“Still No Closer To Tomorrow”
Working on a new album is an incredibly stressful process. In particular, when you have a family, you don’t know when you’ll get to work on it. I’ve been freaking out a little because as January was wrapping up, I’d only finished music on one song. One song a month for a 12 song album is not really going to get me a release by the Fall. So I sat down and chose the songs from my 2014 demo list that appeared to have a complete structure (verses, choruses, bridge, beginning, middle and end). I quickly focused on one song in particular – “Still No Closer To Tomorrow”.
The song is about the promises you make to yourself and others about your destiny (or “tomorrow”). I think it’s the “big ballad single” on the album. I’ve had the hook, the lick, the vocal melodies etc for over two years. The problem was that it felt a bit empty and far too “90s”.
Doing The Work Gets You Closer To Tomorrow
I spent January 23rd reorganizing the structure, doing a really rough mix and identifying the things I needed to record. The 28th I sat down and did some actual recording. I used a similar sound to the solo I used on “The Storm” as a dramatic hook in the second half of the choruses. In the same area I included an intensified, heavy guitar to add some drama and tension. Both of these sounds were used to “coda” the song and finish it out. I also restructured the change to the chorus from the verses a little bit. This gave those spots some space so that the chorus didn’t just jump in abruptly.
On February 1st, I stayed up late filling in some holes – I put some quick guitar sounds in the new verse-to-chorus gaps I created, and completely re-performed the minimal guitar solo after the bridge, adding a little bit more “stuff” to it. I also used a similar “guitar stringing” sound to the one I used in the bridge of “The Storm” within the 2nd verse of “Still No Closer To Tomorrow”.
Finished Instrumentals Bring Me Closer To Tomorrow
All told, it was a few hours of work. What tends to happen is that I will have a very clear idea of what I want to do but – as happened when working on “The Storm” – it doesn’t go the way I think it will. Or perhaps it doesn’t sound quite right. So I go on to some other things that I’m fairly confident about. After those “other things” add some color to the song, I can tweak those initial ideas I had attempted and suddenly the whole thing really takes shape. Sometimes things I didn’t like and wanted to redo completely differently stay because they make so much more sense after these other parts are in.
It’s very odd. But it’s also very cool in that the art itself seems to live as it develops. I love that.
Here’s a piece of what I did, taken from the second verse and without any scratch vocals. Note that it also hasn’t been mixed yet.
Compare that to how this sounded originally in the “A Work In Progress…” promo video that came out New Year’s Day and you can really hear a difference.
So, it’s getting there. I’m really excited about how things are developing and how, both in theme and sonics, this album is already having a very definable identity.