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THE MAKING OF AIN’T NOBODY

April 19th, 2016 | by Niko Van Steenhoven

Well… hello. Is it me you’re looking for? (Anyone? Anyone?)

In the last article I talked a bit about the new cover song we just put out, and why we chose it.

But after making this little “making of Ain’t Nobody” video, I thought I’d share some more detail about what went on behind the scenes and how this song and video came to be.

I warn you ahead of time, you’ll have read words to find out what happens.


THE MAKING OF AIN’T NOBODY



So before we get to the part with all the words and the stuff, let’s quickly refresh on the video we put out last week.

It’s a short making of video I put together from some of the recording of that song. To be honest, we didn’t document much of it, so there wasn’t much footage to use. The upside is, however, its not a 2 hour documentary. (That sounds defensive, l feel like I’m apologizing for it. Ignore that. Or I could just delete that before I publish this. Oh shit!! TOO LATE!! NOOOOO!!!).

I always enjoy watching people work on things behind the scenes, so I’m projecting my interests on to you, without your permission.





As stated in the video, it’s been a long time since we’ve put anything out there, and things took quite a while to get done. So you might be asking, “Why did things take so long, Mr. Guy?”

Well, first I’d be curious as to why you are calling me “Mr. Guy”, because neither of those are my name.

But after that, I’d put on White Zombie’s Astro Creep 2000, “Perhaps you’d better start from the beginning…”



WHY RELEASE ANYTHING?



Well, thats a deeper question than I think you’re looking for.

“Oh, okay then!” *walks off contented*

Wait! But story gets not only into the nitty, but also the gritty! (but not the dirt band).

“Nitty AND gritty?” you say with curiosity. “Now this I gotta hear!”

Yes well, the real question here is, why release a single, why a cover, and why suddenly now?

There’s a lot of ground to cover there, so I’ll try and be as brief and to the point as possible. Speaking of brief and to the point, did I tell you the story about my grandfather and the war? It’s a doozy. You might want to sit down for this one! More coffee?



OUR BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS



The motivation to release a single, was really a push to release… anything. Something! You and I are well aware that things take time, and that life has a way of making those things take even longer, due to random events and obligations.

And that’s precisely what happened. And being the kind of people that always feel the need to be working on projects, we found ourselves growing quite frustrated with the continuously widening canyon of time before us, that stretched back to the last time we released something.

Was that too wordy? ‘Cause I think it was. How’s this: we wanted to put something out, because it had been a while since we put something out.

There, that was easy. Don’t know why I didn’t do that the first time. Oh well. We’ll always have Paris.

Back to the story.

Though we released a lot of multimedia stuff in 2011, our last release of brand new music (you know, that thing that a band does?), was in 2009! And that year was moving farther and father away from us all the time. (Time moves all the time?)

Sure, we were working on a new album (and still are by the way… more on that another time), but the pace was slow, beleaguered, and beset by constant setbacks and distractions. Everyone in the band was beginning to feel the itch (though ointment helped with that). Frustrations bubbled to the surface, and people started getting angry.

“This is ridiculous! We haven’t released any new music for years now!” said the rest of the guys. Collectively. In rehearsed unison.

“Sorry, ‘rest of the guys,’” I defensively explained. “Things are being worked on, but they can only go as fast as they can go.”

The ‘rest of the guys’ glared at me with their two intense, fiery eyes. “We need to get something out there. Like now. Or we’re going to say a ‘not nice thing’ to you!”

“A not nice thing!? We can’t have that!,” I panicked. “Say, I sure can’t wait to put something out moderately quickly!”

And everyone lived happily ever after.



BUT WHAT TO WEAR?!



So we had agreed that it would be a good idea to put just one song out before the next album was done. The question was what?

There were, of course, many options. Like that one, or that other one.

One idea put forth was, “Perhaps we could release an early song from the next album?”

I thought about it for two seconds and promptly squashed that idea. Not a fan of that sort of thing. Plus other reasons (I’m a dick).

So, if the goal was to put out a single, what made sense?

This may be shocking, but I’m going to tell you.

*You are shocked*

For quite a while now, I’ve kept a running list of songs I’d want to cover, even though we’ve never actually done one before. It had always sounded like a fun thing to do, giving your spin to a song you like. (And now it seems to be god damn trendier than ever, which then in turn, makes me no longer want to do that).

BUT… with the ‘rest of the guys’ lighting an angry, infuriated fire under my… “belt”… I felt compelled to work on something that not only would appease their rage-filled hearts, but would make me happy as well. Also I was trying to avoid being yelled at.

It just so happens that I had already been messing around with a cover of “Ain’t Nobody”. As I mentioned in the last blog, I had been going through a big nostalgic period in my life, reconnecting with the music and media of my youth. While I was watching the classic 80’s movie “Breakin’”, I re-discovered this awesome song, and had put it in permanent rotation in my “retro” playlist ever since.

That made the choice of what to work on quite easy.

And when that fell through, we settled on the Ain’t Nobody cover.

Thankfully everyone was on board with the idea too. (Though to be honest, at this point, they were all so motivated to just get anything out into the world that they would have probably said yes to any idea. So it’s not really saying much).



THINGS MOVE QUICKLY



Since I had already had a demo version of what the cover would sound like, the process of turning it into a full song seemed pretty easy (you know, like Sunday morning).

Only a month or so later we were recording guitars with John. It was a fairly rapid process, and after some back and forth designing the final guitar parts, we had it all recorded in just a few hours.

At this point I thought, “Damn, if we keep things up at this pace, we’ll have this song done and out in a month or so!”

