21. 2021 Suitcase

This was supposed to be Era 20. The actual Era 20 came out of nowhere. The plan was to put out Wood Anniversary, wait a few months, then drop 100 outtakes on Christmas Eve and call it Suitcase 5 (because Bob Pollard won’t do it, so I will). That aside, I’ll be discussing this in blocks, much like the GBV covers album, because it’s so long that one massive paragraph would be unreadable. I won’t get too into every song on here, because the Bandcamp liner notes include dates for every song and what they were recorded for. This is the 110th Hello Whirled release. There are 100 songs on here. It is broken up into 4 “discs”, each about an hour long. Without further ado…Suitcase 5.

I sorted this in length order because I couldn’t figure a rational way of sequencing this. Naturally, it means opening with a near-atonal No Victories outtake, “Winners Don’t Trade”. “Playlands Exposed” is a Warm Spring Day outtake recorded on my phone. I actually kinda liked it, but it really clearly isn’t album-ready, even by 2018 standards. I recorded “Color Theory” for a game in the beginning of the year for Global Game Jam 2021. The idea is that each instrument would come in one at a time. I started with drums, which I don’t often do if I want the song to be good, but it ended up working here. It ended up flowing right into “Strangle Me”, another No Victories outtake. I’ve mentioned before that Falling Short Of Heaven took three attempts to get the ball rolling. “Vacuum” was from the first attempt. A lot of the demos from the first attempt kind of sound like this. It’s a nice little ditty but there isn’t a whole lot to go off. “Reharmonization” is also from around that time, but isn’t considered part of either attempt. The idea here was going to be loop the leads and have different chords play over them over the course of the song. “Wood Groove” is a Wood Anniversary outtake, although it was really just messing around. It’s one of the three songs that was fiddled with to form “Three Songs Played At Once At Incorrect Speeds”. The other two are on here as well. I don’t honestly remember when I recorded “Dying Down For The Night”. My best guess is 2017. I’ve just sort of always had it sitting around. “Normality (Version 1)”, once titled “Normal Escape”, is a No Victories outtake that was held off the album for the one after it. I like this version a lot too, but it’s clear it worked better on History Worth Repeating. “Mass Extinction” is another song that went into “Three Songs Played At Once At Incorrect Speeds”. It’s more of a drone than a song. “Needle Stars (Boring Dystopia)” is weird because it was the final version of the song I recorded, even though it was axed in favor of the third version. “Test Record For Genesis” was the first song I recorded when I installed Reaper, with the intent of making the next HW record (Atlantic Witchcraft) in a DAW. Two years out, this decision has clearly paid off. I have no recollection of recording “Demon King”. It’s probably from 2020 but I couldn’t tell you when. For something I don’t remember making, it’s pretty good. “Levament (Demo)” is a nice acoustic song I recorded for History Worth Repeating but axed in the demo stage. “Process (Demo)” shows how similar it and “Egregore” were at first. I had to consciously make this distinct enough from the other to make them both fit on History Worth Repeating. I always say Atlantic Witchcraft had 50 finished songs, but technically “Low Calorie Alternative” is #51. The reason I don’t count it is because it immediately went into the trash. It felt too malicious, and really it was never that good, so I took its best parts and turned it into “Easily Entertained”. “Buzzcut (Demo)” was such a good demo that I contemplated putting it on the album as is, but that felt cheap so I re-recorded it. I wrote “+1 Hands” for a game jam. I would have released the whole soundtrack when the game first came out, but it was when I needed “Thousand” to actually be the 1000th Hello Whirled song, and a little EP would have gotten in the way. Don’t worry, all of the songs I did for the game are on here. “Carbine” was a post-demo History Worth Repeating outtake. I’m not entirely sure when I recorded “Piano” either. Good tune though. “Sleeper” dates back to 2013, although these lyrics and title are based on the versions from 2014 and 2015. To this day, it has never been released on a proper album under any of my aliases. 2022? Maybe. “Dream High” also needs to make a proper comeback. I have the bass part and the chorus, but nothing else really works all that great.

