In December, New Design recorded an EP with producer Anton DeLost. On today’s episode, Joe, Mel, Zack, and Jeff will be talking about the title track, “Where I Need to Be.”
We would like to thank Stuart Attard for the track featured in the beginning and end of the video.
Joe: So writing for the EP was a little bit different than writing for the album because we didn’t write as many songs so I was really pushing everyone in the band to be like look, these are the songs we have, lets make them the best songs they can be instead of let’s write these songs and then take the best ones. I really wanted to record what we had, and I liked the songs we had. They were a little bit different, but we weren’t all on the same page right away. There was this one song, we called it “The One that Mel Didn’t Like” because she didn’t like it, and we’re calling it “Where I Need to Be” now. But basically, I loved this song. I thought it was awesome. I wrote this really pretty chord progression on acoustic guitar. What happened was, I think Jeff wrote this one song in a different tuning, and I was playing around with that tuning then I came to this song. So I wrote the verse on acoustic. I think I wrote the verse and the chorus the same day. So the verse is a strumming part and the chorus is an arpeggio part, and I wanted to do this upbeat verse with a soft chorus you get lost into, and I felt I had achieved that. I showed the band, and everyone was really digging it, and Mel was like, no, I don’t like this song. She didn’t really say why she didn’t like this song at first so I didn’t understand, but we still jammed it. It got to a point where when we were deciding to record the songs on the EP, she didn’t want to record the song, and I was like, what do you mean you don’t want to record the song. The songs amazing. Jeff had wrote this amazing guitar part for it, the drums were really cool. Jeff wrote these really cool chorus lyrics, and I’m like, this chorus is so good. It’s my favourite part ever. Me and Jeff’s guitars work at the chorus work together. I just love it. It’s one of my favourite parts to any New Design song, but again, Mel didn’t want to record the song. One day, we are like, Mel, why don’t you want to record the song? And I think she told us before she didn’t like the verse part. Then we were like, why don’t you like the verse part? And she say like, “I don’t know. It’s too poppy. It’s too bouncy.” And I got what she was saying. I did rip off this rhythm from this Elos Arma song that I liked. So I was down to change it because it was really similar, and we didn’t have verse melodies or anything yet so she was like okay. We were trying to get her to describe what she wanted to hear because we didn’t really know so we tried all these different things. She’s like, do it more strummy or more straight rather than a stop rhythm. Anyways, we changed it. It changed the song, but it still captured the feel of what I was going for of this upbeat verse and a soft get-lost-in get-drowned-in chorus. So we still got that, and I am still happy with the end result. And I guess the change was for the best.
Mel: For the EP, I wasn’t necessarily feeling all the songs. There was one track I specifically did not want to record. At the time we called, “The Song that Mel Doesn’t Like” because we didn’t have a name or lyrics yet. And it started with this happy, stoppy guitar rhythm and the whole band synced up. I just hated it. So we would play this song week after week and one day something in me just gave one day, and I was like can we please try playing the rhythm straight? So we tried that. And I just spirelled with change after change until it was no longer that happy stoppy rhythm. I remember telling Joe I wanted it to sound like the intro of that Japandroids song “I Quit Girls.” The song opens with just distorted guitar, and it’s super distorted. By the end of that practice, the song had completely turned from something that I would describe, a bit out of our style, to something a little more heavier and something that fit with the rest of a ep a bit more. And that was really the turning point from where it went from “ The Song that Mel Doesn’t Like” to the “Song that Mel Used to Not Like.” And I think the changes, although everyone else really liked the original version, I think they deep down they all prefered them because I remember like the next week Jeff came to practice with lyrics and melodies ideas after not having any for months.
Zack: Yeah, I guess everyone remembers, the main thing ever about this song is that Mel didnt like it. And we were like, ah, what can we do? Cause everyone liked it except for Mel. And we were like, we are going to record this so we will have to change it around a bit. My parts were the only ones that stayed more-or-less the same when we changed the song around. So Joe’s and Jeff’s guitar parts became more drawn out, a little more chuggy. I just kept the bass and snare upbeat so it still felt like it was driving, and it was a little more faster feeling than the chorus was cause the chorus kinda comes down to a half-time thing almost. I decided I didn’t want to have the first verse half-time cause we actually do go half-time in the second verse. The bass and snare go into a two and four, but it’s just cut in half. The second verse is considerably more spaced out than the first verse, and it makes it feel a little different even though the guitar parts are more-or-less the same, but it helps separate it, and I think it goes really well into the second chorus because the second verse is half-time and second chorus is half-time as well. I think this is also one of the first songs where we had the drums build up the outro as opposed to the guitars getting heavier and busier and adding more layers for guitars. We have just vocals then I come in with a little groove thing that’s also in half-time as opposed to the first verse, which is more upbeat. And then more vocals come in, we layer the vocals, and the beat gets slightly busier, and then the slooshy hi-hats come in. The guitars are more-or-less the same. The same droney, the same rift going, and the vocals also get more upbeat as well, and then the crash symbol comes in, and it just kinds builds up. I made sure that every single thing I added to the beat was a little bit louder, a little bit more driving, and Joe and Jeff can keep the same vibe going on guitar, and I think it worked out really well.
