Like everything in the aggression, things happen in huge brief bursts and then nothing happens for some time. This was the case with the writing of "FLOOD". By reading interviews we did around the time of "PURE LIQUID EGO", you can see we already had the title of the album, the mixer of the album, the engineer of the album and the idea of what it would sound like long before it was written. For us, this is nothing unusual. However, we what we needed to do was what I feel we do best, write good songs.
I can't pinpoint when we started writing this record, but I know that some of the songs had been around (in varying degrees) since around the time of "PURE LIQUID EGO". So I'm thinking around 1998. There wasn't a conscious effort towards making a record. It just sort of happened gradually. In his weekly trips to MOGworld, the Kidd could often be found just programming little synth bits or creating drums loops. I would get lyrics from him via E-mail that I would save and compiled in a book of words written by he and I. Though we were all unaware of it at the time, the Kidd was laying the foundation for what was to become "FLOOD". Of course then he got in trouble, but that's for another time.
It's really a group album, certainly the most "group" aggression album. Everyone has their fingerprints on. I think it's a very honest and real album. Everyone's hearts and souls went into it. The emotion is there. Hope you dig it as much as we do.
SONG BY SONG:
LION'S DEN: I have to admit it, we have Kieran to thank for accidentally inspiring this song. In case it's not obvious, "LION'S DEN" is "KAMIZAZI.GOD" at a slower speed. Very late into the writing of the album, I was working on some synth parts for "KAMIZAZI" and I slowed the track down to play something in. While I was working, a bored Kieran started playing what is now the verse guitar melody. It was like the light bulb exploded in my head. Within a day, I had the song written and we decided to "bookend" the album with "LION'S" and "KAMIKAZI" (something we had done previously on our cassette album "DAMAGED"). The Kidd gave me the chorus idea with some lyrics he had written ("the pain is for fun"...etc.) and I went and added to them, thus helping me finish two songs at once. Ash does some nice work with the percussion in the breaks and Tom's chorus lead guitars and backing vocals are wonderful brush-strokes. We originally had planned to open the album with "THE MOTIVE" but when we heard this song, we just knew it was going to start the album off right.
THE MOTIVE: I was quite hesitant about writing new songs without Mark and this was our one last attempt at writing with him during one of his brief stays back in NY. This led to two songs: one called "DEGENERATE CULTURE" and "THE MOTIVE". You can tell he and I did the structure of "MOTIVE" cause its pure "VISION THING"-Sisters. That's odd considering the Kidd, who I believe hates the sisters, did the bulk of the programming. Mark, who I don't recall ever touching a keyboard in the 5 years I worked with him, wrote that great string section. Mark and I played these new tunes for the Kidd and Tom, both of whom had showed up late as usual. They rejected "THE MOTIVE", but liked "CULTURE" cause that, according to Tom "was an aggression song"; not the "MOTIVE", which he and the Kidd deemed weak". If any of you meet Tom, tell him how much you like his awesome vocals on that "weak" song. He sings it more honestly than I think I could have. I'm very proud of that lead verse guitar, not only because it's the first lead guitar I ever wrote, but because despite having many takes of it from 3 different (and more talented) people, Tom and Ash actually kept my original take for the album. A lot of people think the lead is Tom, which to me, is a huge compliment. His chorus lead is his usual brilliant improv over the whole song and then we all pluck it the best stuff out and place it in the right spot. Ash added all those sweet little background synth bits to keep the song funky and electronic. The lyrics I wrote are REALLY trying to be ironic and if you pay attention, you'll see how certain lyrics poke fun at earlier aggression lyrics I had written.
CHEMICAL SUN: Originally, this was my attempt at doing drum n bass without using sampled beats. My first take of the song had a very long intro that built into the song. I forget who cut it out, might have been the Kidd. Regardless, it was a smart move. The demo version made me think that this was going to be one of the weaker tracks on the record despite the fact that I was really pleased with the lyrics. Someone dared me to use the word "mofo" in a song and this is where I got away with it. When I got to Chicago to do the drum edits, I was blown away by not only what Ethan had played, but also how Jamie and Paris recorded him playing drums. It was a whole new song and I was literally jumping up and down when I heard it. I spent time at Crackhouse changing the last quarter of the song around to fit in almost everything Ethan had done. I took guitar parts out and re-did the ending of the song because there was so much cool material there. Easily, for me, the most pleasant surprise on the album.
DEVIATIONS: This is where the 10 people who are familiar the first two aggression records turn around and say "what the hell is this"? This is one of the last songs written and the opening synth sample, created by Ash, triggered the whole evolution of the song. I was really inspired by the Depeche Mode B-Side "SEA OF SIN" which I thought was one of the sexiest songs ever written. I wanted the aggression to have a song people could make out to. Ash, though his usual wizardry, really made this song happen. He pushed me to get creative in the chorus by getting me to play that Gary Numan sounding bassline on a keyboard instead of going for a clichÃ© heavy guitar thing. I would pick this as the first single, but its sort of misleading as to what the whole record is. However, it's my belief that if you make ANY song a single off this record, you're denying someone the full range of "FLOOD". Though not premeditated, I think this song fits in to what is popular with the industrial kids these days. This is the song we've been leaking to the people we know in the clubs and they're really into it. I have a great idea for a video for this song that would absolutely piss off the Electro fans.
