Wild Type Droid

Wild Type Droid

In creating their sixth full-length, highly influential alt-rock trio Failure relied almost exclusively on jamming. “We looked at the past and realized that most of our favorite songs came from jams,” vocalist/guitarist Ken Andrews tells Apple Music. As such, Andrews and his bandmates—bassist Greg Edwards and drummer Kellii Scott—booked a studio for a month and recorded hours upon hours of jam sessions instead of relying on fully or mostly-composed songs. “The plan was to just go in, do not write any songs, do not try to finish anything, don’t even really talk about it,” Andrews says. “Just play.” The next step was to create songs by editing together parts from the jams and adding overdubs where necessary. “The editing actually took almost twice as long as the jamming,” Andrews reveals. “It was two solid months of reaching into the cookie jar and grabbing something. If it tasted good, we would try to turn it into a full song that day.” Below, he comments on each track.
“Water With Hands” “This was taken from the jams, but we didn’t turn it into a song until we had the majority of the album already done. It’s not technically a reggae rhythm, but there’s a lot of offbeats. From a musical standpoint, that’s a real departure for us. But we edited the performance to create a new arrangement. I really love it because I feel like this song couldn’t exist on any of our other records.”
“Headstand” “A lot of this song is also sourced from the jams, but what’s different about it is that some of the parts were never played against each other in the practice space. There were some really interesting, happy accidents in editing where we created these new musical things. When you change what plays over each other, you’re really changing everything. But it’s interesting to me that you can take what is essentially 10 to 12 seconds of jam material and spin it off into something as seemingly composed as this song feels. It’s my favorite song on the record.”
“A Lifetime of Joy” “This one, as it sounds, is a straight lift from the jam sessions—including vocals. It was one of those moments where you’re just faking your way through an idea and it’s kind of just a joke and then it’s over. It’s a minute and a half or two minutes and you’re moving on to the next idea. But then, two or three months later, you hear it and go, ‘That’s actually a song.’ I mean, it’s very short, but it’s a song. And songs don’t have to be long.”
“Submarines” “This one is pretty worked over. The main fast riff part is definitely from the jams, but one or two of the other sections were entirely written in the overdub or post-jam process, which was three or four months. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this one right now because it’s one of the songs that had a few different sets of clothes on it over the last year. It went through a lot of different outfit changes. All I know is, when I hear it now, there’s nothing I want to change.”
“Bring Back the Sound” “This is one of the ones that I presented to the band in a fairly finished form. I had it on acoustic guitar and vocals, and it was very much composed. There was no real jamming of anything. I thought maybe it might sound too songwriter-y and not fit on the record—which is fine, because I have my own outlet doing solo stuff. And so do the other guys, so we’re a lot pickier about what makes it onto a Failure album these days. But I presented it to Greg, and he loved it.”
“Mercury Mouth” “This is a song that definitely could’ve been on one of the last two records—and I don’t mean that in a bad way. To me, it has a similar feel as those records—especially The Heart Is a Monster. We knew we had a solid piece of music in there, but we just had trouble finishing it. I even had my doubts about this one as we were moving into mixing, but by the time we got into mastering, it felt like a good song to have on the record. It’s just a nice moment to kind of rock out again towards the end of the record.”
“Undecided” “This is kind of the same situation as ‘Bring Back the Sound.’ I composed it and presented it to the band, and there were times when I thought maybe it would be better on a Ken Andrews solo record. But then Greg came up with this sequence of songs when we got to 10, and he made it all make sense and not seem so disjointed.”
“Long Division” “I think this song has been a long time coming for this band because, to me, it’s like a love song to The Cure’s Disintegration. It’s got a really similar tempo, the same kind of super-slow, spacious guitar motif with really long notes—like multiple bars for one note, which Robert Smith is kind of famous for. I even tried to sing like him just a little bit, especially on the first line of the song.”
“Bad Translation” “This is another song that I have a specific band association with. For ‘Long Division’ it’s The Cure, and for ‘Bad Translation’ it’s Slint. Again, this song comes from a jam. The first half of the intro is how long the initial jam was, and it felt like an unfinished idea. So, we tried to imagine what Slint would do if they finished the song.”
“Half Moon” “On the last three albums now, Greg has come in with a pretty finished song and it’s awesome, but it doesn’t really fit anywhere except as the closer. This is one of those songs. A lot of times what happens in this band is that either Greg or myself brings in a song and then the other person becomes the producer, basically. I’m looking for Greg to give me input on my compositions, and the same with his. His demo was just guitar and vocal, and it was amazing. I just made a couple of arrangement changes, and here it is.”


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