Over the past few days work on new music continues to roll on for the Smashing Pumpkins, along with an update on the AEGEA release. Also that the secret mission, “is in motion and soon to be sprung. Beware!”
3 songs got the work over today: TIBERIUS, RUN TO ME, and AELITA; with a short stab at Howard’s fave, MONUMENTS.
As a holdover from last night, TIBERIUS had been the recipient of a hybrid riff that when I woke this morning didn’t feel exactly right. And as those things go, subtle changes are often the difference in a riff sounding dumb or smart. Harkening back to an early form of the same idea, I took out the fluff and stuck with the repetition and lo and behold, it lined up to the previous spot without any time changes; a miracle. Add Moog.
Howard objected to RUN TO ME’s 80’s drums, so that was our first order of deconstruction. Much head scratching ensured, and knowing how this works I laid down to watch the zeros and 1’s parade march by. To his credit, Howard was able to help us walk the tom-tomming back to a place that sounded more like classic SP and less like, say, Big Country (a band Jeff and I love by the way). So in its current form the song is simpler, more direct, and has more current currency. Yes still, miles to go.
On AELITA, we harkened back to those titans that found a pile-driving figure gets the people moving, and back engineered the why of what they might do. This led to a Shredder solo, and a leaner-meaner middle 8. Hail Van Halen, ZZ Top, KISS, Pantera…
Oh yeah: MONUMENTS. I accused Howard of falling in love with the original demo sound; a condition called ‘demoitis.’ A 30-minute discussion followed, where said producer reiterated his belief the song could be a single. And though I don’t disagree, the legacy of SP is to make adaptations of different styles that in their hybridity create singularity. Where I’ve failed at that (often) sit as odd blights, and where I’ve succeeded at that (enough), tower epics. Sounds grand, eh?
Senor Howard got his wish, as we began with MONUMENTS; the cause celeb. Fitting the new arrangement, I was quickly able to build up an arrangement that accentuated rather than fought the noir: drums, keys, bass, and a sublimated guitar that aped said bass. Jeff was next, copying the signature melody line. Howard frowned.
“What the f&%! do you want from me?” Jeff exploded, smashing to bits his guitar.
Actually that didn’t happen, except the part about Howard frowning; which effectively killed Jeff’s ‘moment.’ I interjected. ‘Look, the song is essentially unchanged from my original demo. So let’s just accept that it can only more forward by shades.’ And I said this as I swept up the chards of Jeff’s aborted try.
A fresh take on OVERJOYED was next, the once COUGARED arm-waver that was set aside precisely because it reminded us of bands we: hate (?). despise (?), do not admire (?), wish we could share success with (PC). I started slow, but soon Herr Willing was egging on a speed-up.
“What the f#%! do you want from me,” I shouted, smashing my vintage acoustic to bits.
Actually that didn’t happen, except for the part about Howard wanting every song to be made for aerobics. A compromise was reached: tempo 91. Slow strings over a simmering beat, and charmed melodies de-oxygenating my once virile lungs. Down we went a ½ step, then a whole.
“No,” Howard frowned. “I liked it higher.” To that I suggested he would be responsible for the onstage defibrillation.
“What do you want from me?” shouted our producer, smashing his walker to the ground; its floor-protective tennis balls scattering. “I. Can’t. Do. This. Any. More!”
Actually that didn’t happen. Except for the part about him asking me to asphyxiate myself for pop-rock glory. End result: OVERJOYED out of mothballs.
But wait, there’s more, as I suggested the song might be better suited for future hit makers EX-COPS. “I’d hold onto this one,” said Jeff, holding Howard’s hand as he wept for joy.
BEING BEIGE received a pass, the demo deemed good enough ‘for now.’
DRUM AND FIFE got the once over, and a weak pass at decent military drum programming. In that, I fell asleep. But when rousted I’d spit out a new arrangement all liked.
That left AELITA as the last (for DORIAN too had received a cursory pass), and I mentioned to Jeff that the best thing to do was keep hacking at it. So in short order: a re-arrangement, a new verse melody, with the original verse moved to the simmering middle 8. Now we just need DLR (of VH) to show me how it’s done and I’m good. For those mean streets never change.