Today’s track by track feature comes from The Story Changes!
Track 1: Wake the World.
Picking the song order when finishing an album is always a difficult
process and deciding which song should start the whole thing off is
even harder. “Wake the World” is a pretty big curveball for us in
many ways and I really like how the vibe of the song sets the mood for
the rest of the album.
This song was a late addition and actually written after we entered
the studio. We were working on some ideas for interlude pieces and
after recording drums, this eventually developed further into a full
song. I remember the vocal melody and lyrics coming to me while I was
in the shower one morning before heading to the studio. I got out and
sang it into the voice recorder on my phone so that I wouldn’t forget
it. Poppy did a really good job laying back on the beat to keep the
song heavy with the focus on the main accents driving the song. I
think the guitars for this track were the funnest thing that I
recorded on Static and Trembling. I stood really close to the
speakers so I could lean in and get the extra feedback I wanted on
certain parts throughout.
Lyrically, “Wake the World” is about the passing of someone close to
me and wishing that I could have another day with them. The title of
the album comes from the line: “Alone with the sound, the static and
trembling.” This song means quite a lot to me. - Mark
Track 2: Song Inside Your Head.
This song was a lot of fun to record in the studio! I think that while
the “Song Inside Your Head” has elements that cover new ground for us,
it also has this vibe to it that reminds me of our second album, The
Way of the Dinosaur.
Structure wise, the song stayed pretty true to the original idea when
writing it all the way up to the finished recording. One cool thing
we added while in the studio was chopping the drum section up in the
bridge and having it divided with some lofi sounding drum loops.
Poppy’s drum part and the drum machine part sort of go back and forth
and battle it out. It creates this cool flow behind the vocal and
guitar melodies on the bridge. I really dig it!
Static and Trembling has more guitar solo-ish sections than our
previous albums and “Song Inside Your Head” has the honor of not only
being the first lead on the album, but also one of my favorite leads
that I have put on a TSC song yet. I use the word “lead” loosely. I’m
not trying to shred by any means, haha, just trying to enhance the
song with some cool melodies. We really dove into using a lot more
stomp boxes this time around for the guitar tones, especially on the
leads and textural overdubs. It was a lot of fun dialing in some
different sounds. We went for more of a 90’s vibe in the guitar tones
and I couldn’t be happier with how they sound.
Track 3: Hashtags and Therapists.
Whether it’s the attempt of narrating with descriptions like
#ohmygodicantbelievehedrankthat #yolomofo or tagging their selfies
with self indulgent things like #tattooedbabesofinstagram or
#beardedhunksoftheinternet, we’ve all seen it and we all seem to have
that one friend that blows up every single photo with them. The song
title “Hashtags and Therapists” is a poke at the popular trend of
putting eight million hashtagged descriptions on EVERYTHING. It all
comes off kind of comical at this point because it’s all so overdone.
More often that not, it comes off like a cry for attention. I propose
that we start a trend of calling these people out and tag
#HASHTAGSANDTHERAPISTS every time someone overdoes it on the tags.
Static and Trembling as a whole was heavily influenced by the late
90’s alternative and punk scene that we grew up on and this song
definitely embraces that. It’s extremely fun to play live. I really
like the sort of frantic vocal melody of the verses. Everyone has had
those days where stress in your life adds up and you feel mentally
exhausted, pulled in every direction. That’s where I was coming from
lyrically on “Hashtags and Therapists”.
Track 4: State Lines.
"State Lines" is one of only a few instances where I have written all
of the words to a song before mapping out the music. I think I made a
few minor adjustments to the lyrics to fit the melody once the music
was fleshed out, but it pretty much stayed true to the words I wrote
in the back of a van towards the end of a really long tour.
I really dig the road vibe of the song. I can’t think of anything
more appropriate to sum up the vibe of a typical the Story Changes’
tour than the line “Warm coffee and night drives.” There is also a
nod to our extended family that we have made in Phoenix over the last
few years while recording our previous albums in the area: “Good
friends, gorgeous weather”.
Musically, the song has a lot of open space during the verses,. which
makes it a little different than anything we have done in the past.
Listening back now, the guitar solo to me sounds like it could be off
of any song on Save the Day’s “Stay What You are”. Knowing what the
song is about, that makes it that much more special to me. “State
Lines” is a love song.
Track 5: Nobody’s Poet.
"Nobody’s Poet" is the oldest of the songs that are on our new album.
I wrote this song probably around the time the Story Changes was just
getting started, but I didn’t really feel like it fit the band at the
time. I made an early demo of the song for fun and never really
thought twice about it. Over the next few years, the demo would come
up randomly on shuffle on my mp3 player while driving on various tours
and we both always noted how much we liked it even though it was a
little different for us. When putting together material for Static
and Trembling, we revisited the song and thought it fit this album
Our friend Joanna Taylor came in and recorded cello and viola for the
song in the studio. She did a fantastic job. I remember sitting in
the control room and getting goosebumps hearing it for the first time
when she tracked her part.
My favorite story about this song involves a full band demo of it that
we recorded a few months before tracking the album. I wanted to make
some slight changes to the lyrics and vocal melody of the verse a few
weeks later, but I was in Denver on an off day of tour staying with
family and did not have any of microphones or recording gear with me.
I ended up re-recording the vocals to that section holding up my
laptop and singing into the crappy built in mic. It gave it this
really lofi almost cb style effect and actually turned out to be a
really cool vibe for that part of the song. We ended up liking it so
much that when we recorded the actual version for the album later in
the studio, we mimicked the eq of the vocals to make it sound as close
as we could to the demo.
Track 6: Save You.
