Introduction

Despite the practical challenges bands have these days (no centralized industry/no money/the public's flighty, ADD-y appetites), in one crucial way we're quite lucky-- the easy access to decent quality, mobile recording technology allows us to chronicle everything. In theory, you can leave a recorder running throughout every rehearsal. You can capture every ephemeral, tossed-off riff, every spontaneous lyric. Technically, there need not be ghosts anymore. No haunting, nagging regrets about that great hook none of you can recall. No spur-of-the-moment jams that no one is able to remember. Everything can be preserved. Everything can be revisited. 

As it turns out, The Amends preserved quite a bit, and I’ve been revisiting it lately. I thought it might be interesting to re-visit the writing process of some of the songs from The Amends’ first two studio albums as well as our newest EP.  

We ended up capturing the actual moments when several of our songs were scooped out of the ether and turned into something tangible. Sometimes it happened in the middle of playing a different song, or jamming mindlessly. Other times, the recorder was turned on minutes after one of us came running in with a new idea. 

An argument could be made that this is a purely masturbatory exercise. Of course it is. I started listening to these old recordings because I was personally interested in how we made what we made. And exposing the raw, unfiltered origins of these songs is a bit embarrassing. Sometimes we get too excited, or pleased with ourselves. Other times we mention other bands a little too frequently. Sometimes it's quite obviously we lack an understanding of basic musical theory. Sometimes it exposes our warts, and sometimes it's probably self-congratulatory. 

Putting aside (yet acknowledging) all that, I decided to send these recordings out to the wires because there’s a chance a few people (whether fans of ours or not) may stumble upon this and be genuinely interested to listen to the entire, raw, songwriting process. 

I took these old recordings and edited them down to (semi) consumable lengths. Some are still inexcusably, self-indulgently long. I’ve never claimed to be a good editor (says the guy who edited and compiled TROT). I've written notes on most of them. 

You can scroll through to the ones you're most interested in, or use the links below to jump around.

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

A Certain Speed

“A Certain Speed” ended up the second song on our second album. You can hear the final studio version here.

The basic songwriting process, wherein most of the song was completely written (except for some lyrics), took 32 minutes, spread over two back-to-back recordings. That is a weird thing to be able to pin-point.

I edited the original 32 minutes down to the file below. Un-edited versions are available upon request if you’re a psychopath. Timed comments are interspersed throughout, and pasted below the file.

Creepily Detailed Notes: 

  • 00:00-00:17 Finishing up an early version of “It’d Be Nice”
  • At 00:30, Tyler randomly starts on a riff that comes out of nowhere. Shay immediately starts playing along, and then at 00:53, there’s a pause and Drew starts singing. 
  • At 01:17, the chorus kicks in and Drew sings pretty much exactly what ends up on the final version. The fourth version of the main verse riff remains sloppy and unfinished for a while.
  • At 03:54, we finish up this very first take. Drew says, “I like this riff.” Tyler says he has to do something more with it and messes around a bit.  The band starts up a second attempt pretty much right away. The second version isn’t much different than the first so at 04:53, there’s a fade-out (about 3 minutes is cut from the original recording here, where we just repeat it a few times).  
  • When we fade back in, we start to get excited about it. Drew says something about either his toenail or his guitar tone haha. Tyler recognizes that “the first few notes are basically Lonely Boy (by the Black Keys).” But we quickly agree it’s totally different after those first three notes. 
  • There’s another fade-out at 05:11, which is just a couple minutes of everyone screwing around.  Coming back, Tyler expresses concern about the bridge— that it sounds too much like another song, which would ultimately become “Tick Tock”. 
  • At 05:40, it fades out because Tyler starts a new recording so that he won’t have to find all this in the middle of a long recording. Only a few seconds pass here. 
  • From05:45-6:50, we practice the bridge. We fade out again as Tyler teaches Drew the riff so he can add to the bridge.  About five minutes pass here. 
  • At 06:57, Tyler’s still trying to figure out how to differ the bridge from “Tick Tock”. 
  • From 07:00-9:15, we run through the whole song— the best version of the day, and as Drew says right after the end of it, “We’re almost to a total song.” 
  • In fact, the only things that will really change in the final version are: a) Tyler cleaning up the end of the verse riff, b) Drew’s guitar accents between the verses, c) adding to the bridge d) verse lyrics, and e) adding the bass. Otherwise, it’s pretty much exactly how it ends up on WWCB. 
  • After 09:15, Tyler spends some time trying to “smooth out” the riff. Shay helps. 
  • At 10:32, we’ve skipped a month forward to (5/31), right before we were heading into the studio. This is the next recorded version, and it’s now (minus some lyric changes) the same as WWCB. Chris’s bass is added into the mix, the riff is “smoothed”, and Drew’s guitar accents are in there. In the recorded version, Shay starts out the song.

