It’s the summer of 2020 and Matt DeMatteo has come home for a few days to work on songs at my studio, including Hard Luck, All Joy No Fun, and Poseur. The vibe and energy were inspiring. Ideas were popping up everywhere, from discussions about our music, and where it should be headed.
During the last writing and recording session, Matt DeMatteo offered us this new idea which he had named Exhaling. I remember the first listen was confusing. An unusually rhythmic programmed beat, heavy industrial-sounding synths with sections going all over the place. Matt DeMatteo has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve heard, and I remember the vocal melody he composed was just wow! One evening, I was in charge of the recording while Matt and Mat were composing and fine-tuning the vocal parts. In a few hours, the verses, the pre-chorus were done. Moreover, while Mat was recording the vocals, I pulled out of my toolbox a secret weapon that allows you to manipulate time and pitch. As the song was experimental in terms of sounds and arrangements, I applied this secret weapon to his voice, an effect that greatly influenced the history of music in the 70s and 80s, an Eventide 910. It is, among others, used by Brian Eno and Tony Visconti in David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. On our side, we can hear it in the pre- chorus when the voice becomes subtly expanded and distorted.
Following our session with Matt, the song had progressed a lot. However, the more we listened to it, it was obvious that the song was missing something, a chorus, an openness or a resolution. After various attempts, a new sequence of chords was proposed and one evening Mat came to record ideas and bang! Again, the magic happened. Suddenly, it’s as if Michael Hutchence’s soul had taken over Mat’s body. We can hear it from 3 minutes. The mood becomes gospel and Mat becomes like a preacher. The idea was created in a one take. The original ending was much longer, but I edited out the highlights. We got excited with the gospel direction and during another session with Will and Mat, I had mics ready and I invited them to improvise gospel-style background vocals. This is what we hear in the choruses and the outro, this tapestry of ambient harmonies.
Finally, when we were at the “Tone Bender” studio recording the drums with Gautier, there were concert toms lying around in one of the rooms. I can’t remember who came up with the idea, but someone suggested including them in one of the songs and we fell in love with the sound and dynamics they brought. We greatly abused the concert toms during the recording sessions, and we find them on Exhaling. They come to support all the accents in the chorus.
Exhaling is one of our weirdest, heaviest songs that takes a few listens, but that’s what I love about music, to be confused and taken to new dimensions of music.
Next, When Love Dies.