More Awesome Than Awesome – The Retrospective

Here we go. I like to write these retrospectives after I release an album. Whether or not anyone likes reading them is a different story, but…whatever. Leading up to the release of the album, I gave a decent amount of looks behind the scenes. But these retrospectives are kind of long form and include audio clips and such. The plan was to publish this long before now, but I felt like part of the story is to see how it performed after the release. So this is going to be cool, maybe. Let’s get to it.

You can read a lot about the recording of More Awesome Than Awesome in previous posts below. I don’t want to rehash old information. Let me just tackle each track individually. I’ll try to keep the commentary to a minimum.

What Up (Intro)
Before I recorded anything else for MATA, I think, I had the idea to do this intro. It always makes me happy when an idea I have pans out exactly the way I imagined from the start, even if the end result isn’t super amazing. I guess that’s how this went. I wanted to replicate the beginning of one Dashie’s YouTube gameplay videos. I did consider using a random portion of one of the songs to use as the beginning, again, to be more like a Dashie video, but I settled on creating a new bit of music. I think that worked out better. Interestingly, this intro was the last track I recorded.

Things Unlikely
This is the first real song on the album. I debated HARD on which song should be the song after the intro for what felt like weeks. It had to be dancey and contain some weirdness, since that was kind of my modus operandi for the album as a whole. Obviously I ended up choosing this one, but I was reluctant just because of the pervertedness in the beginning.

Kill the Buffalo
Fun fact: I didn’t love the mix of the 2017 single release of this song. The drums were too loud or the guitars weren’t loud enough. The vocals sounded too dry. Ugh. So I thought about tweaking the mix a little for the album release but ultimately decided to leave it exactly as the original single version.

Stick It to the Man
I’ve got quite a few things to say about this track. Let me put them into bullet points.

I almost made this the first song after the intro, but decided not to mostly because of how quiet the beginning of it is.
The vocals are layered pretty heavily. Unfortunately the best take is rarely even heard because new lyrics were added after they were recorded. It’s complicated. Whatever.
The guitar sounds kind of crappy. I recorded all the guitar parts (except for the solo) a handful of times, but I could never get it to sound as good as I wanted. 🙁

Eff It
A song 5 years in the making. There’s a lot to say about it, but it underwent many changes since its beginnings. It used to be about a minute longer. The last two parts of the songs repeated one more time. The interlude in the middle was going to have a recreation of a scene from the movie Misery in it instead of the “misery loves company” bit. The guitar sounds coming from your left speaker are the recordings from 2013-2015. The guitar panned to the right is from the 2018 recordings. Most of the vocals are heavily layered. I sang all the parts multiple times between 2013 and 2018, and all the takes are in there.

What It’s Like
Sort of a sister song to “Things Unlikely.” I believe I composed the music for both songs around the same time, but the vocals were recorded multiple times over the course of a year or longer. I love the dirty bassline and the drum patterns. It’s probably one of the better vocal performances I’ve ever recorded.

What else? There’s a weird sample late in the song of a couple fighting, which I found randomly on the Internet. I had clearance to use it though. Don’t worry. It took me a while to decide on the song title. With the “success” of “Pretty Little Ditty,” I settled on calling it the same thing as a different song by Everlast. Side note: “Pretty Little Ditty” is by far my most popular song on Spotify, and I don’t know why. I didn’t know it at the time, but there is a Red Hot Chili Peppers song with the same name. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it or not.

Get Offended
Man, what is this song? I recorded all the music very early on, 2016 maybe. It doesn’t sound bad really, but it sounds different for sure. I’m mad that I kept the clean guitar as loud as it is, but the rest is fine enough. Lyrically, it’s a commentary on people who seem to look for reasons to be offended. I tamed the aggressiveness down a little bit by the time it was time to release. Stuff was happening in the world.

Orange Star Trek
A long time ago, in 2016 maybe, I told a man that I would make a song that he would be able to identify with or whatever, based strictly on the title. I came up with “Orange Star Trek” immediately, but didn’t start any of the music until 2017, I think. My plan was to have said man mimic random Star Trek lines, but he wouldn’t. I had to settle for him doing Wayne’s World instead. I guess I could have ended up calling it “Orange Wayne’s World,” but that doesn’t sound as cool as “Orange Star Trek.”

This song came about because I wanted to offer some thoughts on people eating bananas. Also, pronouncing the word “slut” in a certain manner became part of my vocabulary in the last couple of years.

Nutsacreligious, Pt. 1
“Nutsacreligious” was going to be one super long song at one point. Then I felt like it might be better to split it into 2 songs instead. Part 1 is more guitar-driven and hard rock or whatever and doesn’t have the electro-weirdness than Part 2 does.

