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  • Writer's pictureIan Galipeau

Creation Stories: The Sound

“... told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

This is a song that started from a musical goal... I was not writing about any particular subject, so much as I was obsessed over “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” by The Beatles. That song is a string of vaguely-connected sections mashed into one, and “The Sound” takes a similar form. The lyrics are just stream-of-consciousness ramblings that I wrote down and edited to make a bit more sense. I liked some of the wordplay in the first section… but it was just vaguely fatalistic musings. If you had asked me five years ago what this song was about, I wouldn’t have had much of an answer. It’s pretty unusual for me to get deep into a song without some kind of underlying theme or concept, but this was one I finished without ever intentionally making it about anything. As Like We Were Never Here At All started to take shape, it became clear that it would be about something, given the right context.


(Just to illustrate how detached I am from the lyrics of this song - when I was discussing potential titles for the album with my friend and drummer Justin Gregory, he asked me to send him all the lyrics. When he came back with a list of ideas that included ‘Never Here At All’ among a half-dozen suggestions, my first thought was, “Ooh I like that a lot, but it’s not one of my lyrics…” Turns out, I was mistaken.)

From a musical perspective, the song is deliberately disjointed. My whole purpose was to mash together sections into a kind-of through-composed piece of music. This made it one of the more difficult ones to track - it’s the only song on the album that didn’t use a tempo map, because there was too much variation in speed to make it work easily. Justin tracked the drums along with the first take of guitar/vocals live in the studio, and I overdubbed everything else at home. My favorite moment during the production phase was when I added orchestral percussion into the “we’re digging deeper” section - the bells and bass drum / gong hits are slightly ridiculous, but I love the intensity they bring. It's kind of MUSE-ish, in its absurdity.

My engineer Robby Miller did a great job mixing this very weird track. I particularly like the way the vocals sit in each section - the lead vocal has a lot of shifts in tone and volume, plus there are a number of different harmonies that come in and out... and it all balances very well. I also love how the guitars weave around each other and pan through the sonic field at the very end. It was interesting trying to communicate back and forth with him about this song, because we couldn’t refer to sections… usually, I’d give him feedback like “in the second verse, bring the bass up a bit, but keep it at the current level in the following chorus…” but that doesn’t apply in this song. My nicknames for each section, in order, were ‘trippy’, ‘dreamy’, ‘driving’, ‘funky’, ‘James Bond’, ‘Kashmir’, and ‘end dreamy’. Very precise and helpful, right? We ended up using timestamps.

(Musician friends - seriously consider Robby to mix your next project. He’s a great collaborator.)

“The Sound” is track 11 on my album Like We Were Never Here At All. Listen here.

Lyrics:

Staring at the clock and counting down

It’s ticking talking through the crowded air

Drowning all the thoughts inside my brain

A simple sacred metronome

A siphon sipping down the moments

A constant proof that nothing escapes

And I can see the whole world

Melt away in the sound

I feel the fractures growing wide, and I'm falling through

As all my reasoning unwinds beneath the truth

In the waves we toss and turn

And pretend our words protect us from the fall

But in the end we will return

To the earth like we were never here at all

We’re digging deeper

And I can see the whole world

Melt away in the sound







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