Saturday, April 26, 2008

Influences on the Death Bed

When you’re in a band, people often ask you things like, “who do you sound like.” Many musicians scoff at this question for an important fact; influences in musical writing are often much more than simply inspiration. I know for fact I have listened to certain songs by another artist and said to myself, ‘I want to write a song like that.’ In addition, a lot of lyrics which are flushed out in the process can have some painful back stories. There are certain songs which some artists claim to not even think about what they’re singing anymore; they simply perform the song because it’s what the audience wants to hear.

With today being the day that Paper Street goes to that great concert hall in the sky, I thought I’d share some of my greatest influences for songwriting over the last 3 years. Some of these may end up being blatantly obvious, and some may catch you off guard. Some will likely even give you a cheap laugh or two.

It is undeniable that Danko Jones hasn’t had a thing or two to say about my music. Being a shitty guitarist, and a guy with a growl in his voice, one almost has to look up to music which involves primarily power chords, and vocals that could rip your face off. Even blatantly, the line “You know I love it when that shit goes, fuck YEAH” in the song Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop is nearly straight from Mr. Jones’ mouth.

While they haven’t been an inspiration in a while, Tool was unmistakable in some of Paper Street’s early work. It helped that Shaun was also obsessed, so that they bass lines were already leaning in that direction. Just listen to songs like Sylphid, Self Induced Innocence, and you’d be an idiot to miss the connection. There was even a live recording of Sylphid in which one of my verses sounded almost identical to Maynard.

Believe it or not, my writing went through a bit of a funk phase. This didn’t last very long before the boys vetoed it, and we have bands like Robertson, Slowcoaster, Wide Mouth Mason, and even a few Hip Hop artists like Everlast and the Swollen Members to blame. Many of these songs didn’t see the light of day, however if you listen closely, I broke little bits through in songs like Bluff, Go, and The Game.

Let’s all give a hand to Johnathan Cummins from Bionic. He is the soul reason the song Dance, Whiteboy exists. This song was written as a backlash to the, at times, moronic, diva-like, drug frenzy of the rock industry. I had seen a show where Cummins, railed off his ass, played his set, mocked the crowd, and then proceeded to smash a 40 year old vintage guitar. That’s right… entertain me… Dance, Whiteboy.

Women have seemed to have their fair share of inspiration… at least on my lyrics. Unfortunately, the bulk of the songwriting about women has been with some degree of scorn, so we can see how well my relationships have worked out. Hilarious little known fact; all 3 of my electric guitars are named after women who have broken my heart.

One of the positive love stories that came out in my music would be in a rock ballad which was seldom played. Treat me right was a song which started out of love for a woman, but changed upon the realization that the only true, reliable, love in my life was music. This may sound depressing, but I realized it as one of the most important discoveries I'd made about myself in years. “Yeah this music’s so good, she treats me so right, gives me everything I need.”

The lyrics in the song Kanli are about Dune. Yes, we are big fucking nerds, and I actually use the phrase, “find my golden path” in the song.

Black Whiskey Blues is as true to its’ name as possible. The main lyrical hook for that song, “See you at the bottom of a bottle, if I can still see at all” was written while practically hanging off the bar at Biftek. Hilariously enough, the lyrics for this song would flow out easier than anything else I’d ever written.

I’ve always had some form of insomnia. Most days it comes from worrying about things I have to get done. When I was much younger, I used to keep myself awake at night thinking about the concept of forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and……. You get the idea. This infinite loop of existence inspired the song FFLT, with the concept that, heaven or hell, regardless; forever’s a fucking long time.

While Here’s to the Day has become a God damned anthem for this group, very few people know that it refers to an actual date. July 10th, 2006 was one of the worst days of my life. It involved the culmination of a number of rather severe events including but not limited to; the end of a relationship, a small mental breakdown, and the end of a business. I went home that day with bile in my mind, and wrote and drank, and wrote and drank... but stop me if you've heard this one before.

At this point, I’d tell you more, but the other stuff starts to get a little more personal. For those songs I prefer to just let you keep guessing. It’s always funny to hear people tell me who they think Strong Man is really about.