Apocalyptic Love Song by Song by DAMMIT
I've been promising to do a little song by song write up of my thoughts on the Apocalyptic Love album so put your iPod on, call up Apocalyptic Love track 1 and turn it all the way up! Here goes.
As you can tell right off the beginning of the album one of the main things we were trying to capture was how live of an experience it was. You can hear Slash testing out his Wah pedal off the top of the song, you can hear our producer, Eric Valentine, say, "Apocalyptic" over the talk back mics and then Fitz says, "Here we go" before counting us into the lead and title track.
If I recall correctly we were playing with the main riff to this song during soundchecks on the We're All Gonna Die tour. Slash's opening wah wah riff is so classic Slash. Snakey and twisty. When he played it for the first time I could just imagine kids everywhere sitting in their bedrooms figuring out how to play it.
I can't speak for Myles but I know this song is to some degree about the end of the world. 2012, of course, is supposed to our final year on Earth so this song says the world is ending so let's just all get it on. I know I'm dumbing that down a lot but that's kinda what's going on there.
That first chorus is a good example of what a pleasure it is to sing with Myles Kennedy. That's me singing the high harmony along with him. We have got it down to a veritable science at this point. The Heaverly Brothers indeed (Heavy Everly Brothers).
Great riff, great groove, killer solo. Myles really delivers the goods. Great dynamic from the verses to the chorus. Eric made some great arrangement suggestions on this song.
In the heavy riff section before the bridge and during the outro we added some big bass chords to really beef up that section. If I recall correctly it was a cool old Les Paul bass. That thing was gnarly.
It is a real thrill for us to be hearing audiences singing the Whoooaaahhh sections live. A real trip cuz it seems like yesterday we were still putting these songs together at Mates Rehearsal Studios in North Hollywood.
One Last Thrill
The first time I heard this song it was in demo form with Slash on acoustic guitar and Myles singing on top of it. The addition of the bass, drums and electric guitars really took it up a notch.
That's me screaming at the top of the song as we unleash Hell. Myles and I trade off the chorus vocals- Myles-One last thrill it always...
Me-Sometimes you know it comes to get me etc Myles and I added the oohs and ahhs over the bridge section together. We did a lot of singing together which is not very common these days. Usually vocals are recorded individually to control the separation.
This is another good example of how live this recording is. When Slash plays his solo his rhythm guitar vanishes. This is because he actually played it right there and then and that goes for every song on the album. It wasn't overdubbed after the fact.
Myles really pushed himself in the writing of this album. There's an underlying theme on this record of our past indulgences. One Last Thrill before I die. Again, I can't speak for Myles but that's how I understand it.
A real barn burner of a song. We were opening with it for a giant chunk of the most recent tour before switching to Halo. A great solo by Slash again. I think he's playing better than ever.
Standing In The Sun
This song is one of the first 3 songs we recorded months before going in to do the rest of the album. It is currently the 2nd single from Apocalyptic Love.
It's always had such a great groove with that punishing riff throughout. Fitz throws in those 16ths on the high hats Rocket Queen style.
Myles plays a lot of cool guitar on this song actually. I believe that's him on the open chords through the verses while Slash and I hold down the riff.
This is another great example of the Heaverly Brothers doing our thing. The chorus really pops out with those nice open chords and Myles and I singing our asses off. That's me on the higher harmony.
Another doozy of a solo by Slash on this one. Absolute classic Slash.
This one is so much fun to play live. I can't say for sure but I'm pretty sure we'll playing this on Conan later in the year. You never know.
Those Beatley vocals at the end are super cool. A Myles Kennedy creation.
This song is a favorite within the band.
You're A Lie
The first single and a monster at that. This one began life at sounchecks all over the world on the We're All Gonna Die Tour but it didn't resemble this version very much at all. The riff we started with didn't survive to the final version of the song which is totally bizarre as it was the most amazing riff. I'm sure that riff will resurface as another song someday. It is too good to vanish completely.
At one point this song was called Whatever Keeps You Alive and had a totally different chorus altogether. In the 11th hour major surgery was performed on it and it is now the song we have today.
Again Fitz counts in the song which is rare on modern recordings. This was kept to maintain the live vibe we were going for. The intro section set up that snakey, punishing main riff so well.
