Here's what Paul has to say....
In 1975, when I was 16 years old, I joined an Alice Cooper cover band which quickly transitioned into a progressive rock band in the mold of bands like Yes, Jethro Tull, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and the like. In our youthful exuberance (or naive foolishness...) we wanted to do a "rock opera" a single song that would fill both sides of a vinyl album. At the time, bigger seemed better, and most of the bands we were listening to had attempted this sort of pretentious nonsense.
About a year earlier I had sketched out something along these lines. I called it "the Arc" but it was in a very amorphous state. Now I had a band waiting to learn what I wrote, and for about three months it was an all-consuming task; writing a section, teaching it to the musicians, and having the next part finished by the time they were ready. I had a great piano teacher at the time, Aminidav Aloni, so my mind was jammed with theory...and the thing just poured out. It was very showy, and murderously difficult to learn, but the guys stuck with it (through several lineup changes) and we actually performed the beast several times over the next few years.
There is a basic plot. The world is destroyed in a man-made cataclysm. In those days, that was usually nuclear war. Then, through some radiation-fueled magic, human concepts like good, evil, greed, force, love and war assume living forms. The creatures split up into sides for an epic battle. Before the final confrontation begins, we look in on a few remaining humans living wretchedly and waiting for their fates to be decided. Finally the war comes, but it is indecisive. The leaders of the two sides rise up and do psychological battle; good wins, evil is destroyed and because of this, humanity disappears from the face of the earth.
Well, the band broke up and rock music was in such a hideous state of disco and mellow California soft-rock that I decided to retire and become a classical pianist. I often wonder what a life in academia would have been like, but it was not to be. I went to a show and saw my friends the Germs and the Deadbeats play at the Whisky and I knew rock had been reborn with a safety pin through its cheek. Shortly after I joined the Screamers and began my career as punk rock keyboardist/songwriter/producer...
Thirty four years later, I had just moved into the newly-built Kitten Robot Studios. Surveying all my new equipment, it dawned on me that I really didn't know how any of it worked. So as an exercise, and out of curiosity, I began attempting to record the long lost and forgotten Arc. This task, I greedily reasoned, would force me to master the new gear. The fact that a teenage dream would come true in recording the piece, I pretended was a relatively insignificant side benefit.
I had written out a skeleton score back when I had first created it, and I had one rehearsal tape to reference. The obvious daunting issue was that the song was rife with meter and tempo changes, something that doesn't really happen that much in contemporary music and requires detailed programming. The sheer technical challenge was a bit overwhelming. 700 hours of overwhelming.
I was pretty sure I would be confronted with a lot of silly and immature creative decisions made by my sixteen-year-old self. But my job as a producer over the last 20 years has often consisted of taking silly creative decisions and hiding them or morphing them into brilliant ones. Several times I was faced with pieces I didn’t think could possibly work, but solutions presented themselves and in the end I was surprised and pleased to see the monster lurch to life.
This is me, going back to that 16 year old kid and telling him (in the voice of a sleazy Hollywood producer) "Really like your stuff kid, we're going into the studio and recording the whole damn thing...but we're going to use instruments from the FUTURE..."
Enjoy. Get yourself into that old state we used to get in in the ‘70s...lie on your couch with headphones, alter your consciousness however you do it...and listen!!!
Paul Roessler - All instruments
Written in 1975
Recorded in 2012
released July 9, 2013
Records Ad Nauseam #0019
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