Good Luck in the Next Life (2001)
more varied than SUBLIMINAL BILE, and not as consistent, but some good stuff lives here nonetheless.
hurt like it should is one of our more rhythmically interesting songs (with the time signature constantly switching from 4/4 to 5/4 and back again), and one of my more intense vocal performances up to this point. at the end there are two outbursts that are pitched somewhere between screaming and weeping but don’t become either one, coming off more like some weird feral howling. it felt like i was ripping pain out from inside of myself while singing it, which i guess was kind of what i was really doing, even though the lyrics were uncharacteristically elliptical and vague. the phrase “you know what you did” became a mantra, sung over and over again, as if i could exorcise the demons if i could just stab at the words until they felt my anger and confusion.
the odd rhythmic hiccups in the song came out of tyson pointing out a part near the beginning of “vicodin” where my guitar stutters at will and follows a different rhythm from what he’s playing on the drums, and he suggested we intentionally try to craft something similar that was a little off-kilter rhythmically to mess people up — but this time, instead of a brief moment at the start of the song, it would be a recurring thing that we effectively built the whole song around. gord was a few hours late showing up at my place, so we had time to cook something up in the music room while we were waiting for him, and for some reason the first thing that came out of my fingers was one of the nicer-sounding things i’d played on the guitar in a while. by the time gord arrived the seed of the song was there. could this have been the beginning of tyson’s interest in odd time signatures? we may never know.
tyson brought over his video camera to record the session, and when we watched it later it sounded to me like there was a harpsichord playing a decorative figure an octave or so above the guitar. i’m not sure where that came from, and i’ve never been able to figure it out or hear it again. maybe it was my brain’s stoned way of telling me to overdub something along those lines. i didn’t, though tyson tried to get me to add some harmonies after the fact. i tried, and i also tried adding a bit of additional guitar, but it seemed wrong. i preferred the song naked, like most of our music. i did consider replacing my guitar solos because i had no idea what i was doing at the time and they sounded kind of shitty to me, but tyson said they were “relaxing”, so they stayed.
eating my own waste is strangely upbeat for a song about LSD-induced hallucinations, germs, and defiance, with my guitar echoing in druggy ways and gord and tyson laying down some funky shit. there’s even some silly scatting at the end. gutter trash is one of the most accessible things we ever did, and you could almost call it a ballad, which is kind of scary. it’s got a bit of a reggae lilt to it, though the lyrics keep it from getting too normal. i like the bit at the beginning with tyson laughing and fooling around before he realizes we’re recording. it sounds like he’s responding to something i said, though i can’t remember what it was. what else? almost resembles a conventional rock song, with one of my best guitar solos on the album, and provided some amusing moments when, during rehearsals for one of the few gigs we played, tyson would ask, “what else?” after we finished a song, and i would say, “that’s the next song!” only to get a blank stare back.
this time out, a few of our improvisations don’t cohere as well as they had on the last album, particularly on asphyxiate, which features a few nice harmony bits and a very stylish entrance from tyson, but doesn’t really do anything interesting for most of the song (this time i really meant it when i said “i got nothing”). i had kind of shot my wad with the first two songs, and what came out here felt more like the ugly afterbirth of the venom i had already sprayed all over the place. i did make some pretty angry facial expressions, and tyson later told me he was genuinely disturbed by some of them, but facial expressions aren’t enough to save the song from being sub-par, and neither was an allusion to the papa ghostface classic “don’t go” near the end.
on the other hand, two of the songs i thought of as filler for years are now two of my favourite things on the album. tonsillitis in a vacuum doesn’t have much lyrical substance to it, but gord unleashes a monster of a bass riff, my guitar-playing is as discordant as you could want it to be, and the instrumental interplay (complete with odd shifts in tone, dynamics and rhythm) underlines the strange connection we had, where a lack of any rehearsal or written material didn’t stop us from improvising like we somehow all knew where the song was going…which just made it stranger, because we almost never had any idea. we all get off is one of the more aggressive songs, taken at what may be the fastest tempo for any guys with dicks song ever recorded, and is strangely catchy for the improvised slab of vitriol it is. the performance is one of the tightest on the album, and there’s even a bona fide chorus in there. it almost sounds…punk-y.