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Make It So

This song became “Make It So” also from our second album. You can hear the final studio version here. It was written and recorded on 5/28 and 5/31/12, with Drew, Shay, and me. Total recording time (and time it took to write) is 52 minutes. Edited down to 26 minutes, including a take 3 days later with Chris tacked on the end. All except for that last take are sequential and on the same day. First 16 minutes are unedited to show whole process. After that, it’s details mostly. 

This song is a great example of Drew’s insane ability to sing gibberish while finding the structure and melody. And sometimes pieces of that gibberish stick. By the end of the third take, he was singing, “Why don’t you make it so?” on the chorus, and I’d be lying if I didn’t start imagining Sir Patrick Stewart. 

Creepily Detailed Notes: 

  • 00:05 Drew starts playing the riff
  • At 00:17 Tyler starts trying to join in
  • At 00:38, Drew stops and is about to move on. Tyler tells him to play that again while he figures out the hook. And then we launch into an almost recognizable first version of the song, even though Tyler flubs along, trying to find the right notes.
  •  At 3:15 is the first attempt at a chorus, after which Tyler immediately screws up the riff
  • At 04:47 is the first attempt at a solo
  • At 05:37, we end the first take and Tyler says, “That actually might be something. It’s catchy as shit… It sounds like a blues song that turns into a pop song.” Drew corrects him, “No, it sounds like a pop song that turns into a blues song.”
  • Take 2 begins at 06:00. The riff starts to improve and become recognizable. At 06:20, Drew says, “I like that riff.” 
  • At 06:52, Tyler tries to change the riff for the second half of the verse. 
  • At 08:16, the chorus riff almost punches through for the first time. But Tyler still can’t get it. 
  • Take 2 ends at 09:05. 
  • At 09:15, Drew suggests Tyler take over the rhythm part when Drew solos. Takes Tyler about 45 seconds to learn the chords, but for how simple they are, that’s about 40 seconds too long. 
  • At 10:21, we start working on the turnaround. 
  • Take 3 starts at 10:59. 
  • At 13:25, Tyler and Drew switch for the first time, essentially completing the basic structure of the song. 
  • 14:12 Drew: “Did you feel that when we were just pounding there? Oh Yeah.” Shay said, “That should be the song title.”
  • At 14:25, Tyler tries an aborted idea for Drew to incorporate some of the hook into Drew’s solo. But Drew can’t because it’s not in the blues scale. 
  • 15:25, Drew points out we should switch rhythm/riffs during the second parts of the verses.  
  • 15:57 Take 4 begins. First Edit, just removing the couple minutes of that take. 
  • Fell apart at the end, so at 16:05, Tyler suggests they come back to the chorus at the very end. 
  • Take 5 starts at 17:00. Edited out.  
  •  17:41: Tyler: “It’s a good sign when you’re out of breath for a pop song. 
  • Take 6 edited out. 
  • 18:42, Take 7, complete. Tyler varies the riff on the verses. And the chorus riff is almost there. And Drew sings “Make It So” on the chorus. 
  • 22:10: Drew: “Is there anything we can do better?”
  • 22:13: Tyler: “Another one pulled out of the ether.”
  • 22:15 : Related it to another abandoned song. 
  • 22:40: Rehearsal two days later (5/31) with Chris. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

When She's Gone (Part One)

 

 

This song is Chris’s (our bass player) baby, which I find hilarious, because it’s also his least favorite song. But Chris came up with the bass hook during a random rehearsal and Drew pounced on it. We loved the song, and saw it as a chance to do something different. Chris is generally not a fan of pop music, to say the least haha. When you birth a monster you can either leave it in the street and hope it doesn’t come back looking for you years later with vengeance in its eyes, or do your best to raise it properly. 

