Discover more from ☁️ Daydream Trash by Shannon Hemmett ☁️
It must be spring because I have the urge to clean up everything. I’m restless about work, taxes, shows, travel and on. In a display of ultimate procrastination I was going through my Google Chrome bookmarks, and I was surprised at how much of the internet I’ve saved since 2005ish (presumably interesting internet) does not exist anymore. 404 errors. Is my brain returning a 404 too? Maybe! Let’s try to focus.
More importantly, both Leathers and ACTORS have shows this weekend in Parsippany, NJ at Dark Force Fest! Are you coming?! Let me know below. Leathers is warming up the main stage in the Grand Ballroom on Saturday at 3pm, and then we’ll be at it again with ACTORS that evening at 10:15pm. We’re bringing all the vibes, and this is our only East Coast date for a while, so come out and dance with us.
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Should we talk about the elephant in the recording studio? Depeche Mode’s Memento Mori? Ok, let’s go there for a minute. Let me say first that I do like the new album, there are cool tracks and ideas throughout. I have a feeling it might be their last record, so I’m grateful they made it. I think DM’s mid-career work from Black Celebration through to Ultra is pretty much a perfect-10. Their later output is less consistent but there are still standout tracks on all the records. Most fans agree that DM was best when they were a full band. There’s a star-crossed meeting of members that makes certain bands special; Dave, Martin, Alan, and Fletch had that. Fans still ache from the departure of Alan Wilder in ‘95, and as much as it annoys me to no end to still see people yelling “Bring back Alan!!!” in every comment section, nearly 30 years after he left, the loss of his arrangement and production expertise has been felt on every DM record since Songs of Faith and Devotion. Did you know Martin’s demo for Enjoy the Silence was a petite melancholy ballad before Wilder got his hands on it and helped shape it into one of the most recognizable dance-pop singles of all time? There’s just one example. But… being in a band is full of highs and lows, breakthroughs and breakdowns. Alan had to move on.
Depeche Mode is the band I admire the most. Songs, presence, visuals; you might say they are “all I ever wanted” from a band. Something has happened to me in the last decade or so though—the ‘trouble’ with writing songs is that when I listen to artists I usually revere without question, I’m now carefully dissecting what they’re doing. First it was out of fascination, and now it is quite difficult to be a carefree listener. I find myself making mental note of potential production edits: that part was too long, another hook needed here, vocals too loud there, more bass frequencies needed there, etc etc. I don’t believe I know better, I just can’t help thinking about the ingredients that make up a song and how I can learn from it and apply it to my own songwriting now.
On Memento Mori, Ghosts Again was the single I wanted, and Never Let Me Go is a current favourite. That guitar hook is super cool. I have a teensy superficial complaint about a few of the song titles. No offence meant to my guys, love you forever, but if I presented producer Jay with the song title People Are Good, he’d send me back to my notebook. Not colourful enough, try again.
Jay and I were discussing how difficult it must be for career artists to keep a clear perspective with their music. Can they retain a sense of curiosity and exploration after several decades? Do egos always cloud the way after a certain point? How do bands deal with an audience that always measures your new work against your old material? When do you stick to your vision, or take risks? What feedback is constructive, what should be ignored? Things to think about. I do know that for me, art and music is a life long pursuit, and I’m always learning.
We’ll see ya in Jersey this weekend! XO