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Steve Watts
93 posts
Reg: 11/11-10
Posted: 2011-09-11 00:05   » Website
There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're going
Or which way the wind is blowing
Is it raining? Is it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Oh, the fires of hell are glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing
Yes! The danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing!
STOP THE BOAT!

Willy Wonka (1971)


Hello - Steve Watts here...

I don't know about you, but being a child of the 1970's, I far prefer the 1971 version of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to Tim Burtons re-make. For a start it doesn't have Gene Wilder's intense goggle-eyed Willy Wonka in it, and the "Oompa Loompa's" just ain't right.

Also missing is this famous quote:

"We are the music makers..and we are the dreamers of dreams"

Such a quote reminds us of the things we learn to miss as an adult that we took for granted as a child. No matter how romantic that may appear in today's cynical new millennium, very often we go through stages in our adult life yearning for a golden age where it seemed possible to live the dream. Artists and musicians often use this notion not just for inspiration, but also as a pertinent excuse to remain in a state of childhood or permanent adolescence. Roald Dahl managed to tap into this twilight world of dreams and nightmares. He understood the world from a child's point of view - he held onto the dream.

I think it's become increasingly difficult for us to do that these days. We live in a culture that expects children to become and think like adults at an ever earlier age, bombarded by media icons and material that forty-years ago would have appeared excessive even in the adolescent-driven swinging 1960's.

Or maybe (unlike Peter Pan) I'm just getting old?

Roald Dahl stories always put children and their dreams first, no matter how much adversity tries to prevent their dreams from becoming a reality (usually in the form of bitter adults who have lost it)... chips with that shoulder anyone? The adults who are the good guys, always appear to be holding on to their childhood dreams, helping to create a world where adult and child are equal and happy, and dreams really can and do come true.

Most Demon albums hold on themselves to this egalitarian quality in the form of hope: a hope for the end of a Conservative dystopian future ("The Plague"); the hope of a positive outcome of human evolution ("British Standard Approved"...regardless of our desire for a first-class ticket). "Breakout's" original concept was based around "Peter Pan", J. M. Barrie's story of an eternal child who refuses to grow up, and then of course there's the personal, political and social hope prevalent in "Hold On To The Dream", "Heart Of Our Time" and "Taking The World By Storm"

I think joining a band at a young age is a similar process for most of us. You start full of dreamy hope...you end up wishing for one of those first-class tickets; or at best...learning to live with the chip.

Still, while the rosy-glow lasts it's a wonderful thing, but beware...your dreams can create all kinds of tensions between you and your creative partners, especially if their perspective comes from the vantage point of a different generation. The meaning of the dream changes depending on your point of view. Collaborations of this kind can often work, the tension and creative differences bouncing around in a competitively productive way, but very often it leads to creative and personal differences that ultimately lead to meltdown.


The Demon song "Barons of Darkness" is a good example of these creative tensions working at their best (or worst depending on your point of view). The compositional arrangement of the song is very similar to "Remembrance Day", it's also very similar thematically in that both songs are about war, but where Remembrance Day is hopefully optimistic ("A Song For Peace"), Barons (originally entitled "Columbia") is much darker and cynical.

It opens in similar style with a romantic introduction to represent the notion of child-like innocence, but this is soon smashed by a cycle of crushing guitar riffs and rapidly shifting time-changes that unbalance both track and listener.

The songs intro sounds simple enough, but it is actually a collection of many influences to achieve the right "feel", and to represent the environment and country to which the lyrics and title allude. The melody-line is itself very na´ve and childish. Along with the music-box accompaniment, this turns it instantly into a nursery rhyme (an influence from and conceptual link to the song "Grown Ups").

I originally wrote the introduction for "Barons" as another piece for my "Words Are Often Almost Useless" project, but as the project grew, it was eventually dropped and adapted for Demon.

Like all "serious" keyboard musicians at that time, I had to own an Akai Sampler, and in fact bought one of the very first models produced by the company, an Akai S612, incredibly basic compared to the software system we have now - but then, a godsend. I could literally record any available sound into it's system and play it back in tune from a conventional piano keyboard and as most creative first-time sample experimenters probably wouldn't admit, the first thing to do after removing it from it's box and setting it up was to fart into it, and fall about laughing at the resultant hilarity.

I like to think I managed to use it a bit more creatively as time went on?

The next thing the young sampler-owner would do, (along with recording orgasmic breathing snatched from porn films) would be to blow over a milk bottle. It's exactly this sound that you hear playing the intro lead melody - the sound of someone playing various tuned milk-bottles at different pitches (usually achieved by filling the bottles with different levels of water). The sound is great for emulating the kind of panpipe instruments synonymous with South America

The structure of the intro is influenced by Japanese synth-maestro's, Kitaro and Tomita (as was a great deal of my work with Demon), experts in delicate synthesizer arrangements that evoke child-like mood and emotion. To counter-act this, and to keep in with the theme of Columbia's drug-trade, the melody-line is straight out of Frances Ford-Coppola's "The Godfather".

John Waterhouse plays acoustic guitar and a brilliantly performed Flamenco guitar section. Like "Remembrance Day", the motif builds by adding different layers and is then suddenly interrupted by the first of Dave's guitar riffs. It's quite remarkable just how many riffs there are in this song, all played with great expression by Steve Brookes and John.

This really is an aggressive track. It sounds as though a war is being waged between the drug-cartels and the outraged perspective and moral high- ground of Dave's lyrics. During the recording, I wanted to put an effects section throughout the second verse using crowd noise and police sirens to exaggerate this. Unfortunately the idea fell rather flat and wasn't used.

Additionally I wanted to create a huge build up of tension and unease in the instrumental middle section (which I certainly did as Dave hated it)... looking to one of my favourite bands for inspiration, King Crimson (not one of Dave's favourites). Crimson are experts at building tension and release in their work and the middle section of "Barons" has their epic masterwork, "Larks Tongues in Aspic" all over it.

Adding the odd 5 or 7 beats into a 4/4 signature works wonders for throwing the audience (and the drummer) off their guard, and at the end of each chorus the band suddenly lurch into 6/8 time followed by a bar of 10/8. After the initial 10/8 riff the middle section changes gear and switches to successive bars of 12/8, 5/8, 9/8, 11/8, 9/8, 12/8, 11/8, and back to 10/8 before finally crashing back into 4/4.

Throughout, the tension is increased by the use of a dissonant Tritone chord structure that travels upwards through a ladder of key-changes in Minor 3rds.*

*(Interestingly, it's this chord that provides the "blue-note" associated with blues music. As The Blues was associated with the Devil (as would be Rock n' Roll, it's historical successor) it's interesting to draw a comparison. Robert Johnson apparently met the Devil at the "Crossroads" and sold his soul for knowledge of the "blue note". He then wrote a song about it. Interesting how authority attempted to suppress Blues and Rock Music in the 1950's (i.e. black music) and the Church tried to suppress the use of the Augmented 4th (the Tritone) or "diabolus in musica" ("the Devil in music") as it was referred to from the middle ages onwards, because of it's association with evil and disharmony.)

Anyway...creativity (if not racial harmony) finds a way, and regardless of any dis-harmony caused in Demon, the Crimsonesque middle section for "Barons of Darkness" stayed put. Scott Crawford did an amazing job on what is perhaps the most complex of all Demon tracks. I sat with him for only two run-through's, and he had it nailed. He also played electronic percussion throughout various sections using a synth keyboard and always managed to outwit me in any argument, an underrated drummer indeed.


If "Barons" is the equivalent to Robert Johnson meeting the Devil, then the song "Hold On To The Dream" is a much more positive spiritual experience. This is right up there in my top five Demon songs. It possesses in my opinion, a deeply emotional magic that often becomes increasingly difficult to capture as time goes by in a band (or I suppose, in any kind of close relationship for that matter).

We both worked long and hard on the arrangement until we were satisfied, but couldn't get the chorus key-change right for love 'nor money, until (probably out of frustration), I suggested we leave it exactly in the key as it was written. By sheer fluke - it worked, helping to create one of Demons most powerfully emotional songs.

I wrote the opening instrumental guitar section which I think put some romantic "heroics" into the song. For some reason it reminds me of Vikings desperately rowing a huge Long-ship in an angry sea, a battle of triumph over adversity... make of that what you will

I also fondly remember a wonderful, magical and frankly rebellious rehearsal where the band went into a huge spontaneous improvised jam based around the end section of the song that could have gone on forever, an ironic and very rare occasion for Demon. I think perhaps a first...it was usually all so... controlled.

The best version of "Hold On The Dream" you've never heard.

This song is simply to my mind one the best examples of a harmonious writing partnership. I'm very proud of it. It's an inspirational piece of writing from Dave and is perhaps one of his most personal songs lyrically, and it's certainly one of the best examples of our creative partnership gelling together, an oasis in an often, turbulent landscape.