This is also another example of Drew’s automatic gibberish machine when he’s finding a melody to sing paying off in spades. He spits out lyrics that somehow rhyme and occasionally make sense. There’s a certain point in this recording where he sings, loudly, “I’ll make it up when she’s gone.” I remember hearing that when he sang it and got chills. I knew that’s what we could center the song around. I thought about all the possible meanings of the phrase.

This is a condensed version of three or so initial takes/tries. It’s one of the clearest examples we have of a song’s structure emerging almost naturally.

You can also hear Drew’s dog Layla in the background. She would bark every time from this first time on that we played this song. She was even less of a fan of it than Chris. 

Listen to the final studio version here.

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • Between 00:20 and 00:40, Chris starts to get the main bass riff. 
  • 1:20, Tyler tries to mess around on the guitar. 
  • 1:45 is really where it first starts to get recognizable. Chris’s riff is solidified. 
  • Drew stops at 2:33 to ask if it’s being recorded. When we start up again at 2:49, the bass riff is completely there. 
  • At 9:24, Drew sings “I’ll make it up when she’s gone”, and then Tyler immediately/finally switches to the piano. 
  • Machine gun drums start at 9:55, and then Drew triumphantly announces “I’ll make it up when she’s gone” at 10:06, and we all crash in to gear. 
  • Change recorder at 10:47. Take two starts right after, and it sounds really close. At 11:09, the piano riff struggles to emerge. And again around 11:36. 
  • At 12:12, a good, unused lyrical rhyme, “I’ll make it up when she leaves.”
  • At 12:20, the bass and keys start playing off each other for the first time. Light guitar gets added in. 
  • At 14:00, the piano riff is halfway there. 
  • Take 3 starts at 16:47
  • Tyler says he’s gonna try something at 17:01. And at 17:10, hits the riff completely.  
  • At 17:52, Drew sings “under this lovely charade” and then says, “ooh, remember that one.”
  • 21:30, first piano solo. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

When She's Gone (Part Two)

This post is completely unnecessary. But I promised we would embarrass ourselves. And this is more embarrassing than any of the over-excited, cliched comments we’ve made on the other tracks I’ve posted. 

This is a dead end. This is an example of trying something and failing. We had written the bulk of “When She’s Gone” a couple days earlier (see the post on that), but apparently we decided that a pop song wasn’t poppy enough so it needed to be popped up more to its poppiest extreme. Thankfully, we didn’t pursue this route after this recording. But we tried it. I’ll admit that. And here is the evidence. 

There is so much wrong throughout this whole clip. So please listen.

Creepily Detailed Notes: 

  • 00:22: Drew: “Everyone just play what they play, but then change it a little.”
  • 04:02 - Trying to figure out what each other is talking about when mentioning a line/measure
  • At 5:22, the nightmare starts. Drew does the “ah, ah, ah’s.”
  • Around 5:52, start debating on how often it should be used and where. Tyler is unconcerned with the conversation haha. Mostly the other three. That’s his MO. When he doesn’t care about something, or is against the idea, he just ignores it and hopes it goes away. Very healthy.
  • 6:40: Phil Collins joke. “In The Air Tonight” drums. And then Tyler perks up and starts taking the Phil Collins thing seriously. 
  • At 8:22, we are still fucking talking about Phil Collins 
  • 08:56: Drew actually says, “Walking in Memphis, baby.” All of us are guilty here. 
  • And at 9:22, Shay’s drums certainly sound like Phil Collins. 
  • 9:59 Drew: “Can you play faster without speeding up?”
  • At 10:13, Tyler gets undeservedly cocky. 
  • At 14:22, everyone starts trying to harmonize together. And it’s hilarious. 
  • At 16:00, that’s enough. Punching out here. Enough’s enough. Show some mercy. This went on for another 30 minutes. And then we just stopped. Eventually we gave it up. 
  • Ends with Tyler asking, “I need to figure out how I can take a…” Drew asks, “Piss?”

