So… it’s finally here. My good friends in Kamikaze Pilots Manual have officially released their full-length album entitled, My Ship Will Sail. I was fortunate enough to be brought on as a producer for this project, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity. I was involved in producing this record from day one. That’s not a common occurrence, but I absolutely love working this way. Especially when I am working with a long-time friend like Eric Turner (guitarist/vocalist). My early involvement in the process allowed me to really break down the structure of each and every song, and rebuild them to be the most effective songs they could be. Some of the songs went through drastic changes (Disillusioned), and others were never touched (Wider than a Mile). The entire process of writing and recording this album was extensive (mainly because recording and album is really expensive and Kamikaze is punk as fuck), but in the end I am so happy we took the time to really perfect these songs. I don’t put work into something that I wouldn’t back 100%.
Producing is a lot like teaching, so I’ve come to find out. In the process of producing and assisting in songwriting for MSWS, I learned so much more about song structure, musical direction, etc than I expected. It was almost as if I was teaching myself how to be a better songwriter. We would run into a problem in a song-- let’s take Blank Page Remedy as an example—and to figure out a solution was a learning process. In Blank Page, we had a killer song that was (so far) unlike the rest of the album, but how did we transition out of the bulk of the song and end it without beating a dead horse and potentially ruining the jam? In the end, we settled on a really reserved bridge section that contrasted the song’s opening entirely. This allowed for an extremely personal statement that pulled the listener in from the feel-good 90s jam, and then we blew it the fuck up with an explosive and anthemic outro—GUIDE ME DOWN THIS DESOLATE LONELY ROAD (that should be on a shirt). It’s more than just finding something that sounds good on the surface, you need to really know why this will or won’t work.
Other songs were a complete bother to get finished. When Eric showed me the opening lick to When You Said Goodbye, I knew we had to put this soon-to-be song on the album, but actually getting it to that point was a chore and a half. He had a killer first verse that he was never quite sold on, but I loved it and eventually convinced him to keep working with it. The chorus, I think, is what really got the song going. I didn’t think a typical chorus would really suit the song, so I went with this little trick of an embedded pre-chorus (who knows where I got this from), and I also threw in a D major chord (flat 7 in the key of E) which gave it a really cool rock n roll/surf feel. Eric was also generous enough to let me provide the solo for that song—woo!
I am thankful that Eric was ready willing to get out of comfort zone a little and explore different territories in his songs. Early Kamikaze was definitely very punk/90s pop punk (I feel the need to clarify the decade), and this collection of songs is a definite deviation from those roots. Of course with songs like Dressed for a Funeral and Don’t Let Me Fall, you still get the true Kamikaze vibe. However, many of these songs almost sound like a new band. Even at the end of Don’t Let Me Fall, there are 5 (!!!) layered guitar tracks. Songs like Disillusioned and No Flag No Cross provide a semblance of early 2000s emo/screamo, and I think it’s the coolest thing ever.
On a final note, why do rock bands keep ending records with slow songs? It’s the absolute worst, and it contributes to my bad habit of skipping the ends of albums. I want a BANGER at the end of a record. Hell, put your best song at the end, make people work for that goodness. After a little sweet talking, I convinced Eric to list the title track at the end of the album, and HOLY SHIT it absolutely was worth it. Seriously, just listen to the album all the way through once (you should already be listening), and tell me that the last track doesn’t make you want to get up and go do something cool for once in your life.
MY SHIP HAS SAILED AWAAAAYYYYYY……