Jeff: “Where I Need to Be,” starting with the lyrics, conceptually I was looking to follow the theme from Far From Home, literally the last song of that album. It follows the theme of someone trying to make a decision of where they should be heading. “Far From Home” is a little more uncertain. It’s about someone who isn’t really sure what they need to do whereas “Where I Need to Be” is a little more decisive. It comes from the thread of following the first album that we released. “Where I Need to Be” would be the evolution of “Far From Home,” which describes someone who isn’t really sure, or they are trying to explore, where they are suppose to be in life, and “Where I Need to Be” is understanding that even through any mistakes or regrets you have, you know you just have to keep moving forward. And that’s where the chorus comes in, “I’m not where I need to be. You meant everything to me.” So that’s where I ended up writing another four lines for the song following that theme and then adding those to the outro, “I still feel so lost, but I’ll do what I must. Unwind these tangled knots. Clear these bones of rust,” which comes from the first song in the album Far From Home where we sing, “We let the rust sink in our bones.” So this song is kinda about taking action, clearing those bones of any indecisiveness, any indecision. I was on board with what Mel was saying about something about the verses just didn’t seem right. For some reason, when there’s hard rhythms in chords I feel like I have more trouble writing vocal parts because the vocal parts at least to me feel like they need to be a little more rigid. So having the chords be a lot more straight gave room for me to have the vocals be long and be very powerful, which I think fits the feel and the theme of the song, and then it lets the chorus actually go down, which is nice. And I would say the outro like what Joe was saying is probably my favourite part that we have written on the EP. The way that my part interacts with Joe’s part. Just the different arpeggios and stuff like that, and what I think we were going for was having the guitars set the atmosphere and everything else around it built up. So like Zack was saying the drums get more intense. We don’t really do anything more with the guitars other than what it starts with. But what was important to me also was that the vocals got more intense, which I don’t think we do really often do at all so as the outro goes on, we start adding layers of vocals, and eventually it gets to the big group shouts and stuff like that, the big yells, and I think that was pretty cool.
Joe: We decided to record this EP from Anton DeLost from the band First Ghost, and I was like, Anton is going to dig this song. This is right up his alley. And I think I remember sending him one of the old demo versions of one of the songs, and he did really dig it. I think it’s his favourite song on the EP too, but I would have to double check. One of the other things with the EP was that the songs ended up becoming a bit more vocal driven whereas the album has a lot more instrumental, either drums or guitar heavy songs. It even has instrumental-designated songs, and we didn’t really go that route for this EP. And Anton, when I was talking to him about recording, he said that he wanted us to do more vocals. He was like your songs don’t have that many lyrics or vocals, and I’m like, what are you talking about? There are lots. And then I look at our Bandcamp, and I see a song, and I’m like, there’s actually not a lot of lyrics in it. I guess cause there’s a lot of instrumental parts or sometimes there’s just less lyrics. But I remember we had this outro, and it was great, with all these gang vocals, and Anton is like, oh you guys should add a counter-melody on top, and I was like counter-melody, okay. It was something we used to do when we started the band we did a lot of me and Jeff singing at the same time at the chorus. We always had a counter melody, but I guess we took that away. So we get to the outro, we had something that me and Zack were doing at practice, but I remember coming to recording and Jeff’s like, oh yeah I have this new part, and Mel and Jeff ended up singing it, and it’s probably my favourite part of the song. Well the outro as a whole if my favourite part of the song, but that just made it that much better. But Jeff always does that where he comes in, and he’s like oh yeah, I wrote this part, no one has heard it yet, and we’re like it’s amazing, that’s the best part of the song. So that was cool, and it was exactly what Anto was looking for. So I felt like it was a good pairing, like the songs we were recording, were kinda already what Anton wanted us to do, so it made that adjustment to a new producer really smooth. Although we had known him for awhile, and we knew it would be pretty cool. But I think the songs just worked well with his style.