[Ball of Wax 40, as we’ve mentioned, is a little different. Given the unique nature of each of the bands and songs on this collection, we decided to eschew our usual track-review format for the blog in favor of letting each of the bands speak for themselves about the songs they wrote and recorded in a day. Masonic Mouth Sounds (Dekker Deen, Shannon Jae, Sam Russell, and Carlos Tulloss) were tasked with 2008. 3/4 of the band have shared with us their memories of the day’s events, along with their lyrics. Masonic Mouth Sounds will reunite to perform this song at the first Ball of Wax 40 release show on June 20th!]
Sam: This 24-hour thing was a blur of spitballed ideas and spiced rum. The meat of the day was spent with Carlos and Dekker working on the rhythm track while me and Shannon hammered out the lyrics with Dekker contributing on the bridge. Vocals and guitar were done late into the night then Carlos was left by his lonesome to add textures and mix the thing for another 12 hours. The whole process was both exhausting and an enormous amount of fun, the adult equivalent of being paired up with strange playmates on a foreign playground. Me and Shannon tried to go for a loose story and topical references relevant to the year in question though the results are probably more impressionistic than narrative. Shannon’s thoughts and feelings below pretty much sum up my own and I’m betting Carlos’ and Dekker’s too.
Shannon: That was my first experience, period, writing with another person. The lack of sleep definitely helped me not be a complete perfectionist and control freak. It was surprisingly much more fun and easier than I thought it’d be, I expected a lot more clashing of ideas, but I felt that we all had a mutual respect for each other and the finished product turned out to be a lot of different themes, feelings, sounds uniting into quite a musical experience that captured the chaos and beauty of the day. It was a challenge on many levels to try and understand where each musician was coming from shortly after meeting them and to try and come together to create something Beautiful, but I think we did it and I’m glad that some of the humor and sweetness from the day was able to come through. I also was very humbled to witness such spontaneous creativity and deeply appreciative of all the patience that was offered.
Carlos: Talk about a blind date! I remember picking up Shannon downtown in the morning and thinking, “she’s pretty brave to just jump in some dude’s van to write music all day.” I think everyone being sleep deprived and then adding rum into the mix helped us roll past all the places where we would’ve made different decisions if we had more time to consider and analyze and dissect.
As soon as Shannon and Sam stepped outside to work out some lyrics Dekker tells me, “alright, we’re not gonna let this rhythm section be a stock folk thing right?” We jammed on some weirdo bass and drum loops for a while and I knew it was going to be a good day. It was very liberating not having the time to break things down and psychonalyze the shit out of the music. By the time we each set up our musical tent poles, the storm was already upon us and we just had to hope it could stand for something. I think it did.
After everyone left and the arrangements and takes were established I spent all night trying to weld the joints of the sections together. I tried as many contrasting ideas as possible to keep it unpredictable so that the song would melt and fold around each of the other musicians’ featured areas. It was a blast because the tune was already all over the place so it couldn’t really be confined to tropes or genres. In the morning when I listened to the final I realized that we made the musical equivalent of the EMP building, big, strange, unique, pretty in the right lighting . . .
rang in New Year’s on my birthday, swapped calendar on the wall
put my new I-Phone on vibrate to answer Leap Year’s call
gonna make a few investments, this year nothing’s going wrong
got a Leap Year birthday, this year I’ll be coming out strong
I got myself some shut-eye before I did my graveyard shift
drank my coffee strong with grounds, just missed the eclipse
I flipped the paper further to get some astrology
and the stars said this year will be a good one, “Happy Birthday Leap Year Baby!”
now the moon’s gone / there’s a new light
and this leap year / brings a new life
a woman shouted “yes we can!” in front of me near voting booth
I was broke but feeling red though a little confused
counted pennies in my pocket, all that the banker’s left
this could still be a good Leap Year if the right guy wins
oh the streets are slowly stirring people say things are going to change
celebrating like shit ain’t happened and I think it’s kind of strange
even though history’s been made, I’m just trying to pay the rent
I curse the stars cause they lied, I just want this Leap Year to end