Creating the Take EP
It often happens when I work on a new song idea. Inspiration for something else strikes and I go down a different path for a while, experimenting with something new (Squirrel!). I’ve learned to follow these tangents as they arise, letting the creative process go where it may. Fighting it has rarely proven useful to me.
Like with Gettin’ It On, the songs Take and Rage came to me while writing Dragon for Surface of the Sun. Both remained in their infancy as ideas recorded in my phone for about a year. Rage was not much more than the two chords that drive the song, with the word “rage” fixed as the chorus, and a rough vocal melody with no lyrics for the verses. Take actually had a couple variations, and changed quite a bit once I started working on it, but it was nothing more than a couple guitar riffs at first. I wrote Disintegrated about five-six years ago, but it was only piano and vocals, and I had been waiting for the right time to finish it.
I had the idea for a while to release something soft and melancholy. There is a beauty in the sadness with music like that. Disintegrated was my first song idea headed that way, and though significant time elapsed between its creation and the other two songs, it provided an emotional direction for the others. Also, coincidentally, the current state of things with the pandemic helped further fuel the lyrical concepts and overall feel of the music.
When I finally focused on writing these songs, Rage came first. I had the most ideas for it, and it was the simplest with being an alternation between only two chords. For the longest time I’d envisioned it being just an acoustic guitar and vocal song, actually. Maybe with a couple strings or pads to fill it in a little. But while experimenting, the electric guitar riffs in the second verse happened, and it changed the direction of all three songs a little.
Typically, with rock and metal music (and some other genres), guitars are doubled and panned left and right so you hear the same thing on both sides. It’s not always the case, but is more often than not these days. Since all of these songs were based around what I knew would be a single instrument panned primarily to the centre, it left the sides open for experimentation. And this is what happened while writing Rage. After creating the first verse electric guitar riff, instead of playing it in unison (doubled) for the other side I used the available space as an opportunity to create another riff to compliment what was already going on.
From the beginning I wanted to keep Rage a simple song, and as a result it only had two chords for the longest time. To me it was mostly about the relationship between those two chords and the chorus vocal melody. I purposefully left it simple and repetitive, which felt right for how the word “rage” landed emotionally. The bridge was the last section of the song I wrote. Now, if you’ve listened to much of my other stuff, you’ll notice I like to get a little carried away with bridge sections. They’re usually on the longer side, and bring in a new variety of melodies and riffs. I tried to do that less with these songs. And that was hard! But for Rage I felt the change the bridge could bring to the song was needed. It stepped away from the two-chord pattern enough to shift the feel, then helped the energy drop into the humming before the last chorus.
Take went through a couple changes surrounding the opening guitar riff. The notes and chords mostly stayed the same, but the tempo kept changing, and I’d add little licks here and there between chords, trying different approaches. Eventually I ended up with two variations I loved. One is on this EP. The other is much quicker and feels like a completely different song. Other than the notes you couldn’t relate them to each other now (I like this one enough you’ll probably here it as another song some day).
Take took (well, isn’t that a bit odd to read) an interesting path early on after choosing the slower tempo. In terms of a verse/chorus arrangement, it is one of the more unique songs I’ve written. There is a short verse and chorus at the beginning, then a verse and chorus that start with the same lyrics, but expand to be longer. Then there is a sort-of bridge in the middle, another verse, then a chorus that is almost bridge-like that once again starts with the same lyrics as the short one at the start, but expands to contain more lyrics not yet heard. It’s like the sections of the song grow as the song progresses, which felt really neat to me.
As previously mentioned, I sat on Disintegrated in a mostly completed state for quite a few years. The piano was about 90% complete, the lyrics and main vocal melody were written, as were the bass guitar and acoustic solo. The rest of the instrumentation came after completing the other two songs and was inspired by what had happened with them. Even though for years I believed I’d leave the arrangement as it was, wanting it to feel a bit naked and exposed, I realized after experimenting with it again after all these years that the extra emotional weight created by strings and other instruments were too valuable to leave out.
It felt good after all these years to finish Disintegrated and test myself in a new genre. I sang differently. I wrote lyrics differently. And I took a new approach to building my guitar arrangements. I hope you enjoyed it, too.
Thanks for reading.