"Save You" was one of the last songs written for the album. We had
already written and worked on the bulk of the record and thought that
we were done writing, but this song sort of snuck in at the last
minute and we really liked it. I wrote the chorus and main riff for
the song while I was in Europe with my other band about a month before
we recorded Static and Trembling. Poppy and I jammed on it when I got
back to Ohio and the song came together rather quickly. I hear some
elements in “Save You” that remind me of our first album Last Night a
Rock Band Saved My Life in it. That makes me happy and it’s a cool
nod to our past.
This is one of only a handful of the new songs that we have performed
live at shows over the last couple of months leading up to the release
of the album. It’s been a lot of fun to play and fits well in our live
Track 7: We Were Numb.
It’s a tough call, but I think “We Were Numb” is my favorite song on
the new album. This song, like “Nobody’s Poet”, was one that we had
written and worked on a few years back, but it didn’t really fit with
what we were doing as a band until now. For Static and Trembling, the
song structure remained the same as our original take on it, but the
final version ended up being recorded half a step down in a lower key.
This along with the revamped drum parts that Poppy added really
brought the song to life. I love it.
Listening back now, “We Were Numb” has parts that remind me of Hum,
Sunny Day Real Estate, and Nirvana. Lyrically, the song is about
modern society’s way of trying to prescribe a pill for anything and
everything that could be wrong in someone’s life. “To hell with
Track 8: Never Not Ever.
Damn, we are already halfway through the song descriptions. Moving
right along! I’m getting excited for our hometown release show this
Saturday in Dayton, 9pm at Blind Bob’s in Dayton.
"Never Not Ever" was the first new song completed when we first
started writing for Static and Trembling. We have played this song
live on a couple of tours and also recorded a live acoustic version of
it at Woodward Skateboard camp during our stay there to film the
"Tidal Wave" music video. Musically, the song is one of the most
upbeat on the album. I really like the feel of the verse when the
kick drum pattern drops in and out behind the constant palm muting.
Track 9: In Too Deep.
We have recorded acoustic songs in the past, but “In Too Deep” evolved
into more and was a lot of fun to record for the album. I wrote the
basis of the song a few years ago, but we revisited the idea when
putting songs together for Static and Trembling.
While recording, the song had a lot of room to add some extra
instrumentation that we have never played around with before. We added mandolin and pedal steel guitar among other things with the help of our producer, Micah Carli. Our longtime friend JT from Hawthorne
Heights sang with me on this song. I think it’s my first recorded
duet, ha! Longtime TSC fans will hear a fun nod to our band’s past in
one of the vocal parts that JT sings on the bridge. Lyrically, the
song is about finding yourself stuck at a point where, sadly, the only
solution is to move on and cut someone out of your life.
Track 10: Come Clean.
Fun fact: The one and only Mr. Christopher “Poppy” Lee told me two
days ago that “Come Clean” is his favorite song to listen to on the
new album. We wrote an early version of this song when we were
putting together songs for Analogies, the split we did with Let Go.
We ended up having more songs for that release than we could include,
so we saved this song to work more on later. We reworked “Come Clean” a little bit for Static and Trembling, changing up the drum and bass groove on the verses and adding the guitar lick over the intro of the song.
We had our friends Kris Neises and Andy Saunders come in and record
gang vocals with us for a few songs on the album, one of them being
"Come Clean". It’s was a pleasure having them in studio to sing on
the album and was a lot of fun to record the gang parts. Good dudes
and it sounds great.
Track 11: Time Will Slowly Have It’s Way With Me.
This song, like “Wake the “World”, was written after we already
entered the studio. After finishing the initial drum tracks for the
album, we recorded Poppy laying down a variety of beats to a metronome so that we could write some interlude type pieces to. This song came from those drum tracks. Our producer Micah Carli played a big part in arranging in putting it together. We really wanted something that fit, but sounded way different than anything we had done prior. The
industrial vibe on this song takes the album to a different place and
I think it sits perfectly in the song order of the album.
Track 12: Take It Slow.
This song came together rather quickly! It has some elements to it
that are new for us, but somehow still sounds 110% like the Story
Changes. We’ve never really had any screamy vocals in our music, but
the verses of “Take it Slow” seemed to work well for adding that in.
Micah Carli screamed on this song with me. I also really like single
string guitar riff with the drum and bass groove that sort of lifts
the song up right before the solo. It’s a lot of fun to play live!
Track 13: Stumbly
"Stumbly" was one of the first new songs we wrote for the album. It
has a vibe to it that reminds me of “Driver For Hire” and some of the
other older songs that we wrote in the early beginnings of the band.
The main riffs on the intro and the back halves of the verses and
choruses are fun to lock in with each other and play live. “Stumbly”
is about chasing your dreams, but worried that you are slowly becoming
something you hate along the way.
Track 14: Sharp Bitter Tongues
The last song on the album and one of my favorites, “Sharp Bitter
Tongues” was the last song we completed for the album. Fun fact: The
beginning of the song was originally written as an intro to our song
"Constellation" a few years back. I still have a copy of the original
demo of that song with this part on it. It didn’t fit with the vibe
of “Constellation”, so we ended up cutting it out in the studio when
recording. I always really liked the music to that section! A few
years later, I expanded on the music a little more and it sort of
evolved into “Sharp Bitter Tongues”.
There is an accent thing we do with the drums and guitars on the back
half of the intro verse that is a nod to “Caffeine” by Faith No More,
a band that the two of us both listened to growing up.
This song has one of my favorite guitar parts we’ve ever tracked on a
TSC album. The solo is super simple to play, but I just love how it
sits in the song. I used a pitch shifter set an octave apart with a
basic floor expression pedal to achieve the effect. The vibe of the
solo makes it sound almost like a keyboard.