absolutely perfect is simultaneously one of our catchiest tunes, and one of my filthiest diatribes. tyson felt my lyrics were some of the best i had ever come up with off the top of my head. we were just getting up after a night of recording, drinking, smoking and videotaping; tyson not only taped us recording the first four or five songs, but there were also some insane skits we improvised in the park later, though i’m not sure how much of that survives today because i imagine he probably recorded over most of it. i was still half-asleep and my brain felt like it had a layer of motor oil gumming up some of the gears, so i’m not sure how such a silly little song came about, or how i managed to sound like i really was awake and mentally alert. too bad about one of the drum mics starting to vibrate at the end…which is part of the reason the song fades out before an extended coda takes it somewhere else entirely.
something about lies would be one of our best mellow tracks if it wasn’t for all of the wrong notes, but i guess that’s the price you pay when you never really rehearse anything. hell, it’s still one of our best mellow tracks anyway. gord looked strangely comatose while we were recording it, and later claimed to have no memory of the session at all. on the video of our final live performance you can hear the song free of fluffed notes and sounding even better.
blood at the back fares better still, with a nice smoldering buildup to the overdriven climax. gord provides some tasty lead bass while my guitar fills in most of the low end, and my lyrics make up possibly the weirdest come-on i ever came up with. things end on a demented note once again with old together, but where “vicodin” was psychotic, this song is more playful, and nowhere near as lyrics-driven. it was one of the only times i got to stretch out on an instrument with keys in the final phase of the band (tyson said he hated the sound of the piano, and i took it to heart, though he would later change his stance on that subject), and there are long instrumental passages that border on jazz, or at least as close to jazz as we could ever hope to get. i like the eerie repetitions of “you know what you want” and tyson not being able to find his beer at the end of the song.
gord and tyson thought the album should kick off with an interlude, which is a little skit where i become the host of a game show called “guess their dick size” (’cause we’re guys with dicks, don’tcha know), during which contestants must try to ascertain how well-endowed each member of the band is. they thought it was hilarious, while i thought my little monologue was pretty lame and far from my best work. i kept it near the end of the album where it belonged, because i felt hurt like it should was a much stronger and more appropriate beginning. it would have been too jarring jumping from lighthearted silliness straight into genuine pain.
once the album had been mixed, tyson called me from work and told me the music was better than SUBLIMINAL BILE, but my singing wasn’t as good. i couldn’t really get much of an explanation out of him beyond something about me being more emotional on the last album. a few days later i asked him about it again and he decided that my singing was up to snuff after listening to the songs some more. gord didn’t seem to have a preference between the two cds, but thought the ladies would like gutter trash. alas, we never got to find out if girls would swoon to the song during live performances and plead with us to take them backstage where we would make wild, passionate love to them for twenty eight seconds.
ultimately, i guess this sounds like a logical extension/progression of the sound we established on the previous album, and also its own thing that doesn’t hesitate to veer off in new directions. lyrically there’s still a lot of venom, and i’m still often singing to (or about) the same girl SUBLIMINAL BILE was largely inspired by, but there’s a marked drop-off in sex talk. where it does show up, it tends to be more tongue-in-cheek and not as angry as before, with the exception of the ugliness in asphyxiate.
there’s also room for some moments that expand our musical landscape considerably — there was nothing even remotely like gutter trash on the last album, and hurt like it should finds a way to bleed pain from its pores without relying on any of my typical bile-spewing mechanisms, exchanging the obvious for a bunch of half-formed images that make little literal sense but somehow make emotional sense. the bit where i turn the word “really” into a cracked, elongated howl on the line “you know it’s really what we feel” is still probably my favourite moment on the whole album, for whatever reason.
hurt like it should
eating my own waste
tonsillitis in a vacuum
something about lies
blood at the back