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Hotel Lobby

This song was on our first album, and the studio version can be heard here.

It was a weekend afternoon. Drew came over to Tyler’s house and they sat in his room with two keyboards out. They had perhaps been imbibing a lot of something. This may be apparent in the recording, and perhaps in the slowed-down, sluggish quality. They had been messing around on the keyboard for an hour or so when Tyler started playing the chord progression and melody that became the skeleton of Hotel Lobby. Tyler’s housemate leaned in the room and asked what that song was because it sounded familiar. Tyler and Drew both looked at each other at that moment and knew that they had the beginning of a real song. After maybe fifteen minutes of structuring it, Tyler turned on the recorder to make sure it wasn’t forgotten. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • I’ve left the whole first take in-tact, even though it’s slow and rambling
  • Drew continuously plays with a sound effect on my second keyboard. 
  • At 1:05, Drew realizes he’s singing the parts in the wrong places
  • The way of singing “hotel” has been there from the beginning
  • Different snippets of lyrics have also been there since early on like “if you go down”  
  • Acoustic guitar comes in around 4:38
  • Tyler laughs at 5:15 when Drew puts down the guitar and hits the keyboard sound effect again
  • At 7:53, Drew says, “This is gonna be something really good.”
  • First take ends with, “I even got good gibberish lyrics in that.” 
  • Second take begins with Tyler asking if they should speed it up and then the “riff” is almost exactly what the song eventually became. 
  • From around 11:15 to 12:12 there’s some good, building interplay between the piano and guitar
  • At the end of the second take, they’re already planning different versions of it. “This is where we’d start building it up,” Drew says. “Or maybe just end it here,” Tyler counters. Drew:  “Yeah, we could end it. For the shortened version. For an album version we could end it there, but live we could go seven or eight minutes.” 
  • Third take starts at 13:13. It’s a couple days later. First time playing it for Shay. I believe this was when we were between bassists. Our original bassist (who we played our first few shows with) quit, presumably to go back to school, and it was another couple months before we found Chris.   
  • Being his first time hearing it, Shay is cautious on the drums. Haven’t developed the exact trills and solos for the back half of the song, but the place for them is there. Almost the same structure as how it ended up. 
  • Except at the very end, instead of a solo, Drew starts trying to howl My Morning Jacket-style.
  • The last little but is from a recording of proposed lyrics I sent to Drew. Some of them were used— including my favorite of all of our lyrics (the last thing you said the last time we were in bed’s been stuck in my head / the new skins that we grow can’t replace the ones that we shed). Others are overly apocalyptic as that’s the territory my words usually wander off towards if I’m left to my own devices. The end version was a combination of both of our lyrics.   
  • It should be noted, though it's painfully obvious upon listening to this last part, that I can’t even come close to singing this one properly, especially the chorus. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

More To Give

This was the first song written for our second album. This was recorded back in 7/25/12, a year before recording. The final studio version can be heard here.  

The first seven minutes are the earliest recorded version, probably an hour or two after starting to write it. It’s actually recognizable but kind of a completely different song in many ways. Different melodies, different instruments. I kind of wish we recorded a version like this. 

This recording was a bit corrupted, with 1-2 second chunks of silence every 30 seconds or so. I tried to fix these by splicing those out. Now it sounds like a CD that occasionally scratches. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • After the cut around 7 minutes, we skip ahead 30 minutes or so. 
  • At 7:12, he tries “ooh-ooh for the first time. 
  • At 7:45, Drew says for Tyler’s guitar to come in later, and to try something on the piano for the beginning. 
  • At 9:03, Drew says, “are you smelling what I’m doing?” Meaning farts. 
  • Really detailed discussions on how to build it. Pretty good example of us working all together, from like 7:45-12. Didn’t end up using this acapella idea in here, but it’s still interesting. 
  • Cut at around 12:40, skippoing about 15 minutes ahead when working on building the ending. 
  • I like the guitar work at 12:55. 
  • New piano technique at 13:10. Tyler’s practicing switching back and forth from piano to guitar.  

