originally hadn`t planned to put a ballad on this album, but I rationalized it by telling myself that I needed a bit of contrast to give the rest of the stuff even more impact. What was hard about its recording was the fact that scheduling made it impossible to be in the same room as the keyboard and synth players I wanted on the song. Synth sonic tones and unique chord voicings are very hard to explain to someone without being in the same room. So I had 5 of the best players I know send me tons of tracks for the song. Going through them was a pain in the ass! I was quite pleased with my playing on the demo for this, and being the lazy bastard I am, was very tempted to keep the demo tracks (done on my laptop) as the final version, Once I decided to actually recut the guitar tracks, I found that I had opened a huge can of worms, and I was caught trying to recapture some of the idiosyncracies of the demo as well as trying to better my demo performance. I finally did all that, and was happy in the end, but not without kicking and screaming. The lack of harmony on this song is something that is a charm point to me. 

10. HORRORS

What can I say about working with Jason? It was fantastic, just as easy as working with anyone else. This is saying a lot considering his condition. He sent me lots of ideas, but most of them were more suited to a Jason Becker album than for my album, as they were beautiful, but very classical. I finally found stuff in his demos that I could fit within the image I had in my mind for Inferno. I worked with his ideas, and added some of my own, but the biggest challenge was bringing the song to the climax that I wanted. The ending of the song was a recording nightmare for the engineers, bassist Oomomo and drummer Anup due to time changes, tempo changes and polyrhythms aplenty. If you are a musician, try to play it! You`ll find some trippy little nuggets in there… 

11. INFERNO (reprise)

This was connected to INFERNO as one long song for the majority of the sessions and I decided to cut it during mastering. The song was just too long for an album opener, and it made tons of sense to close out the album with the same theme as the beginning. There is a huge amount of musical information from the top to the bottom, and it`s kind of a relief to get back to this familiar melody after all of that guitar playing. I think it closes out the record very well and it felt so good to play.

 

BONUS TRACKS: 

12. JASMINE CYANIDE

This was a big collaborative effort with the band Skyharbor, Danko Jones and myself. It was also the first song written for Inferno. By the time things started cooking with the overall songwriting, the bar just kept getting higher, and it all started with this. Dan Tompkins came up with the brilliant lyrics and melody line.  Danko Jones heard Dan`s amazing vocal tracks in the LA studio where I was working, because I had enlisted Danko to sing backups to Dan`s lead vocals. Once we got started with that, Danko had a few vocal ideas and lyrical that really liked and I couldn`t ignore, so Danko and I did a rewrite on the spot. I love the song, but it didn`t fit anywhere in the sequencing of the album nicely, so it didn`t make it to the final album, and it found its way to the Japan bonus tracks. 

13. BALLAD OF THE BARBIE BANDITS

 

This started with “Barbie” on the Future Addict album. I played a short, 3 verse version of this on tour, so it wound up on my “Live in Europe” album, and the “Live in Japan” DVD. It was just one melody played over and over, and I always thought it felt unfinished. So I took on the arduous task of fleshing it out and making a complete song out of it. Once it was done, playing it nicely was another big challenge. On the live album, and even the DVD as well, it always bugged me how the pitch was just not all that good, far from perfect. Now was my chance to make it right, so I was crazy strict on judging the tuning and pitch of my performance. When things are all really perfectly in tune (a good example is the first “Boston” album) there is this beautiful harmonious “ring” that happens. That's what I went for with this song. I really love it and wanted to put it on the album, but like “Jasmine” it really didn`t fit anywhere, especially with the “Inferno (reprise)” closing out the album so well.

 
 
 
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