1

Transcript of George Hrab Interview, on the album Trebuchet – Milton Mermikides

Milton: I'm here with the legendary George Hrab. Acclaimed podcaster, songwriter, multiinstrumentalist, plumber, and amateur gynecologist. Champion of the skeptical movement, whose creative, entertaining and incisive approach wins him many fans in the community. Hi George, 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 is where 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?

GOD IS NOT GREAT

Milton: Okay, so, the opening track, "God is Not Great.” This song coming first; does it act as a 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 put this 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, so it's a nice kicker-offer. Um, but yeah, there is, sort of, it acts as a ... clarion warning? To a certain 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 on some just prurient level - 'what is this is about?' And the opening salvo is this chorus - these voices! 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-three tracks? Of the two of us. Thirty, thirty-one each, or whatever it is. Um, yeah, there are five parts that are happening there. We split them up into little choruses...

2

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 and I 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 that. Sort of, you know, my crappier version of something like that - I thought it would be a great way to 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 Not Great'! You're not going to hear that anywhere else, and it's kind of cool sounding, and it ends on 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 having read 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 lovely Zappa-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 bass versus non-root base playing kind of stuff. Um, but still, it's pretty straight-forward. And I thought, '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 them during 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... I only transcribe things when I have to communicate it to someone else? So, when I've played the song live, I've had to write out the bass part for Vinnie. And I wrote out, sort of, a roadmap for Erik, my drummer, my live drummer.

3

Um. So, that always happens after the fact - this stuff is sort of written, um, you know, in my head, for the most part. Um, I play it, I gave it to Slau, he sort of, played the glockenspiel and piano sections, that, note-by-note. I just kind of gave it to him and he would play it a bar at a time. 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. Throughcomposed. Milton: When you go out to tour the album, the live band, you know, you're going to have to think 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's part of the fun of - I tell ya? I hate it, but it is one of the most satisfying feelings to see your work 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 you layer 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 work together, I'm very... I'm very old-fashioned in that I'll still even use a little portable cassette recorder? And I'll record one pass into it and I'll play live along with it, just to see if whether the 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 sort of a bigger demo. But for the most part that what I'm playing to, when I'm laying down drums, 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 organic, that I'm actually constructing the parts as opposed 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'd be talking to you, I went through the lyrics in detail, and there's some really great lyrical devices that you use, that I'm sure in all of your previous albums... but um... I'll just take an example 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.’

4

Now, with the word 'hoarse', obviously acts as a form of elision, where it ends a sentence and starts a new one - and a homophone! You know, it's uh, 'Some of my best friends sound the same!' George: *laughs* Yeah! Milton: Brilliant! George: Yeah, that to me is a fun... lyrical trick, I've done that once or twice, on a song called, uh, "Done Talking" on Interrobang, as well. And it was, it's just a fun, nerdy, kind of crossword-puzzle kind of thing, where... Milton: ...Uh, do you, okay - this is the age-old-cliché kind of question... but it feels like all of your tunes have a point and an angle; that it feels like you start with a sentiment and start part of the lyrics before the music, or is that not the case? George: Um... not necessarily? A lot of it goes hand-in-hand? And... for me, the tough thing is finding the subject. What am I writing about? That to me is always the 'bear', the easy part for me are the details. The concept is always the most difficult thing. So, for me, whether I'm writing a song, or sketch - you know? I'll... I'll have an idea, or I'll see something, where it's like - oh, okay: 'Vikings burning a boat.’.. oh, and I'll think 'There we go! Okay, Vikings burn a boat for every occasion! That's a five-minute sketch!' It's, like, I almost relax, because now I have the idea and now it's just details. The details are simple for me. The hard bit is the idea. So, here, it was the title. “God Is Not Great.” There we go. That's the song! That's the song! Here we go! Um... and then, you kind of, you know, the chords start happening and you're sort of singing and playing at the same time... and what's, what's lying nicely in your range, what words seem to work well; here's this cool idea of you know, ‘Yeah, I'll use a word, you know, that will connect - the end and the start of the next thing. What's a cool... oh, that's going to rhyme with this and de de de...’ - and then it's just details, and it's like fun and it's a puzzle! Milton: Right. But the, so, the instrumentals... are sort of pure composition or do they have concepts behind the instrumentals... does “Coelacanth” in your previous album - was that inspired by coelacanth, or was it an irrelevant but fun 'tagging' to a composition? The name? George: To have, um... it was pre-written under a different title, uh, and then I sort of... usurped that title and decided to put it under the ‘coelacanth’ banner, which still... again, going back to that idea of constructing disparate pieces, as a skill of mine, where I can find and say, 'you know that thing that was originally called, uh, you know, “The Palindrome Suite”? That kind of will work here, because it sort of has uh... liquidy-kind-of-quality to it, or sort of uh, you know, a floating kind of sound - so with the coelacanth, it's going to work, blah blah blah blah blah. Um, sometimes instrumentals are just... ‘Hey, this is a cool little idea.’ You know, uh, “Hypnopompic Jerk”, you know, the, the, eight-minute instrumental on this, which also had a different title ‘Emily’s sleeping’ for a while, that was more, uh... Milton: ...but your songs always have a point, I mean, it's like Tim Minchin's... George: Yeah.

5

Milton: ...approach, where, every song is a concept, an idea, and it, that is the point of the tune, rather than... George: Yeah... Milton: ... but do you ever just come up with a nice melody and chords, and then hunt around to fit something onto that? George: Yeah, sometimes? But not, not very often? Because usually when I do sit down to write, it's from a lyrical... uh, with a lyrical idea in mind? I will have a sort of sketch written down or a phrase written down or something, and I'll sort of... You know what? Sometimes I… don't know sometimes! *laughs* You know? Like, I might have an old piece of melody somewhere in the back of my brain from way back, and when I'm writing something else, I'll think: 'Oooh! This could be the chorus, here, this could be the bridge!' And, okay... Milton: ...But the driving force is always the sort of conceptual one... it's about the song... George: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, you know, um, uh, lyric-wise. But again, eh, instrumental, some of the things, I mean, something like uh, the funkier uh, "Hai Yookito 'Ya" - that was just a cool, fun riff, that didn't seem to... lie... uh, didn't seem to provide any room for a lyric, so I thought 'Well, you know, I think it's strong enough to stand on its own. And it'll be a fun little two-and-a-half minute meters kind of... salute. Milton: Talking philosophically, um... George: *Yes*? Milton: ...the title suggests that there is a God 'not to be great.’.. can you clarify your position? George: Yeah, I know, it's, it's, that's uh, that's and uh, do you capitalise the 'G' or do you not...um... I think it's presented in a way that ... if you are going to believe in this God, please do so being aware that there are many contradictions that are, that are involved. So, it's almost sort of, providing the believer the opportunity to question what they believe in, as opposed to saying 'What you believe in doesn't exist.' It's sort of, 'If you're going to believe in that, could you at least sort of... agree that there are bits of it that really don't make much sense?' I think that's sort of the, the, the precept of having - yes, he is not... he exists and is not great... It's a wink, also. But, uh, that's a fine line, I'm, I'm okay with that, because I think the song is strong enough and that, that lyric is just, you know, for the first line of a song? It's just *BOOM* - especially in a live setting? You just see what part of the audience you piss off right away! Milton: Yeah, there's an open-mouth and smiling-mouth! George: Exactly, yeah! It's just a nice delivery system, to be able to say 'Okay - I'm going to play, uh, on YOUR field, for a minute..."

6
Milton: Right... George: And here's what I see as being wrong. Or being weird.

EVERYTHING ALIVE MUST DIE SOMEDAY

Milton: Track number two. "Everything Alive Must Die Someday”... *laughs* George: *laughs* Milton: This is going to be... an epic fucking interview! I'm enjoying it! But... yeah! No, it's good. Maybe you could release one tune, commentary, George: Right, per show.. *laughs* Milton: Okay! So, “Everything Alive Must Die Someday” - great tune. At the beginning, is, are there funereal bells, that you're putting, or not necessarily? You know, there's an intro? George: Yeah, no, I don't think so? I think it's more... more... I think it's more um... I hear that more as a village sort of being alive and celebrating and celebrating its village-ness. Milton: Oh, cool. George: You know, sort of from across, you sort of get this... this is the opening pan shot of the movie? You know, you sort of going across the hills and you're coming, you're coming upon this lovely sort of uh, community. Whose bells are ringing and it's not, you don't know what the occasion is, but everybody is coming together and it's out there and it's a, it's a uniting-bell sound. As opposed to a darkness. Milton: ... it's springtime in a village, in the early afternoon? George: Exactly, exactly. Milton: Okay, I've got it now. Yay! George: *laughter* Milton: I'm there! I love that gated guitar effect that comes in right in after that? George: Yeah, that's uh, that's what is it? I think it's six guitars with this weird tremolo... uh, kind of gate-think happening, that's a sound, um, that took a while to get and we had many, many different sounds happening there and I was never satisfied; we went from being really super crunchy kind of Metallica-sounding, uh, just kind of straight distortion with, uh, five or six guitars kind of playing this weird harmonic part which is so different from the rest of the song... Uh, we were kind of futzing, futzing, futzing, and I had this kind of choppiness idea, and I wanted something to kind of throw off your equilibrium... to, to, especially, if you had it with headphones, you really get this sense of... it's almost like a strobe-light? Uh, but done with audio. To almost sort of shake you out of a complacency, you realise like 'Okay! This is

7
almost a warning!' You know? You have to realise that what we have here is limited and special. Um... Milton: I see... George: ...so that, that... Milton: It's a siren. George: It's a siren, yeah! It's a weird kind of... siren and I love that again, it's very incongruous. Because the beginning is kind of this flowing, it's very kind of the very Sting-y, kind of open, open, sound, uh... um, nice major seventh kind of thing? Flowing... and all of a sudden *chacka chacka chacka* this thresher... comes in. Just to get you out of the field, you know! Milton: It's a memento mori - like they used to put in the Renaissance paintings, little skulls? George: Oh, yes, okay! There you go! Cool! Milton: ...um, which actually, I think is very positive thing... George: Absolutely. Milton: ...and that's a sentiment behind your humour - 'Fairness of unfairness is in everything's demise’... what's the other line? 'But let me say, you shouldn’t do just whatever you will / Don’t ever cause anyone ill -' George: Right. Milton: ...So you're saying, um, 'life's short', but you keep, um... undercutting that, with... with a moral stance. George: Sure, sure. It's... What we have here is so valuable, that you must treat that way... Milton: ...'your existence is enough of a reward to keep you grinning' - so would you say that your position is moral-atheism? George: Absolutely! I mean, it's, it's... I mean, DJ Grothe just gave this great talk at NECSS, where he talked about how skepticism is a humanism, it's a humanistic approach. It's this idea of, 'yes, you need to question things, you need to question things from the perspective of someone who is moral, and from the perspective of someone who does not want to cause ill, does not want to cause harm. And, that, that is paramount... that you have to realise... Milton: ...and why should atheism lead to cruelty? I mean, if you think this is the only life you and others have, in fact, it should imply the opposite behaviour to cruelty. George: Absolutely, absolutely... Milton: ...the minimising of suffering.

