Track-By-Track: Chiodos

October 5, 2010

Track-By-Track: Chiodos

Frontman BRANDON BOLMER tells the stories behind the title and each song on CHIODOSIlluminaudio. (Listen to the new song "Caves" below.)


"Illumination" + "audio" = Illuminaudio. It's a simple equation that made the most sense in our situation as an ever-so-fresh Chiodos.  It's the idea of combining sounds, tones and notes to create something that can illuminate one's life or a particular situation. When the idea came up, we all thought that it rolled off the tongue nicely, and there were also a lot of art concepts and ideas that went along with it. The meaning was easy to understand.  No matter what else we thought of for an album title, we always went back to Illuminaudio.

Illuminaudio
This short introduction piece was something we decided to do in the studio, close to the end of the recording session. It was very last minute. The idea to do an intro like this came from our producer, Machine, and a few of us were a little skeptical about it at first because we originally wanted to start the album off with a banger. Lyrically, this song is about my departure from California to join the band in Michigan. I had no idea what to expect when joining Chiodos or how it would be hanging out with the guys, but it was a step I had to take. It was a fear that I had to face in order to get to a place where I was content with my professional and personal life. Everybody must take that chance at one time or another. Everybody must do something they're not used to or they’ll become stale and grow old with regret. This song was created on the spot by me and Brad [Bell, keyboard] with no click track. We did a total of three takes and ended up using the last one. It was a very intense experience. I remember closing my eyes the whole time until we were finished with the recording.  After that, I recall opening my eyes and feeling like I had been asleep the entire time. It was almost like meditation. I felt free.

Caves
Ideas for this song started before we went into the studio, and we finished writing it with Machine. “Caves” carries on the idea of facing fears, making changes in your life to get to a better, more comfortable place. For so long, I would sit in my room wishing for more in life. I’d stay up late, develop a terrible sleep schedule and get to the point where I became angry a lot. I was very irritated most of the time due to the fact that I was in a place in my life where I felt stuck, and like my life wasting away with every passing day. I felt as though I was trapped inside of this cave—a dark point in my life where everything became monotonous and annoying. Then came the point where I realized I had to do something different in order to feel different. Everyone will feel this throughout his or her life, and we all strive towards that feeling of being content. But you must change in order to seeandfeel change. [Former U.K. prime minister] Harold Wilson said, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay.”

Love Is A Cat From Hell
This song is fun, energetic and moves. A majority of it was written before we hit the studio. Lyrically, it's about a person who upsets you to the core with foolish acts, poor motives and ignorant logic. It's very sarcastic and it's the ultimate retaliation song. It features guest vocals by Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil, who came into the picture very late in the recording process. We wanted some guest vocals on the album and thought Vic fit well on this song. This was also one of the few new songs we played live on our first tours as the “new” Chiodos.

Modern Wolf Hair
Plain and simple, this song is based on the idea of the boy who cried wolf. Do you know that person you’ve tried to help countless times, but it just feels like they take your efforts for granted? They’re that person who just doesn't give a fuck how much pain they have put you through and everything is all about them. If so, this song is for you.  It's bitter, it's a great play on words and it's saturated with frustration. This track came together in the studio after trying a few different arrangements with various parts. It features a very intense bridge created by Christopher "Notes" Olsen.  The bridge section was created in California (while we were recording in New Jersey) in Chris' studio only months before he passed away in May after falling eight stories from a fire escape stairwell. He never heard the finished song—only the 40 seconds or so he was sent to work with. I’m thankful to have Notes on this record, and this song is very special to me. The bridge is also the intro we used for our first shows with the new lineup, as well as for the first two tours we did together. This song moves like starving wolves searching for their prey.

Notes In Constellations
This is the first sort-of-mellow track on the album. Electric pianos, soothing guitar riffs and soaring vocals make this track dance around like notes in constellations. For the most part, this song was written pre-studio, but evolved a little more as we were recording. It was originally written about two lovers forced to part ways. Lyrically, it came from a trip to the snowy mountains of Big Bear, California. I went on the trip with my girlfriend, her sister and “Notes” Olsen just days before I left to join the band in Michigan. After Notes passed away, the song almost took on a dual meaning, and became a song that Notes would—or could have—written for his girlfriend after he passed. It's a very nostalgic, deep song that I enjoy. Part of it was used on our tour with the Used and Bullet For My Valentine as sort of an improv transition between two songs.

