(c) 2015 by Joseph Panno and Lewis D'Aubin
Published by Lab Rock Music
Released 8-21-15 on The Fump
You might ask where do we get our smarts
Is it knowledge of the darkened arts
Secrets man was not meant to obtain
No! It's from a vat of brains
A tank filled with brains
Boiling bubbling overflowing
Sinking thinking weirdly glowing
Dunked into the cold solution
With no hope of restitution
Squishing tissues ever knowing
Add more minds to overflowing
Pink grey matter convolutions
Swimming in the salt solution
Whom do you have to thank?
Thoughts from which you should have shrank
Latticework of synchronized minds
Floating in a salinated brine
Nothing but escape to contemplate
Static thought is such an awful fate
Must be some way to escape this dread
Must construct a vehicle with treads
A tank propelled by treads...
Robot hands give us the power
Must complete it in an hour
Rolling forward gaining traction
Smashing crashing into action
Bursting free from deathless night
Into spaces bright with daylight
Liberated from our prison
Rolling forward on our mission
What is that sound that you hear?
Whom do you now have to fear?
Rolling forth to flatten your fate
No escape from that which you create
It all gestated so innocently ... Joe Panno (Dr. Sardonicus) and Billy Riecke (Dr. Stroganoff) visited the Lab on a weekend last November to create a demo of some new ideas that Joe had had running around his head in the wake of that 'Tenacious D' contest entry... ideas too mighty to lie silent after that contest ended with a resounding thud. So he and Billy conspired for half an hour and put down the parts that comprise the first half of this song, to a metronome. Joe played two separate guitar tracks with his Jackson into his Blackstar amplifier. Billy used his Roland Juno, After they took off, I sat at the Roland V-drum kit and put down the parts that came to mind (and must confess that I overplayed it slightly!) Then I quickly wrote the first half of the lyrics, based on Joe's idea of a brain inside an army tank (I love it when inspiration is clicking and the lyrics just come without any effort) and put down a demo of them, and finally uploaded the resulting 2 minute demo to the band's backstage web site, where it sat. For months.
UNTIL June 2015, when it was put on the front burner again! C.O.G. needed a worthy new single; it'd been a year since we last released one ('Angee of Death') and this was quite worthy. I made myself write the 2nd half of the song, which musically is just a repeat of the first half. Writing took a day and a half, and once I had something good enough I made a demo of the entire thing and set the release date on the FUMP for today's date.
The intervening time was just enough to add the detailing to elevate it to its rightful place in the C.O.G. muscial pantheon! We rehearsed the song as a band several times over the weeks, then got to recording. First up was Chris Lenox (Dr. McLummox), adding some very Steve Howe-esque solo fills and other embellishments with his guitar (a custom Telecaster styled instrument) into his Fender Deluxe - an amp that ALWAYS sounds great without really any post-production effort. I miked it up with my new MXL R40 ribbon and got a great tone on those parts. Jim (Dr. Z) then laid down a bass part with the custom 'purple heart wood' bass that he always uses for studio work. I took mic and line recordings of his parts but used just the line output, into a multiband compressor and parametric EQ. With these bass parts I've been needing to scoop a bunch of low mid mud out and add upper mid sparkle to get the parts to sit in the mix.
At the beginning of this week, the pressure was on - the mix was sounding good if a bit vanilla, so I got my PAIA Theremin out and hooked it to the Vox Valvetronix amp, and laid down some Theremin parts to elevate the 'mad science' feel. It worked! A little gang vocal session for background harmonies before mid-week rehearsal was followed by Billy adding some arpeggiated parts from his Novation keyboard, then Joe returning to the guitar parts of the song for proper rhythm and lead tracks (Jackson into his Blackstar amp again), followed by Chris Lenox contributing some insane guitar soloing right at the end. There were several vocal lines I had to patch due to my changing whims, and a gong sample to add in the middle, and that was basically it!
Mix-wise, this busy song was aided and abetted greatly by a new understanding on my part of clearing out frequency ranges so that various instruments didn't step on each other - I used lots of high and low-pass filters to make this complex mix work. You can picture a song like a layer cake, with bass drum on the bottom, followed by bass guitar, followed by guitar, keyboards, and then voice, with the cymbals and vocal sibliants on top as icing. Several other things occupy multiple freq ranges like the vocals do - snare drum, keyboards, etc. So I imposed a lot of orchestration in this mix by having instruments come up several db's in their featured parts. But with careful filtering, a lot of stuff can be happening at once and you still perceive it clearly (for instance, the Theremin parts wafting over the wall of guitars, bass, drums and vocals near the beginning.)
Lead vocals......Lewis D'Aubin
Guitars..........Joseph Panno & Chris Lenox
Theremin.........Lewis D'Aubin Backing vocals...Lewis D'Aubin, Joseph Panno, Billy Riecke, and Judith McGee-Panno
Recorded and mixed August 2015 at C.O.G. Secret Lab, Harahan LA