Still Here - CHR Mix
DaVinci once said that art is never finished, only abandoned. For me, this couldn’t be truer; I'm never finished with the songs, which is why labels invented deadlines. When I hit that deadline, I try to get my “children” as dressed and ready as possible for the big wide world before I shove them out the door. Sadly, sometimes the weaker ones get a quick comb through the hair and a t-shirt before they are shoved out so we can spend more time on the stronger siblings, hoping that the best songs will carry the whole family.
When I decide to take a song from its embryonic demo state - usually just one verse and chorus in rough form - all the way to its mixed and mastered term, it's because I have developed a vision for how I hope it will turn out. It never turns out as well as I can hear it my head, but hopefully it turns out okay. The ones that I agonize over are the ones that fall short of that dream. When the deadline hits, it's like what NASA did with the moon mission: abandon in place. The project is left on the moon, frozen forever in that state. You wonder if the song was ever any good, but more hauntingly, you wonder if you were just one small change away from it all coming together...
The beauty of doing a remix record is that I get to open that moon base up again. When we did our first remix record, Regeneration, we were able to go back to “Hero” and make the music fit the message in a way we didn't the first time around. “Princes and Frogs” became a complete, albeit short, song and many of other songs got sonic facelifts. You get better at doing things and you go back and fix your paper-thin guitars and re-sing your songs. It's a rare joy for someone who lives perpetually wondering if he could have done it better. I think people could tell that just as much passion went into our remix record because it sold as well if not better than our other albums.
And here we are again, several records later, reopening up songs and seeing if we can improve them before the timer runs down. This is my chance to reinvent the songs to be closer to the vision I had for them in the beginning. Aha! Speeding this song up 5bpm does open up all kinds of new possibilities and makes what was heavy and leaden into something purposeful and epic. Aha! A shift to relative minor gives this song the soul we had always hoped for. They are revelations and joys, and we tried new sounds, new clothes and climbed over the fence to see what could be found on the other side. It's a kind of freedom because you are not bound to any expectations of how your band should sound or how cohesive a record should be.
And on the other side of the Superchick fence, we found new things. Matt and Tricia are both breaking out their own sounds and it was fun to see what colors we had that we hadn't used before. My production partner Gocher remarked, "This is your nest of spider eggs you are launching into the world," which was an appropriate way to describe what is happening on this record, especially seeing as the ThumpMonks (Gocher and I) joined Superchick on a remix of one of my favorite songs ever from all the way back to the first record, Karaoke Superstars. We invented and reinvented, and when we were done there were 3 new songs and 9 remixes… and it is by far the most diverse thing we have ever released.
But for it to be done, there had to be a deadline - otherwise I would twiddle the songs forever. We hit the deadline a month behind schedule, which I made up for by working 20 hour days 7 days a week for 3 weeks in a row - an awful way to work. You have no objectivity, no ability to tell why something is not working, you fight demo love and fatigue in the mix and you frustrate your mix engineer till he threatens to kill you. But it just has to be done because you cannot fight city hall or the EMI release schedule.
It agonizes me to 'abandon in place' each song yet again and see all the blood, sweat and tears become frozen into digital ones and zeroes like a mos