These two songs from "Hold On To The Dream" represent opposite sides of a partnership that is heading towards a natural, and unfortunately, inevitable conclusion.

After years of holding on.........I finally woke up..........STOP THE BOAT!


Ode


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams; -
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration,
Is the life of each generation.
A wondrous thing of our dreaming,
Unearthly, impossible seeming-
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.

They had no vision amazing
Of the goodly house they are raising.
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man's soul it hath broke,
A light that doth not depart
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore today is thrilling,
With a past day's late fulfilling.
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of tomorrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for it's joy or it's sorrow,
The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing;
O men! It must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry-
How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the corners
From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers,
And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
And things that we dreamt not before;
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.

Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1874)


I've uploaded the original vinyl versions of "Barons Of Darkness" and "Hold On To The Dream" to You Tube at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheDemonolaters?feature=mhee

A re-mastered synthesizer improvisation "A Hard Time For Dreamers" at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/SteveWatts2011

and you can listen to "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" by King Crimson at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/grassdabbers?feature=mhee

and something even scarier at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/CharonDurante?feature=mhee

Demon demos; tour photographs; music scores; lyrics; and other memorabilia will be appearing exclusively in the future Demon Archive Room accessible only via the DDR.com - Central Control Panel.

Enjoy!

Steve Watts 11 : 09 : 2011

Next Transmission: 11 : 10 : 2011

PS: Sorry to Demon purists for the miss-use of the cover of "Wonderland" for the YouTube upload of these songs.

Somehow it seemed more appropriate.

(c) Steve Watts 2011
[Edited 2011-09-20 10:17]

DemonDudesRevenge
105 posts
Reg: 11/9-10
Posted: 2011-09-11 02:16
...

Giles
Cheshire
746 posts
Reg: 5/5-06
Posted: 2011-09-12 11:23
Nice blog Steve.

I think it's become increasingly difficult for us to do that these days. We live in a culture that expects children to become and think like adults at an ever earlier age, bombarded by media icons and material that forty-years ago would have appeared excessive even in the adolescent-driven swinging 1960's.


It is a question of self-awareness, of introspection, and a connection with the fullness and richness of the universe, something sadly lacking in modern society under the highly destructive Cartesian/Newtonian/Darwinian 'materialistic scientism' paradigm with its 'quick fix' solutions for success and fulfilment. All 'problems' are deemed to be convergent and the mystery of life and sheer wonder of nature has been 'stolen' from us and our children.

The positive outcome of human evolution (which has to include consciousness as the ?engine? of course!) and the hope for economic and social politics (ideas within Demon's work) will all come from a consciousness shift (which will happen as a matter of evolution) that restores the value of the human being and his true nature to its correct position - not that of a 'naked ape' - which isn't addressed by either 'left' or 'right' wing ideology (for very different reasons), or a mechanistic view of reality.

Often it is said that a band is like a marriage. Well, all couples should learn that a true acceptance of their own and each other's individuality and separateness is the only foundation upon which a mature marriage can be and real love can grow. Can the same not be said for a band, and indeed, people's needs in the economy where we seem to get (on the negative side of matters) either an exploitation of an individual on one side, or a suppression of an individual's self-determination and growth on the other? Either way, we get centralized control in some form that doesn't really consider the whole human personality.

To be fair though, in a band context, it often isn't about 'control' (although it can be) as such, but just the need for artistic expression to be released for a given individual - which is fully understandable. From my own experience, people can suppress other people?s artistic expression in complete selfishness to express only their own. If they recognised that this is will create unhappiness and ultimately will lead to the breakdown of the relationship, then they should attempt to either transcend the divergent problem (using wisdom) or to be honest from the outset and declare that this is really a solo project ? in which case, that particular stance needs to be shown its value for those involved. In either case, Hold on to your dream!

Steve Watts
93 posts
Reg: 11/11-10
Posted: 2011-09-21 16:29   » Website
Great reply Giles.

If ever there was a proverbial nail...you my friend have hit it firmly and squarely on the head.

Enough said.

Giles
Cheshire
746 posts
Reg: 5/5-06
Posted: 2011-09-21 22:02
Thank you Steve, I'm glad someone got it, I was wondering whether I had gone too much into a philosophical 'rant' there.
[Edited 2011-09-22 21:57]

Demon:Dudes Revenge
EARTH
70 posts
Reg: 11/11-11
Posted: 2011-11-11 21:00   » Website   » Email
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