Myles did a great job of marrying a modern touch with the classic backdrop. The chorus really jumps out with Myles soaring, descending melody. That's me screaming LIE in the background. Eric made me scream til I could barely talk. The things we do for Rock N Roll.
For me I was channeling Dennis Dunaway from Alice Cooper on the bass. That's not overtly noticeable to anyone but me but a lot of the chromatic runs were nods to Dennis and the classic Alice lineup. For me anyway. We added some heavy bass chords like in Apocalyptic Love to the chorus, intro and outro sections of this song to really heavy up those parts. If you listen closely I'm sure you can hear how girthy it gets.
This song went on to be a #1 single at Active Rock radio and really gave the album a kick in the ass. We've played it on Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon as well as the Golden Gods Awards.
It's amazing to see the audiences react to this song every night. It is as accepted as part of the classic catalogue as Sweet Child O' Mine or Slither. Truly awesome.
No More Heroes
Between You're A Lie and No More Heroes you can hear Eric say, "All good, Brent?" (I think?) and you hear Brent Say, "Ok" and count us in. I love that stuff. Reminds me of Physical Graffiti by Zeppelin. There's all kinds of cool behind the scenes stuff going on there.
This song didn't have a title for a bit as it was the last lyric and vocal completed for the album. In many ways this song is one of my favorites on the album. Myles was so out of gas by the end of the recording and writing process that he needed a jump start to complete the lyrics. 9 times out of 10 Myles went back to what he started with. This is common in the writing process where you start to second guess yourself. Hard to get subjective enough to know where you stand anymore. At the end of the day I think it's one of Myles' best lyrics and vocal performances on the album.
Again there's a little nod to Rocket Queen with the 16th hats in the opening drum intro. There's some very unique moments going on here for Slash. I suppose the opening picky riff has a bit of Sweet Child O' Mine to it. That nice throaty, neck pick up sound. Beautiful part.
I'm channeling a little Adam Clayton (U2) on my part and maybe a little Benjamin Orr(Cars). Those may seem strange references but that driving pedaling style is what I was going for. Definitely a little Cliff Williams (AC/DC) in there too.
There is a real nice use of space and dynamic in this song. Lots of space in the verses that drive harder and harder through the pre chorus into the big bashy choruses.
Myles and I doubled ourselves up for the choruses together again. My harmony comes in the B section of the 2nd verse "On our own..." Always a pleasure to sing with that man. He is the best. I'm on the high harmony in the bridge section "Still alive..."
The solo section is amazing in this song. The way it breaks down to that outro chorus is super effective.
If you listen closely to the choruses you can here Myles and I singing Ooo Ooo Ooo. Take a listen.
This song has been going over amazing live. Very rewarding.
This song is also one of the first 3 songs we recorded along with Standing In The Sun and Bad Rain months before we went into the rest of the album.
In many ways I feel like this song is the sister song to Nothing To Say from Slash's first solo album. Definitely the most metal song on the album. The harmony guitar parts at the beginning of the album have a little Slayer in there. There is a little bit of Blizzard/Diary era Ozzy for me in this song though I can't pinpoint exactly what. There's a bit of a Maiden gallop going on with a hint of Love Gun by KISS for me on the bass.
The chorus riff is one of Slash's most gnarly ever.
We've been opening shows with this song lately and it has been epic. This is definitely a fan favorite of the Apocalyptic collection.
At the end of the song I believe that's Slash speaking. Hard for me to say. It's a bit of a blur.
We Will Roam
This song was the most difficult for me to wrap my head around in the beginning. It took me a while to get inside the song. Some songs are like that. Because of this I felt the least connected to this one but at the end of the day it is one of my favorites to listen to.
I think Myles' lyric on this song is one of my favorites he's ever written. It really speaks to me as it is about our gypsy, restless hearts as touring musicians- "And still we roam now forever more, tread the night on steel and stone, and still we roam, never asking more, where we are will be our home"
When I finally heard what he was singing it really struck a chord with me and I found myself right inside the song. It all came together for me then.
For me Peter Hook from Joy Division/New Order was my inspiration for the bouncy, moving bass line. These must sound like such strange references to the hard rock fan but I tell it like it is. There's a nice big bass chord in the last chorus. Eric pushed me to play chords on occasion and I'm glad he did. To be honest he pushed me and all of us the whole way through and it made for such an amazing record.
