Recently they released the song "In Your Ways," and it seems like a perfect patient zero for a series of blog posts I'd like to start going more in depth on certain projects I've worked on, either to recount them for myself or to offer up more detail to those who are interested.
When the band sent me the original demos for Pareidolia, I was absolutely blown away; I knew we had something special on our hands. That being said, after many repeat listens, I had some structural ideas that I felt would not only make the album more cohesive, but give each song it's own unique stamp. To their credit, the guys were very open to hearing suggestions, and after a lot of phone conversations and emails, we spent two days together in their practice space in Boston doing "pre-production." This was essentially them playing the songs for me, and us discussing the changes that were made or not made.
One of the songs they had written was called "Cynics," and it was in the vein of most of their other material: it was turned up to 10. Although the song was already great in it's own right, I really felt the record needed a moment to breathe and reflect; it needed a centerpiece song that allowed Greg to really showcase his incredible voice, and something to work as a dynamic counterpart to the album's brilliant title track.
So I suggested to the group that we take "Cynics" and make it that song. It had a lot of the pieces already in place, it just needed some serious alterations to make it work in the context I was looking for. At first the band was understandably apprehensive about completely changing a song, as well as the direction I was urging them to go in. They play by the best rule in the book in my opinion - try every idea at least once, give anything at all a shot, and exhaust every possibility. They weren't about to back down from at least trying the change, and so we went at it.
Besides cutting a few sections of the song, most of the changes were dynamic. The beautiful guitar work in the intro stayed, but instead of a strained yell, Greg wrote a beautiful melody. Instead of erupting into a chorus, they glided into it. The parts were identical lyrically, melodically - just given a different vibe. It really speaks to the talent of the band to be able to adapt to the idea so quickly, and within minutes it was as if the song was always written that way. I left them to work on it further on their own, and we met up again in a week, this time at the studio to start tracking.
With the band (and possibly myself) still slightly doubtful, we started laying down drums. Even on an abridged timeline, we were able to work out the kinks in the song even more under the microscope. As it started to take it's new shape, it was so rewarding seeing the band adapt to the idea, give it life, and make it their own. My ideas were replaced with new ones grown by each member's talent and insight. As it moved toward it's final shape, all of our doubts faded into the background. Luckily, the gamble was paying off. Greg delivered a truly heartfelt and beautiful vocal performance, the final home run that brought the song into full realization.
As icing on the cake, we brought my friend Jane Park, formerly of the band Owel, in to compose a string arrangement for the track. At this point, we had gone this far - why not add strings and make it even more beautiful? We wanted a string quartet feel to add to the album's raw feel, not something too overdone and glossy. She did an amazing job filling in that space and creating an arrangement that really led the song on toward it's climactic end. Greg kindly asked me to write the harmonies for the song and I gladly did so as well. Fittingly, the band changed the title as a final goodbye to the original version, and thus "In Your Ways" was born.
Pareidolia will be available in full on August 24th through No Sleep Records. I can't express enough how much I loved working on this album, and I can't wait for people to hear it in full. The band and I worked tirelessly to make a complete piece of art divided into unique, individual statements - not an easy task - but I'm so proud of them for achieving that. From the head-banging breakdown in "Tyranny" to the emotionally paralyzing finale "Pareidolia," I love every second of this album, and every second of it reminds me of how lucky I am to have worked with such an amazing group of musicians.