Peeking into the creative (right) and technical (left) brains behind your favorite songs.





It all started when I got kicked out of the house at age 15. I had to work my way through high school to pay for my bills just to live; it was a difficult time. Because of that dumb job that paid me nothing, I had to drop out of school to work more, just to make ends meet, and it ultimately ruined my "fun teen years." I’ve had to work shit job after shit job to get by, and it made me despise life. It hit me in my late teens, around 19, that doing what I don’t love doing is like being given a chance to live this one life and laying a warm shit over it. So I got into music, started a band, learned how to record music, manage bands, do graphic design and put out records. Now I love what I’m doing, and I’m making my own hours.


The lyrics came about while working in the Fuji Film lab, developing photos, sitting in the darkroom just writing out my anger and hatred for the place, feeling like a dog in a cage. The job sucked, the boss sucked and the co-workers sucked; I’d have to close my eyes and pretend I was dead just to get through the day. That’s what I mean by, "This is where you could embrace misery/With enough energy you could talk yourself out of anything," in the song. It was a state of depression that had to happen for me to be happy. I worked on the song piece by piece, because taking it slow made the time go by faster. I’d say it took about three weeks to finish it.


Working for "the Man" is for some people; but for us, it’s a way of holding us back from doing what we love. Working a 9-to-5 job and not making a dent in history is not for us. If you want to make a change, any change, and you don’t think you can do it because you’re too afraid you’re going to lose your job and have nowhere to live, believe me, you have to do it. There’s no amount of money that will equal the feeling of making a change in this world… We’re doing it now–we’re touring and doing our thing. We have one chance to be alive in this world. Why not make a difference and try to change someone’s life? We’re going to try and figure out something big, and keep doing all we can to give something to the world of heavy music.



With the songwriting on this particular record, I wanted to create a bigger sense of groove and have that be a more prominent area of concentration. "Hours" starts with a straight-up groove that is really kind of pummeling at first, then it slowly decomposes and breaks away into a sweeter melody. That’s when the band introduce this reoccurring motif–this melody that keeps coming back… There’s another mood, sort of in the middle of the song, where it goes into a kind of bluesy feel. The drums are really laid-back with a lot of space, and that’s what I really enjoy about the song: the interplay of space and how far apart you can have these melodic choices from one another, creating a sense of distance between the notes.


At the end of the opening groove, I let the drums and bass go, because what they do is start to space out more and more. If you hear the accents of the drum and bass, they start off pretty close; and then as the riff goes on, it’s the same set of chords, but they keep moving further and further apart. As that space is developing, what’s happening with the guitars is this whole Middle Eastern idea, with lots of wailing guitars, that creates this sense of spiraling out, where it’s suddenly just going out of control. I overlaid a forward guitar solo, and then the same solo also playing backward. So as you hear that solo start from the beginning, the end of that solo also starts at the same time. The reversing idea was from Jimi Hendrix and old Tony Iommi stuff.


The [later interlude] almost wasn’t included in the song. I felt like toward the end of the song, there was nothing really putting an end cap on what that song is about. I originally had the idea as an exercise and example for a guitar student of mine, showing him this Dorian mode going against this certain key signature. I started doubling it with a delay and it sounded really neat. I decided to see if Chris [Russell, bass] and John [Karel, drums] could do more of a tribal kind of beat for this tension-building part. It’s a buildup into the last of the recurring motif, which is introduced at the beginning of the song. I had the melodic idea, and then I doubled it with delays and stuff, and had it in stereo panning back and forth, so you get this ping-pong effect. It’s a part the listener can just sit and enjoy, before everything kicks in again.


The ending was an in-the-moment inspiration. I wanted to create this whole barrage of noise and feedback, and from that dissonance I wanted this melody to emerge from the chaos, with the same chord structure of that open, airy buildup earlier in the song. Once again it’s a reintroduction, but within its own space, without the drum and bass. It turned out kind of nice, because if you leave it in your CD player, it ends softly, and then the record starts off with a big bang again. It kind of sets you down for a second–then boom!–you start all over again.


ALBUM: Worse Than Alone WRITTEN: February 2008 in Bergen County, NJ RECORDED: Backroom Studios, Rockaway, NJ PRODUCED BY: The Number Twelve Looks Like You MIXED BY: Steve Evetts