It was actually an exciting feeling, because my normal pace of working on things tends to be that of constantly over thinking everything, while progress slows to a crawl. So much so, that it feels like sometimes I blink, and two years slip by.

Riding the wave of energy and enthusiasm, I soon found myself recording the vocals for the song just a week or two later. Bryan found time to come by and record his bass parts, and Eric began doing drum takes.

All was moving quickly, and for once, it seemed that we’d be able to conceive, record, mix and release a song in record time! (record time, isn’t that some sort of not funny joke?).

What could possibly go wrong?



THINGS SLOW DOWN



…Oh.

Now, you probably don’t know this, but I have an unfortunate history of not only disappointing myself, due to how long things can take, but also disappointing my own band members. It’s not something I’m proud of. But to my (small) defense, there’s usually a fairly decent reason that things slow down or get put on hold for a bit. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I really hate letting people down. It’s just one of those things that really gets to me.

Well, as you may have guessed by that paragraph, I let people down at this point in the story.

We had the song mostly ready to go (minus some final mixing, and a mastering pass) at the beginning of 2015.

Yep. You heard me right.

At the time of this writing it’s currently early… 2016. Now I’m not great at math but I’d wager that it’s been at least a few days since then. Perhaps several hundred. Hell, while we’re at it, maybe THOUSANDS!

So what happened? Did it just sit there on the metaphorical shelf, metaphorically gathering metaphorical dust?

YES!

Good night.

…Okay… Not exactly, but kind of.

The main problem was that life got in the way (it’s a pesky mother fucker). To keep things brief for now, I’ll just say that I probably had the busiest year of my life in 2015, plus dealing with some personal issues in my “off time”. (Note: there really wasn’t much of this “off time” to speak of. And being a drummer, I love being off time! ZING! Horrible drummer joke: check).

I wanted be involved in the release of cover song, and maybe, I don’t know… plan some things out for once. But I had no physical, mental or emotional energy to muster up for anything for the majority of 2015.

Though I do feel that my life situation was more important than releasing a little cover song for a band, I do also understand how it can affect my band members, John, Bryan and Eric.

As I said, I hate disappointing people, and I’m sure they felt like they put in a lot of hard work to make that song cool, and then it just sits there (yes yes… metaphorically), and does nothing.

I began to wonder when I’d ever get time to release the song. Which in turn made me feel a bit guilt-ridden, and slightly depressed.

But at that point, I was just trying to survive (like Gloria Gaynor). Sorry, surviving comes first. And sushi.



THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER



Howard Jones? Anyone? No?

…Where was I?

No that wasn’t it.

No, not that either.

C’mon. That’s gross. I definitely wasn’t talking about that!

…..Oh yeah. Being so busy that work stopped on the song, and I disappointed everyone, everywhere, forever. Right, of course!

I know this may sound like a rationalization (and it still could be), but I’m actually glad that I had to wait to release the cover song, and I’ll tell you why.

During the nine months that I was insanely busy (wait… that’s a curious amount of time to be doing something…), I had tiny moments of time to think about the release of the cover song, and what could be better (hint: everything).

You see, another one of my charming personality quirks (see: extremely infuriating mental disorder), is that I’m never satisfied with anything. In my mind, things can always be bigger, better, more cool, more interesting, and other such words. Now to me, this is a good thing. I see it as I’m always trying to make things as great as I can. Seems like a positive thing.

But not everyone interprets my need to constantly re-assess and re-think stuff as a good thing. If anything, I’d assume my actions sometimes get translated and interpreted as avoidance, lack of follow through, or general artist moodiness (all things I’m capable of, I assure you).

*Stares blankly for a second, then does a full body shiver*

…God damn digressions! Back to my tiny moments of being able to think, during 2015…

So I began to feel that just releasing a song wasn’t really… well… cool enough on its own.

Imagining myself seeing just an audio player on a website with a blurb saying “Hey guys, here’s a new thing we did!”, seems incredibly dull. So I starting thinking of ways to improve it, and add a bit more value to it. Anything to make it something other than, “just a song”.

So, once my insane busy-ness ended in the late fall of 2015, I was suddenly able to not only think about the project and song again, but to actually WORK on things! How about that? HOW!? *Glares intensely*

I decided that the thing we needed was a video. Knowing full well we didn’t have the time to shoot a real video at the moment, I went with plan B (being in a band, I stockpile ‘morning after’ pills), and started putting together footage from our live shows from the past two years.

Now that I had free time again, the pace sped up dramatically. As I worked on making the live video for the cover song, I also decided it was high time to finally update our website (which had been neglected for years at this point. And to be honest, it was one of those things that hung over my head like a dark, nagging cloud. You know? Clouds that nag? Those?).

So now I was jumping from video editing, to web design, and beginning to brainstorm a plan for release, as well as plans for the entire year of 2016.

Phew!

I was tired, but finally feeling excited again. It was a lot to do, but I felt it would be worth it.



WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO DO



As in “a deer”.

As I mentioned in the last section, this could very well be a rationalization, but in the end I’m glad I got so busy last year, and had the time to really be able to mentally process the song release, and then make more of it. I’m much more proud to release a video (even if its just live footage), AND a new website, AND a making of video, AND new blogs, AND connect that to a big overarching plan for the year, rather than just put out a song by itself and say “Here you go guys!”

I hope you agree that it’s better as well. But who knows, you may not.

That’s probably a good stopping place for this long, meandering diatribe.

Go do something else, I’ll talk to you later.



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