Friday, March 11, 2011

Hey Now: The Story Behind the Emergence of a New Song

I have to admit, I'm pretty excited by this new Monkey Grip song called "Hey Now." And the way it came to be is a pretty good story, I think. It all started a couple of weeks back…

As I'm culling material for the launch of our official Monkey Grip Site, it was hard to miss the fact that when it came to songs, there was a lot of "Steve" and a lot of "Scott," but not so much "Mark" when it came to composing credits. What way is that to be representing a guy who has been in the fold for over a year now?

Well, the truth is, we often write alone, and while Scott and I will show up with songs that are essentially complete, Mark doesn't seem to operate that way. He's sort of a "I was fooling around with this guitar riff, maybe we can do something with it" sort of guy. So maybe his ideas don't get heard as often as they could.

We had actually had this conversation last year and requested something from Mark during a rehearsal. He had this one particular riff and lick that had been lying around for a while and we recorded it with the idea of me possibly finishing it. Well, life and busy schedules get in the way of music often, and that was the case then, and I guess I kind of dropped the ball on that opportunity.

So, when this topic came up again, Scott did right by digging up that old recording of the riff and writing a song around it. But it wasn't the song that became the subject of this post! Read on…

Scott spent two weeks ago Tuesday, which was an off day for him, writing and roughly demoing up the concept, which was in an open tuning and, to my ear, had a bit of an Eastern feel to it. We didn't get much of a chance to go over this new song at rehearsal that night, but he and I revisited it two days later when we went to Blue Barn Studio and demoed it again, still roughly, but slightly more refined, with him playing the electric guitars, leads, and vocals, and me playing mock tabla, acoustic, and singing harmonies. It seemed like we had a new song from Mark ready to roll. But then…

When we presented it at performance, Mark said, "Well, first of all, the riff goes like THIS…" and played something different than what Scott wrote the song around. You see, Scott was only working off a very distorted old rehearsal recording of poor quality, so it's more than understandable to think he wasn't able to properly hear the nuances of the idea.

Well, sometimes when you lose, you win, and in this case, somehow what might have been perceived as "wasted effort" on his part turned out to be anything but. Instead, the song he wrote was able to be modified slightly and turned into another great new song we have in the works called, "Motherball." I'll let him fill you in on the details on the evolution there because he wrote the song and can speak best on the subject.

Well, anyway, with Mark's Riff clarified, we started playing it, and I was singing to it, fooling around with melody ideas, and they were working. When I suggested a change for the chorus, Scott requested he and I switch places. So he manned the drum kit and I grabbed his guitar and from there, it came together quickly. Mark stepped out for a break, and Jim was not at rehearsal that night (that darn work thing again), and I pieced together the chords for the chorus I was hearing and such. By the time Mark came back in from the cold, we had the rough idea down. We recorded it so we wouldn't forget it.

Another night at Blue Barn encouraged us that we were on the right track with this one, so I took it home and wrote lyrics and a finalized melody for it. And that brings us to this Tuesday, where we played it as a band with the four of us.

At that point, I was happy with our new tune, but I didn't get really excited until I heard a playback of the song yesterday. Even listening through all the warts and bruises that are to be expected on a first run-through, the song really cooked and sounded great! So catchy! Mark, Scott, and Jim sounded awesome on it, like we've been playing it for years. I really feel like it will become a staple that people will enjoy at future performances. Again, it's called "Hey Now."

It's great, too, having a collaborative piece with Mark: he certainly provided a lick to the song that I would never have done on my own.

Lyrically, it's kind of a slightly tongue-in-cheek song, but one that speaks volumes of truth about human practices. See, these days, whenever someone meets an interesting person—whether it's because there's are romantic intentions or platonic curiosity or potential job candidate or whatever—what do they do? They Google 'em, or find a Facebook page and see what else they can learn, right? Well, guess what! That kind of stuff has been going on long before the Internet…we just didn't have all the resources to do it. So this lyric touches upon some of my own experiences with that sort of thing back in the day. I can't wait for you to hear it.

Welcome to the Monkey Blog

Friends of Monkey Grip:

There's no shortage of available information out there these days, is there? I mean, we've got our official Monkey Grip site already, and there's a ReverbNation page, and a Facebook Page (though people who know me know I, personally, am not too involved with that entity). And then I know that between MySpace and Pod-o-Matic and things of that ilk, Scott's got about twenty different sites that seem to involve him and/or Monkey Grip in some way or another.

So why the Monkey Blog? What purpose does that server that's different than the rest?

Well, as I've learned from past experience, the best laid plans of blog mice and men don't always work out as intended, and blogs sort of become what they become as need, practice, and response dictates. However, I can tell you what I envision this to be.

I would like to hope that this will become a running commentary of interesting tales and updates of things in Camp Monkey Grip. It's not necessarily to be just another listing of upcoming show or video clips from past shows. I hope through timely and interesting updates, we'll be able to kind of write the history or tell the story of the Monkey Grip saga, only we'll do it as we go along in real time. I'm something of a band historian for all groups I've been involved in, so I imagine we could relay the anecdotes as they happen. That would be kind of cool.

So I encourage everyone to follow this blog or comment on these posts. Indeed, I would love folks to "get involved." That's not just some lame-ass and/or patronizing marketing concept I'm spewing. I mean it sincerely. If we can let you into our world a bit, you'll feel like you know us as a group a bit more, and maybe you'll have more fun when you come down to a show because you'll feel like you're a bit more a part of it. If you have a better time, we'll all have a better time.

I'll have another post coming up shortly after this one, talking about one of our newer songs.