Thursday, January 2, 2014


(First of a ten-part series on The Unsinkable Nino Blankenship)

Laugh, the opener to our first album, owes much of its sound and style to 1970s yacht rock. It's not quite a Purdie Shuffle kind of beat, but it hearkens back to certain smooth tunes of that era (Chuck E's In Love, Smoke On A Distant Fire) that swing just a bit. And the Rhodes piano drives everything in here - its rounded tone, its inherently clean, clear sound.

Maybe it's that instrument choice that informs Laugh with a bit of a jazzy feel, something to counter the 70s pop tendencies of the tune a bit. In line with its musical inspirations, I opted to go for a muffled snare sound (like many recordings of the era) along with slightly muted toms - the beat is important, yet secondary to the melodic drive.

It's the very first song I wrote solely for Nino Blankenship (as opposed to having existed in the years before) and when I played it for the band cofounder, she was reminded of our band namesakes' walking around in a goofy suit during an Arashi concert.

Couldn't help but think the same thing myself, as jaunty as this ended up.

This was a song that took some time to get right - I had a decent Rhodes piano take early on in April, but accidentally erased the first few bars and rerecorded the whole thing again a few days later. Then came the drum track...which was probably a 50-or-60-take thing to get right. I was playing the bass drum part somewhat intricately for the stanzas and it dragged everything down, until a week after my initial attempts, I decided instead for a snare ghost note to fill up the space - more successful, with much better flow.

The bass track ended up requiring over 70 takes to get down, just due to simple mistakes here and there. I came up with the counter-riff early in the process but just didn't have it solid until an early-morning session produced what ended up on the final recording.

All that for about three minutes of audio.


I remember coming up with the first part of the song in the shower:

Everybody laugh at me, and I won't be the slightest bit perturbed When you react, I'm happy, it's silence that leaves me there disturbed

In just about every way, that couplet is the linchpin upon which the rest of Laugh anchors off. It's a performance philosophy. It's going out there and sticking to your creative principles, even when they aren't always understood by everyone else.

That shouldn't be mistaken for indifference towards the crowd, so much as...a declaration that we in this band are who we are, and we can only represent ourselves as such. I would say it most strongly about myself but it's applicable to just about all of our material and to the times we've played in front of people.


  1. This makes me really want to have some sort of a musical talent. Great post! You should blog more often xx

    1. aw thanks :) Yeah, I'm really excited to see where this all will go...especially when I talk about the oldest song in our repertoire tomorrow :D