The Bends

June 5, 2017 1

With the random public cannibalism, slow left lane drivers, and a governor with the looks and personality of Skeletor, I’m not always proud to be a Floridian, but I sure am glad to be one. Having spent two of the worst winters in recent history driving all over the States, now is about the time of year I am thankful that this is the home that I always gravitate back to. [This is the text I wrote when posting this song on last October, in case you’re wondering why I’m talking about winter in June] We had a cool-ish day last week, so I wore jeans to work thinking okay, now it’s time to switch from shorts to jeans (I work in a building with no heat or A/C). It being only the end of October in North Florida, that was a premature decision as my sweat-soaked jeans will attest. Winter teases us here. While it’s beating the hell out of Colorado, Wyoming, and other third-world states (I’m sorry, but temperatures of -45 degrees are un-American), we’re just hoping here that it gets somewhere between 30 – 40 degrees (not too cold now!) over Christmas so we can feel the spirit of the season for a few days. Sometimes we have a freeze, which means our sprinklers and grass dew are frozen until about lunchtime or so. We get cold, but we never really stop having hot days during the winter. And in the summer – well, have you seen the meme about wearing oven mitts while driving in Florida? I’ve never done that, but it’s a genius idea.

You really shouldn’t expect much when two Florida truckers make a snowman. This was at a shipper in Pennsylvania, waiting on a load of mushrooms to take to Miami after getting stuck in the snow.

So when I look at some of the photos I took that are in this video, it boggles my mind the amount of snow and ice I’ve dealt with. It seems like a past life, and one that is wholly unsuited for me. This song is the first one I recorded in my new studio setup, right after I got off the road over a year ago. [Two years now] I really didn’t care about the video part of it, I just knew that nobody on Facebook clicks on an audio link so I had to throw some kind of visuals in with the song to get people to pay any attention at all to it (it worked). It turned out kind of cool, and since the photos are of my mostly lonely personal journey zigzagging around the country, the last line “I want to live, breathe, I want to be part of the human race” really has personal meaning in that context.

What you are getting here though is new, never posted anywhere else. The video is the same, but the song is remixed and mastered far better than what I posted a year ago. Rather than starting right off with an original, I wanted to do a rock cover with overdriven guitars so I could learn how to use my new recording equipment and figure out standard practices for recording instruments and vocals in a hard rock setting. The recording went well, and the mix I posted to Facebook wasn’t bad for my first. But this one here kills that one. It’s taken months of learning and tweaking, and I’ve still got an issue or two with it. But I can’t keep tweaking the same cover song forever, so I am cutting the cord.

In a forgotten hotel room in a forgotten town while my truck was being repaired

For a band known for their anxious melancholy, this song is pretty unusual. I think The Bends is the only Radiohead song that could be described as bombastic. I used to play this with a band, and it was my favorite song to start with. It always got my blood pumping, my heart soaring. I tried to convey that energy that I feel in this recording, to make the song even bigger than it already was. I used a heavier guitar sound (which honestly I’m still iffy about, as I had never in my life used a shred metal amp and probably never will again), a huge drum sound, and a personal misguided interpretation of the lyrics as hopeful and excited (I know now that Thom Yorke wrote the song about being bored in a relationship and wanting out). As I had been playing it on guitar for years, it was easy to lay down the initial guitar track to a click pretty quickly. The bass, I had to go back and listen to on the original recording, and then I found my own way with it. The vocal – again, done it for years, no problem. The drums, however, I had to practice like crazy. It’s weird, but intricate funk beats are easier for me to play than relatively simple rock drum parts. Just not my bag. It took some work, but I’m happy with the result. And there are some syncopated snare hits near the end, because I just can’t help but funk up my snare every now and then, even on a rock song. In the immortal words of the great James Bond, “Whatever I do, it gots to be funky.” I may not be that great with videos or quotes, but my funk game is strong.

Cool dog photos!

June 11, 2017 at 11:23 am Matt Reply

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