Children Have No Eyes (2000)
i already wrote a bit about this one in an early blog entry, so i won’t really delve too deep into the genesis of the album because it’s covered pretty well there, if in condensed form.
the short version of the story goes something like this: in the summer of 2000, i found myself more inspired than i had been in a long time, and ended up writing and recording songs for both this and PAPER CHEST HAIR at the same time. i wrote enough songs to make each album a 2 or 3-cd set, but never got around to recording some of my favourite things i had written, and i kind of lost interest in this album before it was even finished. i started out thinking it was some of my best and most accessible work, and then decided it wasn’t that great after all.
i definitely had the “accessible” part right; this music is disturbingly free of weirdness, and my working title was “almost normal”, which pretty much sums it up. on some level i probably decided it was time to get a bit more approachable and let some craft sneak into things, recording some of the songs i was writing in the traditional sense instead of improvising all the songs while they were being recorded. hell, i was 16 years old…i was in the autumn of my career. it was time to try something new.
oddly enough, for something so free of strangeness, this cd is pretty weird to listen to today. it’s probably the closest i’ve ever come to making genuine pop music. mine kicks things off on a happy-sounding acoustic note, though the lyrics aren’t exactly sunny. there was a part at the end of the song where i thanked the imaginary backup vocalists, but i cut it out for some reason. i guess i thought it was a little too silly. though i wasn’t thinking of anything in particular when i wrote the song, i later realized it did a pretty nice job of unintentionally encapsulating the closest thing to a romantic relationship i had experienced up to that point. and that’s about the only time anything on the album comes even remotely close to autobiography.
when it rains was originally written as a sad piano ballad, and for some reason about half of the lyrics came to me while i was taking a bath. when it came time to record the song, i threw out the original music and instead grafted the lyrics to this uptempo electric guitar thing, which changed the entire feel of the song. it’s funny how happy you can make lines like “baby’s back / high on crack / she gave it all away for a little bit of pleasure” sound just by playing major chords against them and singing with a bit of energy. the end result sounds something like a raw hall & oates demo, which is pretty hilarious if you ask me, though i’ve always liked the song in spite of its pop pedigree and the occasionally off-key singing. imagine what i could do with it today, with real drums and a bit more polish.
la montage is probably the only thing that gets a little strange, with lyrics about how god has no tonsils and the sun has no nipples, but the music is catchy enough to keep it grounded. my pal jesse topliffe once told me it reminded him of INXS, and he said he could see himself covering it. you’d have to hear the song, and hear some of his music as well, to get an idea of just how strange that would be.
here she was written as a stab at capturing an old acoustic rolling stones vibe, circa beggar’s banquet, but it doesn’t really end up sounding much like its inspiration would suggest. it also marks the first time i ever played real drums on a recorded song (i had just bought my first drum set that day). while i had no idea what i was doing behind the kit, i like the big, detuned drum sound i got at the time. it sounds sort of like i was banging on the walls of an old tool shed or something.
the vocals for jiklönne were recorded the day after the PG tracks “c’mon” and “gay animal rights” (the music came from about a month before), and initially the song showed up on KISSING THE BALD SPOT. in the end i decided it felt more at home here, since it was a solo piece after all. it seemed like a good way to end things. i’m not sure what possessed me to try re-working we was dead as a ballad, but i think it turned out a lot better than the papa ghostface version did, even if i still never quite captured the song the way it sounded it my head when i wrote it. dirty reflection was originally written on piano, complete with lyrics, but for some reason i decided to turn it into another one of my early stabs at something approaching electronic music, and i never got around to recording vocals. the weird filter effects were added after the fact when i finally mixed the song in the summer of 2002.
promises may be the strangest thing of all — an epic ballad that really sounds like something of a genuine love song. i would never write something like this today, but it was written for a girl who didn’t actually exist, so maybe that’s why i can still listen to it without my stomach turning. it’s always been a highlight for me, and it features some of my best singing on the album, along with a jazzy instrumental mid-section.
in the end, i’m not sure where i’d rank this cd exactly, but it’s grown on me over the years, and it’s kind of fun to hear now. i think it works as an interesting companion piece to PAPER CHEST HAIR, given the way they overlapped. i would sometimes record vocal tracks for songs that would end up on both albums on the same day. maybe someday i should record a bunch of the songs that were written for the album but never made it to the recording stage, and issue that as a companion piece or something. it’s a thought.
when it rains
sound of the smell
we was dead