Etcetera – And Sew Fourth (album)

In the early months of 1998, Etcetera had been steadily rehearsing original material for uprwards of four years, although the majority of the work had taken place in the previous two. A collection of tunes had been forming into what eventually became the bonus disc, And Sew One, the name chosen as far back as 1994 to be the title of the first album. The second and third album names (All Our Twomorrows, Three At Last) were set aside for the numerous instrumental and improvised lyric demos that had not made it to a proper album recording, and so it was decided to jump straight into album four, and a return to the original title, both puns on the band’s name.

The album And Sew Fourth was never made commercially available; the recording and performance levels were never what could be considered commercially viable. Certain friends were gifted with copies, though most copies exist strictly within the band itself. Since it was realized before the album had been completed that it would never be released commercially, the album was bookended with a track taken from an 80s TV commercial and a spontaneously improvised rendition of Henry The Eighth/It’s The End of The World As We Know It, which marks the last time Etcetera has performed as a four piece to date.

After the album was recorded, sequenced and copied out, a set list was compiled from the most coherent songs, and the band continued to rehearse, with the plan to either start gigging in the summer, or if not ready, to go on hiatus. After losing a guitar player, two keyboards and a drum machine, the final three piece reached the end of the line; the bass player had decided that he would leave the band before his wedding, regardless of how the band sounded. The keyboardist/lead vocalist had all but burned out, and so the entire four piece reconvened for a final band meeting, and agreed (somewhat acrimoniously on the part of the drummer) to go on hiatus.

This is the first time the album has been released into the wild in digital format. This album is not to be sold or rerecorded in any fashion without the express permission of the composers. Beyond that, it is being released purely as free entertainment, most likely under the Creative Commons license, though I haven’t read that document in a while. Essentially, that means I don’t mind if you make CDs of it to share with friends, but under no cricumstances should they be sold or passed off as your own work. Just enjoy it for what it is, even as I cringe at all the things it isn’t. Thank you.

ETCETERA
AND SEW FOURTH (1998)
© 1998, 2006 Etcetera Thesis Music

Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 01 - Ah, Music
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 02 - Waiting For Sentence #14
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 03 - Here We Go Again
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 04 - Bleed Into One A
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 05 - Through The Eyes of a Fool
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 06 - Thick & Thin
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 07 - You Send Me Spinning
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 08 - Breathe pt I
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 10 - Breathe pt II
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 11 - Breathe pt III
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 12 - Games
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 13 - Goodbye
Etcetera - And Sew Fourth - 14 - Henry the Eighth


Okay, I did DVD commentary for Rough Work in the Margins, and there’s space, so it’s only appropriate that I go back and do the same for And Sew Fourth.

Ah, Music
This is actually a snippet of an old chocolate bar commercial (I’ve forgotten which one) I grabbed off of Much Music on a whim back in the 80s, when I was audio taping songs through our stereo (early signs of piracy; I liked the selection and sound quality better than radio). Later, I was listening to the old mixed tape it was on, and thought it still sounded brilliant. As it turned out, I had this one unusual bit of instrumental music I wanted to start the album with, but it needed something verbal to start it off. Pretentious, yes, but if you’d met me back then, you wouldn’t question my sincerity. I was pretentious to the core, and came by it honestly. Anyway, I always intended to record something completely original to replace it if I ever released it commercially, but it never happened, so instead, you get the commercial sample. Enjoy.

Waiting For Sentence
This was an instrumental riff our bass player Dave Beddard kept pulling out to work on in the quiet moments between rehearsals of other pieces. We would occasionally join in with him, but he didn’t really know where he wanted it to go (or at least what he wanted us to do), so when he heard us jamming along (and getting his composition all wrong), he’d look up and stop. This version was one take where I started playing something with him while everyone else was away from their instruments, which game me a chance to nudge his composition a bit with some changing figures.

A later recording had the guys joining in, but while it is more exciting than this version, it lacks the cohesion and mythical quality of this recording. I’ve been promising Dave I’d find a way to finish this riff up for him and turn it into a song he would enjoy. I think I may be doing just that for one number on the next album, with main music credit going to Dave (I’ll steal a co-write and arrangement credit). After that, we introduce Dave to the wonderful world of royalty payments. I’m sure he’ll appreciate a little extra money around the house.

