After writing and recording everything on Death Throes solo, Joel Day formed the full band behind Seattle's Vertical Section once the EP was released. Recently the Microsoft and Bungee software engineer turned industrial powerhouse took some time out to talk about the writing process in his Capitol Hill studio, the complexities of using programmed synth patches live and even dropped a nugget of Fear and Loathing wisdom.
Vertical Section will be performing Sept. 12 at El Corazon
Song: "Death Throes"
Album: Death Throes
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2011
When it was written: Nov. 2010
Where was it written: My home studio in Capitol Hill.
Favorite line in the song: My favorite is the first line of the chorus: "We've passed the turning point in a prison of repeating our mistakes." Individuals have the capacity to recognize self-destructive patterns, but it's far more difficult for society at large. When you see history repeating itself, you have to wonder how many chances are really left. When you have no control over something, you just have to sit and watch or bury your head in the sand.
Which part was the hardest to come up with: Most of the songs on the EP came together slowly and iteratively, bit by bit. I'd come up with a few bars and move onto the next thing for a while. I never wanted to get too invested in any one track at a time. This song on the other hand came together all at once in under a day. I played around with a complicated bridge for a little bit, but ultimately stuck with the short break before the final chorus.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be: I think the song really shines in a live setting in a way that would be nice to capture in a recording. It's the last song in our set and we want to go out with a bang, so we've put a lot of effort into fine tuning the dynamics of the song and how it builds over time. We have songs in our set where we just use the original synth patches I made when recording, but everything for this one was reprogrammed to add delays, filters and pattern sequences that can be modulated manually over time.
Odd fact about song: In-between takes my dog Liz decided to occupy the vocal booth as a toy storage/napping area.
What was your inspiration for writing the song: The psychopaths who happen to have significant influence over the world are, by nature, not very concerned about omnicide.
When was your favorite time performing it live: We had a pretty big crowd at our first show and it was a blast. This song was the peak of the night and the response was very flattering.
What is the meaning behind the song: "Death Throes" is about feeling like you're the only one who sees humanity as having a life of its own, at a precipice, with limited foresight and no inherent purpose. "Devil Ether. It makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel. Total loss of all basic motor skills. Blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue. The mind recoils in horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column. Which is interesting because you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can't control it." - Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas