Happy Birthday to V!!
We released V, our 2nd full length album about revolution 11 years ago today – which was a Tuesday back in 2011, too. To celebrate, for a limited time you can get your signed copy of V on CD for only $11 or download your digital copy for free!
As we mentioned in a previous post, we recorded 9 songs live off the floor at Chemical Sound in Toronto with our friends, Jeremy Oram on drums, and Jean-François Kardinal (JFK) on fuzz bass.
Studio owners and engineers, Dean Marino (who also mixed the album) and Jay Sadlowski helped us track all of the songs in less than 48 hours. We went in on a Friday night and had finished recording, overdubbing vocals and guitar, packing up our gear, and were celebrating by late Sunday afternoon while we listened to the playback. It was a wonderful feeling of accomplishment!
The 1st song from the album is, Spin, which is about patriarchal dogma, propaganda, media manipulation, and the manufactured consent of groupthink. It was one of the first songs we started working on for CiRCADiAN, our previous full length album, but we couldn’t seem to get past the intro 5/4 change to 4/4 at the time, something that had happened serendipitously in the middle of a jam at our rehearsal studio. The idea sat as a favourite unfinished fragment on our sonic shelf until writing for V commenced in 2009 when it was finished.
There was a huge Helvetica calendar on the wall in the studio’s kitchen to remind us that it was the weekend of October 8, 9, 10. The theme of V is revolution, so it was interesting that after setting up and getting our levels on the Friday night, we started recording the album the next day on the anniversary of John Lennon’s birthday, October 9th. Lennon literally wrote the Beatles song, Revolution from their eponymous ‘white’ album in 1968.
The 2nd song is one of our favourites! Psych 66 is about the psychedelic 60s, particularly the revolutionary year of 1966, the precursor to the Summer of Love. We took inspiration for the music of this song from Jefferson Airplane’s album, Surrealistic Pillow and Autolux’s debut album, Future Perfect, particularly the drumming of Carla Azar. Dean did such an excellent job of mixing this track, adding layers of multidimensional vocal delay to one of our most trippy productions to date.
Our friend, Tom Hall, filmed our soundcheck setup when we ran through the songs on the Friday night and our session on Saturday, too, as we recorded the album live off the floor. He edited together the footage to create 3 music videos for us from the recording session. V has a late 60s, early 70s psychedelic rock influence which Tom complimented nicely. The first track we played to soundcheck was Hurricane, which was also our first single and the last song that was written weeks before we went in to record the album. The single was initially inspired by Bob Marley’s, Could You Be Loved and ended up being our 3rd song on the album.
When we sequenced the floor-mix tracks of the album, it felt like something was missing. Specifically, a song that was from a different part of the sonic spectrum. Something completely different. That is where the 4th song/sound experiment, Aria, came from.
After 11 years since initially receiving the download for the sci-fi themed music video that came complete with the initial song idea inspired by childhood contact experiences of his own, Sködt used the latest developments in rotoscoping technology to create the animated short film below. You can read all about it all in this entry.
We recorded the majority of the material for V during an 11 hour Saturday session with the exception of the 2 acoustic tracks, Miles of Night and Soil to Sow (which ended up not having acoustic guitar in the final mix). We also did the vocal overdubs, and some guitar overdubs. For the latter, Sködt got to plug into Chemical’s face-melting wall of sound, including Ian Blurton’s resident rigs which only had one volume setting: 11.
Tom wasn’t able to make the Sunday session at the studio, so he wanted to go back to Chemical Sound at a later date to finish filming coverage for the other songs. Our original plan was to capture the whole album on film and create a documentary, but that proved to be a little too ambitious – at a day rate of $600 we couldn’t afford to do that. Instead, we decided to shoot a video for one of the slow tracks in our rehearsal studio. Drawing inspiration from Portishead’s black and white music video for Chase the Tear, we filmed the music video for our 3rd single from V, the 5th track on the album, Soil to Sow.
Juggernaut is the 6th track on the album. Initially inspired by Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny – it was even written on an acoustic guitar, presented with the preface of, “imagine this played on an electric guitar through a stack of amps!” This was the only song that we had fully written when we started working on the material for V. We used the live performance we had filmed at the Phoenix in Toronto for the Toronto Independent Music Awards as the final arrangement, including the improvised solos. We initially went into Metal Works in Mississauga after a couple of years on hiatus to record this progressive track as a single in 2009, but didn’t like the way the recording turned out. The session we captured at Chemical Sound nailed exactly what we had in mind, right down to the drum echo we heard when we played it live at the Phoenix, one of our favourite Toronto venues.
