THE INSPIRATION BEHIND PROVIDE'S "FOR ME" WRITTEN IN THE STYLE OF A MEMIOR BECAUSE WHY THE FUCK NOT
The following was written by Evan Bernard in response to a query re: inspiration for his latest LP, For Me. This was a lot different, and likely better, than what we had in mind.
So, the story starts way back in May of 2018. My brother had just passed away roughly two years ago, and The Superweaks trajectory had come screeching to a halt. None of us really knew how to deal with grief. Clearly Corey's death hit me hard. The Superweaks were mostly finished with our Teenage Blob EP/video game and I had a collection of 16 songs that hadn't quite made any of our records, so I figured, why not try to turn these into something and get my creative juices flowing. My friend David Settle from Psychic Flowers had just moved to Philadelphia and was planning to run some sessions out of our studio, Big Mama's Recording. I figured recording some drums to those 16 songs would be a great way to acquaint him with the studio routing, so early that summer we tracked the drums. I laid down basic tracks soon after, and spent the summer writing lyrics at the beach, which is where I like to write all of my lyrics. It's gotta be something about the ocean and the sand. Very Soothing. I asked my good pal Ian Farmer if he'd be willing to track some vocals for me, and at the end of the summer he and his brother Ethan coached me through the first pass of my albums vocals. I know some of what you hear throughout the album is what Ian recorded, but I don't love my voice through a U-67, so I ended up redoing a lot. From that point I kind of put the album on the backburner until March 2020, We had to move everything out of our studio mid February due to unforeseen circumstances involving a mildly hostile takeover by a religious group. Thus when the pandemic hit Chris and I essentially had the entire studio's worth of equipment in our house. With nothing but time, I set off on embarking on the journey of finishing this album, For Me.
"Mercury Retrograde Survival Kit":
When we started recording the album I was sitting at the computer setting up a click track to record onto the tape machine along with the drums, when in walks Kian Sorouri. I told him I'd make a song for him, so I made this up on the spot, and recorded it then and there. Kian did some tours in The Superweaks, and Mikey and I would occasionally play in Loose Tooth with him. So the song is entirely influenced by him. I put horns on it because horns are epic and fucking awesome. I played in a ska band in high school. The end build-up octave guitar parts were Inspired by Weezer's Only In Dreams.
This was the first song on the record I finished. Much of the record's inspo can be found in this song. When I wrote this song I remember I was listening to Deftones S/T and Diamond Eyes a fair amount, trying to mess with some of those cool chord extensions they use. I wanted the song to feel dark and dirgey, but with some bright crystalline synthesizers and a wash of guitars over it, a la Slowdive's "Alison." The verses I clearly ripped off Nirvana's "Come as You Are" for the main riff. I do shit like that a lot. I flew out for winter NAMM in 2019, and since I didn't have a guitar to play when I wasn't trying guitars at NAMM I went and bought a cheap shitty Jackson at Guitar Center that I immediately FELL IN LOVE WITH. Floyd Rose makes the greatest bridges on the planet and I will not be listening to any other opinions because they are wrong. Anyway, that lead tone is my best attempt at recreating Billy's tone on Smashing Pumpkins' "Here Is No Why". I did a few shows filling in with Teenage Halloween on guitar a few days before we locked down for Covid, and on the way back from the final show, they introduced me to 100 Gecs and honestly, that moment is the reason this record even got finished. I got deep into Hyperpop, and spent the next few months experimenting with soft-synths, using this pre-recorded album as my canvas. I used a whole lot of Serum on just about everything, including the aforementioned crystalline synthesizers.
This whole record started out as me trying to adhere to Guided By Voices through composed 1:30 song length style, and this is no exception. The lyrics to "Fire Away" are even an homage to GBV. Can you guess what song? This one otherwise is pretty straightforward. In college I listened to A LOT of Snakes Say Hisss and the way they used electronic drums and percussion was my template for the work up on this song. We have Serum ripping an arpeggiator through the whole song, and I definitely just played this guitar riff over the song as a joke, but I kept it because it's funny and I've learned not to take making music too seriously; it's something we do for fun.
"The Joys Of Being Human":
This song was originally written with my bud Jarret Nathan of the band Pears during "Jamuary." This was an event we held at Big Mama's Warehouse, usually starting NYE, where we all want to start the year off right by JAMMING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. The Superweaks specifically held a couple jams where we would spontaneously write songs, and we'd have everything mic'd up so we could record whatever happens to the tape machine. You can find MANY of those songs and many incredible conversations with Big Mama's alums in episodes of The Superweaks Superweekly Supercast. The lead in the intro is influenced by Michio Kurihara's solo on Boris' "Rainbow". Wata and Michio have had a huge influence on many of my tones and performances throughout my life. Of course the guitar riff in the chorus is a rip of "Where Is My Mind." It just worked and stealing is the most pure form of flattery or some shit. I wanted to do a cool "classical" style piano solo in the second verse, but I can't play piano so I programmed it and doubled it with a synth because I could not afford a better piano patch. I listen to a lot of Felix Mendelssohn's "Songs Without Words" series, as it spans his whole life. The first song was written when he was 13, and pieces were written for that series right up to his death. That solo is for Felix. This song is also probably the first time Vocaloid is prominently featured on this album. At this point in time I listen to a lot of "Kawaii EDM" and watch almost exclusively anime, so it only makes sense.
This song is my homage to Rozwell Kid. In like 2013 my old band Dangerous Ponies played with them somewhere in Johnstown, PA and I was BLOWN AWAY. Fortunately, I became lifelong pals with those guys and even play in a band with their drummer Sean. I bite a Gary Glitter riff throughout the verses and in the first verse there's a little homage to The Zombies. There's also a little bit of a "Pleasure Suck" vibe to the guitar tone and pocket piano part in the bridge. Spending 2 weeks with those guys recording that album taught me so much about harnessing controlled chaos and what things could sound like on the other end. Endless love and respect for Spirit Of The Beehive.
This song ended up kind of being a sped up version of "Kitsune" when it was written, so I messed around with it a bit to make it sound as different as possible. I wanted to get a super harsh aggressive lead tone for the riffs, a la Boris again. This was the first song I really fucked around with using soft synths and arpeggiating in my process. I left it in the whole time because I wanted it to be ear candy with a slightly recognizable melody that changes and morphs throughout. For the choruses I recorded the vocals in my friend Kiley's empty, newly installed walk-in refrigerator for that haunting background vocal reverb, inspired by "Where Is My Mind." I don't know exactly what inspired me to do the washout ending, but I love fucking with reverbs and I guess since I had just finished mixing "Embroidered Foliage," taking it where No Thank You's "Eden" left off is where my head was at.
This song was actually completely rewritten after it was originally tracked. After I dumped it from tape I chopped up the drums and reorganized them to fit the new parts, which I wrote on the baritone for that EXTRA thickness. You can still hear the original progression in the verses under that warbly guitar and those electronic toms, which is another nod tonally and compositionally to the Spirit of the Beehive. The tom samples were taken from this Cheer Up Song. I rewrote the song specifically to include the "Pedro the Lion bridge" as I liked to refer to it. I have always loved the album Control, and particularly wanted to do something that evoked "Indian Summer" if only for a brief moment on this song. In the second verse we go full tilt sidechained synth, which was definitely inspired by the club banger ending of "Visions" off of Charli XCX's How I'm Feeling Now. I think that album is a masterpiece. By the time that came out I was HOOKED.
This was another from "Jamuary", written with the illustrious Melissa Brain from Amanda X and Lame-O's own GOLDEN APPLES. The vocals reference this song and were the first lyrics I finished for this album. It's kind of amazing how I've never really realized exactly how much bands like Nirvana and The Pixies influenced me subconsciously, because I haven't listened to either of them much for the past 20 years. Mix Nirvana with The Shout Out Louds and that's kind of where this song came from. I found an old ARP synthesizer in the bathroom (used as a storage room) of my bud Oliver's uncle's recording studio, dusted it off, and threw it on the track! This is also the only song on the record that features somebody else other than myself playing an instrument! Chris from The Superweaks played the harmonica. I asked him to do an old west kinda thing and he laughed at me, but nailed it. He also helped transpose SCOM for the riff in "Fire Away." This one has another sidechained synth, but at that very moment in time I was listening to a fuck ton of Robyn.
[This title] is the English translation from the Hungarian "Csillagom," which is what my grandmother always called me up until she passed away. I'm so fortunate to have been brought up with her in my life, and glad I was able to leave her voice on these recordings for everybody to hear. The song kind of deals with loss and feeling like you might not have given the person all the time they deserved from you. The song was based around the idea, "What if I just made a sludgy Ovens song?" I proceeded to do my best Slash impression, learn the basic structure for the orchestral composition in "November Rain" and apply it to the song. I'm very proud of my tone and this solo.
Which brings us to the final song. The name is a play on the lyrics, if you don't know what ahegao is you can read about it here. I think it's funny. Pat Graham thought it was funny. This whole album in a lot of ways is about how after Corey died I didn't invest enough time in myself, and instead put everything I had into other people. I am a serial enabler. I always have been. This song is simultaneously motivating me to follow my path for myself a little bit more. That's why I throw back to "Fire Away" in the lyrics. Musically I always viewed this as an homage to my favorite Sneeze song. It doesn't really sound much like it, but I guess I can still see it. We finish it up with some more warbly pocket piano, a reversed ebow line, and my best Tom Petty impression.
Thanks for listening.