Thesis – Rough Work In The Margins (1994-1998)

Track 04 - Why Do I Do These Things
Track 05 - You Send Me Spinning
Track 06 - Lady Penelope
Track 07 - She
Track 08 - Zoe
Track 09 - Tonight
Track 10 - The Brighter Side
Track 11 - Bleed Into One 1998
Track 12 - On My Mind (Instrumental)
Track 13 - Show Me Something (Jack Daniels Take; 1996)
Track 14 - Zoe Turns Another Face
Track 15 - Here We Go Again (acoustic v2)
Track 16 - Waiting 1996
Track 17 - The Stand (Instrumental; 1997)
Track 18 - Songs From Heaven (demo; 1995)
Track 19 - Dinner Date 1998

Over the past few days, I've been trying to make myself finish sitting down and 'remaster' the old demo song compilation I finished up in 1998. It consists of a few Etcetera songs I felt particularly proud of, plus a whole bunch of basically finished songs, performed either by myself or with Gary Falkins, 

Track 01 - The Question
Track 02 - Here It Comes Again
Track 03 - One Up On You

that needed demo recording so I could eventually play them for a producer buddy of mine and see what he thought. In the end, I think I played some of it for a musician friend or two of mine, and then put it away. People heard more interesting material in the band recordings, which isn't such a bad thing, I suppose, except that I was never particularly happy with the band recordings either.

So anyway, I had the option of pulling out all of the original 'master' tapes and pulling the tracks off one by one. I would if they were really worth all that much, but the truth is, most of them are pretty rough (hence the title), so there really didn't seem to be too much point in getting precious about the source, So I just loaded up my last compilation copy (actually a copy of the original; I have no idea where that got to), and started ripping it to my computer.

Now, the software I use to rip cassettes isn't particularly high tech; I can edit waveforms and save them as either wave or mp3. I have some noise filtering and some parametric EQ control, so while the tracks are impossible to separate, I can at least tweak the frequencies the separate instruments live on and try to make things sound more balanced and less muddy.

Anyway, the demo will never be fore sale, obviously, so I'm going to wind up doign with it what I did with And Sew Fourth. However, I have no idea if Vox will let me load any more music. It still has't loaded my previous edit of Here It Comes Again/One Up On You. So just as a test, I'm gonna load the first three tracks and see how it goes. If that works, I'll try loading the rest.

Creative Commons License: You can burn it to a personal disc, learn to play the songs and play them live inconcert. You can't rerecord them as your own and sell them without my permission, and you can't burn multiple discs and sell them, either. I will most likely rerecord them myself at some date and issue an official version of this album someday, though the next Thesis album I record is going to have a lot of newer music, if I have anything to do with it.

Lee Edward McIlmoyle
somewhere in Hamilton, ON

Thesis – Rough Work In The Margins
© 1998, 2006 L. McIlmoyle
                                                   Etcetera Thesis Music

ETA: Looks like it worked. But look at all this space!

Think I should write a little about the songs, huh?

Okay, first off, there's The Question, which was actually a completely unplanned improvisation that I recorded directly to the ghetto blaster I had my cheeseball board hooked into a tthe time. It's very church-like, true, but I guess I just always liked how spontaneous it was, and how interesting it was, for all of its flaws.

This is taken directly form my post about the next two songs:

Anyway, it was 1995 and I was on enforced sabbatical from my band (girl trouble), and I was honing my song craft. I wrote a great number of songs during that period, and even started talking with some of my old band mates again, but I was still out on my own, working feverishly, and trying to figure out what I was going to do next.

Here It Comes Again
Towards the end of my exile, I was working around the Christmas season at a Toys R US, when all of that Beatle indoctrination suddenly boiled over, and I started hearing a new song, complete with the grooviest bassline I'd never heard before. I got the lyrics down in a short period of time, but the rest of the song took a solid year of tinkering before it came together for me. I recorded all of the parts myself, even though I had begun working with my old band again in the interim. It was recorded late at night while my not-yet-ex-girlfriend and her little boy slept. It remains one of the smartest pop tunes I've ever turned out.

One Up On You
Afterwards, I spent a bit of time refining it at my own place, and found myself pullingout another lyric that had gotten written around the same time as the first, but had lain dormant. I demoed it on drum machine and keys, and added vocals. Although it's not what I had heard, it had its own interesting character, so I left it and faded in on the end of the first.

