Rez – Guitars/Production
Koz – Guitars/Bass/Vocals/Production
Mitch – Lyrics/Vocals
Ziv - Bass/Production/Album Artwork
This track was something that Rez and I had in the back catalogue for at least a year before we released nst. It was originally a simple clean guitar chord progression with a solo lead over the top. Somewhere along the way it was decided that to avoid cliché’s we would chuck the midi demo files into Nexus and see what kind of vibe we could get out of it. Using Nexus was pretty new to us, but the simplicity of importing midi files that we had already completed with intricate detail in Guitar Pro 5 was too good to pass up.
An eerie piano progression with some distant electronic swirls was the outcome. Our producer Dave Petrovic hated it until we started recording the vocal melody over the top, which I always had a “row, row, row your boat” type vocal loop in mind and it came out pretty much as envisioned.
First of all, this was spelt incorrectly on purpose. This was one of the last songs we put together and I think that the different influences shine through because of it. Rez and I wanted a hard hitting song that hammered home straight out of the gates, and as we continued writing different riffs kept pouring out.
This song contains 2 cool things. Firstly Mitch had always written all of the lyrics. Arranged the vocals and even come up with the melodies. He and I would work on tweaking those melodies, and in the studio they might change slightly or have a different harmony, but at the core it was all Mitch. The dude can sing. There was a section that he was super pumped on. Loved the vocal line and the melody so much he asked if he could sing the section in the studio. We all had no issues with it and after hearing it all agreed it just made a good progressive song with interesting parts, even more interesting. It’s certainly not the only bit of clean vocals Mitch would do so keep your ears peeled. The line was;
“Monsters at my door I, I just can’t get to sleep. This anger inside of me grows, I don’t think I can keep.” – That whole section. When it came to playing it live, it was always a good laugh between us whether he would go full bust or just scream it. Many smiles all around.
The second cool thing is the breakdown. There are a few in this song but the one at 3:11 is the bad boy in question. We have never felt obligated to always include a “breakdown” in our songs. There is just something about an amazing, unique, built up, hard hitting chugging, breakdown that just gets our dicks hard. The quest has always been to outdo the last one, and for us we like to have that breakdown section be almost the centrepiece of the song.
So this juicy mother fucker reared its head at me and I thought, “Let’s try something here.” For 4 bars in Guitar Pro I had a broken down completely double-kicked beat. Just straight double kick without gaps. And in a random and speedy method I right-arrow keyed across to the right and hit delete randomly. That breakdown pattern is what came out of it.
All songs that you start to write which may turn out to be something have to have a working title for it to be known by. This song’s working title was “Break. Start” – simply because the song started with a breakdown. After the song had been completed with all the trimmings Mitch was explaining what the song meant to him and what kind of title it should have. One of the things he said was that we had to “break down ourselves and the systems we live by to start over.” I couldn’t believe how well the title “Break. Start.” fitted. Full stops and all.
The music of this track is all Rez. It’s not often that someone will bring in a song completely finished but this was one of them. From the clean harmonised intro, to the sweet lead over the outro chorus it was all him.
It has one of my favourite vocal parts on the album towards the end of the song with the line, “I fear the hopeless, I fear the godless.” Another piece of gold from the brilliant mind of Mitch.
The Reality of a Dream.
Ahhh the single! This is something from the vault. It’s no secret Rez and I are Guitar Pro addicts. We have been using it since GP-4 (around 2004-05). We used to just tab songs by ear to see how close we could get to the real thing. We tabbed the entire “Parkway Drive – Killing With a Smile” album and had users asking if we were actually in the band. We were absolutely obsessed with making this basic midi software sound like the real thing. Once it came to writing our own music, it was our platform for saving riff ideas. We have a Tab folder that contains no shit 100+ original (or somewhat original) ideas.
I was doing my customary once a year listen through of our back catalogue for ideas when I found this song. Completed up until the bridge section at 2:46. This was one of many cases where Rez would tab almost a whole song, get stuck at a mid-way point and just give up. This track which was released early 2012 (nst. Exact release date unsure of) but the bones of this song were in the vault since 2007.
We all decided this would be the song we do a film clip for as it had everything catchy about it. Catchy riffs, chorus’s and lots of clean vocals.
I had the idea for the very last “bust my arse” note of the song to be a complete rip from the end of the Backstreet Boys song “Larger Than Life.” Yes, go and YouTube it, I’ll wait. Aside from being a different key, it’s pretty much the same thing. When I went for it in the studio, the guys already knew, but Dave (Producer and genius) thought it was a joke and immediately cut the take, laughing. Once we convinced him the idea was legitimate, and showed him the BSB part, he was straight on board stating, “Well do it properly then.” And we cut back in.
For Your Eyes Only.
Again one of the later songs for us to write that would make the album. I came up with the intro section with the idea for this song to have more of a slow/heavy punk vibe to it. Paving the way for some more clean vocals to keep the ladies happy. Also being a slower song gave Mitch a little more room to place some really interesting and syncopated vocals. And for him to give us his version of a love song.
This song contains pretty much my favourite Mitch moment. I had no idea how these vocals were going to be used in the song, and when I heard it I shat pants.
1:38. “To all the girls that I have loved, I’m sorry I couldn’t be the man you wished I was, I sacrifice to get things done. All too well I know a winters chill.” Up until this point we’d never really heard him do anything other than his customary low heavy vocals, and this new ‘yell’ type thing was perfect.
