Backwards Rock: It Beat

Well, we’ve reached the tenth installment of Backwards Rock. Crazy how a simple idea could get this far and yet still not feel finished, huh? Believe me, I have quite a few more ideas hanging around. So, what should we tackle for the tenth track? Of course – the King of Pop’s first (incredibly successful) attempt at a rock song. Here ya go – the main riff to “Beat It”… backwards.

It Beat

I skipped those weird seven synth notes at the beginning of the original. Don’t wanna waste your time too much… This one turned out kinda weird, but I think it still works. Placing the big accents on the off-beat can really mess with these things – I had to tab it out in Guitar Pro to make sure I was playing it right. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

Backwards Rock: Level New A

Aaah, here we are. Took me long enough, didn’t it? They were only my favorite metal band for a few years. The combination of groove, aggression, and chops made Pantera really stick for me. There are so many good Pantera options for the Backwards Rock machine – which one do I choose? Well, this time around, I chose a simple riff that was guaranteed to work. Here’s the opening section from “A New Level”… backwards.

Level New A

See? Works great! I didn’t quite get the Dime tone (specifically, I didn’t scoop out enough midrange), but it still works pretty well. To give it that early-1990s sound, I put quite a bit of reverb on the drums. Just seemed like the thing to do… I had to record the drums on this one a few times because I kept playing too loudly and the microphones kept clipping. Oops… Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

Backwards Rock: Name in the Killing

When you spend any time studying rock guitar, one band that will inevitably come up is Rage Against The Machine. Often imitated but never duplicated, they’re one of the most important metal bands to come out of the 1990s. They didn’t release a lot of material, but their first album almost singlehandedly launched a subgenre. So, uh, that’s gonna count for something, doesn’t it?

Like I’ve mentioned before, some riffs work really well for Backwards Rock and others turn kinda bizarre. I’m pretty sure this one falls into the “bizarre” category, but that’s ultimately up for you to decide. I give you: The main riff to “Killing in the Name”… backwards.

Name in the Killing

One weird thing I encountered while recording this: I used a click track and they clearly didn’t. This is why my “quiet” section is faster than theirs – they slow down a little when the vocals enter. Go figure, huh? Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

Backwards Rock: Stew Brain

Today we tackle a super-easy Green Day riff. Sure, this may seem like a bit of a low-hanging fruit – that’s probably why I didn’t think of this riff right away when I started making these. But when I mapped it out, I quickly saw why this was a good pick. When beat One becomes the “and” of Four, the simple becomes much more complex. I give you: The easiest riff in Green Day’s catalog…backwards.

Stew Brain

The displacement is really what makes this track for me. Everything sounds all nice and normal, like nothing’s weird at all… until the drums kick in. For guitar nerds: I accidentally left my pickup switch at the middle position. Knowing that Billie Joe Armstrong typically used a Stratocaster at the time they recorded this song, I decided to keep it anyway. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

Backwards Rock: dionaraP

I had to tackle this one, didn’t I?! This classic early metal song was just screaming for the backwards treatment. In fact, I went beyond what I normally do for this one – instead of one riff from the song, I did two. So, here you go: The introduction and the first verse (without the words) to “Paranoid”… backwards.

Dionarap

One thing I have been doing on my Instagram is I’ve been posting quick videos of me recording the guitar parts to these little experiments of mine. When I went back and watched the video of me recording this song, I realized I had played the intro wrong. Oops! So, within the week of posting that video, I went back and redid the guitars. In retrospect, I’m glad I did that… Also, I tried to keep the feel of the rhythm section as close to the original as I could. Bill Ward (drums), in particular, has such a unique style for metal that I couldn’t help but try to mimic it. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

The Hockey Project: You Can Put It In The Win Column!

We made it! Eight months (and a strange year-long hiatus) later, we’ve finally reached the end of The Hockey Project. So what better way to end it than with its longest song? I thought so, too.

You Can Put It In The Win Column!

A quick word on the title: I used to listen to a lot of hockey games on streaming audio after work or after Sabres games were over, typically leaning towards the western Canadian teams. I was never a big Flames, Oilers, or Canucks fan, but those radio guys always seemed to call a good game. This song title is what longtime Flames radio announcer Peter Maher said after every Flames win. Obviously, that phrase stuck with me.

Lyrically, this one serves mostly as a wrap-up of the whole project, complete with a section of complaints and a clean section written from the perspective of that guy whose job is to watch over the Stanley Cup. Like usual, I started with the singing sections first, then went to the harsh vocals. I always cut the singing parts first whenever I make a song like this. Seems easier on the voice that way…

Musically, this one was definitely fun to make. I really like the dynamic contrast that the middle section provides – one good way to ramp up the intensity in metal is to back off for a while. The last thing recorded for the whole project was the keyboard parts – a last-minute addition after I thought “you know, this track is missing something” after I finished the vocals. That included a rarity for me – a keyboard solo. And to think I played it on a two-octave MIDI controller…

Whew! I think that covers everything. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here thinking about the next project…

The Hockey Project: Now Available On Bandcamp

Hello there. Today’s a big day because I have FINALLY finished The Hockey Project! Now you can listen to and download the entire project in one place.

 

Out of all the sports projects, this one was not the longest in terms of running time but definitely the heaviest. This is unwittingly a pretty solid reflection on the niche-sport quality that hockey holds, though it’s largely due to me liking metal and also adding an 8-string guitar to my arsenal. Super heavy and oddly personal in spots, this project was quite a journey and I’m proud of the results. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

The Hockey Project: Campbell And Wales Get Overlooked Again

Well, the third round of the playoffs is over, so it’s time for a new song. If you follow the sport at all, you most likely have heard that hockey players are an incredibly superstitious bunch. If they even put on their equipment in a different order, their heads might explode. One of the many superstitions in hockey pertains to the trophies for winning the conference finals – it’s supposedly bad luck to even touch them. Sure enough, in both 2014 (the year this song was actually written) and 2015, neither team touched the conference champion trophies. This song is written from the perspective of the neglected hardware.

Campbell and Wales Get Overlooked Again

Like I mentioned before in this project, I always enjoy when a rock/metal album suddenly goes acoustic for one or two songs. One fairly common spot for a metal album’s lone acoustic track is right before the last song (i.e.: Track 9 on a 10-track album). So what better time to go acoustic then right now? For you inquisitive guitar dudes, this song is in Drop-D-flat tuning (Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb, or C# G# C# F# A# D# on your tuner). I also enjoyed adding all the percussion – this song features cajon, darbuka, tambourine, and claves. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time when we finally wrap this puppy up.

Backwards Rock: Tripper Day

It’s about time I get to The Beatles, isn’t it? They’re only one of the most important pop bands of all time. Of course they should get the Backwards Rock treatment! And what better bit to play backwards than their classic / cliche-guitar lesson riff – the beginning to “Day Tripper”.

Tripper Day

This one was pretty easy to put together, all told. The most difficult part was the bass, since Sir Paul matched the pitch instead of playing the riff in his own octave. The weird panning scheme – Drums on the left? Really? – is my best attempt at matching the original stereo mix of the song. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

Backwards Rock: Spirit Teen Like Smells

When I came up with Backwards Rock, the idea was simple. Let’s take some classic rock riffs and play ’em in reverse! Some would be far easier to do than others – like, say, a classic heavy metal riff that’s coming soon – and some would turn out a little bizarre. I’m pretty sure today’s segment falls into the “bizarre” category. I give you the main riff from the iconic early-90s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”… backwards.

Spirit Teen Like Smells

The thing that saved this riff from turning boring – and also helped keep everything in line – is the generous helping of muted string hits. That open string chord in the middle (it’s in the original, you just don’t really notice it) feels incredibly out of place when you play the riff backwards… which is what happens when you take a thing you don’t think about on the “and” of 4 and place it on beat 1… Also, I kept the drums close to the original, which included the opening fill. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.