The original rhythms of the song were more rock, and folk based strum patterns. In our first band rehearsal we experimented with groovier Motown style bass & drum parts. We ended up simplifying that original rhythm (which only exists now in the bridge breakdown section where Annmarie takes the lead vocal). Now, the rest of the song is based around the guitar motif, bass line, and off-beat guitar hits. Until the chorus, which builds into indie-rock glory. Capturing this arrangement on “tape” was a long, experimental process. We used old WFL drums, antique cymbals and odd, crappy microphones. J For bass tracking we borrowed a vintage P-bass from a friend. I recorded & re-recorded the guitars several times. Trying to find the right delay, tones, keeping things spacious, yet with more energy & grit in the choruses. It’s funny bringing songs to life. Sometimes they’re just wrong until they’re right. I find that my partnership with Annmarie, Steve and Megan works really well in this regard. If I lose perspective getting so inside the track and the aesthetics of the arrangement, they often lend fresh ears to help guide me back to the song. That objectivity is an important part of our process.
With this song (and the album in general), we wanted to take special attention and care with our vocals. Sing the songs with the right amount of attitude and passion. When stuff is self-produced, one can get lazy about vocal takes. We worked hard and experimented a lot with our parts. Once again, when it’s right, you can usually tell, straight away.
The Recording & Writing Process Behind Ghosts, by Cynthia Catania.
The first song we recorded drums for was Ghosts. Megan and I experimented with mics, what drums to use, and her parts. It was the first time I’d taken on every aspect of the recording process, from soup to nuts. In the past, we rented out studio space & record drums with outsourced engineers. Having all elements within control was an exciting prospect. I learned later, through trial & error, that I had no idea how to properly mic drums. 🙂 It’s all in the learning curve. The charming drums used on this album were hand picked by an old, talented friend, Marco Giovino. One of our purchases was this amazing parade snare, circa 1960’s Ludwig – which we used on this track. I left the calf skin head on my favorite WFL kick drum because we liked the sound of it (even though it makes for temperamental tuning).
As a footnote, There’s an Irish band called BellX1 – and a song of theirs called “Next to You” that was an inspiration for my overall approach to drum tracking. Giving credit where credit is due…
Megan has a great, natural pocket. I love her parts on this song. I also love Steve’s bass line. Steve is incredibly tasteful and smart with his note choices. For bass tracking, we used a vintage Kay (also acquired on Ebay years before, with the help of my friend and first recording mentor, Tad Wadhams).
The guitars and twiddly bits are a combination of electrics and acoustics – with an antique 1900’s Kranich & Bach piano thrown in for good measure (which I’ve since dragged to 3 different living spaces).
Annmarie recorded a really great 3 note motif throughout the song, using her old blue-no-name-Kay, which has since been stolen. ☹ We had one guest vocalist on this EP, and that was my friend and vocalist extraordinaire, Jimmy Gnecco. Jimmy sang backgrounds during the choruses, and the clever ghost-like melody during the bridge.
This song was written a few years beforehand, initially for my solo project. What often happens in Saucy Monky is the best songs end up in our band repertoire. We often doctor each other’s ideas – and that’s exactly what Annmarie did with this song. Replacing the original bridge with something new, exciting & relevant. That’s why I think our writing chemistry is so good. We seem to be able to consistently improve each other’s work.
Singing this song came somewhat naturally. I’ve always had a bit of soul styling in my singing approach. Being in an Indie rock band – there’s not always space for that vibe. I’m delighted this track ended up on the album, with this particular flavor.
Oh, one other foot note – I was quite inspired by Ani Difranco’s album Reprieve. The production approach to her material had a direct influence on my approach to Ghosts. Especially when the off-beat loop kicks in at the top of the bridge. Also the overall sparseness of that CD, influenced my desire to keep things clean, simple & spacious in this song. I love when other artists’ music inspires & seeps into our work. It makes me feel connected to them, in that “grand scheme of things” kind of way.
Saucy Monky are: Annmarie Cullen: Co-Lead Vocals & Guitar Cynthia Catania: Co-Lead Vocals, Guitars, Wurlitzer, Accordian, Various Steve Giles: Bass & Backing Vocals Megan Jane: Drums On Recordings Alexa Brinkschulte: Drums on Live Performances Produced by Cynthia Catania Mixed by Cynthia Catania & Michael James Mastered by Dave Donnelly, DNA Mastering All songs written by Cynthia Catania (SESAC) & Annmarie Cullen (SESAC/Imro) & Published by olivoiL music (SESAC) & Rathdown Park Music (SESAC). Do I Have Your Attention? Bass – Steve Giles Drums – Megan Jane Guitars – Cynthia Catania & Annmarie Cullen Vocals – Cynthia Catania & Annmarie Cullen Synths, Percussion– Cynthia Catania Handclaps- Alexa Brinkschulte, Cynthia Catania & Annmarie Cullen Ad Libs & Background Vocals –Cynthia Catania Sleepwalking Bass – Steve Giles Drums – Karen Teperberg Bongos, Spoons, Toms – Adam Marcello Guitars –Annmarie Cullen & Cynthia Catania Violas – Brian Benning Loop Manipulation – Doug Heffernan Lead Vocals –Cynthia Catania Bridge Lead Vocals – Annmarie Cullen Acoustic Piano, Accordion, Toy Piano, Loops , Percussion & FX – Cynthia Catania Background Vocals – Cynthia Catania & Annmarie Cullen My Girlfriend is AlcohoL Bass – Steve Giles Drums – Megan Jane Guitars – Cynthia Catania & Annmarie Cullen Lead Vocals – Annmarie Cullen Bridge Lead Vocals – Cynthia Catania Backround Vocals – Cynthia Catania & Steve Giles Acoustic Piano, Accordion, Toy piano, Loops, Percussion & FX – Cynthia Catania Do I Have Your Attention? Do I Have Your Attention? I am the queen of circumstance, I’m at the realm of consequence Hey come around and mess me up, I miss your face, shit out of luck Do I Have Your Attention? You were my dream of picket fence, there in my lack of common sense Hey, come around I crave your skin I’ll switch off my heart, you won’t get in. Do I Have Your Attention? Coz you’re oh so very different now, different to me now And the pain is very different now, different to me now You are my penitentiary, searching for clues to find the key A mansion of sand we used to dwell.. I want it back but S.O.L. Do I Have Your Attention? ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION? Coz you’re oh so very different now, different to me now And the pain is very different now, different to me now Sleepwalking Got the TV up, loud and clear Electric fans blowing in my ear Have to drown out the thoughts I can’t bare to think Have to drown out the world before I sink Running from yourself, uh-oh Take it underground, see the world from below Sleepwalking through time and space Running from yourself, but you land in the same place “Giddy up partner, here we go. Put your game face on for the show” Me I like to straddle both camps, one leg to crawl, one to dance Running from yourself, uh-oh Take it underground, see the world from below Sleepwalking through time and space Running from yourself but you always… Do, do, do, do, do, do Everything happens when it should all the bleeding hearts say “It’s all good” (Everything’s good) Me, I tend to wear it on my sleeve, it’s so hard to live what you believe Running from yourself, uh-oh Take it underground, see the world from below Sleepwalking through time and space Running from yourself, but you land in the same place Running from yourself, but you make the same mistakes My Girlfriend Is Alcohol I can’t even say the alphabet backwards when I’m sober I can’t even say the alphabet backwards when I’m sober I’d walk a line for you, a straight line for you My boyfriend is alcohol, my girlfriend is alcohol, all my friends are alcohol Oooh, but do you love me at all? And if I wont the lottery I’d lose it all in internet poker If I won the lottery I’d lose it all in internet poker But I’d be Rockefeller for you, I’d be so rich with you. My boyfriend is alcohol, my girlfriend is alcohol, all my friends are alcohol Oooh, but do you love me at all? If you took me home you know you’d be my last call If you took me home, if you took me home, I wouldn’t be alone My best friend is alcohol, my best friend is alcohol All my friends are alcohol, oohh, but do you love me, do you love me, do you love me? My girlfriend (alcohol), my boyfriend (alcohol) All my friends are alcohol, oooh, you didn’t love me at all, alcohol, alcohol