Here We Go Again
It was late summer/early autumn of 1994 (sorry, can’t find any dates on the oldest recording tapes; didn’t know I’d need to be able to keep a clear record of it all for posterity, as I’d only started keeping a journal in the previous year or so, and not very well at that), we’d lost our original keyboard player and two songs she had been working on, and I ended up taking over on keys. After getting Gary in to play guitar, we banged around on a handful of song ideas until we hit on this one, and in a matter of weeks had the first incarnation of our first song. It was originally born from a series of jams, some with and some without Gary, but the germinal stuff was all in place before I left the band on a year long hiatus.

When I returned, this tune went through numerous changes, until it arrived at the state you hear in this recording. I started working it up with a bit of Yes in the chorus, which became more ornate when we rehearsed it acoustically. It later also received further embellishements with a crunchy intro, a motown bridge verse, and a reversed chorus chord structure for the outro. This is probably the trickiest song we played. That’s probably why I pushed it to the front of the line, even after everyone was gettign tired of it.

It was also the first and perhaps the only true band composition, written by all four members from start to finish, lyrics included. This is also one of the tracks that will be revisited this year when we can get it recorded properly, perhaps as much for the therapy of hearing it done perfectly ourselves as anything else.

Bleed Into One
I’ve previously misremembered the history of these songs a little while describing this song’s pedrigree in the Rough Work commentary; in truth, Bleed Into One was a lyric I wrote in the spring of 1997, whilst staying with a girlfriend and her little boy. I have to go back and figure out how, but there had been a hiatus of a couple of months where no band activity occurred, and when I got back, it was on the understanding that we’d spend some time coming up with new material, which I was getting anxious about, because I’d been growing unhappy with the band songs to date.

I’d recorded Here It Comes Again by this time, and was growing dissatisfied with my place in the band, though I tried not to let this affect things too much. I decided I was determined to get more of my material through the band process, as previous efforts to bring in songs had met with varying levels of interest, but ultimately, none of my songs made it through rehearsals. So I developed a new plan: I would write a lyric I felt very strongly about, and then go into practice and instigate a jam that I would immediately turn into my new song, come what may. Etcetera the Thesis way. Interestingly enough, that is exactly what happened, and I fell back in love with the band.

This song has undergone a number of remixes since we started jamming and rehearsing it. I finally remixed it in a form close to one I’m prepared to rehearse and record now, and included it on Rough Work in the Margins. This was one of the earliest remixes, and it fairly flawed, but contains most of what I considered to be the best elements of every take we’d done of the tune in our history as a band. I seriously can’t wait to get this rerecorded. However, it does have a lot of interesting bits in there, and stands as one of my personal favourites, even if it was really only half way there. I still listen to Gary’s raw guitar playing at the end and think fondly of how close we were to brilliance.

Through The Eyes of a Fool
This was probably Etcetera’s first taste of the Thesis formula for songwriting. We had been rehearsing some other music (Thick & Thin, IIRC), and during a break, Gary started working on a new song riff during a break. When we were all ready to start again, Gary had a tune worked out, and requested some lyrics. I pulled out one of my obtuse numbers, but it lost the vote in favour of one Derrick had been stockpiling, which stands as the sole Derrick lyric from that time period that required absolutely no tweaking of the meter or sections. It benefitted greatly from a rather elegantly simple romantic guitar figure, which I then proceeded to work out the melody for very quickly, while Derrick and Dave got to witness how fast Gary and I work outside of the band format. In about a minute, we turned in a new song, something Etcetera hadn’t witnessed before.

Gary turned in an arrangement for guitar, bass, keys and drums the very next week (which Dave and I then proceeded to change on the poor guy, but he didn’t omplain too much), which we jammed out, rehearsed and recorded for the next two weeks, and wound up with perhaps our first solid band recording with all instruments and vocals in place. This number remains the most popular with our female friends, and Derrick has never gotten over himself since then. Gary has. He won’t write any more nice songs. Life is cruel sometimes.