Why Do I Do These Things?
This was a piece of guitar music I started composing shortly after I started my sabbatical. I can actually remember sitting in a certain young lady's bedroom while a very antagonistic Dave Beddard loomed outside the door as I worked on some of the parts. Admittedly, the fact that he was getting interested inher room mate at the time (and thought I might try to move in one her) might explain some of his anger. The fact that the gal in question had previously been dating Derrick before sidlign over to me, contributed to this, too. Interestingly enough, I wrote the lyrics with Derrick months later, after he and I had reconciled. It's really my lyric, but he and I traded ideas until I knew what I wanted, and I finishe dit up for him to hear. Frankly, I have rarely ever been able to play and sing this at the same time. I may have to remedy that.

You Send Me Spinning
As some of you who have listened to the Etcetera album And Sew Fourth will already know, this song appeared on there in almost the same form. However, while it wasn't really my song; Derrick's lyrics with a (slightly-more-complex-than-usual-for-Etcetera) melody I wrote on my own and then drilled the band on; poor Gary never mastered this tune during the year we rehearsed it; he plays it pretty good now though. Still, I felt a sense of proprietary ownership of it. Still, I really didn't like how muffled my vocals were, and had frankly really wanted some harmony vocals on there. So I took it home and tried desperately to come up with a harmonized vocal performance I liked. Didn't happen. Frankly, I will most likely rework the harmony vocal and get Gary to sing it when we rerecord it later this year.

Lady Penelope
First off, there's a little preview of The Brighter Side, sung in my very best George Harrison.

Then I go straight into the tune, which was done on drum machine and Gary's old Ibanez double neck, which I used for a number of demos all on the same night (I was very keen). This was actually my first deliberate attempt to write a Beatlesque tune (I beased the title on Penny Lane, for a start), but it's really only half there, Still, it's a good little pop tune, though it needs instrumentation to replace all of my caterwauling antics.

She
This was the first pop song I wrote all of the lyrics AND music to, expressly for the band after we actually came together. Gary was just coming into the band at the time, and I was trying to teach myself to write songs for the band to play, since we seriously couldn't play any of the prog-type songs I'd been trying to write up to that point. It's still a pretty primitive piece of pop song, considering I'd written lots of songs before that had much more conventional song structures. I never seem to do anything the easy way. I later did a recording of myself singing four part harmony for this, which is the wya I'd always intended the band to handle it. I'll have to dig that up sometime. It's funny to listen to me singing like Gary, Derrick and especially Dave.

Zoe
Ah, this was my first delberate attempt to write a slightly warped pop song about a fictitious girl obsession. I was a fan of Doctor Who at the time, and had discovered Patrick Troughton's plucky little brunette assistant, and fell in love. Zoe has since gone on to be a character in four stories of mine, one other pop sonf (later on that) a cartoon character, and the ghost in my machine. And she's still a little hellion.

Tonight
I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to write an interesting and vaguely prog sounding song called tonight, since about the time I got my first copy of Duke, by Genesis. Something about Rutherford's tune 'Alone Tonight' just stuck in my head, and when they later recorded Tonight Tonight Tonight, a decision was made. I took a long time coming up with that song, and I've never been completely happy with the lyrics, but I did see it through to demo, after messing around with it for a few years.

The Brighter Side
This was a lyric I wrote to accompany a song I arranged from a jam the guys and I did one day. Gary and I were both pushing keys and guitar out of the same amp, which got this oddly tweezed tone that somehow made the tune, aurally. We improvised a riff for several minutes, and I then spent several hours mapping it out amd rearranging it using two tape machines and careful attention to the tape meter. I never did manage to get the guys to actually play this song, but it's kinda neat, and I hit on the idea of doing a George Harrison thing with it, which I'm still fond of.
So I included it on the album, and consider it something of a tribute to the man, who is one of my oldest influences.

Bleed Into One
This was a song lyric I started writing as the band was reconvening after a slow winter. By this time, I was starting to really feel my lyrical prowess returning, and was starting to feel some of that piss and vinegar that used to inform some of my older lyrics before the band. I pushed the band through a series of jams that day, and while I was messing about with a deep synth string bass motif, Gary created this incredible series of riffs using his guitar and new effects unit. The band did a series of jams on the same motif, one after another, until we had a good ten to fifteen minutes of the most incredible, moody noise ever, and as a four-piece, no less. I was in heaven.

After applying the lyrics I'd written the previous night to it, we did the rockiest version of the piece, and I later took the whole mess home with me and reconstructed it into my version of Synchronicity II, using two tape machines. It never really got performed and recorded well after that initial session, but I later used a number of strong sections from that first session to create this edit, which is the template for what I'd like to do with it this year. This edit is much tighter than the version heard on And Sew Fourth. (edits: 2006 09 20 ~L.Mc)

On My Mind
This is the instrumental version of a tune I've been meaning to rerecord for a while now. It was originally conceived from a few snippets of jam music Derrick, Dave and I improvised together haphazardly while Gary was away. I took the tape home, and found myself playing those three disparate fragments over and over. I tried to make a tape edit of it, but couldn't synch them up right. So inthe end, I wound up writing and recording all of the parts and arranging it into one of the strongest piece of keyboard music I've yet recorded. I also wrote an extremely strong and personal lyric, and later recorded the lyrical treatment, but I've never been happy with the way I handled the outro. When I finally rerecord it, the outro will be rewritten and the lyrics redone to suit.

