I’m going to spend the next while highlighting some of the tunes off Infernal Divine. Since we don’t exactly have liner notes or lyric sheets, I thought it would be kinda fun to let everyone in on what goes on behind the curtain in the writing and recording process.
Now, having said that, I almost don’t want to do it.
Does anyone remember getting a new CD or (heaven forbid) LP when you were younger? Or even now? You’d charge home. Rip open the packaging. Gaze at the artwork and liner notes. Slap on the headphones. Hit the opening track. And be lost in the experience.
I think part of the reason that time seems so transcendent (other than the usual ‘good old days’ thing we all gain as we age) is that so much of the musical experience was your own interpretation. Yeah, the artwork and the liner notes guide that, but everything else was your own. As you listened to the music, you felt what you felt. Your mind’s eye conjured its’ own images. The music didn’t dictate your emotions… they gave you a diving board to explore it on your own. That’s how, for example, a song like “Southern Cross” can become Our Song with me and my girl, even though it’s a song about failed relationships.
Enter MTV: the game-changer of the early 80s. And yes, they did play music on it at one time.
Visuals have long been a part of musical performance, to be sure. And even though a lot of those early videos were embarrassingly bad, it gave artists a new dimension to play with. And for the first time, a mass-audience could actually SEE what the band looked like. Being able to get a small slice of that live experience was pretty compelling for those of us who grew up in tiny towns with conservative parents who would rarely let us see shows.
But that comes at a certain cost. Visuals are strong associative cues. And once you get those in your head, it’s hard to let them go. I like a good vid as much as the next person. But too often I feel like videos have the (possibly unintended) side effect of telling you what you should get out of the song. Or, perhaps more cynically, the song really doesn’t have any depth in the first place, and the video is simply a) a way to deflect attention from that fact, and b) something modern rock artists are obliged to do as a part of marketing their brand. By the way… yes, I DO believe there are good songs and bad songs. But that’s for another entry.
I don’t want to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t get out of our music, or music in general. I’d rather you draw your own conclusions. If a sad song makes you happy, or an angry song gives you some serenity, then cool. I’d be the last person to tell you that you got it wrong. It’s one of the reasons I’m reticent to do videos as well. I’m not opposed to the idea… but the stars would have to align just so. Probably for the better; my mental visuals of late would probably be considered too blasphemous or surreal for the average video consumer.
So, having said all that, I’m going to regale you with tales from the writing desk and studio anyway. And why not? Some of it is pretty funny. Some of it is uncomfortable. Some of it is just weird. I hope that knowing what went into this particular sausage doesn’t spoil your appetite for it. But the stories and insights of what went into Infernal Divine are worth telling, and who knows – knowing some of the grist may take you to new places when you hear one of the tunes.
Still reticent about doing a video, though.