Thick & Thin
This song started as a riff I found on my answer machine while visiting with my girlfriend and her little boy in her rather ratty little house on Cannon and Kensington (where I recorded Here It Comes Again and wrote the music for You Send Me Spinning and the keys and vocal melody for Waiting, as well). Gary left the message on my phone, and it consisted of this rather brash little guitar riff with three chords, banging away in a flamenco rock rhythm and picking up tempo. Not long after, we got together and I pushed him through the first three parts, which were radically different from one another. He was using another of Derrick’s love songs, (to which I later did some tweaking to get a song structure out of it, including writing a chorus for it), and then Dave and I proceeded to write the intro, chorus, middle eight and outro parts while Gary was away. When he got back, he hardly recognized the song, but it’s still one of Etcetera’s sturdiest, strongest numbers. We’re going to give this one another go this year as well.

You Send Me Spinning
Now, Gary had started to get a reputation as Derrick’s utility songwriter, and I was starting to get ambitious (some would say jealous), so I grabbed a few song lyrics of his that Gary hadn’t procured yet, and had a go. I started with Waiting (which needed a bit of work lyrically, but had some great sections and put me in mind of a dark little piano tune), but wound up working on You Send Me Spinning, which I wrote and demoed based on a bit of jamming we’d done as a four piece the week before. I took the basic ideas from the tape and worked them into a song, which I then took many months to teach them, because I’d introduced too many chord changes *shrug*. Anyway, it’s the only love song I’ve ever written for Etcetera to play, and I don’t think it would have happened if Derrick hadn’t written such a hopelessly romantic lyric, the little dickens.

Breathe
Once upon a time, there was a fantastical piece of power trio instrumental bombast that Derrick, Dave and I jammed out together, called Monte’s Birthday Suite (aka Kick The Hell Out Of The Rubber Monster). This was recorded in the summer of 1996, with me playing keys and spurring Derrick and Dave on in a few time signatures and turning out a royally chaotic mess. Now, once we created this opus in three acts, I switched the third and first parts around to give it a wee bit more structure, but that was it. I made a copy for Gary and his fiancee (Gary liked it; Wendy not so much, IIRC), and then we all went up to see Franz and Maxine Nangle (our dear friends from Silent Revolution), to see what they thought. Franz kinda liked it, but said it didn’t go anywhere. I was a little put out at the time, but I later had to agree.

Regardless, I kept bringing up the riffs at various times, trying to spur the guys to learn at least one of the pieces properly, and several takes of part two in particular (entitled The Hunting) were recorded over the next year. It changed dramatically in that time, but more than a kernel of its dark, brooding menace continued to permeate the piece. However, there was a problem; Derrick was getting tired of playing it, feeling it needed lyrics and a proper guitar part (Gary still hadn’t come up with one that fit) before he would continue to work on it. As it was one of my favourite numbers at the time, I endeavoured to meet the demand, and started writing a lyric. I started with one verse and chorus that would get repeated endlessly while we worked it out, in the style of The Bears’ Girl With Clouds In Her Hair. Oddly, the lyric lightened up the tune, and it started to move away from its brooding former self. I resolved that, someday, I would record it as part of the Monte’s Birthday Suite redux, with the long instrumental sections being broken up with lyrical components (I also wrote a lyric called Up For Air, to accompany the heaviest part of the suite, called The Awakening, none of which has yet to see light of day).

Anyhow, this tune was recorded a number of times, but never made it into our repertoire (much to my chagrin), and I ended up taking bits from my favourite takes and bootstrapping them together into the clumsy mix we have here. I have great hopes of getting this one rearranged and rerecorded this year as well. Of Up For Air, I cannot say at this time. Perhaps Monte’s Birthday Suite is destined to become our Metropolis or our Chapters.

Games
Now, THIS is the Derrick Rose I know and love like the deranged older brother he is to me. This was actually written for a gal we were all friends with, who sadly could not commit to Derrick, which naturally sent him round the bend. Myself, I wasn’t in the band at the time they wrote and started writing this, but they got me back in soon afterwards to see if I could help them sort out the time signature and meter problems they were having. I’d spent the year studying pop song writing, so I was feeling terribly clever, and told them I’d do it. I’m not entirely sure they’ve forgiven me yet.

