Out Of The Prison
Revisit Out Of The Prison : The First Album
Just about 9 years ago, We recorded our first album, "Out Of The Prison". It was a summer of 2006.
The band, at the time consisted of drummer Atsunori Ito, bassist Tetsuya Kayanuma, and of course guitar God Katsumi Yokota and myself, Koji Tamura.
We had been jamming, gigging, building those songs together for about 5 months with this lineup prior to the recording.
Recording started in July 2006, with engineer Leon McCormick, who we were introduced to from a mutual friend we met at a gig.
It was done in two different sessions. The first batch of songs were recorded in July, the second half was recorded in September.
Mixing and mastering were also operated by Leon at his home studio, but he basically listened to our requests and made it the way we wanted.
It was our first-ever proper recording, and I must admit, we weren't fully prepared.
We were young and just started out as a band, and we didn't know much about anything really.
It's clear listening to this album, some of the songs arrangements weren't completely done.
I was in a rush to get this album done fast as I knew the band wouldn't last long if we didn't.
As a result, the album turned out just the way we were - both technically and songwriting-wise - raw, crude, unskilled, yet full of emotion, tension and passion... and attitude. Though it's kind of embarrasing to listen to it now, it indeed captured what we were as a band then perfectly, and I still love those songs to this day.
Some of those songs are long been abandoned and forgotten, but those who knew us from the beginning claims that our best songs are still on this album.
And We are actually re-arranging those songs now and are planning to re-record some of those songs in near future.
Here's a rundown of each tracks, with a bit of backgrounds and some memories.
1. No Tomorrow
The first song of our first album, that's enough to say it all. This has always been my favorite song to play and also one of my most proud, despite there are only few who agrees with me. Many people said that this song is all about the intro, and then it gets repetitive and boring. I think it's because no one cares about the lyrics. And the reason why I love this song so much is that I have strong emotions on this song and what's said in this song. It's about the struggle within. A struggle within oneself, a struggle within the band who's trying to achieve something but not being able to get off the ground. That was us and that was me, and that battle still continues and probably will always do. And that's the battle we're always fighting against, thus I decided to make "Out Of The Prison" as a title of the album. And that riff I still think is a genius and it rocks hard. A little secret is that I wanted to make a riff-driven song similar to Soundgarden, but with normal standard tuning. And I think it worked.
2. Growing Old
The first song Katsumi ever brought, he recorded the basic of a song with this riff, chord changes and even melodies, he sang and screamed on tape! Up until then it was always just me bringing the song ideas or the riffs first. So it's a very special song for us and, it turned out one of our most loved songs and people's favorite. It was our first true collaboration, and it really defined us as a band and what kind of band we want to be. I'm not ashamed to say and I won't deny the influence of the whole "grunge" thing as my backbone, but this one particular was us trying to be Pearl Jam... and holy fuck, it worked as well.
3. Hold On
Then we've got this one "hit" song called Hold On. Yes I remember trying to write something that's gonna be good for US modern Rock radio hit. Unfortunately and obviously it didn't make it, due to our lack of many things... but one guy named Andy who accidentally saw us playing this song at outside of Yoyogi park one time, he always loved this song and every time I see him he still says how great this song is. And I believe too, it's got everything a hit song should have - the impact, the hook, a catchy chorus anyone can remember and sing along - with a full of emotions. It's too catchy it's embarrasing some say, even ourselves... and even myself. Some even pointed out it almost sound like Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi, and I don't think it's all that bad thing really.... I don't really have a strong feeling about that band, but that song actually is a great song and no one should deny it.
4. Green (Tired Of Me)
This is our failed attempt to ripp off Nirvana, sort of. It's one of my earliest composition, I believe I was 17 when I wrote this. As title suggests, it's about the frustration of being too young, or more accurately, being not good enough. It's one of my most embarrasing songs we've recorded, to be honest. but it's also one of our first songs that dates back to 2004-ish when Katsumi & I started jamming together, before we became a "band". The song itself isn't good, but I really loved what Katsumi did with the lead guitar and somehow it made it sound like an anthem. We used to play this a lot back when we just started playing at bars, and people liked it, too. Though I don't think we'll ever play this song again, then-young and immature me thought it's gonna be a hit. Young, I was.
Also from our ealiest days when it was just me & Katsumi. This one actually is still my favorite, Katsumi said the same thing. It was also fans favorite, too when we played live. Katsumi's guitar work on this one is pure genius. Also Atsunori's intro drum part is really cool, he brought it up and it really added even more creepy, sort of sludge-y vibe to the song. It's one of the songs from our old piles that I would love to re-record, and we will. Also should be noted is that it's our first song to feature my guitar solo halfway into the song, right before Katsumi's solo.