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

Tick Tock

Recorded 10/3/12. The final version, from our second album, can be heard here. I was fairly selective with the recorder here, but have the very first moment of its genesis captured when Drew came up with the riff. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • We’ve just finished playing a different song.  Eight seconds in, Drew says, “I kind of like this” and Shay starts playing along. Tyler’s talking in the background while Drew messes with the riff and then at 00:15, Tyler says, “Is that a song?” 
  • Tyler starts to join in around 30 seconds in. 
  • At 00:52, it starts to become more structured. Andf at 1:15, the beginning is very similar to how it ends up. At 1:28, everyone kicks into gear and it really gets going. 
  • Drew starts singing at 2:11
  • 04:55 discussion about recording it and making sure we can find it on the recording. Shut off recording at that point. 
  • This was a true gibberish song, even up until the recording, when whatever lyrics were being sung at the time were slightly amended by Tyler, but then just went with it. 
  • The second recorded version begins around 5:18. This is about 30 minutes later.  Almost everything is in place by now. Tyler plays during the intro for the first time at 5:38, and the intro is exactly how it ends up eventually.
  • Chris’s bassline starting at 6:05 is also how it ends up on record. And that’s all we wrote. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Come & See

This became the final song on our second album, and the studio version can be heard here

Although many of our songs surfaced through what started as aimless jamming, that's especially true for "Come & See." Shay, Tyler, and Drew were practicing and before launching into in-progress songs, just started jamming on a simple chord progression. About ten minutes into this, we realized it might turn into something, so we turned on the recorder. It ended up becoming one of all of our favorite songs--our attempt at a huge, epic-sounding song. It's my belief that every rock band should have some version of a "deal with the devil" song; "Come & See" is our attempt at that, and the lyrics also double as a direct tie-in to the plot and theme of The Ruins of Tropicalia

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • The background hum is the amp. It’s better later on. 
  • Turned on the recorder about 10 minutes into the writing process. 
  • Tyler is directing at first. He tells everyone to make sure they crash in at the same time. 
  • Take one starts at 00:28
  • At 1:28, it’s already recognizable. Drew’s riff is there. 
  • Almost no mis-steps in this one. Not too many unused directions. 
  • At 2:35, Drew says Tyler sped up when his voice came in.  This was a big problem when recording. 
  • 3:20, Take 2
  • Drew’s gibberish is in fine form here. Especially in the soft parts in Take 2
  • The climax around 6:50 is pretty good. Tyler is octave-ing. Drew does the same hook they do at the end of the real song, just not as clearly defined. But then they keep going haha. Shay’s drumming is intense as hell, too. 
  • Take 2 ends at 9:06. Drew says the usual, “that could be something.” Tyler acknowledges the similarity to Ball and Biscuit. 
  • Tyler says the brilliant statement at 9:28, “it’s like the full emphasis on the pounding.” Followed by, “Let me make sure I recorded that… I did.”
  • At 10:05, they start another take crashing into it, but then Drew aborts it and Tyler laughs, saying it’s “like blue balls.” 
  • Practicing the main riff at 10:14
  • At 12:15, Tyler hits the full piano riff for the first time. 
  • At 13:30, Tyler says the piano riff sounds “Nine Inch Nails-ish”
  • 17:55, Tyler: “That’s fun to play.”

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Down in the Water

This is from our first album, and the studio version can be heard here

I think we came up with the riff for this one, and some of the other basics, in the middle of a practice. After a short break we came back and tried recording the outline here. So this is probably a couple hours after the initial inspiration.