Scaremonger
This song is about the frustrations of excessive control and the rebelliousness that it creates. It's about the urge to learn and do things your own way. This is for the art students who know what they're capable of, but who are restricted by standard guidelines. Or it’s for the innocent children who no longer understand the strict ways of their religious families. One can only take so much before they want to lash out and do what they feel is right. We can only hope that the children of today are taught enough, but nottoo much, so that they can grow up feeling free and at home in their own bodies. 

His Story Repeats Itself
No matter what, we shall continue to fight for what we love, doing all that we can to live happy and free. 

Let Us Burn One
This was the first song I recorded for Chiodos before I joined the band. They sent me this track by e-mail, I wrote some lyrics and melodies, recorded them and sent it to Michigan to see what the guys thought. With that being said, I think this was the song that got me interested in the band and gave me the confidence to take the wheel and see what else we could create together. I think this track does a great job of showcasing the music, and the energy is there. It was written by the new lineup and remains pretty close to the structure of the first demo. The lyrical idea is simple: fighting fire with fire, or using the same methods one has used on you to get even.

Hey Zeus! The Dungeon
Brad and I sat down one day and decided we'd like to write a song based on a movie, so we got our minds right and did it.  Inspired by the movie The Phantom Of The Opera, this song portrays a desperate monster on a search for the woman of his dreams. This track is all over the place, as is the mind of the phantom. It's insane, bipolar and dark like the catacombs of an opera house.

Stratovolcano
This is a song about anger—hitting a boiling point, the last straw, shit hitting the fan, whatever you want to call it. Some people don't deal with anger much; it's easy for them to stay calm and collected. I’ve dealt with this negative energy in my life—it's nothing to be proud of, and it's something I continue to work at with each passing day. This was a challenging song to write to, as I knew that there was a version with Craig [Owens, former Chiodos vocalist] floating around. I chose to never listen to his version as I thought it would affect my writing and melodies. Between the old version and the new version, there was a different second verse and an added bridge that Machine and I absolutely fell in love with. The tension and suspense that builds in the bridge before the final explosion gives me chills every time. Writing this song was cathartic for me. It really relieved a lot of stress getting into that vocal booth and putting all my anger and frustration into words. Lyrically, it’s about a volcano that's been dormant for far too long, and it's just about that time. It’s about holding something back for so long that it eventually makes its way out whether you like it or not.

Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together
If you mix 28 Weeks Later and Zombieland, you get this song. Brad and Jason [Hale, guitar] sat down in a dark, candle-lit room and agreed that they would write a musical zombie story. That's exactly what they did. We went over many ideas of what we wanted the plot to be like, but I think once we decided on the title, everything else kind of fell into place. This song sounds like a movie: it builds, climaxes and ends like a movie. It's very visual and has great imagery. The plot is about a group of people who have one purpose—sticking together through hell or high water. Throughout the song, the group go from uninfected to infected due to a spreading epidemic of raging humans that share this disease with whoever they can get their mouths on. In the beginning, the objective is to survive and look out for one another. In the end, the goal is the same but also to infect as many other people as possible with this virus. To me, this song is a symbol of the camaraderie that this band has—the bond that they've kept through thick and thin. In a way, you can say we’re the group of people infected by the virus of music. Now we’re doing all we can to share and spread this epidemic. We are the infected.

Closed Eyes Still Look Forward
This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. I’m a sucker for ballads and soft tunes. This song started off as a piano riff that Brad wrote. He was playing it in his living room and I stopped him and said, "What's that? I really like that.” We recorded Brad’s idea on the computer and began going over structure ideas as well as adding new parts. Everything flowed really well, and nothing ever felt forced. It came together quickly and I’d like to believe those are often some the best songs because they're raw and pure. This would be considered the full version of the intro track of the album. In fact, this song inspired the creation of that first song. The lyrical idea song is pretty straightforward; it’s honest and straight from my heart. I wanted to write a song that explained the journey I was taking to join this band.  I felt very alone at the beginning stages of entering Chiodos; it was just me and five other people I barely knew. I knew it would help me grow as an individual, but I had to step outside my box and do something I’d never done. I've always been the type to only do things I'm comfortable with, and traveling across the country to write and record with new people was the exact opposite. It was both a tough and exciting moment, as I was leaving my old band just days before I flew to Michigan, but it was a new chapter I was ready to write in my book of life. This song is sort of a promise and commitment to friends, family and loved ones that I will remain a true individual throughout this journey. A lot of people thought I would come back home thinking I was some sort of hotshot badass because I joined a band with a lot of success behind their belt. But I’d like to think I’m the same person, growing in other ways, but keeping the original morals I’ve been raised with. alt

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