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Trebuchet - The Interview.

Trebuchet - The Interview.

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Published by Milton Mermikides
A transcript of Milton Mermikides' interview with George Hrab on his latest album 'Trebuchet'
Painstakingly transcribed by Kylie Sturgess.
The hours of audio are here: http://www.geologicpodcast.com/2010/07

****Warning geeky musical content ****
A transcript of Milton Mermikides' interview with George Hrab on his latest album 'Trebuchet'
Painstakingly transcribed by Kylie Sturgess.
The hours of audio are here: http://www.geologicpodcast.com/2010/07

****Warning geeky musical content ****

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Milton Mermikides on Mar 24, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Transcript of George Hrab Interview, on the album
– Milton Mermikides
Milton: I'm here with the legendary George Hrab. Acclaimed podcaster, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, plumber, and amateur gynecologist. Champion of the skeptical movement,whose creative, entertaining and incisive approach wins him many fans in the community. HiGeorge, how are you?George: Excellent! After that intro, how could I not be good, my goodness!
[Here - cutting to the section of the interview that starts at 35.58min, which I think iswhere you plan to play it from? It's the breakdown of the album from here on in]
Milton: Why don't we go through the album, track-by-track?George: Yeah!Milton: ...I have some comments, questions on each of them, isn't that fun?George: Oh, I love it, are you kidding?
 Milton: Okay, so, the opening track, "God is Not Great.” This song coming first; does it act asa courteous filter to listeners? You know, 'if you're not, if you're going to be offended by this -then you, save your next seventeen minutes? Don't listen any further?' Did you want to putthis sort of sentiment first, or was it a musical decision?George: I think it was a combination of both things, to a certain degree? It's a strong tune, soit's a nice kicker-offer. Um, but yeah, there is, sort of, it acts as a ... clarion warning? To acertain degree? And also, to have that... the first two tracks, "God is Not Great" and"Everything Alive Will Die Someday”...Milton: ...so, basically, 'God doesn't exist and you and everyone you love is going to die?'George: If I saw those two as the first and second track on an album? I would be interested.Milton: Sure!George: So that to me - I would at least have to just give it a cursory listen. I mean, just onsome just prurient level - 'what is this is about?' And the opening salvo is this chorus - thesevoices!Milton: That's you,
a cappella
- is that a four or five-part harmony going on?George: Yeah, that is actually Slau and me, just the two - it's sixty tracks, or sixty-threetracks? Of the two of us. Thirty, thirty-one each, or whatever it is. Um, yeah, there are fiveparts that are happening there. We split them up into little choruses...
Milton: Quartets, yeah...George: Yeah, sort of quartets, recorded them, put them all together...Milton: Did that take a long time to construct that?George: Yeah, that was Slau's orchestration, that idea... The song was done and recorded andI knew that I wanted to do this sort of intro, for me as the Yes freak that I am.Um, the song "Leave It" was such a huge, sort of, cool thing memory from my childhood,this, the
a cappella
intro of “Leave It” - I just always wanted to do something like
. Sortof, you know, my crappier version of something like that - I thought it would be a great wayto start an album off. So this was an opportunity of, 'You've got this kind of snarky, dark,dark, title - but now we're going to have this very sort of...Milton: ...again, 'keep them guessing’...George: ...EXACTLY, EXACTLY...Milton: ...incongruous, juxtaposition of styles and content...George: Yeah! Duality, you know? Like, this is sort of like a choir - singing 'God Is NotGreat'! You're not going to hear that anywhere else, and it's kind of cool sounding, and it endson that great chord and we go into the tune and 'Here we go!'Milton: Yeah. Did you have Hitchens' book in mind? As Phil Plait's...George: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, that's what the title was from and after havingread that, I just wanted to write that... and, sort of an ode, using that as its title. So, absolutely,yeah.Milton: And the incongruity continues, because between the verses, you have this lovelyZappa-esque interlude...George: Yeah, yeah, that... that...Milton: You wrote it!George: *laughs* Again, the song is pretty straight-forward in terms of its content, it's kind of a... rock-ish, kind of three-four chords kind of thing. There's some neat extensions of bassversus non-root base playing kind of stuff. Um, but still, it's pretty straight-forward. And Ithought, 'You know what, let's have this little Talmudic, fantasy section in the middle of it,that kind of, goes into this weirdness...'Milton: Were those sections written out in terms of notation, or have you absorbed themduring the composition process sufficiently not to need that?George: Oh, yeah, no, um, I, I - for me, my reading skill is, is poor enough... the stuff... Ionly transcribe things when I have to communicate it to someone else? So, when I've playedthe song live, I've had to write out the bass part for Vinnie. And I wrote out, sort of, a road-map for Erik, my drummer, my live drummer.
Um. So, that always happens after the fact - this stuff is sort of written, um, you know, in myhead, for the most part. Um, I play it, I gave it to Slau, he sort of, played the glockenspiel andpiano sections, that, note-by-note. I just kind of gave it to him and he would play it a bar at atime. Um. A bar, four bars at a time, whatever.So, no, it wasn't, it wasn't written out, per say, but it, obviously, pre-composed. Through-composed.Milton: When you go out to tour the album, the live band, you know, you're going to have tothink about that.George: Yeah, again - that's sort of the Trio has learned it, I obviously play the guitar thing,and can kind of do it. So yeah, if we can get to a full, band version - yes, I'll have to... that'spart of the fun of - I tell ya? I hate it, but it is one of the most satisfying feelings to see yourwork on a piece of paper.Milton: You compose, I guess, mainly with guitar?George: Primarily, yeah, yeah. Ninety percent.Milton: ...do you test out your compositions then, um, using computer software? Like, do youlayer them up, or have you got them devised in your head before you go into the studio?George: Yeah, um, I'll make sort of demos? If there's question as to whether parts worktogether, I'm very... I'm very old-fashioned in that I'll still even use a little portable cassetterecorder? And I'll record one pass into it and I'll play live along with it, just to see if whetherthe parts are working the way I think they working in my head? Um...Milton: ... But you'll leave the final construction to the studio as opposed to bringing it...George: ...well, for the most part, for the most part. There are some songs that might need sortof a bigger demo. But for the most part that what I'm playing to, when I'm laying downdrums, in that sort of first pass, will be a click, um, a guitar and a vocal. For the most part.Sometimes I'll add a bass, or maybe a very simple drum part.But for the most part, it's just click, guitar and um, vocal - which might even have cues! Like'
two bars until the change
!' or '
key change!
' or
'three, two, one...
' You know, that kind of stuff,which to me, it just - it just feels more
, that I'm actually constructing the parts asopposed to playing along with the demo.Milton: I've got you.George: Argh... I don't know if that's the best way to do it? But it, it seems to work so far.Milton: Now, um, I love these musical details, but I never... I mean, because I knew that I'dbe talking to you, I went through the lyrics in detail, and there's some really great lyricaldevices that you use, that I'm sure in all of your previous albums... but um... I'll just take anexample from that tune... :
‘A new song needs a new dance / I'll scream until I'm hoarse / Races lost but jockeys whip / Through their grip / Starts to slip / Never questioning the source.’

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