This song was a beast to learn to play, particularly because, after helping weld Gary’s two disparate riffs together, giving it an instrumental section, and sorting out the arrangement and the curious metrical experiments* of Derrick’s lyric, I then bestowed upon the monstrous piece a melodic little coda I had written while away from the band, which had been searching for a home, and just seemed to fit right in with the clumsy, lumbering behemoth it followed; a melancholy little number called…

Goodbye
As mentioned before. This little piece had been written by myself during my sabbatical (a nice way of saying banishment), although I’m not entirely sure which one of them I wrote it for. Perhaps all four of them (Wendy included), really. Anyway, I’d gotten the vocal melody and the chords down for it, but it just resolved too quickly, and didn’t want to be part of anything else I was working on at the time. So I shelved it.

I ended up playing it later for Gary, and he thought it would be a great outro to Games as well. However, when we tried to put the two together, Games decided Goodbye was too sweet. So we took Goodbye out back, dolled her up in Gothic Lolita gear, brought her back, and Games sidled up to her and proceeded to make chit chat. We figured we’d pulled it off. Little did we know.

In band practices for the next three years, we were to learn that Games and Goodbye had a tempestuous relationship, which ruined virtually every take we ever did. I took to counting everyone through the bridge between the two pieces until they got used to the timing. By the time of this take, I was counting with my fingers in the air and conducting the band back in with gestures. I wrote myself a piano part for Games to get everyone through the instrumental, so I figured that for this take, why not improvise one for the coda as well, even though it had been written for guitar, and was usually handled by Gary.

Success, sort of. Derrick half-heartedly tapped a cymbal a few times, I started the vocal line, Gary hit the chord, and everyone came in, and when the outro riff came around, I fumbled at the keys, and it just rose up a level. So three years later, I found myself the pastor of the shotgun wedding of two of the most ornery pieces of music this band has ever fought with. Shame my voice was shredded by this point in the recording. The second runthrough was even rougher, IIRC (and I think it cut off accidentally part way through Goodbye, too).

If you listen long enough, you can just hear a final bass note get cut off at the end, as Dave started to go into a rocked up reprise of Goodbye that we had devised for the stage, which we agreed to do if and when we got through a take without stopping, as a reward for our hard work. I’ll have to post a recording of that someday. It got quite raucous, if memory serves correctly.

Despite all of my frustrations with this number, I’m still rather proud of it, and look forward to giving it another shot when we rerecord these darlings some time this year.

Finally, Henry The Eighth/It’s The End of The World As We Know It
I almost think this should be called something like Henry’s World, or perhaps The End of Henry As We Know Him. Acapella, improvised at the end of a first run through of the set (but after the reprise jam, which you do not get to hear), which in those days consisted of Here We Go Again, Through The Eyes of a Fool, Thick & Thin, You Send Me Spinning, Games and Goodbye (and sometimes the reprise). We’d gotten into the habit of doing it twice per practice by that point (and then knocking off early for good behaviour), and I was drilling them not to rest too long before we started in again. So as we completed Goodbye, I held my breath, waited a few seconds, and then said ‘Second verse, same as the first’. The looks on their faces said it all, so I immediately broke into song, with them quickly joining in and taking four part harmony, with Gary coming in from the rear with an equally impromptu rendition of REM’s tune. Never duplicated, and we never did learn to play either song, not that we ever really intended to. Still, it made for a great album closer, wouldn’t you agree?

Footnote: *Derrick Rose, back in the early days, was infamous for writing ‘lover’s lament’ lyrics in a very accessible, prosaic style, but with poetic flourishes of meter that just wouldn’t add up upon closer inspection. I’m famous for writing overly labourious rhymes in a mumber of my older songs, but Derrick always seeme dot hand us songs that were three quarters right, but always seemed to fall apart part way through, and were impossible to sing once Gary got the melody composed for it. We learned in later years to take the meter and structure as a suggestion, write the tune separtely, and then rework the lyric to fit. Games was not one of the songs we reworked. I sometimes think Gary regrets this tune, but some people seem to like it. I gather Sheri did.

© 2006 Lee Edward McIlmoyle
Somewhere in Hamilton, Ontari-ari-ari-oh

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