Creepily Detailed Notes: 

  • “I gotta remember it again,” Tyler says five seconds in. Meaning the main basic strumming pattern. 
  • “What song are we playing?” Chris asks. “New-ber,” Drew says. 
  • Right when it seems we’re about to crash into the full song at around 52 seconds in, Drew stops it to work on defining the build.  The order of the instruments coming in. 
  • After that first false start, we get closer to it at 02:10, though Drew starts singing a different melody and vocal pattern than what he ends up on
  • On the choruses he sometimes goes to a similar lyric pattern as to what we settled on
  • At the 4:00 mark, Chris introduces and tries out the bass line for the first time that I think is the best part of the recorded song
  • Shay’s drum hits around 4:33, another of my favorite parts, also make their first appearance
  • Drew messing with some sort of feedback at 5:29, which is also what we ended up doing in the studio
  • The next recorded take (probably about thirty minutes after the first) starts at around 6:48. Both Drew and Tyler start out with some “woo-hoos”
  • Drew’s vocal patterns on the vocals is now almost exactly what we use in the final song. Even some of the lyrics are the ones used in the final. 
  • “They got you baby baby, leave me alone” happens at 9:33, and builds in a familiar way. It just trails off though with, “Why don’t you…” (which eventually changes to “why don’t your love let go”). 
  • At 10:30, another section—the quiet break—is introduced for the first time

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Bored & Mean Again

This is from our Pulled From The Ruins EP, which is our most recent official release, and the final version can be heard here. However, if you've heard our first album, you'll know there's a very different version on there, too, minus "Again" of course. 

Drew, Shay and me were at rehearsal. We had just finished up practicing one of the songs from our second album. My mind was drifting. I started thinking about the lyrics of the original “Bored and Mean”–realizing they were coming back to me again in my own life. I started messing around with the riffs on the piano. Then, the rest of this happened.

If you’re curious, listen to the embedded link below or directly on Soundcloud if it doesn’t work for you: 

Creepily Detailed Notes: 

  • 00:48: Start playing riff, after finishing up a rehearsal of “Come & See”
  • 04:49: Start getting into the chorus, but with different, improvised lyrics
  • 07:48: Finish up first take. Drew recognizes it, but can’t place it. Tyler explains that it’s “Bored & Mean. He says they can try to “twist” it into something new. 
  • 08:21: Take Two begins. 
  • 12:15: Take Two ends. “I like that,” Tyler says. “That’s pretty good,” Drew says. They begin again. 
  • 12:42: Take Three begins, and then fades out
  • 13:12: Final rehearsal take before recording and adding Chris in. This is the sixth take.

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Big City Way (Part One)

This was the last song we wrote before going into the recording studio for our second album. We liked this enough that it made the cut, even though we worked it out just a few days before starting recording. As usual, that studio version can be heard here.  

All four of us were in a pretty creative mode this session, as we followed this up with two more jams. These are interesting because they could have easily turned into songs as well. They show how we just start playing something and sometimes it will grab one of us; other times it doesn’t. When it does, we turn it into a song. When it doesn’t, we move on. 

Started recording about 10-15 minutes after starting to write the song. This is a freer, jammier version of it, as we’re still figuring it out. No real bridge or anything. Recording begins during the intro, as Tyler turned on the recorder a few measures in. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • At 02:45, Drew demonstrates our usual pre-occupation with it sounding too much like some other song. This time “Smoke on the Water”
  • Second take starts at 3:00
  • 7:18 Tyler: “Sounds badass”
  • At 7:30, Shay just starts hitting a drum beat and Drew plays to it. This didn’t go anywhere, ends at 8:15, but it’s one example of how we jam to find stuff we think might be worth excavating.
  • At 8:30, we give that jam another try. And it’s pretty freewheeling and not bad. Drew shouts out “ladies and gentlemen!” at 8:38
  • The decision not to pursue it comes at 13:30, when Tyler says, “Let’s do this (A Certain Speed riff)

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Big City Way (Part Two)

A day or two after the initial writing, and maybe a day before going into the studio. 

