“This was the first real song I ever wrote. I’d recorded Apocalypse Rain before, in 2009, but that was purely electronic. This was my first time writing a rock song with guitars, vocals, a bridge and a chorus, the whole deal. Kinda intimidating.
Anyway, the origin of this song comes from one Saturday night in Will Rutter and Scott Lee’s room in Upper School. We were watching Terminator Salvation, and for those of you that don’t know, there’s a scene during the movie where John Connor decides he’s had enough of these monkey-fighting robots on this Monday-to-Friday planet, and so he goes out to the nearest highway and beats the crap out of a Terminator with a rope. He then hacks into it via a conveniently placed USB port and rides off on it like a brand-new motorcycle.
Which was badass. But at the beginning of the scene, he lures the Terminator to him by playing a song on the radio. The song was “You Could Be Mine,” by Guns n Roses. That was the first time I’d heard that song, and I thought to myself, “Holy crap! That is the sexiest song I’ve ever heard.” And I got around to thinking a little bit more, and I thought, “Hey… I want to make my own sexy song!” So I ran down to the EMR (Electronic Music Room), opened up a new file, picked out the sexiest bass sample I could find, set the tempo, and just started playing. Eventually I had this incredible intro lined up that I could not get out of my head, and everything was great. Then spring rolled around and I decided I wanted to record some songs…
The thing is, writing a song is hard if you’ve never done it before. I’d spent a lot of time making the intro great and then I hit a brick wall. What do you do after a kickass intro? I had no idea. And it was this moment that was going to make or break the independent. If I couldn’t write this song, I couldn’t write any song.
Well, at some point I just picked up my guitar and started playing. And you know what, it sounded great. Eventually I finished writing it, and then I realized, wow, I finished a song. Now I have to write another one. And that was a weird feeling, but a good one.
It was originally called Down With the Boys – I wrote the music before I knew what the song was going to be about. One thing that’s always been said about Thacher kids, and about my class in particular, was that we ‘chilled hard.’ We could just flat hang out. So I decided to dedicate the song to them, the members of my class. A song about chilling, about just going and being down with the boys.
It took me a long while to realize this, but at some point during college (March of 2013, to be exact) I realized the song title and theme didn’t fit anymore. I’m not a partier by any real stretch; my idea of being “down with the boys” is probably different than ninety percent of the nation’s. And I figured, well, hell, the song needs reworking anyway, so why not do something else?
I was also coming off of a long stint with depression. It had ended rather abruptly one night in March 2013 when I wrote myself a letter detailing everything I wanted to do and everything I could do, and in the letter I told myself to regain the fire I’d once had in high school. This manifested itself in my spending more time in the music studio and writing these songs, and it hit me one day that really, this song – the first one I’d ever created, the one that I really had a personal relationship with, if that’s possible – would be the perfect one for my rebirth, for my comeback. Strange to be talking that way when it’s my debut album, but hey, there’s behind-the-scenes for everything.
Around this time I’d also been fooling around with Reason, and I was just wailing around with this synth sound. It’s my opinion that dance music is some of the easiest to write, and I was testing this theory with the synth sound, saying, “I mean, look at this! I can just do this absurdly simple thing and it’ll sound good! I mean, what self-respecting musician would ever actually put that in a song?” And then, of course, I said to myself, “You know, I kinda like this.” And so it became the verse of Back With a Bang.”
Song written in March 2010
Revised April 2013