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.

The Hockey Project: Eight Remain

Well, that was quick. Feels like Round Two just started and it could be ending in the next few days. Guess it’s time to post the next Hockey Project tune, huh? This is a song with a simple lyrical idea to compliment music that’s anything but simple.

Eight Remain

Lyrically, I wrote about reaching the second round of the playoffs and otherwise just kinda threw words together and pretended to be serious. The part I was unsure about until my friend Adam heard it and burst out laughing was the “well, congratulations” background vocal line. The doubling, combined with the lower register, makes it sound incredibly sarcastic which I like a lot.

Musically, this is another case of “Ed Likes Progressive Rock, Part X”. At the time I wrote this song, I had recently seen The Safety Fire live and was in a massive kick with that band (If you’ve never heard them and like super-intricate guitar work, then definitely check them out). That kick helped me write the first distorted riff – one of the more difficult riffs in my catalog. Position changes and string jumps give it an extremely high margin for error. The song is also mostly in seven, because I like using seven and it had been a while. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

4th and Goal Theme Song

Believe it or not, I tend to enjoy musical commissions. Earlier this year, I was asked by a friend of mine to make opening and closing theme music for a podcast he co-hosts, called “4th and Goal“. He told me what it’s about – FOOTBALL, of course – and gave me a good blueprint for the voiceovers. Other than that, I was left to my own devices. So hmm… what should I do? Naturally, I settled on what I tend to do best – heavy. I give you the 4th and Goal opening theme, with no voiceover.

4th and Goal Open

I set up a typical-ish podcast intro, adding some sound effects and a commentator… and then we crash into a 90s groove metal vibe. For those of you keeping score, that’s five of me yelling “FOOTBALL” before the metal kicks in.

For the closing theme, I just went straight for the 90s groove metal vibe and took the “theme and variations” route. The two riffs sound similar, but they’re not the same. I also put them in reverse order to keep things interesting. Here’s the closing theme, also with no voiceover.

4th and Goal Close

I know it’s not very “90s groove metal” of me to throw in a guitar lead, but my gut told me something needed to be there so I did it anyway. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you next time.

The Hockey Project: Outraged By The Outrageous Outrage

Ah yes, nothing like some good ol’ unfinished business. For those of you who don’t know, I occasionally enjoy writing music about sports. Typically, it’s been either baseball or football, but last season I finally decided to undergo a hockey project. The idea was to write a song every two weeks for the regular season and one for each playoff round, giving me eighteen total tracks. For some odd reason, I wrote and recorded the four playoff tunes (except for the vocals on the last one, which I’ll get to in the coming week or so) and shelved them. Well, now that it’s hockey playoff time again, I’m going to finish those tracks and release them this year! Starting… NOW.

Outraged By The Outrageous Outrage

This tune is about the thing I dislike the most in sports – they’re taken WAY too seriously. Everything is SUPER IMPORTANT and if something even remotely controversial happens, well, look out ’cause there’s a storm a-brewin’ – especially online. This song is written from the perspective of one of those dudes.

Musically, this one is driven by my love for both djent and speed metal. The song’s arc from “driving double kick” to “groove first, chops later” to “syncopated” really helped the lyrics out in this case. Also, the guitar tone changes here because this is when I started double-miking my amplifier. If you have a condenser microphone that can handle high sound pressure levels, I highly recommend it. Finally, if you listen not too closely, you’ll hear a callback to “Anatomy of a Match Penalty”. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you in the next round.