Thursday, January 27, 2011
I haven't been keeping up with the Story Behind the Song series very well, have I? Today's post is about the title track off our new album Where I'm Found.
The song "Where I'm Found" has been around for a few years so I feel like there are a lot of stories to tell about it. The only part I had in writing the song was naming it -- and perhaps providing a mild critique of the lyrics. I love naming songs and albums and I blame Switchfoot for that. I have always enjoyed the creative, intriguing names Switchfoot gives their songs and albums. "Where I'm Found" doesn't quite meet their standard, but I did my best.
I believe it was Ginny Owens who once said that you should never stop writing a song. Always be willing to revise it if a better idea comes to you. "Where I'm Found" should be the poster child for that statement! Andrew and Samantha (Sam), wrote this song back in '07. Andrew wrote the music on an acoustic guitar using an alternate tuning. In fact, I think this was the first song we've written using an alternate tuning (besides standard down a half-step, which doesn't really count). The tuning on the guitar gives the chord progression a big sound with a sad, beautiful melody running though it. And Sam's lyrics totally fit it. The song is really a lament and a prayer. It is a lamentation over our propensity to wander from God's way. And it is a prayer that God would let His love be where we're found.
When this song was first written, we had some serious issues with the tempo and it tended to be too wordy. It was one of those deals where we thought we had a really good song on our hands, but it somehow wasn't quite there yet. We played the song at our concerts with a slightly awkward tempo change and it always felt just a bit too long.
In October 2007, we attended a weekend-long music conference in Tampa called Ignition. Part of the conference was a songwriting class where they had members of the class come up on stage and play one of their songs. Then the audience and industry executives would discuss the song's high and low points. Andrew played "Where I'm Found" for this class. We intentionally chose that song knowing it wasn't our best. We knew it needed a little work and we wanted the opinions of the industry "big shots". Over all, "Where I'm Found" stood up pretty well. Actually, some of the comments were better than we expected. But the problems we had with it didn't go unnoticed. The tempo issue was mentioned as well as the song feeling too long and wordy. Unfortunately, no one had any idea what part we should cut. So for over two more years we played the song as it was, not knowing what to do differently.
At the end of '09, we had a lot of success on radio with our Christmas single "Angels We Have Heard On High". So at the beginning of 2010 we decided we should record a radio single to follow up with. We felt that "Where I'm Found" would be our most commercial song to fit the AC radio format. It wasn't until we began recording the song that Andrew had a breakthrough. He suggested that we cut the bridge of "Where I'm Found" out completely. Music and lyrics. And instead replace it with a guitar solo played over the chorus chord progression. After re-evaluating the bridge lyrics, we realized that they weren't necessary to communicate the message of the song. And musically, a guitar solo would accomplish the same thing the bridge had. Even though the song isn't really any shorter than it used to be, at 3 minutes 46 seconds it fits right in with any other song on the radio. The omitted lyrics and added guitar solo create more diversity and interest in the song making it feel shorter.
Early last year, we released "Where I'm Found" as a single and began sending it out to radio stations. We didn't honestly have a great deal of confidence in the track as we knew it didn't meet the quality standard of our Christmas music. But we released it anyway because it was the best we could do. One of the stations that we had a HUGE amount of support from during the Christmas season was KLTY in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. But we "knew" they wouldn't play "Where I'm Found" so we almost didn't send it to them. The music director for the station ended up surprising us by saying he would play it on a program called New Music Cafe to see how the listeners liked it, but he told us he thought it would go over better if we could record drums and strings. We told him we'd work on it some more and get the song back to him when we'd improved it. Andrew recorded drums on a borrowed kit at church and began programming synths because he didn't know how to program strings. Then we "met" Brian Gocher on Facebook. Brian is not the kind of guy that you will know by name (unless you are a die-hard liner note reader), but you've heard his work. He's worked with artists like Kutless, Newsboys, Superchick, etc. It turns out that Brian's specialty is programming. Exactly what we needed. So in April, we began working with Brian on "Where I'm Found". He co-produced the song with Andrew and programmed drums, strings, keys and other cool stuff at his studio in New Jersey. We recorded our parts here at our studio in Florida and Andrew mixed and mastered. The first time we heard "Where I'm Found" with an orchestra in it, we were totally thrilled! It has honestly been a dream of mine since we started Truth Bomb to hear our music with strings. Brian did a phenomenal job! And on top of that, Andrew learned a ton by working with Brian and was then able to program drums, strings and keys for the rest of the album himself.
So in the end, this awkward song that got mixed reviews finally grew up into a fully produced radio single and the title track of our first full-length album. Not bad, if you ask me.
P.S. You can listen to "Where I'm Found" HERE and buy the new album HERE!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Today is a pretty special day around here. It is, in fact, Truth Bomb's sixth birthday. And for some reason all day I keep writing "third" rather than "sixth". Maybe it only feels like three years? Not really. I don't know why I keep doing that. In commemoration of this special occasion here are two photos. One from "then" and the other, "now".
It's bad when your own photograph makes you laugh! In the photo from '05, Kaitie's bass was almost as big as she is! She wasn't even 12 years old yet. And Andrew was still shorter than me. He's got me beat by about a half-foot now! My "little" brother no longer.
On January 23, 2005 we played "Today" -- the first song we ever wrote -- at the end of the last service at our church. And by "last service", I literally mean it was the last service at that church, ever, before it closed. It was a sad day. And I was so nervous! My hands shook so bad I was surprised I could still play. We recorded our performance of that song on a cassette tape and that's what we used to book our next couple shows. To this day, I'm still not sure how we got any bookings!
Oddly enough, the closing of our church was the reason we decided to start a band in the first place. Andrew and I had been playing in the worship band and we had every intention of continuing. But when the church closed, we no longer had a place to play music. We were writing our own songs by then too. So we decided we'd try to play at any churches that would have us. And play we did! About every other week on average that first year. It's just like God to take a sad occasion and use it to make something good and entirely unexpected happen.