In the chorus I sing the descending harmony that Eric and Myles came up with. I feel that really makes this song unique. I love clever vocal interplay. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and now the Heaverly Brothers.
I feel this song has a unique feel from what people would expect from Slash and I admire him for taking steps outside of what he is known for. This is why he is still a growing artist 25 years after Appetite.
We have never done this song live. Don't know if we will but I sure love listening to it.
Myles and I harmonize our way out of the song while Slash solos on.
Can't say enough good things about Myles' work here.
I always knew Anastasia was a very important song. I knew it before there was a melody or lyrics in place. That relentless riff was so timeless and the guitar work in the intro and reintro was again things I saw kids learning in their bedrooms for years to come. Once there was that winning melody and that glorious chorus in place I knew we had a doozy. Once Slash put the classical intro on it I knew we had an Epic Classic. Period. This song kills.
It starts with Slash clearing his throat and effortlessly playing a piece that could stand alone as an amazing piece of music before we all come crashing in on a viking warship of rock.
Slash had introduced the melodic bit he plays in the main band intro of the song in his solo sections he would do nightly on the We're All Gonna Die tour. That's how long ago he was working on that piece of music. He was working it out in front of thousands and thousands of people no less. That's the best thing about Slash. His guitar solo section of the evening is different every single night.
I love the slap back effect on the drums giving it that Bonham feel. I play bass chords again in the intro and reintros. They are gigantic.
That's me on the higher harmony vocal in the chorus. I don't think I'm being immodest when I say I like the way Myles and I sound together.
Fitz and I do a nice build up into that final chorus out of the guitar solo.
This song is an epic moment in our live show. Slash solos on the outro for a long time building and building the whole to a massive crescendo. I love the chords Myles plays under the solo. Really builds such beautiful tension. I do a couple of fancy moves on the bass during the outro. Again egged on by the amazing Eric Valentine.
Fitz adds some super cool percussion to this one. Just epic.
If you can't tell I'm a gigantic fan of this song.
Not For Me
I love how Anastasia bleeds into this one. This song was added to the mix a little later on. I remember having quite a few songs together before this one was introduced.
This is one of the greatest performances of Myles Kennedy's career. One of his best lyrics too. Just stellar. That first verse/chorus is amazing.
The part I play in the reintro before the solo is super cool. My nod to McCartney, one of my faves. Eric had a lot to do with that. He's a genius.
That's me on the harmony vocal in the choruses supporting Mr Kennedy.
I think it's cool that Slash kept the verses as his clean Les Paul tone as opposed to an acoustic guitar which we had initially talked about. i think it's way more live sounding that way. Some great guitar work by the man on this one.
Another epic tune and a beloved song live. We added it not that long ago and it will remain in the set for a long time.
The last of the 3 initially recorded before officially starting the album.
I like the sleek, vampy vibe of this one. There is some super cool, metallic percussion by brother Fitz on this one. Listen close.
I played a crazy 8 string bass that Eric has at his studio on this one. Some kind of Rickenbacker shop class project that sounded too good to not use. The bass tone is HUGE. Check it out.
That's me on the high vocal harmony. Seems to be a pattern. I like the part Eric had me sing with Myles over the bridge. Really builds nicely to the solo.
There is talk of adding this one to the set soon. I'm looking forward to it. It's so much fun to play. I remember putting it together as if it were yesterday.
You can hear me bellowing "Here comes a bad rain!" in response to Myles if you listen closely in the outro of the song.
Hard And Fast
This is another song like One Last Thrill or Not For Me that speaks of past bad behavior that most of can relate to. God knows Myles and I spent enough time talking about it. That's what the reformed do. None more notorious than Slash himself.
"I can't survive another night in the white room cuz a tiny bit always turns to more"
I believe you can hear Eric over the talk back mics during Slash's feedback off the top of the song.
I love Myles ascending guitar part in the 2nd verse. Eric and Myles did a really great job of coming up with complimentary parts to Slash's main parts.
This song is a barnburner. Kind of a Let There Be Rock vibe.
I played a Fender P bass with flat wound strings on it in this song and played it so Hard And Fast that I had to fix parts of it after the fact. I know other way to play. I play super hard. Always have.
Slash rips some classic solo work on this one.
That's me screaming the high harmony vocal with brother Myles in the choruses.
This one is a violent offense live. We've been playing it for a while and it goes over huge!
