This has been a dream of mine since the days of early Metal Face, when my favorite bands at the time — Limp Bizkit, KoRn and other embarrassing past preferences — were releasing ill-conceived remix compilations of their own, somehow making versions of the same song that were worse than the originals. My earliest attempt at a remix appeared on 2%Tipp’s All-Star Tribute to Randy Shattuck when we added a train whistle and non-sensical trumpet flourishes to a previously recorded a-cappella song. We called the new — or should I say, nu version — “Rock-A-Pella Randy Candy (Killa Beez Remix),” and, in the grand tradition of remixes, made a version somehow worse than the original.
It wasn’t until Radiohead recently released a remix album for their electro-beat-heavy The King of Limbs that I decided to retry my hand at this whole remix bizness, and what a better way to start than to retool our own electro-beat-heavy album, Nets! Plus, we were due for a companion album, seeing how our previous releases had lesser counterparts.
But n3tzR3m1x3z(+B-s1d3z) deviates from the remix norm — it may actually be better than its source. No joke. No one’s laughing.
I started work on n3tzR3m1x3z(+B-s1d3z) in October 2011, two days after moving in to my current residence in Seattle. It began simple enough: While on a borrowed queen-sized air mattress that almost took up the entire room, I opened the original GarageBand file for “Symptomatic Disposition” and started tinkering. As the project began to develop, I gave myself more space in my room by leaning the mattress against the wall, but because I didn’t have any other furniture at the time — you know, like chairs or a desk, things that would’ve made the process more comfortable — I pretty much made my entire portion album while sitting on the floor. (I wouldn’t recommend this approach, unless you don’t either don’t care about your spine or have a really comfortable bean-bag chair. But even if you had the latter, that doesn’t mean it’ll make guitar playing any easier.)
Mixing the album was an on-and-off process from November to early last week. We originally intended to release this album by late December, but figured there was no rush and took our sweet time wrapping up things, with Charlie adding the bass part for “Beer in the Baler” on Monday. Like its source material, mixing n3tz was frustrating at times, mainly because of GarageBand’s less-than-ideal exporting: the quiet playback when compared to the original file, and clips galore (still worried about getting docked a letter grade). I eventually figured out I should export as an .aif file (not ideal, as those are quite the megabyte bundles) and converting to an m4a in iTunes, just for size’s sake. The finished result never sounded as great as the GarageBand file, but I think this is the best we could do with what he have. If any of you GarageBand wizards have any suggestions, I’m all ears.
The album art was something I pulled from my intro web design last year at the University of Montana. I think my instructor was showing us how to dodge/burn images via Photoshop, and already being semi-familiar with the tool, went ahead and burned the top pair of eyes to the point of making them appear as if they were severely infected and/or burned in the third degree. With the other pairs, I think I used the cloning tool to make it look like the middle person had one eye with mismatching skin growing over it, and merely changed the color of one eye for the bottom person. I’m sure my photo-journalism friends would be proud of my skills. (I should point out that I received a 50 percent on a Photoshop test for my intro to photo journalism course.) After adding some indie-friendly arial helvetica text, the album art was complete. I would really like this as a poster someday, though I’m not too eager to see those burned eyes first thing in the morning, staring back at me.
Lastly, the case-challenged, numeral-addled title was inspired by Radiohead’s aforementioned remix album, TKOL 1234567. As for which letters are capitalized, which are numbers instead of letters, and why the parentheses: I’ve always found leet speak — oh, excuse me, l33t sp43k — both fascinating and annoying, (mostly annoying), and, in a way, it makes words seem more futuristic when the vowels are replaced with numb3rs. To me, remixes are all about embracing a new way of doing things — for better or for worse — and if I could make a title appear more computerized, that will only help our goal. Right? Oh, and as far as the inconsistent casing is concerned, I wanted a mixed combination that was both pleasing to the eye and disorienting. (I should also point out that my sense of design and typography isn’t the sharpest, as evidenced by my first attempt at a personal website.)
From conception to completion, R3m1x3z was an exercise in creating chaos within an already existant song structure, trying to destroy said structure and coming out the other end with something that was both different and (somewhat) faithful to its source material. It was more than just creating the same album twice — though it may very well like it at times — but rather, a re-imagination of our imagination, a rebirth of what we birthed. It was laborious at times, but it was labor born out of love. And nifty computer loops.