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September 6, 2010 - Week 11
We hope that you're all having an appropriately labor-less holiday, but rest assured that we've been hard at work to bring you our newest song, "Unplug." It's a funky blend of swinging beats and thumping rock choruses. We're going to ask you to sing along when we play it live, so now's a good time to start learning your part. You'll know it when you hear it.By SeanThe lyrics explore the theme of contemporary man's dependency on unnecessary technology. When I say "unnecessary" technology, I mean all of the gadgets and gizmos that we could live without...but can't live without. We, as a culture, depend on our various screens and toys to make us feel like a connected, contributing member of society. Our technology follows us to school, to social settings, and on vacations. We freak out if we can't check our emails everyday....or if we miss our favorite show on tv (and can't immediately find it streaming online). Our phones are always in our pockets. Our ears are constantly filled with sounds from various amplified sources. I don't mean to demonize this lifestyle (seeing as I am a guilty participant in the culture), but I can't help marvel at how robot-like we've let ourselves become."Unplug" by The Theory of Funkativity Verse: Should I go back to the center I can't make good decisions So I try to avoid it Does that make me selfish Don't think that I'm that clever Gone and blown a circuit Remember then forget it I am overloaded Turn on, pull another lever Am I the only one here? Clinging to each and every word Coming from the speakers What is there left to check Rerun the calculations Always the same result Transition: Can't help my programming, oh should I unplug Can't stop the gears from turning, should I unplug If I can disconnect, oh I will have won Am I thinking for myself cause that's what I want Chorus: I want to feel alive I want to have control I want to cut the wires So I can have it all Electricity is telling me Just what to do and who to be I tell my feet which way to go But they keep on ignoring me Verse: I'll try to get things together Keep track of all the data The warning lights are blinking Show me the right direction Don't know if I remember Doing this already Don't think it worked for me then Wasn't I here last year I still handle the pressure Each day it's getting stronger These prison walls around me Are slowly disappearing The signal's getting weaker I'm becoming freer I'm finally on my own Transition: Can't help my programming, oh I should unplug Can't stop the gears from turning, I should unplug If I can disconnect, oh I will have won Am I thinking for myself cause that's what I want Chorus: I want to feel alive I want to have control I want to cut the wires So I can have it all Electricity is telling me Just what to do and who to be I tell my feet which way to go But they keep on ignoring me Chorus: I want to feel alive I want to have control I want to cut the wires So I can have it all Electricity is telling me Just what to do and who to be I tell my feet which way to go But they keep on ignoring me I want to feel alive I want to have control I want to cut the wires So I can have it all Electricity is telling me Just what to do and who to be I tell my feet which way to go But they keep on ignoring me I trade 'em in to get back more Of my human qualities So I won't be a machineBy Michael"Unplug" was an extremely challenging song to piece together. I went through about ten different versions of the verse over the course of the last four days. Strange things happened as a result. It got to the point where I couldn't hear the verse objectively. All I could hear was how it related to all of the other versions I had been toying with. Chords that would have been dissonant to any fresh listener started sounding right to me. I would think I had the answer, record a take, and then wake up the next day to find that what I had recorded made no sense. On the other hand, the chorus fell right into place on its own. It's split into two parts. In the first half, chords are held for twice as long and the bass follows the lead vocal melody up high. Once the second half hits, the changes start happening twice as fast and the bass drops down and does its own thing. The song reaches another gear at the chorus' half way point. The song has a bunch of different quirks that give it character. In the verse, the second chord of the progression is major even though the key calls for a minor chord. The instrumentals return to this chord frequently. Then there's the key shift between the verse and the chorus. The guitar and bass will also routinely perform a two chord slide-up often accompanied by a pause in the drum line. That slide becomes the instrumental theme.By Michael"Unplug" presented me with a new engineering challenge: sung group vocals. We used shouted group vocals in "Something To Say," but this song called for singing. As it turned out, that style sits much differently in a mix. Luckily I kept my options open by tracking the part a couple different ways. I had each band member record a pair of close-miked solo takes, and then we recorded another two takes as a group. This gave me more flexibility for panning as well as the freedom to find the right balance between close and distance-miked tracks. Initially I thought I wouldn't need reverb. In my mind I pictured a raw, gritty group track. But as is usually the case, I had to make some counterintuitive moves to reproduce the sound in my head. In order to give the impression of a single, cohesive group, I needed reverb to create a virtual space for the vocalists to inhabit. A touch of CRS Hall reverb did the trick.