Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Vapours

If you said you had the vapours in 1865, it meant you were in a depression, feeling faint, or otherwise hysterical. It also probably meant you were a woman, or at least were wearing a corset at the time. I'll leave it up to you to decide what was on my mind when I wrote it.

The Vapours, as we all know it, underwent several major renovations, and probably sets the record for number of re-writes (Breathe probably comes in at number two), before we finally settled on a version we liked. Like Crime, the recording process was nothing fancy. For the most part, the first half of the record leaned toward routine recording procedure, with some exceptions, while the second half of the record indicates where we started to get a little crazy with the microphones – and where the Revealed Series will start to get fun.

James in the drum cave at Tarbox.

First, we tracked the song live, followed by basic overdubs to correct bass and guitar mistakes. Piano and basic vocals were next. Pretty standard stuff. Then of course, Dave had to chime in and say, "We need more noise!" So part of what you hear in the mix (you true musicians will be saddened to know) is a single low guitar track (or maybe it was two) of pure unadulterated guitar noise. Scratch that – very adulterated guitar noise. No melody. No harmony. Pure feedback chaos.

The piano solo was somewhat of a milestone in composition for me. I set out to find a convincing 7-bar cabaret break, then proceeded to mix it with a little, I dunno, Danny Elfman or something, and what we all ended up with was Killer Queen as performed by Gomez Addams. Nic and I are both able to play this, and will sometimes trade off halfway through just to show how b-b-b-bad we are.

Gomez Newby

One of the album's unifiers that you might not have picked up on is the use of the Almighty Backward. (You thought we raped the 70's enough…we stole backmasking too!). There are several places on the album where we reversed tracks, and there are three instances in The Vapours alone. The first is with the "ghost" strings after the piano break. (Fun fact: those strings were from a live recording of our 2001 Conquer instrumental set with the Ball State Symphony Orchestra). The second is the "ghost" backup vocals on the third verse. You probably can't tell by listening, but trust me, they're backward. And the third is the "ghost" whispering that fades in at the end of the track. I could tell you exactly what I was saying, but I think I'll wait until another edition.

Til then…

Au revoir,
Jonathon Christopher Newby du Brazil

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