At the end of the song you can hear me say, "Suck on that!" This song takes no prisoners.
Far And Away
This is another of those songs I just knew was going to be special. So many great things going on it's hard to comment on any one thing.
Myles' performance is outstanding. Such an amazing tone on Slash's guitar.
You can really hear the flatwound strings on the Univox bass I played on this one. I intended to play a fretless for this a la Jeff Ament but decided it called for more of a McCartney-esque touch. I'm very proud of my parts on this one.
I believe Myles plays the swelling, steel guitar-esque parts in the pre chorus. Very nice. Slash brings in that amazing, ghostly descending line in the choruses. So beautiful.
That's Myles doing those tasty soloy bits in the second verse. On top of everything else he's an amazing guitar player too.
Slash's solo is epic. Has that tone where it sounds like it's about to explode.
We've only performed this song once for the Guitar Centre Sessions that were televised. We did it acoustically. I hope we will get a chance to do this one live again. It is a truly beautiful song.
This is the last song on the US version of the album. I remember playing this one in the rehearsal place when we did the main riff in F# before we changed it to G (most of this record is tuned a half step down except Standing In The Sun which I believe is in 440). It's another great, relentless Slash style riff that carries the whole song. He makes these kinds of riffs up all day long.
I like that slippery, evil, bluesy intro crashing into the juggernaut riff. I'm particularly happy with the gnarly bass tone. There is nice interplay between the open chords Slash plays in the verse over the riff.
That's me on the high harmony in the chorus. The usual. I think we are pretty damned effective here.
We've been playing this one live and it is a driving enforcer of a song. It's awesome that the last song on the record still gets such a warm reception.
I love the solo on this one. The section is very clever. Makes for some cool tension.
At the end of the song you can hear Myles say, "Please tell me you got the sirens at the beginning of that" To which Eric replies, "Fuck yea I did"
Keeping in mind that we were recording around Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood blocks away from the Capitol Records building. A very busy part of town. Somewhere during the recording process a man went on a shooting spree mere blocks away and was eventually killed by a police officer himself. Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
What a great way to end the album....
In different territories these songs are a regular part of the album.
This song is particularly special cuz Slash breaks out his old friend the Talk Box! Something he used on Anything Goes and a few others back in the day. Pretty exciting stuff.
The funky aspect is a big part of Slash. People think he's all metal somehow but there are examples all through his career of blues, funk, acoustic etc Myles is big on funk too. Well versed in Marvin and Stevie.
Me? I'm a rock dude from the whitest place in the world but if you know me I'm up for anything. Especially a challenge. Especially a musical one.
The cool thing is I kept it pretty open and let the groove find itself in the holes in the pocket. Fitzy got a dirty groove going on this one.
I like my ascending line into the 2nd chorus. That kinda stuff is so Eric Valentine. He likes to change things up from the 1st verse to the 2nd. No sense repeating one's self. I played the same Fender P bass with flat wound strings that I used on Hard And Fast.
The chromatic choruses are a classic Slash thing.
For the drum break those guys were referencing things like Ohio Players. Turned out rad.
My vocal harmony was only brought in on the last chorus of the song which is cool cuz the whole song is a simple octave until that last chorus. Nicely done, Mr Valentine.
This one I know is on the regular Australian version. This one has a rad Aerosmith vibe. Great groove. Myles worked and reworked this one a lot. He really beats himself up that boy. Turned out great here.
Fitz counts us in again to stay with the live theme and then Slash is laying out a classic snakey Slash lick. I know I played a Gibson Thunderbird for this one. The verse line is super sexy.
Nice big chorus in this one. Nice work, Mr Kennedy.
I remember doing the Ahhhh vocals in the bridge section with Myles. We always had a good laugh together in there.
Here and there in this song there's a little Mr Brownstone feel in there. I'm definitely channeling Tom Hamilton from Aerosmith in this song. Nice big bass chord in the outro.
Fitzy makes nice use of the cowbell in this one. Shades of Appetite.
I'm pretty sure that's me going Whoo! and babbling at the end of the song. Sounds about right as I'm always babbling.
I don't know how insightful any of this was but I hope you can play along with me next time you listen to the album. We had an amazing time making it and we have an amazing time recreating it live for everyone.
Apocalyptic Love is one of the proudest achievements of my life.
Your loyal and humble servant