I have to give credit where it’s due, so kudos to the Ack for coming up with the concept for these “Deeper Into Music” posts, where we ask artists to give us a little window into their creative process with a little song-by-song breakdown of their latest release. For someone like me, who has as much musical talent & ability as your average box of Saltines, I find the details around the creation of music fascinating, and based on the positive response these posts have gotten, it seems some of you agree.
Today then, we’re pleased to present our latest episode of Deeper Into Music, which features Haligonian duo Cursed Arrows and a discussion of their new album The Madness of Crowds, which is available as a free download, for a limited time, starting at some point today. So before we go any further here I’d suggest you go and check that link back there to get yourself a copy of a great record that mixes equal parts even-keeled observation of the world around us, with gritty, bluesy rock & roll.
Right then, without furter ado, here’s Jack E Stanley (1/2 of Cursed Arrows, Ry N Stanley being the other) describing the making of their new album The Madness of Crowds.
The Madness Of Crowds
Written by Jack E alone on acoustic guitar, in the wake of a massive heat wave and earthquake in Ontario, and a certain Gulf oil spill. The most lyric-heavy song on the album and curiously, the only song whose lyrics I cannot find written down anywhere. Rooted more in poetry in music, the words are ingrained in my psyche. A few chords and some distortion make it music. I play drums and second guitar on the recording. Ry N makes it growl.
Monopoly On Violence
A Ry N Stanley original. An anti-war song for the masses, written acoustically in a park in the dead of summer 2010. We had no place to practice but our two-room apartment, so city parks were our havens. I remember not knowing what sort of rhythm to contribute to this song, as I was so smitten with the towering guitar and singing I nearly forgot all about drums. The drumming was improvised in the hours leading up to recording.
Death Rattle Blues
This one was created in what I will refer to as our “usual” way – picking up our instruments and improvising together in a dingy basement. Ry N came up with the riff and the drums were second nature. I wrote the lyrics in one fell swoop, sitting on the crumbling floor of the Ford Plant (Brantford, Ontario’s finest – and now defunct – all-ages venue) before a show. The words were heavily inspired by the murder of Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus a few years ago…and by the fact that we had just moved into a dead man’s apartment.
Strip Joint Roundabout
Where there once was a peeler bar by a bridge in my hometown now stands a freshly-paved roundabout. This song is a character study of local personalities, real and imagined. The crux of the lyrics, “Riding by on a bike, he said ‘Jesus is the Lord, not Neil Young!” stems from an encounter Ry N had with a swerving cyclist while walking to his office job. Based around two simply intertwining guitar parts.
I also recall writing the lyrics for this song in one sitting, and the music likely came about as an antidote to my strung-up day job. Thoughts and memories of being on the road, wanting to be on the road, and eternally longing for one another seemed to fixate themselves on my simple little chords. What is most striking about this song is my willingness to belt out a bluesy ballad, and the tempo and mood change at the finale.
Another Ry N song. Blues tuning and lyrical head-shaking at a populace so easily fooled. His insane guitar soloing is the star of this one. I could do little to contain my hyperactive drum riffs when we jammed this song out in our hundred-year-old basement. Definitely one of the most enjoyable songs to play live; pure bombastic rock and roll.
The oldest song, most tried and tested live, and the one closest to our hearts. Written in our basement in the autumn of 2009, while the neighbours complained, with invisible entities poking cold fingers into our backs. We saw Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr live around that time, and attended the Toronto Film Festival premiere of The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights. Another of our favourite songs to play live – we become possessed. We sing an intimate duet over gentle guitar, and it feels like taking a deep breath before diving back in.
The lone song on the album that features Jack E on guitars and Ry N on drums. The only song on this album that was written in Halifax, shortly after we uprooted ourselves permanently and found our mental and spiritual focus shift and intensify. This is my baby; my gift to all creatures. It brings the album to a close on an otherworldly, but distinctly hopeful note.
Humans no longer human
I will take your suffering
I will give only light.
- Jack E Stanley