8
George: Right, right! It's just that ...I just thought about that, this morning in fact, how some of the most valuable times you might have with someone would be in the last moments you have with them. They're visiting on a trip, say, and those last five minutes you want to say all those things before they get on the airplane. Or it's someone's life, and those last five minutes of someone's life, if you're lucky enough to be there in those sort of closing moments you want to say all those important things, because that, you realise the finality of all those last moments. Well, we're all living in the finality of those final moments, it's just over the span of seventy years - in the large picture, you know, it's nothing, it's a blink of time, and it's so valuable! And it's 'Hey! Everything is going to die! Value the moments that you have and also realise that - that is what ultimately makes it so fair!' Milton: I'm completely with you, of course. George: *laughs* Milton: ...I'm trying to put up a sort of devil's advocate... but I can't be arsed, really. George: *laughs* Milton: Yeah, but - just as a point, if I could find a way to hook up your brain to a cyborg body, that could continue to provide your brain with um, nutrients it needs and repair any disease or decay indefinitely - would you want to extend those seventy years and could you give me an idea of how you would plan your millennia? George: It would be, uh, very tempting - and for me, the temptation is solely to see what happens. Even if I could not participate, if I could only be an observer, be a watchmen, you know - be a disembodied observer of what's to happen, that to me would be worth, you know, the organic uh, you positron hookup thing. Yeah, so for me, it would be a millennium of observation and hopefully, enjoyment and smiling and uh, being proud of the achievements that humanity would achieve... Milton: And would you ever be tempted, um, to reach for the 'off-switch'? George: .... I think so? After a certain amount of time... Milton: ... depends what's on television, I guess! [As referenced in episode #65 of the Geologic Podcast] George: Ah, yeah, yeah! Or who's holding the remote, I guess, yeah! Um. Will there be crisps? Uh, yeah, I'm sure after a millennia. Or two. Or five. Milton: So, if we had an indefinitely long life, would these wonderful things cease to have their importance? Do you suspect? George: Yeah, um, I don't know, if you're talking about eternity, yeah, they probably would but again, that's such a concept that is so different to the totality of the human experience up to this point. That, you know... Milton: But I don't see any particular scientific or technological reason why we could not extend - I mean, I think that we exist in our brains, although, of course, it's important what

9
our body feels, so, if I could keep the body going - I mean, I don't see a reason why I couldn't live two times as long, or three times as long, or ten times as long, do you? Or... George: Oh no! I don't think that there's any, or no... uh, you know, whatever that, the computational limit, I don't think there's any of that, no, I think that it's fine - I think that the human mind would be capable of staying sane, you know, for a couple of hundred years, probably? After that, I don't know, it might start to get foggy, you know, the way we think now, but ... the possibility of it existing that much would modify expectations and modify the understanding of time and the passage of time, so, I... I don't know! Milton: I don't know! George: It's interesting! Yeah, totally, totally! Milton: ...I mean, can you pause your brain basically and click it on in a thousand years and just sort of be the same person. Or do you duplicate it? George: Yeah, yeah! Urgh, the fact that within a generation or two, we might actually have the answer to that question! And it's not impossible, not beyond the realm of possibility, you know, either grand-kids or grand-kids grand-kids, people we might actually know, babies we might see on the street! Milton: ...might have twice or ten times the amount… George: Whoo! Milton: On a final point, because these are the sort of details I love - um, I think we're losing our audience here - but the last chord of "Everything Alive Must Die Someday" - I mean it goes through this epic and affront of your paradigm and musical - and it ends on a little major sixth chord on its own! A little, throw-away, off-hand... George: Again, I love those little... you know, those little unexpected sort of things, and that, to me had a certain - there's this epic chromatic climb, where the thresher is going up by halfsteps and going and going and going and going! And then it just ends with this kind of harmonic... Leslie-sounding... *twing!*

MS INFORMATION

Milton: Okay. Let's move onto "Ms Information”... George: Yes. Milton: …a tribute to the inimitable Donna, of course… George: Absolutely. Milton: It’s a lovely track, I really love this track – did she know that you were writing it for her, or did you spring it upon her like a red sofa?

10

George: I did spring it on her like a red sofa, yes! It was for her birthday, two years ago… Milton: That’s nice! George: …I put it into the show feed, so as she was, um, sort of uploading the show, she heard it, so it was a little birthday surprise for her and I realise that she was deserving of a homage, of a song. And, uh, the main riff, is based on a King Crimson riff, off of the Thrak album. Um, that… she’s a big King Crimson fan. So it has that kind of a ‘Crimson-y’, that modern, double-trio Crimson feel to it… the “Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream” is a similar sort of riff and I based it on that, as a wink to her, to kind of give her that ‘Crimson-y’ thing. And it’s funky and you can dance to it and it sort of has those ping-pong guitars in it there… you know, that kind of ‘Fripp-ian’ thing that I know I enjoy doing and I think she enjoys also. And, it also has one of my more sentimental bridges, where it says ‘I should have told her long ago…’ Milton: I was going to ask you that! But before that… let me just say firstly, my favorite part musically – is the solo. George: *laughs* Milton: …I mean that has some serious eyebrows, as Frank Zappa would say! George: Yeah, the mash-it, thrash-it solo! Milton: You, that, outside playing – are you aware of what you’re doing? Do you have atonal or chromatic strategies or do you just always, just kind of free… because it sounds lovely, it sounds perfectly wrong, if you know what I’m saying? George: Yeah, cool, it is kind of free and it started with that initial ‘Heh lep zoom zep zoom zoo zep zoo dum bahhhh’ I knew that it was always going to be out of the key and I kind of liked that – so that was the initial kind of riff that I knew that I would repeat a couple of times. Um, so I did that, and then it’s random note placement – as long as I kind of know that it’s happy tritones that make me stiff with happiness. Milton: Well, if they do, then there’s something right about them, is my thought about it! George: Yeah! Yeah, um, it’s, you know – my understanding of, ahhm, scalular guitar playing is so non-existent? So, often it comes down to, um… ‘Oh, this is a cool shape! Which is probably out of the key… so let me do it here and then I’ll do it here.’ Which, to any guitar player… Milton: Oh, you just described my twenty-year career. George: *laughs* Well, you know, it was a couple of passes, it was kind of cool, and then we find some neat studio thing, which is going to make it much more out and even cooler. Milton: And again, the tech is… it feels retro? I mean it has that feel of 1970s freak-out…

11
George: Sure, yeah, that ‘Brian May’s Bad Weekend’ kind of thing. Um…. Milton: Great movie. George: *laughs* Yeah! Uh, I wanted it to be out, I wanted it to be this idea of information, maybe going across, you know, communicational, transmission, even that frenzy of typing, even? You know, that keyboard polyphony, that unique… Milton: RSS feeds. George: Exactly, exactly! Even that old modem sound, but done as a solo-thing. So, it does come down to mash it, thrash it and be wrong enough to be right. Milton: The lyrics are basically praising her and extolling her virtues – but that bridge, that you mentioned, ‘I should have told her this long ago / Should have known better, but now I know.’ I can’t help sensing some regret or guilt there and if I might ask, is this a form of absolution or offering or apology…? George: It is a form of offering – absolution is up to her – but it’s absolutely an offering… and we have had a interesting relationship over a long period of time and luckily enough it has grown into one that is closer than it has ever been in its own unique way and it is an offering of… stuff that has happened in the past – and things that have happened have been unfortunate and I wish that things had been different, but I’m very fortunate and very pleased that we are where we are now. Milton: And it’s a privilege probably to have at least that opportunity to make that offering? Because when you don’t have that opportunity, it can make it really painful. George: Absolutely. And to not only make the offer, but to have it be heard and hopefully being seen as genuine and being accepted. You know, it’s – yeah, I should have been writing songs like this a long time ago, um, but it was because of circumstances and baggage and all other kinds of junk which is now GONE that we… we learn. Milton: Despite the sentiment of “Everything Alive Must Die Someday”, from the earlier track, I’m wondering if tunes like this one which are dedicated to people - because you’ve dedicated songs to Slau, to your dog, and Donna - and I’m wondering if this is away of immortalising loved ones, like Elgar did with the “Enigma Variations”? Where he took a theme and each variation is dedicated, and has a character of people who are now… immortalised – not in the way that, you know, might be understood by some, but at least it’s an aural sculpture or monument to them? George: Sure, yeah, as musicians, this is what we do. The same way that a poet would write poetry or a builder would build a house – as a musician, as an artist, you do. Yeah, and I’m fortunate enough to have these amazing people in my life and have these amazing experiences, so, the way I can relive it and memorialise it in the most valuable way is through… Milton: …and value it, essentially… George: …and value it, yeah! And relay it to other people. And I know that there are

12
experiences that are similar amongst people. So, the same way that I have someone like a Ms Information in my life who does all that detail work, who picks up those lose ends, and who can seem to pull, you know, miracles out of thin air in terms of deadlines… I know other people have people like that in their life too, and hopefully they’ll hear that and they can look at someone and say: ‘Hey, you’re MY Ms Information’, or you’re my… you know, ‘I look at you and I think “How Do You Do”, the same way I wrote about Slau’? You know, how do you write songs like that, or build a cabinet that’s so plumb? You know? I hope that people listen to that and can relate on some level and say ‘Yeah, that’s interesting, I have a person in my life like that as well.’ Milton: This theme sort of runs through the whole album – is that a trend in your work? Is this something you do more, I guess I’m trying to ask… George: Yeah, um, I think so? I think… Milton: …becoming more sentimental, more mature emotionally, perhaps? George: I guess, yeah, it’s a maturity thing? I guess, and it’s a very fine line between, sort of, sentimentality and syrupy-ness? You know, and treacly-ness? It’s a very hard thing to kind of fight and to me now the challenge is how do you manage to write a tribute or be emotionally mature or interesting and not be treacly? Milton: There is this line, in writing as well, where… I’m suddenly thinking of a book called ‘Fugitive Pieces’ by Anne Michaels, which is about a family that get exterminated in World War II - it’s a charming book, it’s absolutely lovely - but there’s this one line about a girl who goes on to get killed, and there’s no syrup-ness at all, it’s just very simple language and very simple words, and… I can’t even think about it without choking up about it. So, there’s this way of getting into someone which is genuine, without triggering, that, defensive, syrup-y, you know, gag-reflex. George: Right, right, the tribute, you know, the memorial you see, is a much more moving thing when you have a reflecting pond as opposed to the ‘bronze teddy bear.’ I mean, you want to avoid the ‘bronze teddy bear’ – you want to write the reflecting pool. You want to do that thing which is sentimental, without being full of sentiment – that’s not even the right way to put it… Milton: Yeah, you know, I get that on – the next track? And on, “When I Was Your Age” and, um, of course, ‘Small Comfort’ as well, and it’s those… I’m preempting it now, but I think… that it might be the reason you cut off the last moment of “Small Comfort”? You don’t want to actually say it, because it doesn’t need to be said. George: Yeah. Yeah. We’ll get to that too, I’m sure, but there is a sort of a rationale behind that thing too, yeah, yeah… [31:56] FIFTY STORIES George: The next one, “Fifty Stories”, that we get to, has that kind of…

13

Milton: Sure, it has a very nostalgic vibe? It’s that… see, my understanding of that, because I don’t know anything of, a lot of these tunes, but my understanding is that it’s a reacquaintance of a friend or lover – the situation’s not clear…you say something like ‘We’re something / But we’re not sure what that something really is’ George: Right. Milton: Um, and you use that wordplay of ‘Fifty stories high and fifty stories told,’ in that apartment block – so it’s that reuniting, that kind of really painful and really lovely when you see someone from the past again… I don’t know if it’s a lover or a friend? George: Right. Milton: But… George: Yeah, well, that’s sort of the point? You don’t know. You don’t know if it’s a lover or a friend, and… Milton: … is it something specific, or is it… George: Oh, definitely, yeah, this, it’s a reconnection with someone and in that moment, that’s – that line was actually said? Um… you know, ‘I don’t know, we’re something and I don’t know what this something really is?’ And that sort of stuck with me, ‘Oooh, that’s a great line!’ Milton: Good! Um, you didn’t say that out aloud at the time?? George: *laughs!* You know, I might have! That’s how awful I am! In terms of always looking for something! Milton: …you just bring out a little book! George: …yeah! ‘Uh, hold it, excuse me for just one sec! Keep that thought!’ Milton: …set up some mikes… George: *laughs!* ‘Yeah, right there! Say that again?’ *laughs* No, I… for me, that track was also that challenge of … having a hopeful, positive, sort of open… vibe? Without it being treacle-y? You know, without ‘Isn’t it great to find old friends?!?’ I didn’t want it to be a coffee-commercial. I wanted it to be… Milton: …honest… George: ‘This could be cool, this could be weird, I’m not sure… but it’s hopeful, and it’s a start and it’s a reconnection,’ um… Milton: One thing stylistically interesting with this tune, is that it kind of reminds me a little of Duran Duran and that Eighties pop vibe in the verses. Are you with me on that? George: I… that is SPOT on. Spot on, my friend!

