Track 8: IO

Anchor Blog Series:  Entry #8


I wanted to YELL on one track on this record.  Yelling is really not my thing and that’s part of the reason I had to go for it.  One of my favorite records is Tom Waits ‘Bone Machine’ because of the huge range of textures he gets out of his voice (and other instruments).  I’m no Tom Waits, obviously, but I like the idea that I’m not defined by the sound of my voice and I can get different textures out of it without sounding disingenuous (I hope). I’ve found being alone in a car is the perfect place to explore what happens when I raise my voice, and it took a while running various errands, but I found this spot where I can get a good kind of high growl out of my otherwise limited voice.  Now that I know where this spot is I can get back to it pretty easily, so it was time to try it out in a track.  I recorded it clean, and then sent it hot through the tubes on the ‘Butler’ to get a bit of distortion.  I doubled the voice here and there, which gets nice and thick when forced through vacuum tubes, without the cold harshness of pedal type distortion. I added a bit of slap back type delay as well.

The song is about growing up half in the eighties and half in the nineties and the awkward transition from hair-metal to grunge which corresponded to the transition from middle school to high school for me.  We used a hybrid electronic/acoustic drum kit to shift the texture through the decades.  It’s about Reaganomics and how I felt, back then, that our educational system tends to narrow the scope of our lives, while launching us into careers that will inhibit self-actualization in the long run.  This forces an extraordinary amount of ‘unlearning’ to happen later on to get back on track.


Set, I’m gonna fit right in when I put on my good clothes,
All I gotta do is pick six digits then I’ll live among the innermost,
Another cannonball, waiting for the axe to fall on the shit catapult,
people say I ain’t got no soul, but who knows.

Set, stagflating on the inside, another sunny day,
Gonna press the button over and over and I can’t wait for the eighties to be over again,
If I don’t give it up, how they gonna trickle down, I put my shit on the catapult,
My face is just a stepping stone, could go to Canada, could go to Mexico.

Oooh, another hot night cinematic, brand new fully-automatic soul

my muscle truck is just a metaphor

Set, invisible hands gonna pull all the money out,
Gonna take every red cent, why you gotta be so reticent,
People say you gotta learn to love the smell when you run the shit catapult,
People say I ain’t got no soul, but who knows,
My face is just a stepping stone, could go to Canada, could go to Mexico.

Now that I’ve started looking for them, I see ‘shit catapults’ everywhere.  One thing our culture excels at is the acceleration of shit.  This track gave us the once in a lifetime opportunity to build a giant catapult, so I designed and built one last August.  It’s a trebuchet, actually, which is much more efficient than a catapult at slinging shit.  I’ll write about this project more later.  Here’s the video:

I designed the trebuchet to hold 1000 pounds of counterweight, which can send a 10 pound object over 400 feet. 

Voyager I recently became the first man-made object to leave the solar system.  On their way past the outer planets in the late 70’s the Voyagers recorded the ‘sound’ of the planets and moons they past, in the form of radio waves given off by their magnetospheres.  Dorky, I know, but they actually sound really amazing, all phased out and alien.  I got my hands on one of these recordings a while back, and that’s how this track got started.  I took the sound and put it through a volume envelope generator built into the Acid DAW, sort of like an extreme tremolo, to get a pulsing sound that sort of reminds me of a panting dog in front of a military airport. (the sound that opens this track)

I got in the habit of sketching out kick/hat/snare patterns for Sean with our Yamaha DTX-12, the very useful little drum pad/sampler that lives among Sean’s drums in our live show.  It’s great because we can load any sound we want on it and Sean can gracefully incorporate it into his playing.  I was immediately drawn to the 80’s sounding ‘gated’ snare that came preloaded on the DTX-12 because it was so dated and goofy, it made me smile.  For some reason it worked really well with the Voyager sound, so I ran with it.  Then Sean came up last August and recorded the same pattern on acoustic drums.  So, I had two distinct drum kits playing the same beat, one electronic and kinda 80’s and one acoustic and kinda 90’s.  Having two drum-kits to use in different sections of the track spawned the theme for the lyrics.

Gene Back, our amazing guitar/keyboard player from our first tours, came up with Sean last August and we recorded his violin while tweaking real-time effects.  This is where those crazy fiddle breaks come from.  Then, Nick Oddy came up in January and we recorded his electric guitar through an Eventide pitch-factor/delay effect.  Both of these were amazing sessions that yielded a lot more than can fit in this track. 

Thanks for reading!  Next up ‘Sinker’.


Upcoming shows: (starting Oct. 26)  New York - Philly - DC - Durham - Atlanta - Asheville - Nashville - Louisville - Cincinnati - Columbus - Buffalo - Boston - North Adams, MA 


  • aneawaaleex
    aneawaaleex exae
  • saeed20
    saeed20 united kingdom
    [url=]learn more[/url]

Add comment