We spent a lot of time on the bridge to get it right so that it was more than just another blues rock song. Wanted to get weird and classic in the middle. Got a little testy. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • At 4:50, Drew shoots down Tyler’s idea. 
  • 4:58, Tyler responds by making fun of his scatting lyrics and what he’s wearing. And then his playing ability, passive-aggressively. “The bridge sounded much better when you played the right chords.”
  • At the take around 10:00, we finally get it to pretty much where it ended up. 
  • Since we recorded so closely after writing this, we didn’t have any lyrics and Tyler was in the kitchen of the studio writing them and cleaning up Drew’s. It was fairly absurd, drinking scotch and writing by candelight like writing some intense poetry, but writing lyrics like, “I wanna play… big city way…”

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

It'd Be Nice

This is from our second album, and the studio version can be heard here. 

Recorded a couple hours after the initial writing. Working on the solo sections here. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • We don’t know what to do at the solo, that’s what’s being figured out in this session. We end the take at 2:57 to figure it out.  
  • The whole thing is fairly absurd because of the lyrics.   
  • At 3:48, Tyler says, “You probably shouldn’t say baby in this.”
  • Next take at 3:50 is a first version of the solo, but it’s similar to how it ended up. 
  • That last take beginning at 6:22… is about one hour later, where we play the whole song, pretty much as it ended up. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Dreamer

This one’s frustrating, because I used to have the full recording of "Dreamer" being written (from our second album; studio version of this song here). It was another one that came out of the middle of a jam, and we formed the whole thing over about 20 minutes. But I’m afraid that recording is lost forever. Never figured out what happened to it. Probably just got deleted from my phone. Also, none of us were entirely happy how Dreamer turned out on the album, and earlier versions were better. 

What I have here is a 1:20 snippet from that original session. That’s all that remains. I pulled this out of the longer recording to make sure this version of the bridge got included in the final version when we were working on it. 

And because of a lack of content, I also tacked on a live version at the end here. Because obviously I want to make the final version of this compiled playlist to be as long as humanly possible. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Time

This one’s not as interesting as the others, assuming those are at all to anyone outside of our band. Drew and Tyler wrote it one day without Shay and Chris, and this is the day they brought it to the rest of the band. This was recorded after the first hour or so of practicing. Studio version can be heard here

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • At 3:55, Drew says, “this is a pretty ambitious song vocally…. I don’t even know if I can do it.” Tyler dismisses him. 
  • After the recorder shut off, we spent two hour working on the timing of the “Times” at the end of it, at Drew’s insistence. That’s the version that made it to record.  Saving that recording would have been too painful to hear by me, much less a stranger listening to it. Two hours of brutally trying to get the rhythm down. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Second Take

This became the first song on our second album, and the studio version can be heard here

In the very beginning, Tyler says, barely audibly, “Let’s try this one.” Tyler had brought it to the band after writing the basic chord outline in a hotel room. The band worked on it briefly before this rehearsal, which is where we really fleshed it out and defined it. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • At 1:30, Shay says, “I don’t really remember that song at all” and Drew says, “Well there’s not really a song yet.”
  • The first take at twenty seconds in, is really us just remembering the song. 
  • The...um...second take, beginning around 2:50 is our first real attempt at structure. 
  • 6:36Discussing the newly created structure of the song. Drew isn’t sold on it yet, but Shay likes it, saying it “changes the energy”
  • During the third take, which starts at 7:15, we’re basically doing the end-solo section at the end of every verse instead of keeping it for the end. 
  • 10:10: Drew figures it out basically. At 10:30, he says “oh-oh” for the first time, and decidwes they should come after the pre-chorus. 
  • 12:15: Drew: Gotta let the “oh-ohs” be the feature. 
  • 13:09: Tyler tries to play the chords on the piano. It’s embarrassing. 
  • We try out the new structure at 13:20, with the oh-oh’s in the right place. 
  • The first 15 minutes is uninterrupted. 
  • Cut at 15:35, where we did a handful more takes. 
  • At 15:40, Drew stresses the importance of the dynamics— slowing down after the fast parts. This ended up being crucial to the song, but also a huge pain in the ass during recording. 
  • The final take starts around 16:00, and it’s getting close to the final form. At the end of it, Drew again stresses how important slowing down is.   

