Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Clouds Are Alive - Track-By-Track

Whenever I release an album I'm always asked to supply what's called a "Track By Track" - the story behind each song on the record - that's supplied to media ahead of release to supposedly help with stories and questions around its promotion.

It's a great way to reveal that bit extra about the songs but, for whatever reason, the media very rarely use the information.

So I've decided to share these with you on here since I already gave the media their chance to use it! I hope you enjoy the stories and that this can help you connect that bit more with the songs.

Bad Philosophy
This song was a massive production challenge for me largely because it’s a two-chord pop song. My goal was to make this track defy its own simplicity, so I gave it an unusual structure and stayed very patient with introducing the different tonal elements. It was originally written as a song-writing task I gave myself – “write a duet for a boy/girl pop duo”. Its catchiness then won even myself over and I decided to release it on this record. I still wanted a female voice on the track but got rejected by all the people I approached, so it’s just me, deal.

One Day Alone
This was the first track recorded for this album, one of two that made the cut, from a session with Wayne Bell at Roundhead Studios. We put a band together consisting of Wayne himself on drums, Marcus Lawson on bass, Brett Adams on electric and myself on acoustic guitar. I wrote the song in about 15 minutes and it didn’t take too much longer than that to record. Its ever-increasing tempo is evidence of its live tracking – a process that seems to work so well with the jaunty spirit of the song. Brett’s solo on this was a one-take wonder – he’s got to be the best guitarist in New Zealand in my mind.
(lyrically, it's basically like on the batchelor how there’s always some woman who keeps getting saved but never gets to go on a date with Chad or whoever. And so she’s forever exclaiming the chorus of my song to the camera guy, who’s saying the same thing in his head back to her.)

One Plus One
My Dad’s favourite song of mine. I wrote this around six years ago about a curious position I found myself in with two girls. Curious mainly because the words “two girls” and “Jeremy Redmore” are not used in the same sentence very often but also because I had never found myself in a position where I desperately wanted to take parts of two different people and merge them into one before.* I recorded two versions of this song – one full of slide guitar and Texas sunsets and this, more folk club, version. I love them both but this version, for me, has much more lyrical and musical symmetry.

* (it’s also about how everyone wishes there was a way to combine a panda with an elephant.)

Drag Me On Home
This was the first song I jammed out with the band that played on the majority of the record – Adam Tobeck on drums, Haddon Smith on bass, Jesse Sheehan on guitars and Matthias Jordan on piano. I like to think it was the one that won them over to putting everything into the project the way they did. For that reason, and that it sums up a large segment of my personal taste in music, it’s one of my favourites on the record. It’s about endings and beginnings, and about having someone there for you to tell you which is which. Like a banana – it took me 20-odd years of life for someone to tell me I’d been eating the ends, not the beginnings, of bananas first! Same with my first recorder class in primary school… or that could’ve just been me.

So Easy
I had seven days to record 11 songs towards this album just before Christmas last year. This was one of three we recorded, with the help of Leroy Clampitt, in one day and knocked out in a few hours. It’s a simple love song about how I believe all great relationships are ones that are incredibly easy to maintain. Haddon Smith played trumpet on this track, a feature that really makes it stand out and probably also makes it perfect for an 80s TV show theme. It’s also, vocally, the lowest in my register I’ve ever recorded.

Travellin’ Song
This was the first song we tracked at the Red Trolley session. Again, we recorded it live which works so perfectly for this song. There’s bundles of layers of percussion and harmony in there that give it that great campfire vibe. Music should be a communal experience and sometimes the best way to do that is to give everyone present in a room the ability to join in. This song does that and that’s why I love it so much.

Run, Run
This song is very much a call to my roots. There was no way I was going to completely turn my back on my song-writing style from the past and, for me, this song is a compromise between old and new. There are moments of boldness and grandiose in the production that hearken back to an older sound of mine but, ultimately, it’s a more introspective track. Meatloaf always speaks about how his songs are about teenage love affairs he never had – stories I can very much relate to. This song is from the point of view of that deprived kid, watching on as the girls he admires fall into the arms of one dickhead after another.

All I Ever Wanted
In the past I have always either been in bands or kept my song writing process within my own four walls. This was the first time I had ever sat down with an uninvested artist to try and write a song together. I worked with Jesse Sheehan on this track to try and create a vibe that wouldn’t have otherwise come naturally to me and I think we achieved that really well. This is a musically challenging song with great dynamics both vocally and instrumentally and I love how it blossomed. The vocals for this track were particularly daunting for me – I was six weeks removed from major abdominal surgery and 13 hours into a 14-hour day of recording just vocals with engineer Leroy Clampitt. In the end I was stoked with how it came out, but a healthy dose of honey and Laphroig helped one hell of a lot.

Another track from the Roundhead session with Wayne Bell and another live recording. This one took a fair few goes to nail down and even now it has its rough, hopefully character-full, edges. It’s a song about the growth of young love through the annual family pilgrimage to a Kiwi campground. I used to go to Waimarino, just outside of my hometown of Tauranga, to swim and kayak but I was always jealous of the people in tents who got to stay longer. It’s also one of the only songs in recorded music history to use the word toothpaste.

New, good love is like your first day as an intern at your dream company, there is nothing you won’t do to please and nothing is too hard because you have no expectation or experience - like a kind of hazing that you think is normal while it’s happening but people who look on think you’re crazy. One of my all-time favourite bands is Elbow and the final 1:40 is a huge nod in their direction.

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