Some bands like to draw inspiration from a story outside of themselves. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Green Day, and Styx have done it, so why can’t we? Sometimes being abducted by aliens is more interesting than your day-to-day, middle-of-winter existence. Sometimes you wish you were in a movie. Or sometimes you just feel so strong about something that you have to write a song about it.
By Elling Lien and Bryhanna Greenough
Take Dave Walsh for instance. He’s a solo rock musician who usually writes about relationships and people (“the usual sappy stuff,” he says.)
“Fuck that!” he said. “This is a chance to really try something different!” So he did. He decided to go the alien abduction route. His story is full of extra terrestrial women, magical healing powers, and war in space. Of course he is used, abused, and ultimately decides to destroy everything. (“I know… crazy!” he says.)
Bobby Young, a project by Brad Lannon of the Human Soundtrack, is based around a popular science fiction series by Orson Scott Card, beginning with the novel Ender’s Game. Lannon’s friend and musical conspirator Steve Haley (also a participant in this year’s RPM) gave him the book. “It really sparked my reading interest for pretty much the first time in my life,” he says. Strangely enough, for something based on a science fiction series, it ended up being “real folky,” says Brad. “A mixture of mandolin, acoustic guitar, bass, harmonica, melodica, and keys.”
Two local RPM albums were based around movies that don’t exist. Four-time MusicNL nominee singer-songwriter Ian Foster and finger-pickin’-good Jack Betty (aka Boobie Browne, aka Darren Browne) both put together their own soundtracks
“Found: Music From the Unmade Film” gave Ian a chance to experiment with styles he had never tried before. “I sent a few of these out to friends throughout the month, and the songs that people responded to by saying, ‘when I hear this song I can picture…’ were the ones that ended up staying,” Ian says. “It had to convey some sort of scene.”
The spaghetti western was Jack Betty’s muse. Fast, violent, and thick with drama, these movies inspired a soundtrack he hopes can sync up with just about any in the genre. “There’s lots of tremolo guitar, and mandolin, and lap steel,” he says. “When I listen to it, I think of horses, and mountain passes, and hoedowns, and cookouts, and cacti, and hopefully you will too.”
am/fm dreams were RPM participants last year, and they were excited to take part in 2009. This time around they decided to make a tribute album: early 90s grunge. “All three of us grew up on a steady diet of 90’s alt/grunge during our early teens,” says Damian Lethbridge. “We are definitely children of the 90s. For some reason a lot of people nowadays don’t like to admit that they ever listened to that kind of music. Who knows why?… I like to think of the album as am/fm dreams dressed up in a different suit of clothes… one that’s threadbare and full of holes.” Their CD jacket is even made from old flannel shirts from Value Village.
To let the world know he was more than just a teddy bear man, last year Terry Rielly recorded a moody, at times even angry acoustic RPM album. This year, though, he describes his album as a “’wow! I didn’t know Terry Rielly was into Jewish spiritual music!’ CD.” Nuff said!
We don’t know how he did it, but Matthew Finateri, under the moniker Vegan Porn, made a highly-listenable pop album about how why you should change your meat-eating ways. “The majority of the lyrics are constructed around my beliefs as a vegan, so they can be quite heavy at times,” Matt says. “I tried adding a splash of sugar to sweeten things up a bit, with fun vocal melodies and faster, more intricate drum beats, complete with tempo changes.” Some song titles include: “Fish in Your Stew,” “Bring Your Friends,” and “Your Cat’s A Piece of Steak.”