photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
during the pandemic many a musician, much like the res of us, were stuck at home with their RECORDING and TOURING cycles effectively semi-permanently on hold. during that period a number of them initiated PODCASTS and YOUTUBE channels in order to staving off cabin fever, as well as (one would assume) supplement their income during a dry period of seemingly indefinite length as the world came to terms with COVID.
of all these endeavors, JIMMY EAT WORLD's frontman and main SONGWRITER JIM ADKINS created the PODCAST and associated VIDEO SERIES PASS-THROUGH FREQUENCIES (available on his band's YOUTUBE channel) over twenty episodes in 2020 as a means of discussing with other musicians the CREATIVE PROCESS and more specifically his love of SONGWRITING. and it really is very much a deep dive into the MECHANICS, RITUALS, THEORY, COLLABORATIONS, PRODUCTION, SELF-DOUBT, TECHNIQUE, HABITS, INSPIRATION, FRUSTRATION, TECHNOLOGY, HARD-WORK and SPONTANEITY that goes into writing a SONG. notable past guests include KEN ANDREWS (FAILURE), MARK HOPPUS (BLINK-182), MATT PRYOR (THE GET UP KIDS), BETHANY CONSENTINO (BEST COAST), WILLIAM RYAN KEY (YELLOWCARD), BEN GIBBARD (DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, THE POSTAL SERVICE), TEGAN QUIN (TEGAN & SARA), GERARD WAY (MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE) and FRANK TURNER.
i think what really comes across in these discussions is the level of INTENTION and CRAFTSMANSHIP involved in SONGWRITING. given its EPHEMERAL nature, the experience of listening to music make it seem an almost INVISIBLE ART and PASS-THROUGH FREQUENCIES very much establishes how such is definitely not the case. makes me wonder about what other aspects of modern entertainment is passively consumed with little to no notice for its creation. FOOD, WEB DESIGN, CINEMA, JOURNALISM, GRAPHIC DESIGN and PHOTOGRAPHY (along with aforementioned MUSIC) come immediately to mind. its all a bit of a reminder to be a more MINDFUL consumer of the CREATIVE EFFOTS of others. my biggest takeaway is the role of battling CRIPPLING SELF-DOUBT as a part of the CREATIVE PROCESS. it feels reassuring that most of these accomplished SONGWRITERS who have all created MEMORABLE art over the past few decades first had to overcome their own SELF-CRITICISM and sense of SELF-WORTH to make something worthwhile. makes them feel more HUMAN.
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
sometime in the early 2000s i looked into the light and was converted instantaneously to the CRIMINALLY OVERLOOKED LOS ANGELES-based ALTERNATIVE ROCK band FAILURE. their UNIQUE sense of SONIC DYNAMICS, SONGWRITING and CONCEPTUALITY was unmatched during that era (with the exception of maybe TOOL). unfortunately at that point they were more than half a decade post-breakup.
it was at this point that i also discovered AUTOLUX which is an EXPERIMENTAL trio that includes GREG EDWARDS (FAILURE), CARLA AZUR (EDNASWAP, JACK WHITE) and EUGENE GORESHTER, who all sing. their sound is somewhere between SHOEGAZE, KRAUTROCK, INDIE ROCK and AMBIENT music. it makes absolute sense that members of AUTOLUX have industry experience as session musicians for FILM SCORES and SOUNDTRACKS since their music has a distinctly CINEMATIC feel to it. there is an evoked sense of MELANCHOLY and UNDEFINABLE TREPIDATION throughout much of their material. i could easily see some of these SOUNDSCAPES being utilized in a psychological thriller or in a montage where a character is steeped in deep thought.
i gues what i am attempting to verbalize is that there is a distinct sense of INTERIORITY to their sound which i enjoy. AUTOLUX is definitely worth checking out.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
RICK BEATO is a trained engineer and producer of nominal fame, having mentored and produced minor bands in the 1990s, mostly out of his studio in ATLANTA, and before that was a instructor at ITHACA COLLEGE in upstate NEW YORK. nothing particularly noteworthy but he did make a living as an engineer and producer with CHRISTIAN artists from what i could find online.
however, what i find compelling about BEATO is his YOUTUBE series of videos called WHAT MAKES THIS SONG GREAT where he basically dissects popular music utilizing the stems from the original recording. it is super interesting because the guy gets into the weeds about MUSIC THEORY and it is completely wonky. i may only understand a third of what he's talking about technically, as i am not a trained musician, but what you come away with is the complexity and depth of thought involved with constructing compelling ROCK AND ROLL music.
even songs by bands i thought i had a handle on (AC/DC, NIRVANA) are unwrapped and presented in a way where the tricks of PRODUCTION and SONG CRAFT are revealed. and example of such is how KURT COBAIN in terms of his singing voice will complete and alter chords that are evoked with the guitar, essentially creating haunting melodies that transcend their individual parts. you get the feeling that COBAIN did this innately, but its still cool to know that in technical terms what he did is of interest to scholars that have the ability to inspect his work on a purely compositional level.
this series, along with WARREN HUART's related INSIDE THE SONG YOUTUBE series, gives you a deep dive into MUSIC THEORY and RECORDING TECHNIQUES within the context of specific songs, which is such a gift. its like learning MUSIC THEORY through osmosis and i am a fan. his actual engineering/production career not so much.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
when i discovered the band FAILURE in the 2000s when i was in college, years after their demise, i could not believe that i completely missed out on such a great band during their heyday. it made me reconsider my MOUNT RUSHMORE of great bands from that ALTERNATIVE ROCK era (JANE'S ADDICTION, FAITH NO MORE, TOOL, ALICE IN CHAINS, NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN, etc) to include one more. specifically the sounds found on their respective second and third releases, MAGNIFIED (SLASH, 1994) and FANTASTIC PLANET (SLASH, 1996) are HUUUUUUGGGGEEE.
almost PINK FLOYD-ish without the literary pretensions. just huge rock riffs with lots of space. in fact whenever i listen to their records now, even the releases post-reunion, i just feel like i am experiencing a defined space with lots of DEPTH and WEIGHT. its amazing that FAILURE mastermind KEN ANDREWS produced and mixed those records back in the 1990s. since their demise he has been an in-demand mixer that has worked with NINE INCH NAILS, PARAMORE, A DAY TO REMEMBER, TENACIOUS D, THE ICARUS LINE, JIMMY EAT WORLD, and M83 among others.
started before the quarantine, he created a YOUTUBE channel where he goes over his mixing techniques and utilizes the FAILURE back catalogue as examples. even if you are not a musician or studio rat, just a fan of his band then this is a real treat. its next level that a dude that went the DIY route (even with regard to their stylized, futuristic music videos) was able to track and mix content that held up to professional standards of the time. its also cool to get a sense of his writing process, which is layered and methodical.
if you haven't heard MAGNIFIED or FANTASTIC PLANET, please stop reading this and just go find a comfortable place and zone out on SPOTIFY for the next two hours. you can thank me later.
thank you to FAILURE for retweeting out posting! so cool.