Show Me Something
This was the first of the tunes I wrote in 1994 that actually got written, arranged and recorded as a full demo. It's a country rock number that Gary and I rehearsed and recorded while drinking American whisky, which he hoped would take my mind off of my relationship troubles. Bu the time I got to the slide guitar solo, I was in another realm, but it sounds pretty cool for a sloppy, Stonesy, Eagles/Black Crowes kind of number. We have never managed to get a good performance of this with the band;Dave couldn't handle my bass line at the time, and Derrick couldn't handle the 6/8 swing rhythm, though he keeps trying to get that groove.
Derrick's just not a country rock guy, but I'm sure he'll get it someday.

Zoe Turns Another Face
This was actually a tune I wrote for a woman I was dating for a while, based on a lullabye I used to sing to her son to help him sleep. I fully expect to see him in a dark alley in ten years, pulling a knife on me for publishing this tune, witht eh melody that has probably been haunting him from childhood. It does need agood recording, which this is not )particularly the vocals), but it's a good little tune, if a bit long. Also, the mystery of Zoe returns, expanded upon by alluding that every woman I go out with has a little bit of Zoe in her.

Here We Go Again (Acoustic #2)
Etcetera had been working to get this song sorted and rehearsed for some time, and we kept fighting to get the arrangement stabilized and the vocal and instrumental parts coordinated. Most of the time, the lyrical arrangement never happened in the performance, but there remain one or two recordings of the band actually working on the four part harmony that was meant to go with the song. The version on And Sew Fourth has a further wrinkle in the arrangement which wasn't present during this recroding, although I did introduce it about a week later; Motown!

Waiting
This is a number I wrote on keyboard after arranging one of Derrick's cast off lyrics that needed some reworking. I then took it to Gary, and we started working on a guitar part for it that we thought would work with the keyboard part. We were wrong. so we used the parts separately and built the song out of both. This song is going to be rearranged for the next Etcetera album, with a more Pink Floyd feel, I think.

The Stand
Gary and I had been workign a few days earlier on a piec eof music called The Great Wall. We threw everythign including the kitchen sink into that song. So when I came to practice a little late and found Gary teaching Derrick this totally new riff, I went upstairs, finished my sub, started hearing a great bassline, and then crept down and started recording it with them (Dave was away that day). When Dave returned, it was Gary's turn to be away, so I taught Dave the bass line, taught myself Gary's guitar parts, and then sat with Dave and write and arranged the rest of the song. Derrick, Dave and I jammed it out five times, took the last recording s the final arrangement, and sent Gary a copy. We tried to have a band lyric writing session (Derrick's contribution included 'And Gary blew up the spaceship, the incompetent fuck >Star Wars RPG humour<), and I ended up writing a mini rock opera for it. However, the lyric is so pretentious and unwieldy, and our performance not inspired enough to warrant the long running time, so we're planning on reworking it in shorter form for the next album.

Songs From Heaven
This is the first song I started writing for Etetera, over a year before the band itself even came into being. I was heavily influenced by Yes at this time, and I still haven't really forced the issue of the band working on a recording of this, because th arrangement I hear for it in my head is a little above any of our playing abilities at this time. Maybe next year. At any rate, this recording wa sjust myself with a little nylon strung acoustic gutar played very poorly.
Gary keeps dragging this tune out to play, so I know I'm going to have to finish it sooneror later.

Dinner Date
This was a song lyric I started wriiting the first night Dori (Etcetera's original keyboard player) and I started 'collaborating'. I didn't finish it until some time after she'd left the band, and then didn't get all fo the music written for it until Gary and I sat down and finshed banging it into shape. It became our first serious Thesis side project, a tune we knew the band woulnd't be able to play, so we would write and record it ourselves and find other people to play it. As it stands, the meaning of the lyric sort of changed from an innocuous bad relationship to represent our frustration with Etcetera at the time. This was a very flawed demo recording we did, first struggling to get the melody sorted out on guitars, and then overdubbing lyrics. Byt that time, the rhythm had faded into the background, so I later overdubbed myself pounding on a piece of livingroom furniture to approximate the drum performance I'd been searching for.


Thanks for reading this far. Hope you found the DVD commentary amusing.

Lee Edward McIlmoyle
2006 09 09 4:38 AM
Hamilton, Ontario

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