14
Milton: …and was that a conscious reference to the time when you two were first together again? George: …well… very good! Very good, man, you got it! That’s it – that’s the idea of, um… the musical connection that we might have between these two people, is one that dates back to that era. So, yeah, the fact that there is… I’m an unapologetic Duran Duran fan… Milton: …me too. And I love Eighties pop as well… George: …yeah, yeah… Milton: …and we’re exactly the same age. George: Right, right… Milton: …and, well… close enough! George: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah. Milton: And there’s something about Eighties music – well, I don’t think it’s about Eighties music, I think it’s something about - the music you hear as a teenager cuts the deepest. George: Sure, sure! That, those first bands you fall in love with, at that time, when you’re prepubescent and it sticks with you forever. Milton: And you know, I mean, I listen to Beatles, Hendrix and the current stuff – the things like The Cure and Talking Heads and, um, Echo and the Bunnymen and Duran Duran and – there’s something so deeply connected with it… George: Sure, sure. Milton: …and people, you know, can say what they like about it – I don’t give a damn, I love it. George: Yeah, yeah! You know, that’s the thing, you have to be kind of unapologetic in your appreciation of it – it’s yours. You know, those songs are mine in terms of my experience. So, I had actually tried a bit more of a ‘Le Bon-y’ vocal on this thing, which didn’t quite work – I couldn’t quite pull it off, but it was a little more of the ‘HURRRRR!’ kind of Simon Le Bon thing that just didn’t work for me because I don’t have the vocal chops to do it, so I’d redone the vocals on this and just tried to get a little more earnest… um, but I’m glad that comes across, because that’s absolutely what I was going for. Milton: I mean, it might have only come across with me… we’ll see! We’ll see how people respond to it! George: Uh hmm. Milton: Actually, this is a good opportunity to talk about chords, because, the opening, for example, it’s got four chords that go around, and the first three chords are in the key of B Major – I think it’s like one, two… one again with an inversion or something like that, and then a fourth chord, is a C#7? Like a dominant chord, which is out of the key – as any idiot

15
knows – has got an E# in it? George: *laughs* Right… Milton: …So, so okay! You know what I’m saying! So, that II7 chord is a lovely, lovely, lovely chord – do you know what… do you know this stuff, or do you do this stuff instinctively? Do you recognise the references… do you have a theoretical – because in your podcast, you talked about the balance between technique and creativity, do you have a similar relationship between theory and creativity? George: Yeah, I’m… in the moment that… when I’m writing, I’m not thinking that ‘This is a cool II7 chord,’ – I’m thinking ‘Okay – it sort of wants to go to this chord – but that is obvious. So, where could I go which might not be as obvious? And let me try this.’ I love, sort of, major-minor discrepancies? Milton: Yeah. George: …that, I love when in the chorus? You’ll have a major chord and then that same named chord but a minor in the verse. And it doesn’t sound like ‘Oh, he just made the minor third here,’ – I love that where, ‘Oh, cool! It’s a C#9 here and then it’s a C#minor, minor7 here!’ Like – how does that work? I mean, it shouldn’t work, but the melodies working and that’s okay. So that enters into it – that I want to do something different, um, harmonically… Milton: I mean, you sound perfectly literate in it… George: …it’s yeah, um, it’s again, for the most part? It’s kind of trial-and-error of ‘Oooh! If I drop the melody a half-step here, that’s going to be kind of cool sounding, surprising,’ um – so in the verses you have a an A flat minor – E flat Minor and then it goes to that C# or Db… Milton: Yeah… George: …you know, first the major then the minor. I just – it’s just cool! It’s just different and weird and the melody doesn’t sound ‘Oh, he’s just kind of doing that Beatle-ly thing of making that four-chord the minor now...’ You know? Um… Ehhhh… Milton: So, you want something that sounds natural, but has that twist – I mean, the unexpected familiarity? George: Yeah, yeah, yeah! And for me, the real joy is the idea of someone sitting down at some future point and figuring it out… Milton: …Well, that was me, this morning. George: *laughs* Yeah! Going ‘Oh, okay! Oh, I didn’t think that would be that, that’s kind of cool!’ I know that happens to me all the time with a Yes recording – and I go: ‘Wait a minute, there’s a key change? Where did that key change… the melody is back here, but now it’s a half-step lower, how did that… what, what?’ I mean, I love that, you might know a song for a long time, and then, you don’t realise that… Milton: …rediscover it. George: Yeah, you rediscover it! And it’s these – it’s these little winks that are in there! So,

16
yeah - I think it just straddles that line where I’m not thinking ‘Wow, it would be neat to use a… the V of V in a minor blah blah…’ – it’s more of ‘Oh, that sounds cool – what is it? Oh, that’s what that is, that’s cool.’ [39.44] FAR Milton: Okay – “Far”. I mean, people would know this tune; it’s been out on the podcast and so – we needn’t talk too much about, you know, the background to it, because it’s elsewhere, however… George: Right. Milton: …what I find interesting, is that I think that maybe it’s popularity lies in the fact that you don’t dazzle us with details? How do I put this? You kind of openly expose the limitation of you and our ability to take this all in. Which I think is very honest and effective, and I haven’t really heard before. George: Yeah, it is a bit of a ‘one joke song.’ That, you know, ‘Here come the details – it’s huge.’ You know, there’s a very subtle, philosophical underpinning; that we can’t really understand how big this stuff is, or how cool it is. Milton: Do you remember the first time you got this awestruck ‘hit’ – I mean, I was a kid going to Greece, and at the time there was no light pollution and I was just seeing the stars multiplying in front of my eyes – they just turned into clouds eventually. I just remember that from a very young age, that it was… this overwhelming… George: Overwhelming, yeah, yeah. Milton: …overwhelming and liberating humility. Do you remember a similar moment? George: Oh, yeah, yeah, gosh – I grew up next to a golf course, so my dad and I would go out there, either during the day, just to, you know, throw a football around or whatever – um – or at night we would go out and look at stars or whatever. So yeah, I can… you just sort of sit back and I … the realization that each one of those pinpoints of light? Was a sun. Most of which were bigger than our sun. That was pretty mindblowing. The explanation that ‘Those stars are suns.’ *gasps* Milton: And the more you look at it, I mean, the more you explore scientifically – it doesn’t go away, it just confounds it further still, I mean, Brian Cox’s talk about the five pence piece covering a piece of sky… George: Right. Milton: …and focusing cameras on that and billions of galaxies… I can’t go there! Let’s move on! George: Yeah, yeah, the deep filter, yeah, that’s another ten-hour discussion right there! Milton: And the fact that light has to travel for fourteen-billion years….

17

George: Right! Milton: …but it’s also moving the other way, so it’s not what you can’t see or… I’ve got a very important question as well! Is Jamie Farr… Is that the guy from M.A.S.H? George: Yes! Milton: So, when it’s like ‘Jamie Farr’… George: *laughs* That’s – when I originally did the song, it was only the chorus? Because I had done it for the podcast, the ‘365 Days of Astronomy Podcast’. They only wanted thirty seconds, so I just wrote the chorus, and what I did, was do one regular one with the ‘Über far’ chorus, and then I recorded another version which had the Jamie Farr chorus that I thought they could throw in every now and then. Because, I thought it was going to be so familiar, because it was every damned day that people were going to hear this thing, they could have another version with Jamie Farr. I mean, to me, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the, uh… what’s that show? Where the guy walks in and sometimes he trips on the Ottoman and sometimes he… Ms Information: The Dick Van Dyke Show. George: Thank you! The Dick Van Dyke Show! Ms Information, there you go! Milton: Wow! George: I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Dick Van Dyke Show, at all, but it was a thing from the Fifties and Dick Van Dyke would walk into the house and greet his wife and greet his son and he’d trip over this Ottoman and do this forward flip. In the first season. In the second season, they did the exact same thing, and he stepped onto the Ottoman and he stepped around it. And it was ‘Oh, cool!’ And in the third season, it would alternate. So people would watch the credits just to see whether or not he fell? Milton: Like The Simpsons, as to whether or not the couch… George: …exactly, exactly! The couch gag! Exactly! So I though ‘Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to have a couch-gag for the ‘365 Days’, and instead of it being ‘Über far’, it’s ‘Jamie Farr’ – so it’s just silly. Milton: So it’s far in terms of his name being ‘Farr’… George: F.A.R.R – and what’s GREAT… Milton: …not being geographically far away… George: *laughs* Over-explaining, yeah, yeah, yeah! But what’s great? On his Wikipedia page? On Jamie Farr’s Wikipedia page, they mention the fact that I mention him in that song! Milton: Awesome!

18
George: So, that is worth any kind of… yeah. That was just awesome. Milton: I think M.A.S.H was my first introduction to any proper humour or irony… did you used to watch that? George: Oh, absolutely! I just had that conversation with Swoopy! That Hawkeye was the first kind of skeptical, questioning – he was an atheist… uh…. Milton: And the way the doctors used to talk to each other, it was this ribbing, this gentle ribbing… George: Yes! Milton: Without hitting, without insulting each other, this way of twisting things – I just couldn’t believe it, you know – I was astounded by people’s ability to use language to be humorous without laughing out loud… George: Right! And that quick-witted, and yeah, absolutely – first big sort of wry influence, you know, non-British cleverness that was a big influence on me. Milton: And there was a similar thing at the end of Cheers, when, whatsername… Woody? I don’t know. There was this sharp, American writing… George: Sure, sure. Milton: …but that’s a little far from “Far”! [45.52sec] – 1.23.38

REMORA

Milton: Now, remora – I understand are those kind of little fish, that, um, are sort of sycophantic or parasitic to sharks? George: Yes! For the most part. There are different kinds of remora, but the most famous ones are the ones that attach themselves to the underbellies of sharks, and kind of, uh, eat the – they’re kind of exo-parasites or some term for it? They kind of… Milton: Do they have a kind of symbiotic relationship with the shark? They kind of eat the… George: Right, right, they eat the remnants of – the shark might dig into a tuna, and whatever little chunks that fly by as he is tearing into it, the remora will live off. So, it’s a leech to a certain degree. Milton: And, so, this is a word of warning, or shout-out to people who complain about life? To religious people? To people who are sure of themselves? I wasn’t clear about this. George: Ooh, interesting! No…this… this… song was… a lyrical experiment… it started from a point of frustration and anger, and it turned into a lyrical experiment where I wanted every single line of the song, um, to be able to be referred to by one of three characters –

19
okay. The song is about three people, and um, I wanted every line to be about one of those three people, or said by one of those three people. So, it’s these three people who are in this bizarre relationship for a lack of a better term. And… the challenge was, eventually, once I realised what I wanted the voice of this song to be, was that each one of the three characters could be singing this song. And each line makes as just as much sense, in different reference from… from… each other one. Does that make sense? *laughs* Milton: Well, let’s have a look at an example - if we take… should we do the first: ‘Orion used to be my favourite set of stars’? George: …Yeah… Milton: …or you pick an example that… illustrates this if you could? ‘My cutting dictionary has been A to Zeed’? Zed? George: …Yeah… *laughs* I’m trying to think of something that won’t give it away… Milton: Oh! Do you not… want to give it away? Okay, I’ll hunt, don’t worry, it’s good! It’s a mystery for people to hear… George: I think it’s obvious to a certain degree? Well, okay… Milton: It’s not obvious to my limited brain… George: Good! Then it’s not, too, too obvious. That first line – ‘Orion used to be my favourite set of stars,’ – one person… urgh… For me, personally? Orion has always been a favourite constellation of mine. Uh, to look at it, ugrh… I always used to have nice memories off the fall when it’s most visible here, in the States; the year would be starting, the cold weather would just kind of come over and I just, this nice memory of Orion. ‘Orion’ has this kind of… homophonic component to it, which makes its memory… Milton: … I see. I remember. George: …less pleasant. For me, personally. Um, the second person would also have this kind of memory looking up at the stars as well; and the third person also has a… Milton: …so you use homophones here. Okay. I’m with you now. George: Okay? Oh, there’s a good one: ‘When I look to the sky, I just see hirsute guy…’ The lyrics I provided to you, ‘hirsute’ is writ two ways. Milton: I’ve got it right here.

20

George: It’s ‘hirsute’ as in hairy… and ‘her suit’, which means, like ‘her suit guy’. So, that is pretty much a give-away as to what’s going on! *laughs* Milton: Okay. We’ll leave the lyrics there! Because I don’t want to unweave the rainbow too much. George: Not too much. Milton: So, let’s talk musical! It’s a good opportunity in this tune to talk about meters – ha ha! Because the listeners would know that you often count out tunes ‘one, two, three, four’ – and music is arranged in groups of beats called bars – or do you call them meters? George: Bars, yeah. Milton: But music can be grouped differently – so a waltz is in three-time, you have three beats every bar… and – see, I’m doing this – because, perhaps we should cut this bit out, but I’m wondering, because you have very intelligent listeners who might not know about music? George: Oh, no, that’s cool – that’s fine! Milton: So, anyway – folk and contemporary music has a more exotic number of beats. Like, 5/4, 7/4 and so on. And the example of pop tunes that people might know is that “Mission Impossible” is in five, and Pink Floyd’s “Money” is in seven… George: (Seven?) “Take Five” is in five… that’s a kind of famous example… Milton: …Sting’s “Seven Days” is in five, which is a nice tune. But actually, in this tune, you use a series of – I don’t know how you’re conceiving it, but it seems like a series of changing time signatures – or that you don’t have the same time-signature continually… you might have a verse in one meter or drop-off beats… George: Yeah, the transitional sections were sort of more… about getting the harmonic center back to where it needed to be – so, going – the tune is essentially in D, so we’re sort of chunking along… and so, I liked, I wanted to have this chromatic passage to get from F back to D, but I didn’t want it to be sort of a regular run? So the bass notes and the… are not playing the roots of the chords, so it’s just this juxtaposition of doing a dotted rhythm to get back to that D chord: ‘dun gatta dun gatta dun gatta dun…’ So, you’re going to have sort of bars of nine - to be honest? I don’t even know what’s going on there! I just know that by the time that final bass note is on the C sharp, we’ve got one more bar to go because we’re going back to D… Milton: So it’s like a metric device. And it fits the harmony, so you can make that staircase ascension. George: Right. On this album, one thing that has been used a lot and it’s a kind of chord that I’ve really gotten into, is like A over G. Milton: Yeah. I know. I can name where you do it.

21

George: I’ve really got into that. Milton: It’s kind of a II7. If you think about it, it’s like half a structure… George: Yeah, yeah! But it’s where you… normally, again, for the non-theoretical – normally, a bass would play a root note, what’s considered a root note, which is an A chord has an A in the bass. That just – boom, that’s your standard, whether it’s major, whether it’s minor, whatever. An A in the bass. What’s kind of a neat thing to do is play a A chord and you drop your bass notes down a whole step to G. It’s a very interesting sound that can be used in context in a kind of cool way. I use that kind of a chord all over this record. In “Remora”, the transitional sections you have F and then you have A over G… C over G#...? Milton: A… George: I can’t even picture it! But it’s a lot of these very dense… Milton: A C over Bb? George: Yeah, yeah, yeah – dense kind of chords that kind of sound just thick… Milton: Yeah, I…you can call them, I mean in some ways you could call them poly-chords or slash-chords or hybrid-chords where it’s got – feels like two chords at once sometimes – I mean, or it’s an inversion. That thing with A over G? You hear that when it’s descending, on lots of Beatles tracks and by, you know, by association on Oasis, like “Champagne Supernova” is A over G / A over F#... George: Right. Milton: But, to have it straight on that chord is a very open and sort of beautiful sound. It’s a Zappa chord too… and that sort of stacking, of course, I absolutely adore that. It’s a neat thing you can do is - you can have the upper structure chords moving in sort of sensible and familiar ways and the lower notes moving in sensible and familiar ways - but together, what you’re getting is this sort of a composite, glorious sound and it’s really fun to explore that… George: Yeah, and for me, the sort of simplicity that I like is when the bass is not playing the root. Because those are always the hardest chords for me to figure out when I’m figuring songs out! I usually connect with the bass first, that’s sort of the first thing I kind of key into when I’m trying to figure out a song: ‘What’s the bass playing? Okay, it’s playing a G. This is some kind of G chord! Well… not always.’ You know? So that to me is a fun, again, little challenge, keeps me… Milton: And when it comes around the second time and you do it in first inversion, it’s just this subtle detail. George: Yeah! It’s just fun! Milton: So, um… this use of polychords and inversions, we’ll call them - and odd meters as

22
well – musically sophisticated devices, but they’re always supporting a bigger structure, I suppose? George: Yeah, hopefully, they’re not… they’re not being used in and of themselves? And I think, for the most part, you sort of, you sort of start using them because you’ve used everything else? You know, if you are one that wants to keep trying different things, you know? The Beatles are a perfect example; they have their straight-ahead chords that they’re using for the first couple of records and then they’re using, you know Major 7s! They’re using weird, different root tones, because, I think, you try and there’s only so many songs you can write, you know: D, G, A! And there are people who can do their entire careers doing D, G, A - and there’s nothing wrong with that. Um, and there’s a certain…. Milton: …it depends on where you want to explore… George: Yeah! Milton: …just explore lyrically… George: Yeah, Bruce Springsteen, you know - has, whatever, forty years of music behind him. But harmonically, he hasn’t really… gone beyond what he was doing thirty years ago. Which is fine, you know, it’s not a judgment call… Milton: But that’s funny - what’s interesting is that, he hasn’t that, in terms of chords – but, like, I think it’s “Born To Run”? Where that theme comes in… there’s some, clever things in terms of melody that will hit the second note or the third of those simple chords - so there is ground to be covered, even if you fix something as basic as what the chords are. However, but, if you like a good chord you’re going to start looking at…

George: Yeah! And you don’t have to be Steely Dan! But there is kind of a middle ground. And for me, you kind of get to a point where ‘You know what? There’s a lot of fun to just ram out power chords. You know, just to get loud, root fifth, octave - BOOM’ – that can be fun and its own thing. But when you are trying to get different types of tones, different sounds, different colours – it is neat to kind of try and do that ‘Oh, you find a Major 7’ – I mean, the first time I started using Major 7th chords, it was like ‘Oh, this is cool – like, okay, what does this mean?’ Or the six chord – I never used six chords before, but then you sort of realise: ‘Ooh!’ Or I had, but it was kind of unconsciously using six chords by accident - because open strings were providing a six or something. But now, it’s much more conscious, like ‘Ooh, I’ll use this six chord here which will sound cool, or have this kind of colour to it - or I’ll change the bass note - or, the bass will play the third instead of the root,’ that kind of stuff. It’s more: you’ve run out of the more basic options, so you try to widen your palette. Milton: Right. George: You can make amazing paintings, using three colours. But… you can do that for a certain amount of time; you might want to add a fourth… tint. Or a fifth, or a twentieth tint,

23
after a certain amount of time. That’s all it is. Milton: Interesting. You know, although, you’re using sophisticated techniques the kind of vibe of “Remora” is very rock. George: Oh, absolutely, that’s the aesthetic. Milton: You know, it kind of reminds me of The Who, of Led Zeppelin – Zappa in the doo wop section… George: Yeah, I originally had those chords being played on a harpsichord? Milton: Oh, nice! George: …which was sort of different, and it just… Milton: Too much? George: It, yeah, it lost its cleverness very quickly and just became annoying? And I thought ‘Ooh, what’s different, again, what’s the opposite from this heavy, you know, two or three distorted guitars playing…’ Milton: And it’s that eclectic juxtaposition that you love – and why we both love Zappa, for example… George: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, totally. Milton: …where you’re allowed to go from ska to metal, to classical, and contemporary and doo wop. George: Yes, yes. Milton: Do you know what else I hear in this? Early Queen. George: Oh! Okay! Milton: That kind of raw, early Queen – and I don’t know if you’re a big Queen fan, but I adore, I adore – I was listening to Greatest Hits recently, and it was like I heard it for the first time, the sound is so amazing… George: Oh yes. Yeah. Huge. Milton: And it’s great that you can do - you’re in a position to do an album where you, like you say, you do the stuff you want to. You can go from doo wop to Queen. George: Oh, forget about it! Yeah, if there was a producer looking over my shoulder, that was counting the dollars as they ticked away? I mean, ‘What are you doing?? Like, you know, let’s move on!’ Yeah, I’m very fortunate that I can experiment and have fun like that with the result. I mean we’ll just smile. Slau and I will just sit and listen to a playback – and, you know, when I say ‘what do you doo doo?’

24

I mean, we just smile and it’s just a stupid little chuckle thing… you know, to make a little poo joke at the end of this thing? Um, that to me is priceless, I just love that.

[1hour 00.27sec]

SVIATOSLAV LOBSTER Milton: We’re onto Track Seven. Lobster track! George: Sviatoslav Lobster! Milton: Very cool Stevie Wonder-style vibe going on with it…. George: Oh, okay, alright. I was going for Steely Dan… Stevie Wonder, yeah, yeah. Milton: It’s a little, yeah, I guess that’s what I mean - because it’s got that pop-twist to it, and of course, Zappa makes an appearance, time to time… George: Yes, yes! Milton: He always does.... That sort of… I think it’s the one with the ‘singing what you’re playing’ thing, melismatic… George: Yes. Milton: Yes. *sings* ‘Wishing…’ Yeah. George: *laughs* Milton: Can you talk me through the lyrics of this one? George: Yeah, well this was a thing I had heard about and filed back under the, you know, ‘that deserves a song’ category. Sviatoslav Richter is a famous pianist; allegedly, in the latter portion of his life, he had an obsessive obsession, I guess… Obsessive obsession! Where he could not perform unless there was a little plastic lobster on his piano. He’d carry this thing around with him and it provided him with some comfort. So, when I first heard about this thing, I thought ‘Well, there’s a song!’ And decided it would be from the perspective of the plastic lobster kind of singing to Mr. Richter, saying ‘You’re the one getting the applause, but never forget - you’re only doing this because of me – you know, you’re only capable of doing this because I’m here.’ Milton: That’s a rather cruel thing for the lobster to say… George: Well, you know, that’s how crustaceans are, man, you can’t really trust them. Milton: Shellfish bastards, aren’t they? George: Yeah, you know, Frank Darabont, the filmmaker, has two movies – actually he has

25
three movies based on Stephen King stories, two of which take place in prison? So, I figure if Frank Darabont can have two Stephen King prison stories, I can have two songs that are about obsessive compulsive disorder that are Steely Dan rip-offs. So, this is my sort of Frank Darabont… Milton: At least two… George: …at least two, yes, Stephen King, uh, thing. So. [1 hr 02:32]

WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE

Milton: “When I Was Your Age” is maybe my favourite track off the whole album, I have to say… George: Oh, thanks! Yeah! Milton: It just hits the nail in terms of the simplicity of the song, and the, you know, clarity of the lyrics and so on. You know, we’re the same age – so every single reference I get completely. George: Right, right! Milton: Musically – my favourite bit is after the verses, after ‘ring tone’ and ‘nothing bigger’, where I think it’s A Major sliding up to… B over A? George: B over A, again! There you go! Milton: There it is, there it is again! But this time it really feels like that kind of Lydian thing, which is a certain mode which is used in film scores – and it’s perfect, because it’s that wonder of youth, you know? George: Yeah, there’s a tension to it, a little bit? Um, you know, we all want attention, when we’re kids? *fake laughs* …oh god. So. Milton: But it’s got a raised fourth – and we can, um…and it’s got that sort of open magic sound… George: Yes, yes! Milton: …The Simpsons uses it, but it’s that sort of ‘lift-up’ – the sharpened fourth. It’s this idea that you’re switching between different modes, and not sticking to one key at any one point. Do you use that consciously again or do you grab for the right chord? George: It’s grabbing for the right chord – it’s finding that transitional thing: ‘Okay, we need a little transitional thing, what would be an obvious thing to do? Okay – now, don’t do that.’ Milton: *laughs*

