Finishing the Demo

The following reflection was written in 2003, when I was between 25 and 26 years old.


Most of the band arrived at Oak Grove Studios towards the end of July to finish up recording for the demo and we had a chance to polish this thing that could be a proper representation of us, but we basically just did what was necessary. Andy rerecorded his vocals for “3 O’Clock” and his guitar as well, but when they didn’t match up with percussion everyone was just like, “Whatever.” Jon rerecorded his vocals for “The End” but our “producer” was making him do it piecemeal and motion whenever he was about to sing so the “producer” could turn the mics back on. I resang the vocals for “Anymore” and that blew too. Then we sat down to mix it.

Mixing might have actually been on a different day, but the general idea is that we had paid for a certain number of hours in the studio and we were running over that alloted amount of time. We were poor high-school and college kids and we had to get everything done on a tight schedule.

The thing that’s most painful about listening to the demo today is not that it is horrible, (though, admittedly, it is quite awful in places). The thing that is most painful about listening to the demo today is that in every song I can hear a glimmer of what it might have been if only we had more time, more devotion to it, more cooperation amongst each other.

I listen to the music I put out as Pop Bubblegum Trash and by comparison, I can hear how much work I put into each song. I can hear the months and months I spent perfecting each song. Yes, they don’t sound as “live” as the Brand X songs, but they sound finished and that’s what I wish the demo could have sounded like.

On the first side we sounded like a half-assed pop-rock band. On the second side we sounded like a half-assed goth band. We couldn’t even make up our mind what we were.

“3 O’Clock” was good except for the mismatch between the percussion and the guitar/vocal, which were from different takes. Both parts were good but together they made it sound like a minor mess. “Spun By You” was a pretty solid performance by the band and by JonMartin for the most part, though he would never admit that, and the only thing that really troubles me about it is my godawful keyboard part.

“Orange” features a guitar sound that both Jon and I really love and the main problem with it is Beth the Bassist occasionally getting lost with the bassline and Jon’s keyboard part doing the same. “Labels” isn’t as bad as I remembered it but it has problems in the transitions in particular and it sounds like I’m talking the song instead of singing it.

The second side is taken up mostly by “The End” which features a couple of great sections of instrumentation fucked up again by my awful keyboarding. “Anymore” is the last song on the tape and it features the most musically solid performance on the demo but the most vocally awful as well. How I wish I could go back and do Dubner’s haunting piano line justice with my words.

We were excited to get into a studio but like so many other things with the band, we weren’t ready for it. We needed a few more months, at least, perfecting those songs. Even then, we should have just picked three, one song from each songwriter, and stuck with that.