Thursday, September 24

The Story Behind The Song. Track 8 - You're Out Of Luck

You're Out Of Luck is a song about fear, about this so-called "age of anxiety" of ours. I'm not putting that in quotes because I think there's nothing scary about our times, nor am I trying to make fun of people who feel fear or worry, because like most people, I do my fair share of that. Probably more than my fair share. But a few things are clear to me, and these are: 1. There's always something to worry about. 2. There's never any point in worrying.

So in a sense, this song is about how not to live. The chorus is meant to be falsely reassuring, or ironic without humor, if that makes sense. Consider: "You sit and watch the ticking clock. Until it stops you're out of luck." The point is, it's never going to stop ticking. It's always ticking, or there's always a new clock to watch tick. Whichever way you look at it, it's the same point. The only real fix is to stop watching the clock. Or to realize that there isn't a clock at all, and to watch different things. Do what you can about whatever's worrying you, if there's something you can do, and then let it go. Go lie under a tree in a park with somebody you love.

Some of the imagery was chosen to represent things that I don't like about our culture. Like cul-de-sacs. Modern architecture is designed for isolation. Isolation with the wrong stimulus (CNN) leads to paranoia. In our rush for privacy, we've created echo chambers, and we're often broadcasting the wrong things inside of them. I love a good front porch. Front porches lead to community and peace. If you have to walk past your neighbors on your way from your car to your front door, you're going to say "hi." Sooner or later, that neighbor may become a friend. And someday, that friend might come to your aid in the least expected way.

This song was an experiment for me. I always try to write songs that I would enjoy listening to. I appreciate the arrangement, melody and vibe of You're Out Of Luck. It's well-executed. It's cohesive. But I don't enjoy listening to the song. I almost always skip the track. Does that mean that a song like this doesn't go on the next record? We'll see. I just don't want to be negative. It's a thing with me. I feel like it's my responsibility to be uplifting. But more than that, it's what I want to do!

Production-wise, interesting details include Chad's use of an e-Bow to get that tornado-siren like effect over the choruses. We took the e-Bow/guitar signal and ran it into a delay pedal, and I manually increased the delay time as we tracked. For anyone who's played with a delay pedal, you'll realize that this causes the delayed part of the signal to detune. So effectively, I was creating an electric tremolo arm and simultaneously increasing the echo intensity and detuning Chad's part as he played.

I also love the drum sound here, and the crazy "ticking clock" effect that Steve put on the extra hi-hat in the choruses (chorii). Fun stuff, maybe even a little 1970s. :) Phase effects on cymbals always make me think of the 70s. But I wasn't really listening, then, so that could be a poorly-informed stereotype.

What else... oh. We used a really cool Wright 5F6-A Bassman clone for Chad's primary guitar tone. Sometimes we doubled his Vox AC15CC1 on top. In other spots, we used a silverface twin w/tremolo engaged. A few more words about the Wright: that thing sounds amazing. I almost bought it two and a half years ago but I chose my Dr. Z instead. If you want a great sounding and amazingly well-built tweed and are local to the KC area, check out Wright's stuff at Mass St. Music!

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE