Breakdown with vocalist Chris Ratzlaff
By idobi Staff |
December 8, 2015 at 10:30 AM
“What Roberta Sparrow Said”
I worked on this song from the time we recorded Backdraft in late 2012 until Feb 2015. It wasn’t good enough to make it onto Backdraft, but I knew I had something special on my hands. I rewrote the structure and verse music about seven times before I decided to make it simple. All I had was the feel of the song so I stripped the whole thing down to literally two chords. I let the electronics make it interesting. Lyrically the song is listing things that I would love to see happen. Kindness to immigrants, end to all wars, and to see all humans embrace the goodness inside of us. It’s reflecting on the scary thought that not everyone wants those things, and praying that we all one day will. The song is named after a character from the movie Donnie Darko.
I love this song. It’s the weirdest one I’ve ever written musically and lyrically. I’ve been really into occult traditions for the past year or so, so I made lots of use of the terms to describe our spiritual journeys. There’s a reference to Jesus opening the eyes of the blind man in the chorus and it’s talking about wanting our eyes to be opened to the light around us. This whole album I just write about love and I do it a bunch in this song. Also DJ Efechto scratches on this track, rad.
“Circle Above Me (A Silent Voice)”
Bryan wrote the music to this song. The chorus killed me because the song is tuned to drop A, and I was struggling to write something good. I hate singing in A… I rewrote this chorus eight times and got what I needed right before we sent off for mixing… The song almost sucked. Now I frick’n love it. This song is saying that love is what gives us hope. There are all sorts of references to prayer, astral projection, and visualization as tools to find inner peace.
I think this is the heaviest song on the record. I wrote this song very early on in the writing process and scrapped it, but Bryan and I kept listening to it throughout the year and we decided to bring it back. The song is about how awful war is, and how religions use different beliefs in God to justify violence. I don’t know that god, and I think that idea is piss. The title is from the Death Worship cult briefly mentioned in the book 1984. I also do a cough in the middle of the song that makes me laugh.
This song was a last minute addition to the album, super glad it was written! This song is about all humanity making peace. The world is getting bad in a lot of ways, but in a lot of ways it’s really improving. In this song I’m trying to say that there is hope for us. That maybe we won’t destroy ourselves and the planet, but someday live in harmony. As awareness grows, we get closer to figuring out our problems. There’s reverse piano, slide guitar, and big gang vocals. Also in the breakdown is one of my favorite screams ever. I tracked the screams in less than an hour because they were just flowing so well.
I wrote this song in a day. Just wanted to write a really simple Secret and Whisper type song, so I wrote the music in an hour or so. Then I went into my wife’s parents’ (we were living in their basement at the time) storage closet and wrote and tracked the vocals. This song sat on the back burner forever until we realized, “Hey! This song rules!” So here it is. It’s nice every now and then to get a song so easy, definitely not used to that.
“Write My Name in Gold”
We love the band Jimmy Eat World. This is probably the most you will ever see their influence on our music. This song and “Radio” were written back to back and have the same vibe. Three or four chords the entire song and nothing super technical. This song is about oppressed people groups, specifically those Middle Eastern countries affected by the Arab Spring. Those situations were mostly American made revolutions that abused the hope of a people, replacing their governments with the same oppression they have been under. Lots of these songs are about war and oppressed people groups. There’s lots of anger and frustration that fuels the lyrics, but still hope for the future.
This song is about ghost writers. Specifically in the metalcore/punk genres. I thought it was the most un-rock & roll thing to have people write your band’s songs for you, and you’d be surprised by how many big name bands in our genre don’t write their music. So this song is about writing all our own music, and doing exactly what we want. There are Christian bands that have to change what they do lyrically in order to release a record. We never had that problem with past labels, but it happens. Hopefully this song doesn’t sound arrogant. We just wanted to say we do what we want and you are listening to the most raw and honest music we can make.
All the guitars on this record are tracked straight into the computer. No amps. But the interlude and outro me and Bryan went into my basement and set up my SM7B next to his 5150 combo amp and cranked it. My basement is not set up for recording, so there was a couple pillows surrounded by cement walls… and it sounds great! Bryan writes so much stuff like this, so he played for an hour and we picked out two of our favorite little ditties.
I love Limp Bizkit, P.O.D., Slipknot, and the Beastie Boys. I wasn’t allowed to listen to those in high school, but I came back to them a couple years ago. This song has that vibe to it. Super bouncy and heavy. The song is about slaves in the modern world. Garment factory slaves and sex slaves. If we’re educated on what’s happening to these people, and know the price they pay to give us cheap deals, it can make you sick. We’ll be playing this in our set for sure.
“Under the Gun”
This song was inspired from a conversation I had with my friend Brad Penna. We were talking about drones and how awful they are. I never had written about that sort of thing for Fallstar, but he inspired me to. This album we finally wrote about practical steps, like anti war and social justice movements along with spiritual enlightenment. This song talks about drones, NSA spying, Aerosol spraying, and greed. This song’s working title was “Acacia” because it originally sounded like an Acacia Strain song, but obviously it doesn’t now:)
“Dance in the Desert”
This song barely squeezed onto the record. Bryan finished the music two weeks before we sent out for final mixes, but we knew it was something special. It’s just a really heavy song with some good breakdowns. The song title is after one of my favorite books. It’s called Dance in the Desert by Madeleine L’Engle and it’s about animals dancing and entertaining a boy and his refugee family. It’s a kids book with cool pictures. Go buy it 🙂 Also I’m not sure there will be any sort of afterlife or heaven, but I believe we can live in heaven on earth by finding inner peace and harmony with God and man. So I write about that idea here.
“This is My E.L.F. Weapon”
This is a weird song. So happy we had flexibility to make this record as long as we needed it to be. I was just walking one day and I heard the beat in my head. So I made the song for fun not taking it seriously, but kept listening to it because I liked it so much. The song is about how awesome the northwest is and how thankful we are for the people that come to shows, buy records, and give us encouraging words. This was written early on in the writing process and there’s a lot of anticipation for what the rest of the songs would be like.
“Eros & Psyche”
This is a love song. DJ Efechto also scratches on this song. The files were originally done on “Alexandria 363” and “The Valley” on our last album Backdraft, but we cut all the scratches… because we were scared… and dummies… but they fit perfectly on this song and “SPIT”, so that’s nice. Bryan worked on the music for this song for way too long, it drove him crazy, but it turned out all right.
I think this is my favorite song. The first couple versions sounded like a NOFX song, but eight drafts later it sounded way better. Got all the cool sings, screams, breakdowns, and spacey leads to make it the ender of the album. Go listen to it!
Fallstar’s new record Future Golden Age is available now via Rat Family Records.