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Desperate Times*

Early version of Desperate Times (from our first album; studio version here), without Chris. The asterisk (*) denotes that it's not really "writing" as much as an early version.

Drew’s guitar riff is what it used to be until he randomly picked up a harmonica in the studio. The solo in this version is pretty sweet. 

Lyrics are halfway there. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

Zeroes & Ones

We wrote this song without Drew, because he was traveling and also had a broken finger. This was right before we went on our first tour. Great timing all around there haha. 

We considered canceling the tour, but eventually decided to charge onward with Drew singing and an additional guitarist. We first found Scott McNabb, who was crucial in writing the main hook of this song. Ultimately, Scott had some conflicts and reservations about going on tour so we parted ways (amicably I believe) and in came Eddie Vega, who toured with us. Scott helped write this song, though. 

This appeared on our EP, and the studio version can be heard here. 

Creepily Detailed Notes:

  • The first fifty seconds are probably the oldest recorded version. I had the basic skeleton of the song, but felt it needed more. This is a part that was eventually discarded, but it’s from before the whole song came together. 
  • The next part is when Scott joins us, but the hook isn’t there yet (and obviously something else big is missing without Drew’s voice haha). In this recording, I keep the first verse and chorus and then fade out. 
  • The next day starts at around 2:03, where it’s just Tyler and Scott. He has just come up with the hook, and they’re both on acoustic guitars and now they’re working through it. 
  • At 3:45 is the next take with Scott and Tyler and is pretty much the whole song acoustically. Tyler on rhythm; Scott on lead. And yes, it felt very odd without Drew there doing the usual lead role. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

Dance*

This is way different than the others, because this is one of the first two songs upon which "The Amends" officially collaborated. When Drew and I first met in Boulder many years ago, we talked about music and I said I had some songs I'd been writing. Two of these that ended up as Amends songs were "Hey Regina" and (technically) "Dance." "Regina" ended up more or less the same as the version I wrote before The Amends began. But "Dance" ended up vastly different and is a perfect illustration how our two different styles merged together. As you can hear here, my original version of "Dance" was long and typically lyrically ambitious (read: crowded and overwrought), with an annoying drum machine and clumsy, sub-par singing.

When turning this into an actual band song, only the initial riff and a few pieces of the lyrics were kept. Drew helped turn it into the rock song it ended up as on our first album, which can be heard here. It went from being an attempted epic of a song about reincarnation to possibly being about a stripper haha. In general, I vastly prefer what it became, but part of me still latches on to the original, despite its shortcomings-- I particularly still like the last part, from about 2:40 onward, when it coalesces a bit lyrically and loses some of it clumsiness.  

"Please be patient, I'm doing the best that I can..."

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Heroine*

Technically not “writing” (and not just because it's two covers smashed together), but an early rehearsal of it shortly after we had figured out how we wanted to play it live.

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

Pretty Good

This song ended up on our EP, and the final version can be heard here. I guess it's technically the only song we've officially released that's acoustic, and without drums. 

Just Tyler and Drew at Drew's house, putting this together. The first recorded take is actually closer to what it ended up as than the third one. But thought it was interesting the direction we started to take it before reverting back. This other one could almost be a separate song, and there are also “Hold Me Up” lyrics in it accidentally. 

In the beginning, on take 1, the melody and strumming pattern are pretty much the same. At 1:02, Drew sings, “I feel good… you never come back… oh so good.” 

The second take is us working on the solo/build. The third one is where it veers off into something different, and eventually we spun back round to the first take. 

Individual Songs: A Certain Speed   |   Make It So   |   When She's Gone (Part One)   |   When She's Gone (Part Two)   |   Hotel Lobby   |   More to Give   |   Tick Tock   |   Come & See   |   Down in the Water   |   Bored & Mean Again   |   Big City Way (Part One)   |   Big City Way (Part Two)   |   It'd Be Nice   |   Dreamer   |   Time   |   Second Take   |   Desperate Times*   |   Zeroes & Ones   |   Dance*   |   Heroine*   |   Pretty Good

All Together Now: Playlist of all "writing" songs

 

 

 

All Together Now (Playlist)