It would take too long to explain the origins of where the title comes from. It’s just…weird. I think I recorded the music at the same time as “Get Offended,” which also isn’t super good.

More Awesome Than Awesome
The music for this song was completed in 2015 probably. It wasn’t until towards the end of production in 2018 that I recorded a nice guitar take for it and put lyrics/vocals to it. I wanted to have a title track for the album, and I liked the music a lot, so…this is the outcome. The spoken word intro is me imitating a scene from Tommy Boy. If I remember right, it was my first take, too.

I’ll Get You What You Want
One day a friendly Englishman told me I should make a song with trombone and cowbell. This is the result. Whenever I began work on this track, I was obviously firmly set in my “make it weird” phase. That weird droning ambient noise is something I stumbled upon on the Internet somewhere. It’s some dude selling something on the street, or something. I don’t remember.

Nutsacreligious, Pt. 2
This is like, 80% different from Part 1. The chorus is the same, but pretty much everything else is different. As I mentioned above, originally it was a long song that switched between guitars and synths like crazy. It was almost tiring to listen to. Fun fact: I’m not sure how it happened, but I wanted the tempo to be about 95% of what Part 1 was. It was just a tad slower and spookier sounding. But the version that got put on the album had the full speed tempo.

Okay, so that’s a play-by-play of the songs. Let me rattle off some other things that might be interesting to read.

I can’t remember the exact sequence of events, but right around the time I was wrapping everything up, my computer died. It sucked. I had to end up buying a low-mid range PC and somehow managed to get everything working pretty quickly. I was running Windows 7 and installing everything on Windows 10 was a bit of a chore. It was especially crappy since I had to rush through it, and every little hiccup I had felt like a disaster.

So eventually I had everything ready to push for distribution, I thought. I completed the final submission step, and then a few hours later I realized that the title text on the cover art was slightly off-center. It was very slight, but I ended up calling the people to pull it, and I had to resubmit everything again. That was kind of crappy.

Speaking of the cover art, that was a thing. I knew I wanted it to be watercolory. In the beginning, my idea was to paint it myself, but I got too frustrated. So I hit up one of those sites where people offer services for not-too-much money. This one person had some cool watercolors and was very close to the style I wanted. In my opinion, I was very clear in what I was wanting, but they didn’t feel the same way. There was a lot of back and forth, and the result was the weird octopus/bird/human thing you see. The rest of the art was done by me. I did a handful of abstract backgrounds to use and ended up using the splattery one. I kind of like it.

Less interesting is the fact that I listened to and tweaked the mixes on this album way more than any other album before. The first round of masters didn’t have enough punchy kick to them, so I had to have them remastered. I obsessed over having just the right amount of delay and distortion and reverb and whatever else. I employed much more overdubs and layering than I have before. I’m not saying any of that made it better, but it’s how it is.

So what do I think of the album? It’s weird. I think because I listened to the mixes so many times before it was finished, it’s hard for me to listen to the final mixes. There’s a few songs that are definitely not as good as the others. And there’s a few that I think stand out from the others. Like, they’re pretty good. I also think I succeeded in doing what I wanted to do with the album: make more classically structured songs with verses and choruses and things, but also make it weird.

Compared to my other stuff, some of it is kind of impressive, I suppose. One problem is that the humor in it is pretty much all inside jokes. Like, “Hwft” is funny to me, but it’s likely super annoying and dumb to everyone else. And again, I listened to all the songs so many times before it was done that I can barely stand to listen to them after the album was mixed and mastered. In short, I don’t know what I think about the album. It’s better than Heat Stroke, but what isn’t?

Anyway, it took me forever to post this. I considered including clips of early versions of songs, but other than maybe compiling a 10 minute version of “Nutsacreligious,” I’m not sure what would be fun to listen to. There were a few other versions for the cover art that I could show, but I might end up using them for future projects, so I’m not going to do that either.

What’s next? Modus Operandi, my album that I released-but-didn’t-really-release in 2010. I probably would have put it out properly by now, but the last time I looked into it, I couldn’t find any of the vocal tracks. All the drums and guitar recordings are safe and sound, but the vocals were nowhere to be found. It’s crazy. So if I can’t find them, I’ll have to rerecord them all, which probably isn’t a bad thing. Other than that, it should be a pretty smooth process to finish it up. That album is pretty weird too. There’s 2 or 3 instrumental tracks that stand out in my mind. The more I think about it, conceptually it’s a lot like More Awesome Than Awesome. It’s just less…complicated, I guess. I don’t know. It should be out in 2019. Watch out.

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