The finale to this track was a part I wrote after most of the song was completed and we were stuck for a bit. I just wanted it to keep building and building. The last eerie line over the synth at the end (4:04) the boys were urging me to go “full Dallas Green on it”. Certainly not worthy but funny nonetheless.
Hunt The Weak
I remember Mitch showing me a draft of the lyrics for this song before the music was ever even thought of. We had always kind of planned to have one song with all “heavy vox” and one with mainly clean singing. The title of his lyrics were already “Hunt The Weak” and from this title alone we knew it had to be the heavy track. Rez and I had always loved really heavy songs. This track we wanted to be our “Dead Man’s Chest” (Parkway Drive) but with a darker undertone. Dark undertones is what we got when Mitch’s vision for his lyrics came to life.
“I would love to hold your head so deep beneath the surface.”
And the movie quote (if you can call blood curdling screams such a thing) at 1:09 absolutely took our breath away, and made that track “Too heavy for most people” as Rez once told me. The quote is taken from the movie “Trainspotting” from the scene when they find the lifeless corpse of the baby in its crib. Still a stand out track for me, proving you can be as melodic as you want, but when it’s time to bring the ruckus, 3 kids from Wollongong can step it up a notch.
Akin to the opener “Awaken” instead of throwing all of the tracks into Nexus and seeing what happens we kept the acoustic throughout and let the drums take centre stage. A nice breather to set the tone for the last 4 tracks.
Upon Wings of Fear
The song with a fast riff in it. I had written the main riff and end breakdown in an old song that Rez re-hashed and put his stamp on. Weaving it into what I think is an overlooked track with a cool chorus. Mitch said he wanted a chorus with less words and longer notes so I took the first half of his lyrics and lengthened them. Boom you got yourself a stew going.
The song originally had a cool quote of Keanu Reeves in “Constantine” stating you should believe in the devil, because “He believes in you…”, Queue end breakdown. I still like it. I still have it. Unfortunately the boys thought it corny, but I love me a bit of corn every now and then.
Still one of my favourite tracks. This one has Rez all over the music. The opening harmonized riff. The epic breakdown that again takes centre stage, albeit overshadowed by what I think are Mitch’s best lyrics. Optimistic, inspirational, motivating. The brilliant melody for the chorus fitted perfectly.
“Look to the sky with hope. As we breathe a new life, inhale slow. The choice is always yours, will you make a change?”
His talk/scream build up was another one of those “fucken hell!” moments when we heard it brought to life on the track. (3:16).
The song comes to an end and flows straight into an acoustic piece played and written by Mitch. He had this hymn written for years. I had heard him play it only a handful of times, though always liked the innocent vibe it had. After I had finished writing the following track (Faded Memories) he came to me with an idea to mould his piece into an intro for the song FM. Which we naturally left until last minute in the studio, but it came together nicely.
So my mother was one of the most supportive people of our band, our music and our dream. She embraced it so much that we would have jam sessions in our house almost every day for many years. Imagine a full 5 piece band with amp quad stacks, bass, guitars, drums and 2 vocal mics. We once jammed at 2am with her permission. The noise would shake the foundations of the house. She allowed it all with never a complaint. I think she even enjoyed it. Without her, and that house, NST would not have existed.
After she passed away I knew quietly that I had to write a song dedicated in some way to her memory. I think somewhere along the line I told Mitch I wanted to write something like a ballad but not cheesy. He was all for it, but this took over 2 years to come to fruition.
I’d had the original acoustic part for many years, and finally turned it into something with some structure. This is the only song I wrote lyrics for, and created the melodies completely from scratch. Our producer Dave was sceptical at the beginning as he didn’t like my voice in its lower register. We told him to chill and by the second verse I’d start getting up to the threshold of pain. He was pretty stoked, as I think we all were with the outcome of the track.
We created something that honoured her memory. It still had emotion. It was still heavy, but in a different way. It’s one of those songs people can relate to. It’s not a “feel sorry for me” song. It’s about writing what you know. And we all know some sort of pain.
Memories faded but not forgotten.
Follow The Phoenix
My favourite song from the album. Working title was “Tappa Tappa Tappa” due to the opening guitar tapping section. This was something I wrote years before. I came back to the idea as I thought it was too cool to never be heard. We wrote the rest of the song around that intro theme. It built into something way bigger than originally intended.
The first chorus (another one where Mitch gets his sing on), the middle breakdown, and the cool build up with some Aussie accented talking parts. What more could you want!
Enter the last chorus (another Mitch melody). This whole section to me is like marching up a hill. Conquering something you’re so determined upon conquering. The line at 3:27 “I’m Lost!” was improvised in the studio. I remember saying to the boys, all pumped up after how well I thought things were coming together, “It needs a big epic note to finish on. Something like ‘I’m lost’.” They said to just try that. So I did. And it worked.
The guitar solo is something I worked on for quite some time. I didn’t want it to be all scale and show-offery. I wanted it to be another section you wait for, not just a filler. The middle run took a little while to nail (Rez will say fucking ages) but we got it in the end. If I remember correctly it was the last thing instrument-wise that we finished, and that called for more Budweiser’s to celebrate. (The beer of choice for that particular recording session).
released January 18, 2012
Daniel Gutierrez (Rez)
Paul Kozman (Koz)
Aaron Zivkovic (Ziv)
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