26
George: That’s where it kind of comes from and yeah, that… that… I know what that sounds like, sliding that A up two frets on the guitar and keeping that A string open… Milton: An open E rings as well? George: …I believe so…. Milton: …Because that would be lovely to have a D# and an E together… but a little late now! George: *laughs* Well, live – I make sure I’ll ring! Uh, that’s another one of those examples of the idea of the song, um, where I could relax – I had a conversation with one of the Beatnik Turtle guys out of Chicago and they wanted me to write up this song for them, and it was, you know, we were sort of talking what could it be, what could it be about and I said, ‘Hey, yeah, what about when I was your age and what’s changed since I was younger,’ and not that – not that bitter thing about ‘I had it tough! You have it easy!’ but ‘Hey, this is different! Do you realise that you know, our phones… you had to stand next to the wall, to talk? Because we had this cord…’ Milton: Phone, yeah! George: Yeah, yeah, the ring was the same ring! If it was your friends house or your aunt’s house or anyone else’s house… your grandmother’s house, the ring all sounded the same… Milton: …and the video games, you know… George: Yeah, you know? And so to me those details, that was that puzzle-making part that were just fun to find. Um… That’s one of those rare instances where I think I really hit the target pretty squarely. So. Milton: No, it’s lovely. And again, you twist it in that ‘Not everything’s different, but these things are the same…’ George: And yeah, right! There are familiarities… Milton: And that… What gets me - and I don’t know why it should, but when I see a commercial and I get choked up - but what gets me is: ‘You’ll be my age too.’ George: Right, right. Milton: And that circle… it just gets me? It just absolutely gets me. George: Well, I think there’s parts, there’s portions of our being, our brain, that are sevenyear olds! We fight very hard to cover that up, but there are big chunks of us that are seven and fourteen, and twenty and twenty-five, and as we get older, those portions of us? I think, you know, we remember them and they still influence us to a certain degree. So, for me, to look at my eight year old nephew and say ‘You know? You’re going to be forty before you know it….’ Not as a judgment! Not as a ‘Hey, you better do this!’ but you know, it’s kind of cool too – so, in some ways, we’re the same age, you know? Because I’m still that eight-year old as well and you’ll be that four-year old and you’ll

27
remember me telling you this, maybe, and we’ll have this song, and so, again, that interconnectedness of everybody and the experiences are so similar, it’s just something I kind of wanted to wink at or highlight. So there is a sentimentality, but without it being too… [1.06:44] TREBUCHET

Milton: “Trebuchet” – title track. Instrumental… George: Another title track, instrumental. Yeah. Milton: So, the idea of launching? I like trebuchets, because their power is kind of inherent within them, there’s nothing to, not carrying any petrol or anything… George: Yeah, right! There’s no spring, there’s no… it’s just sort of leverage and weight and principles – it’s powered on principles, which is cool! Milton: Yeah, it’s cool, I want one! George: Oh sure, yeah, yeah! Oh, this one comes from me – there’s a cartoon, a fifteenminute cartoon on cartoon network called Metalocalypse? I forget the name of the damned show... but there's this fictional metal band called Dethklok which is the number one band in the world – and what they do, it’s a brilliant self-winking, kind of meta-show… It’s just thrash, and their theme is thrash, there’s always a thrash tune or two that’s in there… and I can’t quite drum in that thrash style because for the most part I only have one kick-drum, bass drum and the guys who can do this stuff are just amazing: *chck a-chck-a-chck- a-chck- achck- a-chck- a-chck- a-chck…* Milton: The guitarists, same with the guitar, it’s a discipline that is, um, it’s again, something that’s forged out of that Eighties thing and into something that just is just astonishing – and I know that there’s that fight of technique versus creativity – but bloody hell, bloody hell… George: So, this is just my attempt – it’s also a bit of a wink at Yes… again, in their “Soundchaser”. Which is a song that uses open strings in a very cool way? And odd time? *vamph vamph, va vamph vamph va vah vamph va vamph vamph!* And they use all four open strings on the bass, in a neat kind of harmonic way. So, I’m using a lot of open strings here, um, and yet – I didn’t want to detune to sound heavy? I wanted a heavy riff, that was still in E.

ATLANTA [1:09:30] Milton: Okay, so “Atlanta”… this is probably… as I was saying before, it’s quite an unusually… unsnarky… we’ll use that word… George: Yeah.

28
Milton: …tune for you. It’s 6/8 or 12/8? George: Right. Milton: Sort of ballad-feel. And it seems you’re really sort of vulnerable in this tune. Did you find it easy to put this sort of stuff out there for people to hear? Or does it take a bit of bolstering to decide to do this sort of track without twisting it, without throwing in a joke? George: Yeah, you know, it is tempting to put a wink in there, you know… Milton: I don’t hear one in this one, if there is one? George: No, no, there isn’t one, definitely – this is as kind of as about as open and honest as pretty much I get. Um, “Small Comfort” also is along the same lines. You know, you run the risk when you write songs that are personal and that are deal with events in your life and circumstances in your life, you run the risk... of having those circumstances change. Now, does that invalidate the song? Does that invalidate the sentiment in the moment? The things that you were feeling in the moment when you wrote that… I mean, you might no longer feel the same way about… the circumstances… Milton: I don’t think we could do anything… if we couldn’t express ourselves in permanent! George: Right, right! That’s what I mean, you know? Now, this particular song, I was fortunate enough when I wrote it, um, it was dealing more with realising the potentiality of chance and the necessity of chance and… in some ways it’s an apology to what’s happened in the past? In some ways, it’s a… a realisation that a mistake was kind of caught in time? Before things got even worse? And that’s kind of what I focus upon now; it’s a change of attitude and realising that circumstances needed to be altered. And it’s… thanking the current circumstances, you’re thanking Atlanta, thanking that that made me realise what I was doing was hurtful, um, the way I was acting was hurtful to the people around me, was not being productive… that’s what I focus on now when I think of that song, as opposed to ‘I am now over the moon about someone or something,’ or whatever it is. Like I said, I was fortunate in that it seems more to point of not to a person – but to a circumstance and appreciating and thanking that circumstance of letting me realise, you know, what’s possible? And where I am, and where I could be, and where I should be. Milton: And hence there’s no need for snarkiness or no place for it. George: Right… it would be tempting? Especially once those circumstances changed? Once those circumstances changed, it’s very tempting to go back and put in a little ‘F.U’ or something in there. And there was…there’s a slight lyrical chance that happened over time. Very slight, you know… Milton: From love to hate! George: *laughs* Yeah, you’re right!! No, um: ‘The weight that she lifted’ turned into ‘The weight that was lifted’.

29
Milton: Ah! George: It’s a subtle difference, but it’s more consistent with the message of the song… Milton: …mistakes were made… George: Yeah, chance is it’s own inherent character in this, in this particular piece and it’s more about that than the people that were involved. In the choruses – it’s E, C # Minor… and then A over G… Milton: D’you find patterns and things that you’ve done after you’ve done it? After you’ve created? Because it just sounds like you’re just realising certain things after you think through the album? George: Yeah, to a certain degree? Some things I’m pretty conscious of and some things you want to avoid too – that song also has a great chord where that open A over F#? At the…. You sort of play a kind of A9 kind with an F#... Milton: With an open B string? Like an F# Minor 11 would be coming out of that… George: Okay, yeah, yeah! Milton: It’s a minor 7 with a B in there as the fourth. Lovely sound. George: Off the F#, yeah. Yeah, so I use that chord a number of times - so many times, that I end up saying, ‘Am I using this chord too much?’ Because that’s in “Small Comfort” also, that’s in “Atlanta”… somewhere else, I can’t remember where. As I’m writing it, I start becoming conscious of it. And then I think ‘Oh! Well, maybe that’s the sound of this album!’ - you know, that kind of two-chord or that F# kind of thing, I use it here and there. You want to be careful not to use it too much, because then it kind of becomes a crutch almost…. Milton: It’s very hard. Personally, I think that I over-edit those kinds of things… I mean, I hear The Dark Side of The Moon - and much of it is, you know, is I Minor 9 to IV7… George: Yeah! Right! Sure! Milton: …and that’s the vibe and it’s beautiful and different, you know, time-feel? And the thing that is important is to listen objectively. I mean, I say you’ve managed it, you’ve managed it just fine. But I know well, that, over-analysis – there’s a difference between doing something original, and… changing a chord where it was just perfectly fine where it is, you know what I mean? George: Absolutely. ‘Oh, okay, I’ve done this before…’ or… – yeah, there’s a point where you just need to relax and say ‘You know? It’s okay to go D – A.’ Milton: D is good! A is good! *laughs* George: *laughs* Yeah, it’s fine! It doesn’t have to be an A6, with a, you know, an F in the bass or whatever. You know, that’s fine too! But there is a…. it’s something also when I figure out other people’s songs, sometimes and you go ‘Wow…’ My playing with the funk band has been very instructive in that, in that going back to these

30
old Motown recordings. Or, Aretha Franklin tunes, where you have something like “Think”. “Think” is two chords – that’s just modulating. It’s I and IV. That’s it. Milton: Do we become obsessed with what we can most easily describe and conceive? George: Sure. Milton: …where, as we know, other stuff, like the time-feel of a tune and just the sound and the lyrical content are the goods? Not the fact that there are two major chords moving? George: Right, right! And it’s about… Aretha’s, you know, performance and… Milton: Incredible vocal… George: Yeah! Milton: And where, where exactly do those chords land, you know? What part of the beat do they land? George: Yeah, that’s it, that’s it – you know, you listen to these great songs and you realise that there’s this simplicity and that this simplicity is really difficult sometimes! So that it’s okay to go… Milton: Simplicity is not easy. George: Absolutely, absolutely. [1:17:13]

DEATH FROM THE SKIES

Milton: “Death From The Skies”. George: Yeah, good old Phil Plait! Milton: I like it again, that you start with a reference back to “Everything Alive Must Die Someday”. This sounds like a PFA-tinged funk track. George: Well, yeah! Originally I wanted to have horns on this, but just because of scheduling and timing, we just didn’t have a chance to do it. But, uh, it is kind of a Sly and the Family Stone-ish vibe… Milton: …and again, it’s about the time-feel, you know, it’s about that whole feel – and for listeners, time-feel is that sort of essence of rhythm that is not easily explained or notated, but makes something… changes something from being drab to exquisite… George: …yeah, hopefully *laughs* Milton: That great feel is hard to explain because it doesn’t fit with standard notion very well, so it seems to be shrouded in some sort of magical mystery or mysticism or almost

31
supernatural… George: Supernatural, yeah, yeah… Milton: …way in that it is passed on. What’s your view on this, the ‘incomprehensibility of music’? George: Yeah, the ‘super-musical nature’, you know? It’s…. as a North-Eastern American Caucasian? Raised in… Milton: *Broad American accent* ‘YEAH BOY!!’ George: *laughs* …raised on, um, I don’t know, Hall and Oates and Sesame Street? It’s been very educational playing in the funk band of realizing that… two and four, the second and fourth beat in a bar of four… is so… widely interpretational. And non-mathematic. That you can just have the subtlest slowing down or speeding up, which can define a genre or a feel. In this example, in “Death From The Skies”, the fact that I’m playing everything on this track, it was a real challenge to make it funky. Because, normally, the funk exists… Milton: …comes in ensemble… George: Yeah, it’s in the interaction of those players in the room, so that the bass player is laying down a certain driving consistency and the drummer is playing a little behind it, slamming down on the one, making that down beat REALLY big, really just *urgh!* That’s that funk downbeat – then two is just behind and four is a little behind, to give it that funkiness. And the guitar is pushing it a little bit, so you have this tension – you know, this is something that you realise over time and you attempt to duplicate it. You know, I am not one who was raised on this kind of music or have it inherently in my DNA (if that’s possible, even). But it’s a struggle to bring a sort of… craft… sensibility to it, to recreate it. Like a pedagogical approach of ‘Okay – two’s a little behind and four’s a little behind …’ But even that is an over-analysation as well, because for every example of one kind of funk that does have a big downbeat and, you know, a laid-back two – there’s another example of it being forward and edgy! So… it’s a very weird kind of fine line. I mean, this song was just me trying to sort of sound like Sly and the Family Stone, uh, just putzing about. Milton: But it does and it sounds great! I mean, I think I would probably take a more, um, I don’t know, more scientific or reductionist view in that it sounds good because it’s on a certain beat – and it’s okay if different funks are different, different funks are different… George: Sure. Milton: …you know, and, if… it turns out that, um, James Brown’s guitarists were swinging at 60% - that’s what they were doing and that’s why it sounds good! So, I might be a little more… I’m actually more sort of reductionist than everyone I meet with it, because there’s a reason why it sounds good – it doesn’t take anything away from the magic or the craft…

32
George: Oh, absolutely, absolutely not. Milton: But I think that it might be… it can explained better and it can be taught better and it can be understood and it can make that music be appreciated better. I also think that there’s a problem here because we only analyse music in terms of what’s easy, like chords and simple rhythms… distinct… George: …concrete rhythm. Milton: Yes, we think that, let’s say, Schoenberg is more complex and sophisticated than James Brown – which I don’t think is the case, I don’t think one is better than another. But you’ll lose that artistry by just virtue of our lack of vocabulary. George: Oh sure! Because you can make a lead sheet of a James Brown tune. You can make a lead sheet of “A Train” Milton: But give that lead sheet to someone who has no cultural understanding… George: Exactly! But that’s not the tune! Whereas to make a score of Schoenberg would require… you couldn’t make a head chart for Schoenberg. Milton: *laughs* George: ‘Yeah, well, obviously it’s more complex…’ – well, no, not… you’re just transcribing much more of the Schoenberg… Milton: A lot of the artistry is tacit, in the… George: Exactly, yeah, yeah.

