A couple of days ago I blogged about Susan Peter’s comments on our lyrics. In response the guys and I received some messages asking if we’d made them available and, if so, where they could be found. The short response could have simply been “no,” but – because we try to be a little less curt in our replies, I
thought a more thoughtful answer might be in order:
There is a reason behind this though When I sat down with my writing partner, Mike Kreher, years ago and first started talking about what we wanted to do with a’tris we immediately agreed that an emphasis should be placed on the lyrical content as we both felt that much of the landscape of popular music at that time was dominated by acts whose works were seemingly calculated to touch upon every conceivable cliché in order to solicit a response which would lead to quick record sales… In other words, boy bands. And that needed to be fixed.
The two main acts we sited as influences as we began thinking about how to create music that we believed would be accessible but more relevant were Radiohead and R.E.M. We were both big fans of those acts and each of us believed that they embodied what we were looking to do both sonically and lyrically. Radiohead’s song forms and structures were different and their harmony could at times be complex, but everything they did had a clear focus and purpose and, for that reason, it just worked. Many of these same ideas were embodied in Michael Stipe’s lyrics as well. A lot of his stuff was pretty esoteric and often I would spend hours when I was growing up listening to his records and wondering what he was saying. At some point though, I stopped focusing on what his meaning could have been and started thinking about what the meaning had become. Mike expressed that he felt the same way and suggested that we avoid publishing lyrics in the future.
I could see where Mike was coming from because I had a difficult time understanding Michael Stype’s words and could never get what Thom Yorke was saying. (Anyone else find they have that problem, too?) But that was cool because I made up my own words to fill in the gaps.
On a side note – I always wondered if those guys, along with many of the other artists whose works I respected, slurred their words intentionally to make their performances sound cooler or to throw me off or something. Now that I’ve been accused of making similarly incomprehensible sounds though I believe that this has less to do with intent and more to do with the often spasmodic nature of self-expression.
To try to articulate each word would rob the work of one of its most indelible traits. At the same time, releasing the lyrics would similarly rob listeners of the ability to apply the music we would create to their lives in much the same way that we had both done with R.E.M. and Radiohead’s material. But I was (and still am) ridiculously perfectionistic and so I wanted to share them because I would be spending a lot of time creating them. I don’t mean to sound self-aggrandizing here but that’s honestly how I felt. And would releasing the lyrics really take away from our future listeners’ experiences? We were split; but that was okay because, aside from a couple of tunes I’d already written, (“Black Bird’s Song” and “Compassion”), we really didn’t have any other material.
After a few more chats and many weeks of writing Mike and I finished up the songs, put what was to be the first incarnation of a’tris together, and brought Chuck Sokol on board to engineer appeal. It was in 2004, as we began to plan how to release that album that Chuck settled our debate about the lyrics by siding with Mike. A future publishing deal cemented it and that’s the story. As of this time, for the above reasons, no lyrics have been officially released.
Thankfully it looks like I’m not the only one who would like the lyrics to be made available. I just noticed that someone posted lyrics to “Automatic Doors” on SongMeanings.net . And it appears that they made up some of their own words to fill the gaps like I used to Whoever you are I support you! If anyone wants to build us our very own Greenplastic.com, while I can’t supply you with our lyrics, I’ll gladly send you my blessings and gratitude.
P.S. Care to hear more about our early years? Tune in to paradizeradio.com this Saturday, 29 August at 4PM EDT and feel free to ask me some questions in the chat room!