MY WHITE NOVA: I love this title. I took it from lyrics the Kidd had that we didn't use. I like the Kidd's lyrics cause they have this sort of literary moment in time feel to them and coincidentally were applicable to something I was going through. As I try to do on every album, I steal the Peter Hook bass sound for those leads in the beginning and bridges, though I used a guitar and not a bass this time. And what more needs to be said about Tom's amazing solo at the end. It blows me away EVERY time I hear it. This is the first of three songs on the album that underwent a huge editing/remixing session to get it to the final arrangement. Tom and I would email arrangements back and forth from our respective homes. The first version was cluttered, messy and chunky and we stripped tons out of it, including a heavy verse guitar. Ash edited together that great last bridge into the guitar solo. What I like most about this song is that it seems to cover all the different styles in the aggression in one song.
ROOM 131: This is the other "What the hell is this? song. The basic verse programming had been around awhile. It was my latest attempt to be Vangelis. Tom heard it and said "this could make a good song" and we started playing around with it. It all came very easily until it came time to write a bridge and I remember spending countless hours on that damn bridge while Tom was locked in my bathroom writing the lyrics. Tom did the sax, and when I heard it, the song clicked. The other tough thing was the chorus bass guitar. Between Tom and I, there were probably 50 different basslines we tried before realizing the simplest version worked. The crazy drums at the end were Jamie's idea and in retrospect, I think it adds a cool "outta nowhere" vibe to the tune and makes a great segue into the next track. This one song I said to Jamie and Ethan "DON'T DO ANY DRUMS" and I was glad they didn't listen.
END: The second of the three songs to go through major edits/remixes after everything was recorded for it. I had been spending time with Leo from Virus 23, and he agreed to do some loops for me. He spent a day doing about 40 loops for us to play with and the loop that would eventually drive this song really stood out while he was recording them. I wrote the guitar parts rather quickly, it was the first song I ever wrote entirely on a guitar and not a bass. But the arrangement was a wall of noise and too long. It was a mess. Tom had written this beautiful bass solo for the bridges and it was buried in mud. So, Tom and I spent an entire day and a half dedicated to making this song right. We stripped layers and layers off and edited it down to what it is now. It was sort of like when you go for an eye exam and they keep trying different lenses till you get the sharpest focus. That's Tom doing those evil whisper vocals, which I love. This was also my first stab at writing lyrics that were more optimistic and defiant than the usual stuff.
SLEAZY JOHN: This is all the Kidd. He had been playing that arrangement for a year during soundchecks and rehearsals. I just found it in the computer one day. I brought him in and we gave it some structure and I added some atmosphere via the strings. I think originally, the Kidd saw this as the start of a much bigger song, but honestly, this fits perfectly on the album and it's something I personally mark out for and aspire to do. It's a great set up to begin what I consider to be the "third act" of Flood. I hope we get to use this song as intro music when we play.
THESE MILLION NIGHTS: Easily my favorite song on the album. Also, the most debated. It's long. It's maybe self-indulgent, but it's also very romantic and very trancy It's the song on the album to lose yourself in. This is another song I started around a loop from Ash. We all worked on the song and I took it home to flesh out the arrangement we had started. Somewhere in there, I added or extended that really long keyboard solo. I brought the song back, with the lyrics. The guys said "too long, edit it" I refused. "Lose a verse". I refused. The one thing I agreed to was to do that synth bridge before the last chorus, which they were right to suggest as it was originally another chorus and that would have been repetitious. Then, Tom took the vocal arrangement I had written for the chorus and condensed it, which made sense as it was kinda long winded the way I written it. He's very good like that; he understands pacing. The choruses have more punch. I played the album demos to a bunch of friends and they all went crazy for it, which took us by surprise. When we finished the record, the guys all agreed it was a good track for the record. I think in the context of the full album, the song works great. I hope we try this live eventually.
KAMIKAZI.GOD: Probably the song closest to our previous stuff. I can't recall when this was written; it might have been around awhile. The three things I remember doing on that song were when Tom, Ash and I re-wrote the verses, which is when the song really came to life, when Tom did those spacey bridge guitars (still can't figure out how he did that), and when Mark came in and played that intro and closing guitar solo. But the song was still very very long. We were playing some tracks for the Kidd, who was visiting from Boston, and the only song he had issues with was this one. Ash and I said to him "we're going to play Nintendo Dodge Ball, you've got a half hour to do whatever you want to the song". The Kidd went right to work and the song you hear now, the third song to go through a big overhaul, is the result of the Kidd working for that half-hour. This song's really grown on me, especially after the great reaction we got for it from our UK friends.
DREAMS TO DEATH: Of the stuff we had lying around, this was the last song I actually expected to make it to the album. I presented a very early version to the guys and they all rejected it. A year later, I changed all the sounds, shortened it a bit and re-presented it as a new song. They all liked it! Sweet revenge! This was a tough song to record. Tons of stuff written for it was removed as we kept going. I had a beautiful verse guitar lead that got canned cause it was clashing with the vocals. I also had probably three more string arrangements, which was WAY too indulgent. It was a good song, until Tom, on his own, did his vocals and the whole acoustic guitar section at the end, which, to me, is when it became a great song. I love Ethan's drumming in this song, especially in the chorus. Like "THE MOTIVE" this is a song that just made more sense with Tom singing. Tom and Ash bled me dry for that backing vocal on the chorus. The only true disagreement during the entire recording of the album was how to end this song. Tom had a 15-second shorter ending in mind while I had a string arranged finish. I caved in and changed it and really made a big stink about it because I felt the sweet drama of that arrangement was cut at the knees. Every time we listened to the end of the album I would make a snide comment to Tom like "Congratulations, you ruined this whole album". 95% of the changes I agreed to on the album made sense to me, even if didn't like it, but this one point really made me lose sleep. On our final demo listen before sending everything in for mixing, Tom's dad entered the room and said to us "You know, I really liked the longer ending much better". Tom, Ash, and I looked at each other, went back and re-inserted the original longer ending, thus making me very very happy. So, if I didn't say it before, thanks for saving the album, Ed!!