Sunday, 7 March 2010

Without Fear track #5 - Shark In A Goldfish Bowl

Track #05, the punk-synth-tastic "Shark In A Goldfish Bowl", from my debut album Without Fear, which you can buy (yada yada iTunes link yada yada Spotify etc.)

Here it is on the player!


This track is the fastest, sharpest, hungriest song off the album, cutting straight into the end of "Tsunami"'s random outro. I love it for collecting several ideas and feelings I had: gigs where I'd get punky and shouty with just an acoustic guitar; making techno/synth/rave sounds with just my acoustic guitar; expressing how I felt in Essex (and still feel about it now); and just a cracking tune, all rolled into one.

The intro was made by taking a series of single notes, in this case in the key of Bminor, on the bottom of the guitar. Then I'd cut them up really fine to just get that first pluck sound. The distinctive and slightly synthetic sound is achieved by raising the pitch by an octave and adding distortion (I forget in which order), but crucially right at the start the distortion is turned all the way down - then rises as the song kicks in.

Adding that to the bassline and you get a rollicking good intro!

I wondered about giving the song a verse, but structurally it wouldn't seem to it, so I thought, why bother? The riff/chords are awesome, just add the wibbly-wavey synth-type sound over the top and it rolls straight into the bridge beautifully.

While packing a punch, the song also has quite a bit of space in the production I think - the backing vocals on the bridge and (in a different way) the chorus really give it a dynamic push.

Then at the end of the song the shit hits the fan, synths and reverbed vocals going off all over the place. Great fun.

There aren't many lyrics to the song - as I mentioned above about not wanting to over-burden the song with verses, I didn't want to weigh it down with too many lyrics. The title of the song and the feel tell you more about its meaning before you even get to the first bridge; it plugs into the album's feeling of alienation, but with a bit of added aggression and ego. In general, it's an honest expression of lashing out against a sterile, idiotic environment, as I did a lot when I was younger). But the title gives a bit more away - the "shark" idea reflects that selfish narcissistic feeling in the back of your heard when you think "I'm better than this place". I'm sure a lot of people have felt that at some time in their lives, and in bigger and more diverse places than Chelmsford.

When I first recorded it, the chorus had just two tracks of vocals singing clean melody. I decided to add a third rough vocal, really shouting the "same views" and drawing out that last word. I'm still not sure if I prefer it or not, but I feel it was the right thing for the song.

I'm quite pleased with the line "I will burn this goldfish bowl down".

Incidentally, when I was writing this first of all in early 2008 and rehearsed with a couple of friends from other bands as a full rock song, the chorus was only 7 beats (deliberately designed to mess with people's heads). When it came to recording it I changed it back - I like that extra beat, like something out of a crazy disco; when I'm eventually able to play it live with a band, one day, it will be an ideal opportunity to completely freak out.

Also when I deliberately changed the second line at the end to "goldfish bowl town", my friend suggested I keep it as "down", so as to keep it from being obviously politically and/or nasty. I appreciated this point, but I still wanted a bit of that sneer in there, just a touch - so I recorded one or two tracks shouting "town" without melody and added them in, panned a lot and low volume. It's the kind of thing you wouldn't notice until the second or third listen.

I do hope you enjoy this song!

You can listen to and buy the album at any of these fine places:

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