“Nursing More Than Justice (Demo)” is the original MIDI demo. It explains why it was so hard to record, because my Tascam 8-track didn’t have any sort of looping function like Logic Pro X does. I recorded “GZ-01” in Gradwell House Recording, funny enough. That’s my Kastle Drum and Matt Weber’s Hofner bass with the broken input jack. “Please Stop Dancing (Demo)” was recorded in December 2020. I had the riff and an idea of what the lyrics would be, but nothing concrete yet.”Let’s Dance (Version 1)” is the original version of the song as requested by Tyler Tomaseski for a game we were working on. “May Queen (Demo)” is the only one of the 50 New Blood In The Sister City demos to make this collection, because the other 49 sucked. “C21” was one of the original 8-track demos for History Worth Repeating. I was actually going to try to make the whole album on 8-track, like the good old days, but I ran out of steam quickly. A few of the songs I’d recorded did eventually end up on the final album though. I believe all 3 such demos are on here. “+1 Garbage” is my attempt at writing a Gorillaz song. Imagine a slurred falsetto and, I don’t know, Ritchie with a T rapping occasionally, and BAM. “Victory Lap” is another holdover from the first Falling Short Of Heaven attempt. “Crown Of Fools (Version 1)” is a real interesting “what could have been”. I still don’t think it would have fit on No Victories, but my Kastle Drum changing its rhythm at exactly the right time was unintentional and I will never be that lucky again. “Idioglossia (Not Ready)” was the only 8-track History Not Repeating demo to receive lyrics in that state. It’s also the origin of the shorter 2nd verse, which I kept in all subsequent versions. “Math Emo Bad” and “Nail Time” are both unfinished Atlantic Witchcraft songs. It’s a real shame I couldn’t get them to quite work, because I still really like them both. “Anti Aging” truly almost made it onto No Victories. I must have thought it was too repetitive, but it probably might have fit.

That “Swan Cave (Demo)” even exists is a testament to how hard I worked to get to “Puzzle Piece”. “Trip Over (4D Version)” is interesting because it was filmed rather than normally recorded. It’s all camera audio, mixed in Adobe Premiere for a final. “Sk Loop (Demo)” was recorded for my first attempt at Wood Anniversary, but I scrapped it because, well, I just couldn’t think of any lyrics for it. I’m not really a waltz guy so those throw me off way more than they have any right to. “Buzzcut (8-Track Demo)” completes the puzzle that is “why are three versions of Buzzcut that all sound radically different?” and boy is it a piece. I thought I’d lost “Pipe Dream Baby (Version 1)” forever. It was a serious contender for Falling Short Of Heaven but I eventually thought the lyrics were too venomous, so I re-recorded it. This original version was actually recorded live. My voice just did that. “Here Or You” is technically microtonal. I fiddled with the pitch knob on my Yamaha Reface CS and recorded multiple guitar tracks tuned to each hertz to make this work. In the end, the effort didn’t pay off because the song missed out on No Victories. I really like it now but it was ahead of its time. It would have fit better on Wood Anniversary. I don’t really like putting alternate mixes on the Hello Whirled Bandcamp but I thought “Heroes Are The Best Villains (Instrumental)” belonged in its unedited, un-fucked-with state. “Chariot (Version 1)” had to happen. I needed an unfocused version of the song so I could eventually retool it into something presentable. I could, and will, say the same thing about “There She Goes (Demo)”, recorded during the second attempt at Falling Short Of Heaven. “Former Island (Rough Take)” is what Danny and Angela got when they recorded their parts for the album version. Some of the rough take parts stayed on the album (“Point Is Mist” comes to mind) but these got replaced completely. “If That’s Not Victory (Version 1)” sat around for at least a month before I scrapped it and tried it out at a faster tempo. It’s a cool early look into what became an organ-driven groove.

“Loop Prog (Demo)” is in the same boat as “Sk Loop (Demo)”. It’s a good instrumental that I struggled to think of lyrics for. “No One I Want” was a shoo-in for No Victories…until it wasn’t. I knew the song could be improved, so I attempted to do some live takes of the song so the vocals and music would be on the same page. It was an incredibly stressful hour and I haven’t really thought about the song since. I do like it listening to it again, but it really needs the right context. Alternately, Damon Albarn can pay me a lot of money to make a Gorillaz song out of it. Similarly, “Having A Time (Demo)” has the right energy the song needed, but the final recording didn’t have that big roomy piano and it suffered for it. Could do without the coughing. I forgot that was in there. Oops. “Is This How You Build A Wall” is the third and final song that went into “Three Songs Played At Once At Incorrect Speeds”. “Flags In Our Couches, Tanks In Our Homes” is another classic what-could-have-been, this time from Skin At 15 Degrees. In hindsight, it makes sense that it wouldn’t have gone on the album, because it sounds absolutely nothing like the songs that did make it, and it would have stuck out tremendously. “Money Is The Death Of Art (Version 1)” is wild. I sat down one day and played guitar for five minutes. A few days later, I sat down again and somehow managed to write 18 stanzas of pure, undiluted anguish. The song got axed from No Victories just on the basis of how…shall we say, unique, it was, but it was revived when I came upon some free studio time during my internship at Gradwell House. Sorting this collection by length was definitely not my greatest idea (makes it a beast to listen to), but having it end with this just feels right.

Oh my god I can now say I’ve listened to all 1199 Hello Whirled songs.

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