I recorded I Am Chaos quite early in the album recording process. It is one of a handful of the songs that was recorded at the house we were renting while looking for our own place. It had a terribly noisy heating system, and was near a radio station. I also was still trying to use my old MXL 990 condenser mic to record. Between my gear picking up radio signals, the elaborate cable taping I had to do to keep that mic from hissing and crackling, and the heaters kicking in, it was a really irritating situation, but somehow I did manage to capture the guitar and vocals in that house. (I did quite like my studio space there!) I did the leads and the backing vocals around the same time, and then left it for months and months and months.
The tricky-est part of this one was getting the click track just as I wanted it. It was very difficult to capture the comedic timing of the storytelling in a regimented click, but in order to add other instruments, and to mix together different takes, it’s really important to have that metronome going through the song. I spent a lot of time tinkering with the tempos in order to have the pauses and emotional swells just so. I think I did a pretty good job in the end, but this was the second toughest guitar part to capture just so, because of those pauses and tempo changes. Since I’m used to playing this live, separating the guitar and vocals for the recording added another layer of difficulty, since I’m used to being about to deliver the guitar and vocal punch lines at the same time. Recording them separately was again difficult. (In fact, I think there are some parts in the vocal where I sang the line late, but in time, so I shifted them over slightly.
It was several months later when I laid down the bass track. I had wanted horns, or woodwinds, or both in the ending section, and I had also planned to have drums, but in the end decided that it didn’t need drums, and that while horns and winds would be nice, synthesizer might be even better! I had asked my husband to play some synth as he actually has an analog synth, but he really didn’t understand what I wanted, and wasn’t sure what to do, so I decided to demonstrate by recording some lines on my guitar with a synth patch. I had only intended to have synth on the outro, but once I started recording my ‘demo’ I was really jazzed about the lines I played and not only decided to keep them in the final product, but I decided the choruses now needed synth as well. This in turn inspired my husband, and he added another layer of analog synth.
As I was recording the synth part, I increasingly felt the song needed growled vocals on that section as well. Since one of the many hats my husband wears is that of extreme metal vocalist, I got him to put down a line or two of death metal ‘I Am Chaos’ at the end.
While he was mixing the track, in the distance, I could hear him laughing and laughing and laughing. He brought me an initial mix of the song with the caveat that he thought it was great, but that it was completely ridiculous, and perhaps I would like to consider toning it down. He was right about it being completely ridiculous, but there was no way I was going to do anything to mitigate that. I think the synths and the growls and the yelling are perfect for the song, and it ends up being a really nice bridge out of ‘Shoe Shopping: A Poem’ into ‘The Dragon.’
This is certainly one of the things I’m referring to when I added the line: “All questionable decisions are my own and I stand by them.” to my production credit.