'Phoning It In', 'Crate Amp_02', 'Success!' and 'Welcome To The Hotel', explained.
Over the weekend Gerard Way posted four pieces of previously unreleased music on his SoundCloud. They are all bits of music that he has produced with engineer Doug McKean over the years and take the shape of everything from fully rounded songs to little snippets of noise.
He dubbed the tracks 'Distraction Or Despair' and stated that he was "just winging it, keeping it casual" within his posting of them.
Hey all, with all this uncertainty I just wanted to start uploading some unreleased stuff. Just so people can check it out and have something to listen to. Just felt like sharing. I think I have a bunch of this stuff, as Doug and I have been recording little bits here and there over the years. Some of these, like Phoning It In, were things that I planned on releasing as singles, and I may still do that at some point when I finish them, but I figured why not. It feels good to share. Who knows if some of this stuff would have ever come out? Oh yeah, the music is on my soundcloud, which I haven’t really used in ages. The link is in my linktree, along with a link to the Covid-19 Response Fund. In case you are wondering, this is a picture of my vocal cords, from when I went to see the ear/nose/throat doc before embarking on this my chem journey, to make sure everything was in order. He said, “It’s a little red, but looking good”. I’m calling all of this stuff Distraction Or Despair, since that seems to be the two things I keep shifting between. Probably a lot of other people too. But I think only some of the tracks are tied to an “album” of that name. I’m just winging it, keeping it casual. May add some notes to the tracks. Hope everyone is safe and healthy. Rock on.
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Well now he has provided a bit more insight into the origins of each track.
Have a read and a listen to each below:
PHONING IT IN
"I’ve always loved the phrase and I was just inspired to write a song with it. To keep in spirit with the title of the song, I made sure not to try too hard on any one element. I wrote the riff quickly, wrote the lyrics quickly, we got the guitar sound quickly, and there was no overthinking or really changing anything. My only complaint about it is that I think it is a little too fast, so it forces me to sing harder to keep up, and it doesn’t fully sound like I’m phoning in the vocals. So I thought about slowing it down and delivering a more laid back vocal take. Just ever so slightly. I played the guitar, sang, No bass yet. Doug programmed the drums. Every once in a while we will have someone play drums on the songs, but usually only when we are finishing something for release. Otherwise, all the drums in the demos are programmed by Doug, and I think he does a really good job of making them sound kind of real and natural. I get attached to them.
"All of Hesitant Alien started as demos with programmed drums by Doug. He and I have a cool relationship, and have evolved together over the years since he engineered Black Parade, Danger Days, and engineered and produced Hesitant Alien. We work in the same space, the studio at my house, called Milk Friends. I just let him have the space I’m not using and he brought in all of his gear and works on various projects, recording, and mixes, and I would be in the other room, the office, writing comics. And every so often, when neither of us is too busy, we record things. I like sharing artistic spaces with people, especially Doug. It’s nice to have a friend that can record you when you have an idea, because I’m terrible at recording and I barely even know how to use Garage Band. So all the singles you have gotten from me over the last couple of years have been done with Doug and I, and then various musicians who would replace certain things, making them real, and sound better."
"This is one of maybe five tracks of me messing around with this Crate amp I got off of Reverb for cheap. It has a mysterious stain on the front that looks like someone had put a candle on top of the amp and the wax just dripped down the front. In the listing, the stain was described as “a stain that mostly comes off”.
"One of the things Doug and I were experimenting with for the last three months was how bad we could get stuff to sound. That’s not me trying to diss on Crate amps, as the very first amp I had— the one I wrote Skylines and Turnstiles with— was a Crate amp with built in distortion. But they do not have a reputation for being high quality amps, at least in the musical circles I was in. A lot of people get kind of snobby about them. But I think a lot of metal or thrash metal musicians swear by them. They are very crunchy, so I think that is why, since some metal has a lot of crunchy distortion. But we would turn the amp distortion on, and then run a distortion pedal through it, to see how fucked up we could get it.
"I’ll probably put the rest of the jam tracks up, but I think it’s a lot of the same riff over and over, since I didn’t know when Doug was in record-mode and I wanted to make sure I got the two or three parts down once I discovered them. This is just me playing guitar meandering through ideas, sloppily. Maybe some of these riffs will become songs."
"Back before Hesitant Alien was a thing, and before I wanted to pursue a solo career, I wanted to start a band and just sing and play guitar, after my chem broke up. The name of the band was going to be Baby Animal Hospital (the record label hated the name, especially since it included both the words ‘baby’ and ‘hospital’ in the same phrase), and I did a bunch of rough graphic design for it, but in the end, it really felt like a solo thing, so that’s what it became.
"But when it was Baby Animal Hospital (I wanted something that sounded warm and fuzzy and loud, like the tones) I recorded this track with Doug for the opening of the record. The lyrics/sounds are just the word BAH over and over again, which where the first letters of each word of the band name, but that wasn’t intentional, I just liked the sound. And this was us really messing with auto-tune to try and make it sound like an instrument. It was supposed to be this track as track one and go right into Action Cat.
"Later on, I figured I would just make a zine with the name Baby Animal Hospital, but I didn’t get very far with it. Still like the name, and may do something with it in the future. Maybe one day I’ll share all the graphic design I did for it when it was a band, a lot of which was cut and paste by hand."
WELCOME TO THE HOTEL
"This was something Doug and I threw together for the release of Umbrella Academy Volume Three: Hotel Oblivion. Just something short for an instagram video. We did this really quick, didn’t give it much thought other than trying to make something that sounded a little like The Stooges. A few months later, I actually wrote a verse and some new lyrics and a new vocal melody for the verse, and then I kind of wanted to finish the song. Someday. Like most of this stuff, it’s me playing guitar, bass if there is bass, doing the vocals, and Doug programming the drums."
Well, there you go! Everything you could ever want to know about how Gerard currently makes music.
Will there be more snippets in the future? We certainly hope so!