The 7th track, Walk Away (Exodus), was the first demo we released to fans following a couple of years hiatus. The song was inspired by a 3-week backpacking trip we took to study the Mayan pyramids in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and the rainforests of northern Guatemala, which included Tikal where the Rebel Alliance base in Star Wars was filmed.
The title of the song refers to the downfall of the Mayan empire and the civil revolution where the people simply walked away from their failing city centres, their corrupted leadership, and their daemonic demands during declining environmental conditions that made such massive settlements untenable. The Mayans didn’t disappear as many clickbait historians would love you to believe – they walked away from the failure of the civil contract, en masse. An exodus into the jungle.
Our 2nd single is song number 8, White Rabbit, a crowd favourite that we initially played as an encore when we ran out of our own material. We started playing this track at rehearsal after hearing Tara randomly destroy it one night at karaoke – the entire place erupted in cheers and applause after she finished singing.
This classic Jefferson Airplane song written by Grace Slick has to do with the personal gnosis of psychedelic revolution. The end refrain of “Feed your head!” is something we fully advocate the necessity for as a society that has lost touch with the spiritual aspects of our multidimensional nature, especially in this day and age of technocratic hubris and material atheism. Plant teachers can guide us along The Way.
Miles of Night is the 9th track and ended up being the only song with an acoustic guitar on the album – quite a departure from our previous album, CiRCADiAN. The acoustic guitar was recorded by Jay while everyone was at lunch. He ran Sködt’s signal from the acoustic guitar microphones in the live room through to the studio’s reverb tank in the control room, something we’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t even have to communicate.
We cannot express the enormous feeling generated when you meet those rare engineers who understand where you are coming from musically. They speak a telepathic shorthand that will bring any production up a level and allow it to unfold seamlessly. We’re a couple of self-taught country bumpkins with weird ideas about how we think music should sound and it’s been a challenge to find others who speak the same vibration. We’re talking from experience, as we recorded our 1st album, CiRCADiAN, twice before we found Chemical Sound to make the 3rd time count and get the sound that we wanted to capture for others to experience. We’re glad we did, but as the olde saying goes, lessons learned.
If you are a musician, you can imagine how extensively we had practised the album material in order to get all the songs recorded live off the floor in 3-4 takes each, which is how we kept the session so short and inexpensive. It made editing easy, too, as there was usually a single take that sounded the best for everyone. We had Tara singing live off the floor with the band all weekend, isolated by a bunker of sound bafflers which you can see in the music videos.
After we listened back to the songs, we realized that the drum bleed had crept into the vocal microphone requiring Tara to re-record most songs over again. Oh, shit. We were out of time and money, so we scheduled half a day for Tara to go back to Chemical Sound and re-track the vocals at the next available studio opening when we had some cash. That day was December 9th, which just happened to be the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, oddly enough. Another synchronicity in a long line of odd synchronicities we’ve been noting over time surrounding our music.
A 2nd revolutionary-themed synchronicity occurred with the artwork which was finished several months before we went in to the studio to record the album. The grafuturism graffiti that Sködt had created spoke to the themes of spiritual, cultural, and personal revolution in the music. It included several symbols from ancient civilizations around the planet, the most predominant being The Great Pyramid of ancient Egypt.
Within 6 months of completing the artwork, on January 25, 2011, the Egyptian revolution erupted in the streets of Cairo. The movement spread across Egypt, with Tahrir square (Liberation Square) the symbolic central point for a populace that brought attention to issues surrounding political corruption and the abuse of emergency laws and civil liberties such as freedom of speech and political freedom. Other issues included police brutality, as well as high levels of unemployment, low wages and rising food prices due to inflation.
Revolution is historically a response to authoritarian actions that are not based in love, understanding, or compassion and deny the sovereignty of the mind, body, and soul of every individual human being. That is what our 4th single and 10th and final song, ≠LOVE (This Is Not Love), is all about. The revolution will not be televised.
And that brings us to the end of the album. To celebrate the 11th anniversary, for a limited time you can get your signed copy of V on CD for only $11 or download your digital copy for free!
iTunes/Apple Music: http://bit.ly/Vitunes