6. My Flower
A song I wrote after a break-up with a girl that I lived together for 2 years. She had to go home (different country), but I chose to stay in my country because of my band. We didn't survive the difficulties of long-distance relationship, and it ended. As simple as it is, it's a 4-and-half minutes whining of "I miss you so much". But sometimes simplest things can be so emotional, and I still get emotional when I play this song.
7. The Life
Another fans favorite, and our early days live staple song. It's our fastest-paced song which features my weird funny singing verses which I was inspired by Mike Patton's singing technique. It also have Katsumi's another genius playing on it, the whole verses is played with guitar harmonics! It was a mind-blowing. We should bring this one back on the setlist, it's really fun to do this song and people love it, too.
I wanted a pop song that people can sing along to, and this one came up one day. And it turned out great. Though lyrically, it's my frustration towards my best mate, none other than Katsumi Yokota. (also No Tomorrow is about his low-motivation too. ha!) There's no doubt that Katsumi & I have this really strong bond that works perfectly when we play together, but our personalities are almost opposite. While I was always been like "Let's do this, let's do that", he's always like "Don't rush, we need more time." and thus we never got anything done. So this was basically my open letter to him, but he doesn't know English so had no idea of what I was singing about in this song until I told him. lol
But again, he did an amazing job on this song too; which is undeniable.
Oh and there's another bonus : This song was featured on a compilation album released in Europe in 2008, called "Who Else Is Gonna Leave Me?" on a small independent label called RobotMinimalista.
9. All These Little Things
Another sad love song, maybe you could call this "Whining pt.2" or whatever... But out of this album, this one probably is my most confident and proudest on my singing. For other songs, I sang over and over to get an OK take which ended up on the album, but if I remember correctly, this song and only this song, I only sang once. It was the easiest, in fact I got so emotional while recording vocals for this song, I cried a little in a vocal booth.... Don't tell anyone. We didn't really practice this song prior to the recording, actually we weren't planning to record this one... But there was an hour or so extra time we had on that day and I really wanted to record this, so I taught them the chords and how it goes right before the recording.
And again, it's amazing how Katsumi nailed it on this one too. It's a bit too long, 6-plus some minutes song, but I still like this song. And, this is our fan from Mexico, Fabian's favorite song...
10. Drug Of Pain
It's a laid-back, little pop song which I think was needed on the album, to have the balance. I don't think we ever played this live, but I think we should have. It's a good song. Maybe we will, one day.
This is, by far, our heaviest song. It had been the last song of the set for many years until we stopped playing this song for obscure (or perhaps obvious) reasons. Friends and fans absolutely loved it when we played it live, though it was always been the least favorite of the band members. I really don't know why they didn't get it. I still think this is one of our best songs. (Or it could be THE best of ours)
The song came out of pure frustration and anger when I was just blasting out my guitar with full distortion and full volume in my room back when, well, long time ago. I can't remember exactly when, but I must have been 18 or 19. I was just angry, pissed at something and everything. There was this feeling of no hope. The vision of hell. All those things in between. I think it's all there in this song. One thing I forever love and thank about the drummer Atsunori, is that he totally nailed this song. He really enjoyed playing this song even though he was a hardcore christian. He played it wild like a devil who lost his mind, and he played it like a monkey. It was frightning. I was singing like throwing up a demon out of my fucking throat, and this tiny Christian drummer was going nuts smiling while he's playing this song live. And Katsumi also goes all out of the way and goes insane. It was really beautiful. It was THAT moment I really felt like we're a band. I really miss that feeling.
12. You Could Be My Friend
A little acoustic piece perfmormed by just myself and an acoustic guitar, recorded by a friend MoLiShiTa (Who later starts a project with me called Printed In Galapagos). The background sound (kids playing in the park) and the phone ringing at the end of the song were his ideas, which was really cool. The song is pretty much self-explanatory, it's that feeling of wanting to get closer to someone, but not really being able to. That's who I always was.
The closing track, appropriately named "Closer", is a simple, gloomy sad love song that I had written years prior to start a band. It always had a special place in my heart, and thankfully the band understood it and fans also liked it too. "If you'll go away, please don't come closer" pretty much sums up my relationships with anyone not just girlfriends, but also all those people who've come and gone on the long history of this band. (We lost the count at some point)
Every time someone leaves a band, it's always sad and heartbreaking, and usually our relationship ends there. It's a cry for love, empathy and understanding which I always find it difficult to find in this world.
Instrumentally, both Katsumi and Atsunori did amazing job on this song and it made the song a whole lot more emotional and anthemic, and I think with this song we achieved something closer to "Infinite Sadness" sort of feeling which I always thought is the theme of this band.
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