NEVER KNEW

Milton: Good. “Never Knew”. It’s got a very happy, bouncy vibe to it. And I wanted to use that to talk about the drug thing. Because you don’t take drugs. George: No. Milton: Never have. George: Never have. Milton: And you drank a beer once or something… George: I think I had I had a sip of beer or something when I was fourteen, yeah. Milton: The only drug you use is the stimulant caffeine? I guess. George: Pretty much, yeah. Intravenously, so. *laughs* Milton: *laughs* You’ve got a percolator on your back, dripping…

33

George: Right, yeah! Milton: I mean, I’m the same – I don’t take drugs, I drink as much as my grandmother and she’s dead… George: *laughs* Milton: Um, so, but yet we are really into this music that has been inspired or associated… George: Influenced, yeah. Milton: So, Zappa’s the same – I keep saying Zappa because he is the most, you know, far out and adventurous, with a similar approach – yet I love Hendrix, I love Beatles, I love stuff… that obviously came out of… George: Right. Milton: Or obviously came out of… Do you, do you think that you get in the same state? Do you think that you have your own ‘zone’? Are you ever tempted to experiment, just out of curiosity? George: Yeah… I am… I’m very curious, I’m very curious about everything; I’m curious as to how an eraser on a pencil works – I’m curious about the most mundane things, so my curiosity does often influence or attempts to influence my intake of particular things. It would be curious to be inebriated or to be high or to be stoned or just, purely as an experiment to quell my curiosity. It is not outweighed by… that sort of negative experiences I’ve had on the other side, of watching people being inebriated and being stoned and whatever. And I think that a lot of the examples that you give in terms of the Beatles and Hendrix and all that? I know that the Beatles talk about, you know, they experimented and all that? But for the most part things they were writing, they were writing sober for the most part? Milton: Absolutely, absolutely. George: Um… again, Zappa’s the best example – he is the weirdest cat you could possibly imagine in terms of his… storyline, the things he comes up with, the juxtapositions, the weirdness! Milton: Yeah, and he was sort of adopted by that drug culture… George: RIGHT! And he was always saying ‘No, this is just my f’ed up brain! This is just the way I think.’ A lot of comedy, also. For example: I’m a big fan of Mr. Show. Um, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. Fans who watch the show stoned often approach them and would say ‘Oh, you guys must have been so stoned when you wrote this!’ And they say ‘No, it’s impossible to write clever sketch comedy while you’re stoned!’ because when you’re writing it, it’s great, apparently – but you read it when you sober up and it’s shit! So, no, I’m not tempted enough to alter my consciousness, you know, to affect my art – and

34
I… just… a bigger percentage of me just isn’t interested. Maybe this is just some sort of latent superiority that I’m trying to deal with – that I’m better because I don’t drink and maybe that’s a part of it; I’ve been accused of that. That’s probably a valid criticism. Milton: Well, I kind of think you’re on the ‘don’t step on the tracks’ with the alcohol, because you’ve done it so long and what’s the point? George: Yeah, there’s that too – there’s the challenge and I like a challenge and I like, yeah, the challenge to finish it out, sort of say ‘I’ve never had it, I never have.’ Yeah, for me, as curious as it would be for me to be stoned, lets say, marijuana? It wouldn’t be worth it… Milton: …I think the kids call it ‘Mary Jane’ now… George: Is it Mary Jane now? Yeah… *laughs* Milton: Mary-wow-wow. George: *laughs* ‘The Pot??’ For me to try The Pot… *laughs* ‘Grass?’ Yeah. Yeah, you know? Any experience that I would have would probably not be as countered to the time that I haven’t used it and the interesting cultural footnote of ‘Oh, here’s a guy who hasn’t used it.’ Milton: Yeah, I like it. See, again it’s confounding expectations, isn’t it? George: Yeah, I had a fake show where I pretended to get drunk on my podcast. And people wrote in, you know, disappointed? You know, that I had let them down? Either teetotalers or not, they were like ‘Oh, man…’ Those who thought it was real – I mean, I guess it was convincing enough for some people to think it was real. Milton: ‘Oh. Man I. Am. So. Drunkk. Todaii…’ George: *laughs* Yeah, um… Milton: I’m going to have to hear it… [As referenced in episode #62 of the Geologic Podcast] George: Oh, okay, it’s the shotcast? So much, that my dad called me up to check if I was okay! Which was funny! *laughs* Because I thought it was pretty obvious that it was fake! Milton: Wow. Maybe you’re connected to that state, you have access to that… George: It’s interesting that you’re hearing that with that song, that you’re hearing a kind of trippy… Milton: Well, yeah, it was a kind of… it was a forced moment because I wanted to talk about that. But it does have that kind of… George: Mmm hmm, it’s cool! Milton: It has got that sort of openness… that kind of monkey-stuff? George: Mmm hmm, yeah.

35
Milton: I don’t know if you’re with me with that. George: Oh, it’s a fun, a purely fun… song. Milton: Are the lyrics… you know, a tribute to teachers or any teachers in particular? George: … Milton: Or the act of learning? George: … it has become that, it has become the idea of revelation? Which could be a religious one, it could be one realising that the Pythagorean theorem works? It started as a… a personal tribute? But over time, as circumstances changed, it morphed into something that was more about discovery. And the, how all of a sudden your life can change with a piece of knowledge. And your perception can change with that piece of knowledge. Milton: What summarises that – that one line – ‘I never knew how much I never knew’. George: yeah. Yeah. Which is the smarter you get, the dumber you get? You know, when you finish high school, you know everything, and by the time you get your doctorate, you realise that you know nothing? I like that a lot – and that just becomes truer and truer every day… Milton: And it never changes! I was listening to a podcast about magnetism and suddenly another dimension of the world just splinters outwards… George: Yeah, and it was a fun, that was another one of just – okay, here’s the concept that just hit me of ‘Oooh! These are things I never knew until I, you know, realised… Whatever X is’, that, you know, that I’m in love, or how magnetism works, or that, you know, E does equal MC2. And the couplets were just little fun writing challenges of ‘How do you keep it interesting?’

HAI YOOKITO ‘YA

Milton: Can we move onto “Hai Yookito ‘Ya”? George: *laughs* Yes! That’s very good! Milton: Where’s the title come from? George: Um, I don’t know if you’re aware, but my name in Ukrainian, my nickname in Ukrainian is Uki. Milton: Uki! George: Yeah, so it’s ‘Uri’, which is George, but nobody ever calls me that; no one’s ever called me that from when I was three years old, everybody always called me Uki. So whenever my mom calls and leaves a message on my answering machine, she says ‘Hi Uki’, which is ‘Hello, George’ - ‘To ya’, which is ‘it’s me’.

36
So, “Hai Yookito ‘Ya” is ‘Hi George, it’s me, it’s your mom.’ There was one day she left kind of three or four messages in a row, and I was fast-forwarding through them and all I heard was ‘Hai Yookito ‘Ya! Hai Yookito ‘Ya! Hai Yookito ‘Ya!’ and I thought ‘Oooh! That kind of sounds like a really cool Meters type of title, sort of like… Milton: I was going to say The Meters! George: Sort of like “Look-Ka Py Py” or “Cissy Strut” or something like that. Milton: Isn’t it weird if you listen back to your messages, the same people saying, and I’m sure I do the same – they leave the exact inflection: ‘Hi Milton, it’s Alex! Hi Milton, it’s Alex!’ - exact same! I mean, what we think is natural and normal and off-the-cuff is … um, mechanical? George: Yeah, it’s like you insert response ‘A’ – phone response ‘A’ and you hit the button and it’s ‘Hey, it’s me! Hey, it’s me! Hey, it’s me!’ Milton: *laughs* George: Yeah! It’s so fascinating! Milton: It’s so funny because I’ve got some from my mum and it’s just the same, exactly the same, with the same pause and inflections, the slightly disappointed tone… George: Yeah, I just played them in a row and it was just hilarious to me that, yeah, the randomness is just not random at all! It’s quite selected, obviously, so duplicated every single time. So I thought that was just a great little title and it fit the vibe of the… Milton: I’ve got it written here ‘Reminds me a little bit of The Meters…’ so there you go George: Yeah, that’s sort of what I was shooting for, and the coolest thing, the solo… Milton: Kazoo-like synth? George: Yeah, it’s actually Slau’s voice, he’s… I asked him to do a keyboard solo, I wanted a kind of a Moog solo-y thing. And he said ‘Okay, give me some time.’ So I came back in, you know, a couple days later and he said ‘How’s this?’ And what he did was slow the track down, sang, falsetto, at half-speed sang a solo – double-tracked it, I believe put it up to regular tempo… auto-tuned it and put some effects on it? And modified it just at the end, we extended it just a little bit… but uh, we ended up calling it… We didn’t know the ‘Slauthnsizer’, or the ‘DX Slauvn’? Milton: The Sloog! George: …you know his name is Jery Halatyn, is his American name, so it ended up being called the ‘Jerymin’. Milton: Ah! George: So, yes. Yes. The Jerymin Solo!

37

Milton: So, that slow-motion corrected pitch is Slau? George: Yes! Chopped up, pitch-corrected – you know, a cool use of pitch-correction. Um, auto-tuned, to make it sound like a weird outer-space Moog thing. Milton: Awesome! Insert track! George: Exactly. Milton: Well, let’s talk about Slau a little bit. I mean, you have a long standing working relationship with him. George: Yeah. Milton: I guess in the spirit of the “Ms Information” track, where you wish you had said things at the moment – why don’t you take the moment to say something about Slau now? George: Yeah sure, um, any recorded material whatsoever, or the recorded material I would have? Would probably be of unbelievably poorer quality than what it is – I mean, his diligence and his kindness and his talent and all of the stuff, I try to say as much as I possibly can, which is so unrepresentational of how talented and generous he is. I mean, he is a great co-producer, he always has brilliant ideas, his mastery as a studio technician and coupled with the fact that he’s a fantastic musician and eminently kind and generous with his time – and he’s always open to my weird suggestions and my weird ideas… and he’s never one to think, like, ‘Hmm, that’s not going to work,’ His initial response is ‘How would that work? Maybe it won’t, maybe it will…’ and there’s an openness to it which is so great and it provides… I think I provide for him an opportunity to, you know, have a weird funk tune that goes into… choirs… Milton: I guess he doesn’t have that… George: Yes, most of his clientele does not provide him with the opportunity to experiment and do weird stuff, because I’m just as open – you know, he’ll look at me and say ‘What if we suspend you upside down in a tank of Piranha fish?’ - you know, and I’ll go ‘Yeah, cool!” Milton: And later we can go to the studio! George: *laughs* Right, you know! So it’s, I think it’s just a mutual opportunity for experimentation which is very fun and beneficial and most of his clients are very straightforward and kind of traditional in what their needs are. Milton: Right, right. George: ‘There’s the guitar sound, let’s move,’ whereas I’m like ‘How do we make this sound as if it’s backwards, and from the eighteenth century?’ Milton: *laughs* George: And then he has to come up with some cool way to do that! So I think that he enjoys it from that aspect – or else he just blatantly lies and he’s just very nice about it…

38

Milton: There must be something in it for him, surely! George: Yeah, I think, he does enjoy playing examples to clients, to friends, to other studios, you know, co-studio partners where he’ll say ‘Check this out, tracks of me and my client singing, you know, and we reversed the reverb here and look at what happened here…’ – his idea was to do this and I suggested this and here it is. And at the same time, I’m so unbelievably fortunate that he is into doing it and looks forward to working with such genuine enthusiasm – and there’s plenty of enthusiastic people who want to do work. But when you get that enthusiasm coupled with mastery – it’s priceless, it’s absolutely priceless. So, I’m very fortunate.

