The second night of the tour …. so much less nerve-wracking than the first. Life is so much less stressful when you know what to expect or even sort what to expect. Still there’s always some stressors.
We broke out Last Step, an epic somewhat composed musical piece from our recently released EP. It’s one of those tunes that gets composed into the recording medium so that parts of it are recorded one measure at a time. Then when it’s finished, you can transcribe what you did and wow, it’s one intense piece of music. On the original demo, the first thing that was recorded was Mike saying, “someone needs to take a long journey because of a loss.” That was the beginning concept before there was any music or lyrics. And so musically it does that – it starts with a theme, moves to another theme, and then to another, travels into some strange territory before it’s starts to make its way backwards to the third theme, then back to the second and then to the first with the final line being an echo of the first line. The theme changed when we got to the lyrics. We imagined that a man wakes up to the presence of something like a ghost that could be the spirit of someone who traumatized him previously …. possibly.
Anyway, the music has many overlapping layers and at certain points each part is playing in its own meter superimposed on top of one another. As a result, it can be hard to know where you are because nothing anyone else is playing can anchor you to your own part. And in a lot of cases, Mike and I are singing in three while playing in four! Not so easy! During the rehearsals we had to stop many times and restart because we would end up out of sync.
But at the show, we totally nailed it and was delivered with passion. The jam went to interesting places and it all got very powerful at the end. Success! But my original point – even though songs like that can be stressful, the overall vibe going into last night was relaxed, energetic, excited and fun! And that’s how the show seemed … at least from my perspective.
As everyone gets comfortable with the material, it’s nice to feel us all “get our swagger on” by really laying into this stuff. At the end of the night, I had a long conversation with Robert where on top of solving all the world’s problems, we more importantly discussed the general concept of what we’re trying to do musically in relation to the darker side of sound … or maybe the edgier side. “Irreverence” is the term Robert used, which I like. There are certain moments …. well maybe there should be lots of moments … where you can get your brain out of the way. It’s no longer about notes or rhythm or changes or arrangement It’s about gut-wretching emotion traveling from your inner depths directly to your hands, skipping your brain. I feel like I’m not playing the guitar but instead slathering hunks of emotion on to a sonic canvas – with a crowbar.
Oh, and as a follow up to the in-ear rant yesterday, we have these ambient mics on either side of the stage to pick up the room noise. I didn’t have much of them in my mix on the first night, but cranked those up for last night’s show which made a world of difference for me. I could hear the room again!! The question of the day: Who thought of pole vaulting and more importantly, why?