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NO KIND OF GOD

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Photo by Matt Kadi

Lyrics

Our good friend Johnny Allen wrote the beautiful, original long form prose that was used to adapt the lyrics for this song. The original words, which appear first below, are better than the lyrics as they appear in the song, so those come after. This song was the second we worked on together as a band, and came to define a lot of the theme and structure of the record.

Prose by Johnny Allen

It feels like you didn’t even try to save me. I wanted my hair long but he wouldn’t have it, didn’t want to look at it. Didn’t see me, didn't want to see me. I was scum, I was lazy. He was the dad I never wanted and he treated you like shit. Made you feel worthless like you couldn’t do anything about it. Couldn’t protect your son, your favorite. Death sends everyone into a violent maelstrom. Depression and sadness and failing to overcome them. My real dad only three months dead, I can’t remember the last thing he said. Still grieving we packed up and left, Settled into a house that reeked of cigarettes. Nearest neighbor too far to hear us cry out. He tortured us both because we were too poor to get out, Stole the money I was supposed to get from my dad’s death. You saw those abused women on tv and wanted to know. Why don’t you just leave him? So God was going to teach you the reason. That’s some kind of God you believe in. Who schools everyone in suffering. So, why this or why anything, Felt like my first and only question. How sweet the void seemed by comparison, Four-dimensional never-ending expanse of nothing. Nothing sweeter than having never been. And I drank from that bitter cup, Took drugs and drank until I threw up, Found everything I could screw up, Made a point to never show up, Left you in the dust as soon as I grew up. That’s when he tried to take your life. Fever drunk one night and in the mood to fight, He only let up ‘cause he thought the deed was done. What that was like I can’t imagine. So, why this or why anything, Felt like my first and only question. How sweet the void seemed by comparison, Four-dimensional never-ending expanse of nothing. Shit, now that I look back on it, I keep thinking I’ll have some insight, Guarded about if I got anything right, Distance doubles my doubt, What the fuck was that about? Something about the heart and fonder: What kills you and what makes you stronger?

As Sung

Still sad
We packed up and left
You moved us into a house that smelled like cigarettes
My real dad
Only three months dead
I can't remember the last thing he said

I took drugs
I drank 'til I threw up
I left you in the dust as soon as I grew up
And that's when
He tried to take your life
I can't imagine what that must have been like

You'd pray to God to redeem him
To give you the purpose or meaning
But a god that only gives you suffering is no kind of god
No kind of god to believe in

Thank you for another beautiful day
And this endless expanse of nothing
The distance doubles my doubt
The fuck was that about?
There's something people say
Something "heart growing fonder"
"What kills you and what makes you stronger"

You'd pray to God to redeem him
To give you the purpose or meaning
But a god that only gives you suffering is no kind of god
No kind of god to believe in...

Music

This song was reworked probably more than any other on the record, and I think it benefited from the consideration. The first iterations did not contain the musical interlude that happens around 0:52 and once it was introduced there was a lot of retooling based around when and where and how many times it would happen. It's a nice part, and functions decently as both instrumental hook and transition between sections, and I'm glad we ultimately figured it out.

Bass and drums were recorded live with Grammy Award nominated American record producer, audio engineer and musician Jack Shirley at The Atomic Garden Recording Studios in Oakland onto 2" tape, as is customary. Me and Zach recorded the keys in Nevada County at Dream Cabin Sounds. The Rhodes is stereo, and played through a Boss Dimension pedal into some Fender amps. We used that Dimension pedal heavily on this record. I read something early on in the recording process about Stevie Ray Vaughan using a Roland Dimension to make the guitar on Texas Flood sound thicker, and certainly nothing sounds like Texas Flood, but it does add a bit of complexity. During mixing, Jack said that the Rhodes part should have been played an octave higher, which is probably right, but it does sound sweet when it's accompanying just the drums and bass, with no guitar involved. Check out the interplay between Zach's ghost notes and the walking bass line that Ashley is playing 1:52 and again at 3:05 on the stem below Download more icon variants from https://tabler-icons.io/i/arrow-down .


Zach Peach on the drums: "The song delves into broken homes and childhood loss/life changes so I really wanted to create the feeling of standing on shaky ground with the drum part, especially in the intro. The dynamic range of this song also became super important to me, I hope the drums bring out a feeling of super low lows and high highs as the song progresses to the massive drum fill at the end and then small intimate finish after that. From a technical standpoint I’ve been obsessed with ghost notes and trying to really add a lot of character and feel into parts that at first glance could seem simple and familiar."

The intro guitar was played probably through a Third Man Bumble Buzz pedal into a Vibrochamp. Jack ran the intro section bass, drums, and vocals through a Tascam 388 to make it sound like a home recording. The original tracks sound great, though. As the Tascam intro fades into the final mix you can hear a bit of phasing, which sounds pretty neat. In the first band I was in I remember recording live onto a cassette machine and I can't remember if it was mono or stereo, but it's kind of wonderful thinking about it now, how haphazard it was. We didn't know any other way. In the stem below, I'm on the left side audio and Jacob is on the right side.


Ashley and I got together with Ambient Country Musician Patrick Hills, who is booking time now at Earthtone Studios in Sacramento and Reno vocal wizard Rachael McElhiney after the main tracks were recorded, and did a large portion of writing and arranging the background vocals. Non-Ambient Alt-Country musician and best friend of band Graham "Golden Pipes" Farrow Knibb laid down the rest of the background vocals at Dream Cabin Sounds. Rachael, Graham, and Ashley's voices sound so good together; it would have been super to have had everyone sing in the same room together, but it just wasn't in the cards this time around.

PASTORAL VERSION

The aforementioned Patrick (Hills) has been making some cool ambient records the last few years, namely Blank Gloss "Melt", and the PASTORAL album that Transylvanian Recordings Download more icon variants from https://tabler-icons.io/i/device-audio-tape put out way back in 2020. I asked Pat to do a cover version of the song, and what Pat actually did is way cooler. The Bandcamp version is the only one that has the PASTORAL version, and it's a beautiful complement.

https://ohlonesomeana.tumblr.com/post/682024096820871168/recording-mixing-with-jack-at-the-atomic-garden