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN

Milton: So, um “Where Have You Been?” Tell me! George: *laughs* Milton: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s a sort of… 90s alt rock? George: Uh hmm. Milton: And I’ve never heard it quite like this before… is that a fair comment? George: Yeah, I think so, this is my, um, I wanted… we mentioned it briefly, the one guitar, one bass, a real three-piece. How do you make that interesting and not have to rely on distortion for power or for impact? And so, the combination of, you know, here’s another example of a Major 7 chord, the thing starts… the verse has a D Major 7 chord and the outlining in kind of a cool way. So what’s happening is that each part is independent of the other, but like cogs in a wheel working together in a fun way. So it’s just a lot of fun to play; the bass line has this ‘boo-doobeep-do-boo-doo boop doop doop ahhh’ and the guitar’s just chunking out ‘chtkata-chtkatachtkata…’ those two bits kind of fit together nicely and the bass is doing an interesting harmonic outlining that a bass doesn’t normally do in a context of a power trio like that. Um, so it was just a fun experiment and again, the idea of like – like “Never Knew”, this was kind of a realisation that… uh… where has this information been, where has this revelation been all this time? Milton: So is there a specific thing to which this alludes? George: … yeah, again, it’s a… relationship-circumstances that eventually changed, which also led to a subtle lyrical change… um, but still, tension, and wanting to … in a more general term, in a more general sense. Where has this information, where have you been, whether ‘you’ is a person or if ‘you’ as an idea – is up to the listener. But um, there are specific examples in the lyrics that deal with sort of, um, personal

39
experience, but I think it’s more of a general idea that this could be … it’s funny in a certain way, this is almost like a religious revelation song… of like, finding… Milton: An epiphany. George: Yeah! Milton: Where have you been – another stylistic twist – do you try to spread them out? George: Somewhat, somewhat? Yeah, and it’s sort of what I might happen to hear, you know, that day, you know, too. This one wrote itself very quickly – and it just seemed to lend itself to the trio format. There’s also a thing that happened in this – I always wanted to have a song where there’s a key-change, but the melody stays the same. Milton: Ah ha… so where does the key move? George: Well, we go from E to A… we’re in D and the choruses are kind of in A… ‘Da da da daaaaa’ – which is the melody, ‘Where have you been,’ So after the kind of bridge section, um, it goes ‘Where have you been,’ and now we’re in E up to E over with the third in the bass to a C Major 7… Milton: Right. George: …and then it goes same melody, but now we’re in an A with a third in the bass and an F Major 7. Melody works over those same chord changes. I don’t even know if it’s a key change, really, but the chords change. Um… Milton: Right. Kind of like that blues thing, where you have the same melody going over 1, 4 and 5 and you flex it differently. So the power… George: Exactly, exactly, yeah, but I always thought it be cool – I mean, that portion of the tune kind of calls for a modulation, sort of… it’s a big modulation, it’s a fourth and it jumps up. To have that same melody work over those different chords – I guess it’s kind of a bluesy structure… Milton: But not in the same way, but when you’re observing a melody in a different harmonic context… it’s the same thing… George: Right, right, I always like that thing – the fake modulation? Where at some point in the song you’ve actually kind of gone down? And so the modulation happens in the traditional place where the modulation is, you’re actually back in the original key? Milton: Umm hmm. George: I’ve always liked that. That happens in Interrobang a couple of times, and this is sort of an example of an uplifting thing but we’re back in the original key. Milton: And it’s a magic trick, isn’t it? And again it’s a little bit of a magic trick, because when you’re attention is away from that moment where you expect the modulation to be, you slip it in at an innocuous point. George: Yeah. Right.

40

Milton: Only to reveal their card later! George: Right. In ‘Ya Famous?’ I do that – where you get to the final chorus, and there’s this modulation – because the final chorus is in G and we modulate to B flat, but every chorus has been in B flat, except for that sort of penultimate one. Milton: I see. George: That somehow we got into G. Again, it’s a little trick of like: ‘Oh, and we’re up! And finally we’re going to ride it out!’ and a musician friend of mine wrote and he was like ‘You bastard! You were back in B flat! How did that happen??’ and it’s just cool and yay that he caught it! Milton: Very nice!

ONE HYPNOPOMIC JERK Milton: Now, ‘One Hypnopomic Jerk…’ George: Yes… Milton: Hypnopompic is a state of wakening, isn’t it, and hypnagogic is falling asleep? Have I got that right way around? George: I, I thought it was the other way, but I’m not even sure; I think that hypnopomic is falling asleep and hypnagogic is waking up? Did you check? [EDITOR’S COMMENT – MILTON HAS IT CORRECT] 30.55 Milton: I didn’t check, but I knew from my studying; I was really into dreams when I was younger, so I know that when… okay! George: *laughs* Well, either way, I love the idea that… Milton: It’s that moment where just before you go to sleep, you have that little jerk like that, an evolutionary vestige of falling out of the tree? George: That’s the thing! I love that, that idea, that little thing happens as you’re falling asleep might possibly be your monkey-bits desperately grasping onto the branch so you don’t fall down into the lion’s den! I love that! Milton: Like hiccupping is a fish remnant? I mean, I, I don’t know if that’s an urban myth, I don’t understand why that happens, I don’t know how behaviour like that passes down through multiple generations… but then, I’m not paid to… George: Well, wouldn’t it be, I mean, with the tree thing – let’s say, it’s some weird mutation that randomly you grab, you feel like you’re falling, you grab onto stuff… Milton: So it’s a behavioural reflect that is physiological and not decided.

41

George: Right! But those that have that, would instinctively grab the tree and not become prey and pass their genes on. Isn’t that great?!? I mean, that’s so cool, just that, I love that as this remnant of evolutionary randomness… is still within us, lying with us obviously in our non-tree based beds. Um, you still feel like you’re falling down the stairs and will grab whatever is close to hand. That, plus I like the slightly double-entendre that someone who does that… could be seen as a hypnopomic jerk… because we all, lots of people have probably had experiences of being in bed with someone who tends to… flail! *laughs* Milton: I try to get several of them at once… George: Yes, yes, preferably wearing roller skates or something. Milton: Flailing together. George: Yeah, this, you know, I like that thing… so it’s sort of, it’s a dream-like kind of song, there’s an epic dreamy quality to it, I think - or a story-type thing where there are references but all of a sudden you might be in your kitchen but then you’re in the middle of a field holding the same cup of coffee – so there’s drastic changes and yet there’s a familiarity throughout the entire piece… Milton: And part of that… um… sort of complexity and simplicity is in the use of polymetricism, where … there’s two meters, sort of odd meters going on, you can actually run them at the same time, so you’re basically running two fields simultaneously. George: Right, right, that kind of mathematical – we always call it the ‘ping-pong guitars’ – that is something sort of… inherent in gamelan music and it’s something Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew are doing in their 1980s Crimson line-up… Milton: … it’s very Steve Reich… George: Steve Reich, exactly, yeah. And, I could sit with a multi-track recorder and do pingpong guitar parts for days and be happy as any sort of crustacean you could imagine! Milton: Yeah, me too. George: Um, it’s just so much fun, because you get these unbelievably cool patterns… Milton: And things emerge, don’t they, you get this… intelligence emerges out of this very simple co-existence… George: Yeah, right! So, in this particular one, there’s a couple of different movements - we have 9 going up against 7 and 5 – um, using the same pitches, this D Minor outline of a chord. But one part is ‘Bah da boop dah doop, bah da boop dah doop…’which is sort of in 7 and there’s another that’s in 9 against that. And there’s this other section where this triplet feel… across the bar lines as divided up… Milton: …and is one of those guitars backwards of those two triplets? It sounds like… ‘soop soop…’ George: Yes, we added... that was in post, we took each note that was played by the pairs of guitars and flipped it, as well as kept its tail. So you get that ‘zwep woo’ – so you get the

42
backwards and the forwards kind of happening within a single pass. Milton: So what you have is two concurrent meters… going on as well as these triplets against that? George: Right, the triplets are divided between two guitars – again, this was just kind of a fun… I wanted to try this across bar-lines, so your… your pulse, your implied pulse was in seven. So this quarter note is in seven… *clicks* Against that you have a triplet of ‘dah, ndah, n-dah, n-dah, n-dah…’ – which only lines up every day and a half, down the road! Milton: So…people might be able to visualise this by thinking that each musical unit is a brick of a certain length. So if you lay them end to end - so let’s say the red bricks are seven inches long and the, uh, blue bricks are three – they’re going to start falling out of phase with each other and line up… George: Right. The end points will match. Milton: …at their lowest common denominator. So what you hear is this sort of slipping of two musics, two concurrent musics and it’s a wonderful experience. George: Yeah, it’s to not know where the hell the downbeat is, is very fun for me, ss a listener. Milton: Because your brain kind of hooks onto one and it gets carried down and dropped onto the other one. Do you… George: Right. Milton: …hear them together? Do you personally… Can you feel something five and three and two and seven at the same time? George: It depends, yeah, I think I’ve gotten very familiar with five and seven – sometimes a three against that can be difficult, because the partials are almost too small? But I… Milton: I mean in terms of meters as opposed to subdivisions? George: Oh yeah, right, I can feel… I know when I was doing the third guitar part… when... the bass in this one section of ‘Hypnopomic Jerk’, the bass is playing in eight, but the two drum sets are playing in seven? So I’m thinking of it seven, even though the bass is delaying one-eighth for a down beat, every sort of bar… Milton: So you choose one master sort of time…? George: Yeah, I’m hearing that seven, that sort of ‘gatta-gang gatta-gang, gang gang gang…’ – so that to me in my essence, that’s in the core – so I can play anything against that… Milton: I can see… George: You know, whatever it is, that, I’m so used to that intrinsic seven. Milton: I’ve been meaning to ask – these odd meters – is it originally from your Ukrainian folk past?

43

George: No, no, no it’s from Rush. That’s from Rush and from Yes. *laughs* And, yeah, no, it’s the complete opposite. No, Ukes don’t do that kind of stuff, you can get that kind of Bulgarian odd meter thing? Milton: It’s a Greek thing, that’s why… George: Okay, yeah, right, Ukes don’t do that, Ukrainian and Russian and some of those Eastern European stuff, we don’t really have that… Milton: I thought it was Bulgarian, I thought it might have Bulgarian, but obviously not. It’s very much four-four then? George: Uh hmm. Duple / triple for the most part. No, it’s “Tom Sawyer”… and, who knows, what else? Like “Changes”. When I first figured out “Changes” of 90215, the fact that it was as compound, multi… you know, ‘gunk-gunk-gunk-gunk-gunk-ka-dunk-ka-dunk…’ – that was like ‘OOOH!’ It was like finding, you know… Milton: Again, it’s one of those revelations – “I Never Knew…” George: Absolutely! Absolutely, it’s one of those ‘Ooh, you’re allowed to do that?’ You’re allowed to do that!! Milton: It’s amazing, people get into this – again, it’s like discovering the modes… George: Yeah! Milton: …it’s just like another discovery of magnetism. George: And I’m always, I’m always fascinated by people that aren’t hip to what’s going on what they hear? So when I play “Hypnopomic Jerk” to someone who has some appreciation of music but has no idea of what an odd meter is, I always… I’m always curious as to ‘What are you connecting with? What are you… what are you latching onto, is the sound disjointed?’ Milton: … this is my question earlier, about sophistication and losing an audience, because again – you don’t pull back from those things, you don’t choose to go “Oh no, we’ve gone too much in seven – let’s give them back… something in four.’ George: Right, and yet – sometimes the cool thing is not even let someone realise that an odd time… Milton: Sure… George: I mean, my favourite, you mentioned Sting’s “Seven Days” – it’s a great song that people may sing along with and they might not realise it’s in five? For the most part people won’t realise it’s in five, or “Take Five” or “Money” by Pink Floyd or whatever it is – the really successful odd time songs… Like Bruford says, the art is to hide the art. ‘Oh, you know, this song is in seven! Cool!’ – you know, it’s easy to make something sound odd, that’s easy! Milton: It’s very easy to sound complicated.

44

George: Right, right! It’s difficult to have a song you can dance to, and say ‘You know what? This is in seven or this is in thirteen,’ you know? “Turn It On Again” by Genesis is a great thing – ‘Do you realise these verses are in thirteen? What?!? Oh great, okay, cool!’ I love that kind of stuff!

SMALL COMFORT

Milton: So, “Small Comfort” – again, a very emotional and honest tune. Musically, you’ve mentioned Sting – when it opens up into the chorus, there’s something about that harmony feel of, like, that later sophisticated pop-jazz Sting thing… George: Mmm. Milton: And I, I’m sorry to make comparisons, I’m just trying to put… George: Oh, no! *laughs* You may compare me to Sting as much as you want! Milton: Putting it into context, I mean it’s nice that – I think it’s the truly original stuff draws upon lots of influences, so I think it’s interesting where stuff comes from, you know? George: Again, just like your Duran Duran thing, you’re pretty much spot on – this song was inspired by a Sting tune, at least the structure of the verses were… there’s a Sting tune, “Mad About You”, that’s off the Soul Cages record. And that’s a cool thing because it has that minor chord and the bass is moving around this… so you have this C Minor chord with just the C in the bass… and then, uh, like a G Sharp in the bass… an A in the bass and it just has this cool motion to it. And I just figured that song out and ‘Oh, that’s kind of neat…’ Milton: Yep. So, er, musically, you’ll get these moments where you’ll get this fixed upper structure and then bass lines will move against it; again, looking at the same thing from different angles. George: Right, right. Which then, yeah, then changes the harmonic character of what’s happening… Milton: The relationship with the bass, which kind of has some foundation to the listener… George: Right! Milton: Then the same notes sound different. George: So, that’s where this thing started, we’re in D Minor, and again that kind of motion that sort of pseudo-tritone third kind of motion… where you go from a D in the bass over D Minor to… a B flat, to B and then we’re into a cool kind of sixth chord… it just had a nice character to it. Milton: They sound the same but they change character as the bassline moves. George: Right, right – and it had a plaintive quality, which is what I was going for…

45

Milton: …and it’s perfect, and that’s enhanced by the cello, I guess? George: Oh yes! Again, that just adds a whole other colour for me – to have a – I’ve had strings on an album before, on Coelacanth. But this was just this own great thing – Peter, both of you guys, just knocked it out of the park. It was subtle, but moving and interesting and fun for us for us to manipulate too, to take what you guys gave us… Milton: Well, it’s amazing to live in a life where… time, where you can have that idea and literally – we had an hour and we just did it. You know? Set up mikes and… George: Oh! For the most casual of comments that Slau made: ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have Peter play on this?’ You know? It was literally just a tossed off comment – wouldn’t it be nice? And ten years ago, it would have remained a ‘Wouldn’t it be nice?’ But now… Milton: Yep. George: Now, I think it was one… what, I think, a Tweet? And then a phone call and then an email and then – it’s done! Milton: It’s on a track and it’s out!! George: And thanks to you guys, for your generosity, with your time too Milton: Well, it was a pleasure, well, my pleasure. Ask Peter! *laughs* George: *laughs* It’s amazing. Milton: No, it was great, and what we did, we did one take, all the way through – and doubled up the first take with the second – so… that’s the sort of thing, simple. George: Yeah. It’s perfect and it added just that balance – again, that sentimentality, but not syrupy? It’s very easy to draw the tears out with strings. You know, you can do that… Milton: Pull them out… George: …but I think here it’s done with that, in just a real way. Milton: Well, Slau mixes it really nicely, not really up-front, it’s felt rather than heard. George: Umm hmm, umm hmm. Milton: And what I like in this tune is the – talking musically now – you occasionally drop the beat or… I think, add one, just before it goes into a chorus? I feel it works with the lyrics again, it’s the use of sophistication, just to make a tune work, as opposed to it for its own sake. George: Right, and going to that thing to, you know, in that section – what’s happening harmonically is a clichéd kind of thing – it’s an A, A chord with a descending baseline – you reference that back to The Beatles, kind of thing, it’s been done a billion times. A, G in the bass, F Sharp in the bass, F… it’s been done a thousand times…

46
Milton: If it’s done in a minor key… it’d be “My Funny Valentine” or it’d be “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, or… George: Exactly, yeah. There’s a Led Zeppelin tune, like that, in Styx - “Suite Madame Blue”. You’ve heard it a billion times. So I thought, ‘Okay, how can we make it just a little bit different?’ and what we did, we dropped a beat, as you said – so it’s a bar of four and a bar of three, because the phrase ends, and you don’t need that extra quarter note and so we just kind of go back and that provides a tension that is appropriate for the lyrical content of the song as well. Milton: Perfect. So you use the technique to underpin sentiment or expression… George: Right. An urgency - that dropped note provides a certain urgency also. Of like, ‘We’re dealing with time and the value of time and the value of a relationship within the context of time.’ Milton: And we haven’t talked about the subject matter here, but of course, it’s about you losing your pet… George: Yes. Milton: Why do you think we feel so devastated by… the loss of a pet… I mean, I’m sure we do with loved ones, with human loved ones… but there’s something unexpectedly devastating… George: I think that with the pets… it’s this idea that you can’t quite explain to the animal what’s going on? I mean, with a loved one, a human, a wife, a father, a mother – for the most part, I mean, there’s always circumstances where this wouldn’t apply, but you know, in the final moments you can say your goodbyes and you can relate and realise that this is important and this is ending – and yet with an animal, that’s just not there? The animal is looking at you and… it’s continuing to instill the same trust in you that it has its entire lifetime. And… only half the party involved understands what’s going on and I think that… is just such an emotional weight – you feel like you’re being deceptive or you’re letting them down that you just can’t let them know… Milton: You’re shouldering their… pain. George: Yeah, those were the things I wanted to relay of those moments in this song… Milton: You know, others have commented, again, it walks that line perfectly… of expression of emotion without sentimentality. George: I’m not one who buys the idea of … unconditional love between humans. I mean, there’s always a condition, there’s got to be some, something could occur that could alter the conditions – whereas, the closest we get to unconditional love is with a pet, because there is this complete trust… that… Milton: Yeah, Bridget tells this story of a friend who had a dog, a loving dog like yours, and it got hit by a… no, I don’t know if I can get through this, but I’ll try… it got hit by a car and as he tried to take the poor dog’s crumpled body, its dying body, the dog licked his hand with love.

47

George: Yeah. Yeah. Our Oscar in his final moments, even though he was sort of… um, falling apart, his insides were cancer-stricken, I remember in these final moments, walking into the room and stubbed tail just wagged and it was just urghrhhhhhh… in the middle of all this pain that he’s going through…. Milton: Just to explain – that “Small Comfort” is that he doesn’t have to live without you… and that you can shoulder that pain. George: That is the essence of what the song is about – how does that moment, how does someone who does not believe in an afterlife? What do you latch onto? And what can you… appreciate or, what makes you …move on? Not that you forget or anything… Milton: Yep, it’s a draw that, you know - rather than making up a comfort, it is a real one, the dog’s last moments were with you. George: Yeah, for him, he didn’t know what was going on and for him, he was really tired and he was going to shut his eyes, and when he opened his eyes, he’d maybe go for a walk. And that’s what I latched onto. Not the idea of puppy heaven, not the idea of a rainbow bridge or that I’d see him again some day. But that in his final moments, his eternity is that last second of ‘I’ll see you guys in a minute.’ Milton: Yeah. George: And yeah, meah! It’s a small comfort, but it’s all we got. You know, so I am going to hold onto it. Milton: And again, in the whole spirit of the album, it’s those moments that matter and it’s all we have. George: Right, right. And they’re real. That’s the thing, that those are the moments – I mean, there’s the lines: ‘I have no need for heaven / Or some eternal bluff / What I prefer is real / And what we had here was enough.’ We don’t need some eternal heaven dog-park. Because what we have is real, and it’s never enough but it has to be! So that’s what we hang onto! Milton: Wow. George: WAHHAHH!! Milton: Well, Oscar! You know, what Bridget and I are like with Monkey – I mean it’s disgraceful… George: *laughs* Milton: …but I mean, the song ends, you don’t say that you love him. Is it that time runs out? Or did you want to kill the cliché? Why didn’t you… George: Again, a combination. Years ago, I told myself or promised myself that I would

48
never use the word ‘love’ in a song. For whatever reason, it’s the most used word - apart from ‘the’ or whatever – the most used word in songwriting, so… like the not-drinking, it was sort of a challenge. Can I write songs that are emotional, but don’t involve that – my favourite love songs don’t have the word ‘love’ in them. Um… Milton: It’s an undercurrent, not… George: Right, right! It’s too easy. But here is something that I really wanted to say that to him, because I did, in every meaning of the word as much as one can. But I like the… when that happens, and I’ve witnessed people listening to the song, and it ends… and people’s eyes just open… Milton: It ends in a way, it’s not like the song – not like the chord dies out naturally and you’ve chosen not to say the last word. It ends as if there’s a glitch on the track, or if it’s been edited incorrectly. George: Yes. It sounds like an error. Milton: It’s a wonderful use of technology, because it grabs your attention more than a fade out does now. George: Absolutely. And it’s using an advantage, the media that we have now, as you said, the technology. This is something I wanted to have, a little final – just punch. To the gut, to emphasise it’s importance. And to everyone who has heard this thing, it just ends and it feels like it’s a mistake – which is what we feel! When we go through that! Milton: Which is exactly what you want to convey. Perfect. George: So, weehh! *laughs*

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY

Milton: Your last tune is like a little coda – it reminds me of “Your Majesty”, you know, on Abbey Road? You know what I mean? George: Yes, of course! Milton: It’s not flippant like that, but it’s like a tonic, after that journey, after “Small Comfort”, it’s the end of the arc. George: Absolutely. Milton: This is a wonderful, sort of - it’s like in those old movies, it’s just pure exuberance. As a tonic - like a return to a life… I don’t know if I’m explaining myself well. George: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is! Because – it’s very tempting to end… And I think my initial idea was to end the album with just that abruptness. But that would be counter to what I think most of the other tracks on the album were about, which is this idea that we have to deal with this stuff we have to deal with. And in the dealing with it, we celebrate our potential, our

49
existence, our ability, our capabilities, whatever. So, as a dessert – as a coda, as you say, as an epilogue - it is the complete opposite of “Small Comfort”, the sentiment of “Small Comfort”. And yet it’s connected to, in its exuberant and ironically, I do use the word ‘love’! Right there, I break my own rule at the end of the album. Milton: Oh right! Of course, it reminds me – of course it’s Big Band music, but it is really of that “Singing in the Rain” sort of… George: Yeah. Milton: Kind of an acceptance of life amidst the chaos and pain of it. George: Right! Yeah, you want to see Gene Kelly singing this, while skydiving or something like that *laughs* And that’s what it is. And I hope at the end of this seventy-minute journey, you do, it does end with a smile. And it does… reiterate this idea that ‘Yes – everything alive will die someday. And yet, we have the moments that we have right now, to do everything we possibly can to sort of… enjoy and take advantage of, you know - the fact that you exist and that you can say “Happy Birthday”’! You know, philosophically that song could be one lover singing to another; it could be a father singing to a daughter. There’s enough… there’s not necessarily a romantic message. So, part of me sees that, as you know, as a father singing to his progeny. ‘Happy birthday – and you will continue,’ – and that is our idea of eternity and… extending our essences through our work, through our family, through our legacy or whatever it is. It does hopefully end on a positive note, fun, upbeat thing – and it’s just a balls-out fun tune and the horns just sound phenomenal. Milton: Great arrangement by Stephen Primatic... George: Yeah, Steve Primatic, he just knocked it out of the park – you know, I asked him for a five-horn arrangement and he gave me one for sixteen. Standard Primatic fashion… Milton: And it’s perfect, it’s flawless… George: Oh, it’s just great… so.

CONCLUSION: Milton: So, that’s the album: ‘An evil scientist wipes the memory and the existence of all these tracks from you – but allows you to keep one. Which of these tunes do you keep?’ George: Wow…. Milton: He’s evil – but he’s not without mercy. George: *laughs* Gosh… uh… uh… Ohhh… either… Oh god! Milton: No ‘either’!

50
George: …either… *laughs* Milton: He’s not playing with you, man! George: I know!! …Maybe “Everything Alive Must Die”, I think? If I have a legacy song? The one that most encapsulates maybe my… compositional style and my… philosophical style and my lyrical style? Um… probably that one…? Milton: Awesome. The rest have gone. *KZIP!* George: *laughs* *Voooop!* Milton: There we go. George: That’s a great question. [END – 2 hours, 10 min, 30 sec.]

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful