Third Album - "Devil on an Indian"


Ten Bears
Gene - Drums
Matt - Lead and background Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Guijo
John - Background Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars, G-Strings, Bass, Organ

Clouds hide
The long, lost Comanche moon
The smell of the sweet grass and sage
The high plains in early June
Three sixes on the highway sign…

Road winds
Through the darkness the headlight shines
Turning gear and motor hum
Where road and wheels are one
Like a dream on the run

When the moon hides the sun
Like a dream on the run……

School yard
And the reading of your tarot cards
Rarely ever speak the truth
Peyote in the cactus root
And the desert flower blooms

And all that was old, is new
And the desert flowers bloom…..



John:  This is one Matt had the basics up for, but we completed writing on one drinking night up at his place on at Deerwoode in January '16.  Jim Beam worked well that night.  Maybe too good, as we stayed up until about 7am.  I think that's the first time either he or I had actually sat down with anybody else at the same time to write, but it surprised us both how much we got done!

We knew we wanted to start the album with this one (as it was the first song of the story - duh), but I kind of wanted something else to bring it in.  I looked around for all sorts of sounds, but couldn't find what I wanted, so I just drug out an old $20 Yamaha synth (vintage from 1947) and exposed my keyboard mastery at the beginning.  Yeah - I suck, but it still kind of got the point across as it fades into the main part of the song.
 

Matt: Well, this was the first one up for this project and the first time John and I had actually sat in the same room and worked on stuff. I guess we figured the Jim Beam would either make us happy or kill each other. You lose all sense of time recording in my bomb shelter, ghetto studio in my basement as there are no windows. The sun was well up when we finally emerged.

I had most of the idea hashed out for this tune but John kind of gave it the finishing additions it needed. I knew we wanted a mid tempo rocker to kick it off as to tie in with the feel and image of a man starting off on a midnight motor cycle ride through the desert, so this melody fit. This song is about a young man riding through the deserts of New Mexico on Highway 666 on an Indian motor cycle, reflecting on the demise and decimation of his Native American Indian culture and heritage. I was actually on hwy 666 back in the late 90s with JC one night and I remember the smell of the sage. The tarot cards line comes from an encounter I had in Austin TX years ago. I will just say I freaked the lady out reading them. She packed all her stuff up real quick, said “I can’t do this,” and ran into her hotel room. I figured she saw a Comanche.


Anyway, most of this whole album deals with the spiritual warfare I have experienced wrestling with American Indian and Christian spirituality. Ten Bears was one of the last great Chiefs of one of the six or so Comanche bands, and I’m pretty sure he never signed any of the US Govt treaties. Seemed like a good title. If you want to know more about hwy 666 and how all this ties into this story, check this video. The last verse really ties into the whole mystical aspect as interpreted by the American Indians.

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How the West Was Won
Gene - Drums & loads of percussion including COWBELL
Matt - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Guijo
John - Background Vocals, Fretless & Lead Guitars, Bass


He was just a hostile
Barely more than a savage
So easy in his rage
On black pony, with no saddle.

It boils in your blood
A life brave and brutal
And part of you still runs
From how the west was truly won…

Pagan red, Christian white
Build your fire, flee, or fight….


John:  Another one we stuck together pretty quickly up at the "Deerwoode Drink & Write Festival".  Again - Matt had a lot of this one already done other than maybe the bridge with the solo.  Matt wanted this one to be based a little more on percussion, so Gene steps in with force.  This one almost has a little bit of a Fleetwood Mac sound to it - of all things, but still turned out pretty cool...

 

Matt: I had this melody for a while. I wrote it on acoustic guitar in DADGAD tuning. I originally had a different song theme in mind for this tune but I scrapped it when we started on this project. I thought it would fit better with the concept of this album. That said, I wrote it about progress really, and the fact that there was no stopping the onslaught of technology and expansion after the Civil War. This song really ties to my Comanche heritage and the guilt associated with the brutality and violence of it. It clearly paints a picture in red and white of a culture clash, spiritual struggle, denial, anger, and guilt. Concluding with a pondering question, what are you going to do? Are you going to set up shop and join ranks, are you going to run, or are you going to fight til the end.

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Quaker Pets
 Gene - Drums
Matt - Lead & Background Vocals, Guijo
John - Background Vocals (Lead Vocals in Bridge), Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Bass


Oh distant son of Quanah
How you love to gamble.
Upon the last great frontier.
when man was free to ramble.

Life is what the rebel made
Reaching through the wind of time
carving up the hunting grounds
Worthless treaty never signed

Cold is the blacktop in the desert....

Feeling things you never felt
Seeing things you never saw
Hearing things you never heard
Bracing for the fatal fall.

At 100 miles an hour
Smoking pipe and sleight of hand
On scattered bones of Buffaloes
Stuck a plow in your hand

Cold is the blacktop in the desert....

And death rides the early moonlight
Just like the eagle in the wind
You fear the claws of the sunlight
Just know it's your only friend

Rain, Wind, and fire
Fuel, your, desire.....



John:  This is a song that I wrote the bulk of back about 5-6 years ago, originally called "Facebook" (and it didn't speak well of it.)  It was a bit of a silly song, but Matt liked the music, so he worked his lyric mastery on it and obviously changed the content!

In the chaotic ending, the weird "plinking" and knocking noises you hear was me picking the strings below the bridge - kind of like a sound you might hear when you'd plink a motorcycle spoke.  I knew there was to be a motorcycle crash at this spot, so why not?  I also punched the back of my guitar a couple of times to make it sustain more, but it ended up sounding more like a punch in.  It confused Matt, so that made me happy.
 

Matt:  I had culled this song John wrote a long time ago for this project. I always thought it would be the perfect melody to capture the motor cycle crash sequence. It had so many cool parts already there. John did write a new melody line for the verses and once I heard that I just re wrote the lyrics and away we went.


Quanah Parker was the last great half breed Comanche Chief and my grandmother told me point blank we were related to him. I have no reason to doubt her. We are all from Texas. Here again this song is about reflection on your heritage and trying to make sense of it all. It also ties to the riding on the motor cycle story line again. Both things are going on here and it ends with a crash, hence the ascending, almost discordant part at the end. Quaker Pets is a direct reference to when the US Govt sent the Quakers to Texas after the Civil War land grab to try and teach the Comanche’s how to farm. I don’t think it worked to well as the Comanche’s had no real concept of land ownership.

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Dream Catcher
Rapa - Congas & Bongos
Gene - Percussion
Matt - Guijo
John - Keyboards & Backwards Guitar


John:  Well this one was different.  Matt wanted a percussion piece, and Gene & Rapa took the task and ran with it.  Matt later came in and added the Floydian-sounding guijo (no such thing until now), and then I got weird with keys and start messing around with my guitar (not always a good idea).  For you gearheads,  I ran it through a whammy pedal mixed at 50% with the original signal, while limiting it's range to only go in 5ths.  Then I stuck delay on it.  THEN I ran it backwards while I toggled the pickup selector  back and forth between one active pickup and the other pickup turned off.  Some of the things one must do to obtain different noises may be irrational, but that's how I roll, so...
 

Matt: I thought from the beginning of this project that the section after the crash needed to be percussive and trippy as the guy is in a coma in the hospital after the crash. Gene and Rapa had done a piece on an old JC album I really liked and I thought they could come up with something again. The Owl at the beginning is significant as many Indians believed it was a sign of death. Of course I had to throw in a guijo pitched shifted down to E with a tremolo effect, I mean why not? It was great having Rapa playing on this thing.

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Wolf Medicine
Rapa - Percussion
Gene - Drums & Percussion
Matt - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Guijo
John - Lead & Rhythm Guitars, G-Strings, Bass


Light so blinding
As I open my eyes
Static on the TV
And a window, covered in flies.
No heaven, no hell
I’m here, this I know
I hit a Devil on and Indian
In the middle of the road

I saw his face
I saw his horns
I saw his crown
It was covered in thorns
It’s not what you think
I heard a voice so clear
Was not the red faced devil
But was the white faced steer…



John:  Another of the "Drink & Write Fest" songs.  Matt had the words and main rhythm to this one done, but we knew it needed a bridge as well, so Jim Beam & I just sort of came up with the ascending riff out of the blue.  Matt liked it, so there you are.  Yeah - it sounds a bit Floydian, but I don't consider that a bad thing at all.  I started to fade out on the final solo (it is a bit long), but Matt and and a good friend of ours (Mr. Walter Early) threw a fit and made violent threats against me if I did - so I didn't.  Got to admit that it was a fun riff to go off on a little bit.  Both the solos at the beginning of the song at the end were first take "reference" solos, but Matt liked them, and I guessed they'd work...
 

Matt: Yea, pretty sure we were both hammered by the time we got to this one. This song is really the awakening point from the coma. He finds himself in a hospital, not sure what happened and at this point, still thinking he hit the Devil standing in the middle of the road. The second verse is where he discovers that he actually hit a steer in the road. Again, I use the colors red and white to symbolize the religious and cultural aspects. Of course this new information destroys his entire thinking and forces him to restart the self examining process all over again.

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Doorstep
Gene - Drums
Matt - Lead & Background Vocals, Guijo
John - Background Vocals, Lead, Rhythm & 12 string Acoustic Guitars, Bass


Have you ever wondered
How much there is to know
Where you really came from
And where you’re going to go
All our days, and all our nights

Is it just a doorstep
Behind what’s been done
Is it just a doorstep
In front of what’s to come

Did you ever reach out,
And try to touch the sun?
And think you’d won the race
Before you had begun…
All our months, and all our years

Is it just a doorstep
Behind what’s been done
Is it just a doorstep
In front of what’s to come

One door opens, one door closes

One door opens, one door closes

One door opens, one door closes


Is it just a doorstep

Behind what's been done
Is it just a doorstep

In front of what's to come



John:  I wrote this song (I think) about 8-10 years ago.  I'd always liked it, and my wife loved it as well.  Matt liked it as well.  Wasn't too sure how it would fit into this album, but after he explained the story a little better to me - then I got it.  He did think it needed a bridge, so that's where we added the "one door opens, one door closes" bridge.

Though the lyrical content in this one can be used for a lot of things, it's pretty much me just wondering about time & infinity yet again.   Infinite items have always been a source of curiosity for me.  I've always been a bit surprised that more people don't talk/think about it much, but when you look at it in the broad picture that it is - you'd have to admit that we or our time here on earth probably don't mean that much at all in the context of the universe and time!  It seems like nowadays, most folks are unknowingly convinced that everything resides here on the earth and in the last 150 years.  That's pretty shallow thinking in my eyes...


Matt: Always really loved this song and thought it would work nicely in this part of the story. Wolf Medicine sets this song up. Doorstep to me is a song about rethinking everything in terms of time, space, significance, and spirituality. It did need that bridge and I think it is one of the best ones John has ever written.

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Froth Squelch
Michael Williams - Organ
Gene - Drums
Matt - Lead & Backgrounds, Clean & Distorted Guijos
John - Lead, Slide & Rhythm Guitars, Bass

 

Speak not of what you know                                                                                            
The purple bottle filled with snake oil                                                                              
Pass it off as healing hand                                                                                            
Curing all that ails the hearts of man                                                                              

Hear the static in the wind                                                                                       
Tell not what and where you’ve been                                                                        
Falling original sin…                                       

And your treacherous mind 
Plays out the scene, then rewinds
In case you missed it first time around                                                                              
The captive’s hands and feet are bound                                                                            

Hear the static in the wind                                                                                                  
And trust not who you thought a friend                                                                      
Falling original sin

See the vision on the sky                                                                                              
Deceitful snake and eagle eye                                                                                         
You’ll be judged for what you know                                                                               
And many times your story told                                                                                     

Hear the static in the wind                                                                                      
Tell not what and where you’ve been 
Falling original sin…

You must go and leave this place                                                                                       
Earn your bread by the sweat of your face                                                                                            
Til all is gone and there is no more                                                                          
The apple's rotten to the core                                                                                           

Hear the static in the wind                                                                                                    
And live the lie til the end                                                                                              
Falling Original sin….


John:  I had always told Matt that he should think of things to use a distorted guijo on.  Why?  Because it's obviously never done (although he did play a little of it on "Never" on the first album).  I'm sure the banjo purists would absolutely butter their britches if they knew what he was doing with it, but we're not too worried about them or what anybody else thinks.  SO anyway, he comes up with this funky little riff.  It made me think funky.  I love funk.  Gene loves funk.  Hell - who doesn't like funk?  So this one kind of carries us back to our Southern roots a little bit more than the others.  We plugged away with this one for a while.  I think I came up with the bridge, and so on.  Finally, this one had an extra verse in it, and we thought it would be cool to totally change the sound for the last verse, so enter Michael Williams.  I knew I would have loved to have an organ in this song, but I can't play like that!  Michael knocked it out in no time, sent it to Matt - and happiness was born.  Really adds a whole new dimension to the song.

Finally at the end - I'd goofed around with a regular lead or two, but just wanted something a little different.  Picked up a slide, and that was a first take.  It's not perfect, but at least I got to see how high I could go on it.  Yes - for the super-high notes, I was almost on top of the bridge pickup.  It was kind of done as a joke, but then we just said "to hell with it - you don't hear many people doing that!"
 

Matt: Well this whole opening riff melody was John’s idea. He said  "hey man, why don’t you play that Guijo distorted?"  I had actually fooled with doing it before but the notes all just got jumbled together in the distortion and I was not too sure about it. This time though I rolled off some of the gain on the Boogie and just kept fooling with the timing of my picking fingers to get it to work. It’s really a different feel playing Scruggs style finger picking distorted. It took me a minute to get use to it. Anyway, it came out pretty cool and I later went back and re recorded the verse lines clean as it was just too much distorted Guijo. There’s a line, “too much distorted Guijo.”

Lyrically this song is about religious betrayal and hypocrisy. John had the title and I kept envisioning, somehow suppressing the twaddle of those TV preachers foaming at the mouth and just robbing folk’s blind. It also ties in historically with Christianity being forced on the Native Americans and their in general distrust of anything the white man told them. It also kind of lays the building blocks to the idea that man is inherently evil.

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Without a Trace
Matt - Lead & Background Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
John - Background Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

​He saw the golden sky, and the earth that turned the eagle's eye

​And so it seemed the dreams he chased - were vanishing without a trace


Vanishing without a trace

Vanishing without a trace


​For ​50 years and 30 nights, he pushed and pulled with all his might

​And so he saw his time and space - vanishing without a trace


And then he felt his will grow tired,  and the golden sky, it turned to fire

And in the end he watched his place, vanishing without a trace


Vanishing without a trace

Vanishing without a trace

Vanishing without a trace


John:  Just a beautiful song that Matt sends me one day.  I didn't even want to play on it, because what he had was just awesome.  One night I was screwing around with my acoustic, and with a capo (which I never use).  I capo'd it up to a "G", and started playing it on top of what he was doing (he was in DADGAD I think), and seeing that I tune to a bizarre D - capo'ing it up to G was really cool.  Yes, G and D work well with each other!


Matt: I almost forgot about this song. It was the prelude to Vanishing Point and I just happened to stumble on it later on in the recording process. I nearly forgot that it was to go before Vanishing Point. This song is a vision, that becomes a clear reality and that being that everything he sees in his culture, heritage, and life is ending, or about to. All this song needed was a couple acoustic guitars and some harmony……and a coyote…..and a train of course.

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The Vanishing Point
Edwin McCain - Lead & Background Vocals
Gene - Drums
Matt - Lead & Background Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Banjo
John - Background Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Bass


Future is mocking me
repeating history
Never trusting
So isolating
Hands are bruised and blue
Your work is never through
Grind you in the gear
No pity, no fear...

Late sun's final stand
Shadows across the land
Move soul to youthful place
Feathered hair and painted face
Hang from the mustang's side
And let the arrow drive
All light from the sky
Its a good day to die....

And everything's mundane
The order of all things
So easily explained
It waxes then it wanes

Choose well what you say
Come Blackberry May
The more things seem to change
The more things feel the same
Gone is the Eagle dance
No bear medicine song
Take not the shortest road
On a journey so long......

And everything's mundane
The order of all things
So easily explained
It waxes then it wanes
It waxes then it wanes



John:  Matt came up with the main riff on this one, and I came up with the bridges.  This one had a funky time signature, so we'll call this our "DANCE" tune (lots of luck pulling that off), but Gene absolutely kills on this song.  Sort of came out like if you were to mix Rush and the Beatles together.  As far as the descending bridge goes, that one popped into my mind about a year ago.  I liked it, pushed the record button, and had a feeling we could use it somewhere at some point.  Fit pretty cool into this one.  Not too often I mix a Les Paul & a Strat in the same song, but here was an exception.

On a personal note - really wanted to thank Edwin McCain for coming in and singing on this.  What a phenominal voice!  Really thought it sounded awesome with he & Matt exchanging lines.!  I have a feeling this might blow some of his fans' minds, but a great voice doesn't care what kind of music it goes on.  I think he pretty well proved that!


Matt: Well Walter Early nailed this song. It’s about damnation. It’s all going to hell in a hand basket and there is no stopping it. Still, man is so self absorbed that he thinks he can explain the order of it all. I used the grind you in the gear line from my old pal Edwin McCain. He had a tune on Misguided Roses called Grind You in The Gears and I thought it was such a good line for this song. So good that we needed him to sing it, then sing on every verse. Edwin came up to my studio one day, we mostly drove around my property and talked about raising Quail, and then he recorded his vocal. Came out killer. I had the bulk of the verses written and done and John pulled out that bridge piece. I wrote some new lyrics to that part and this one was done.

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Red Giant
Gene - Drums
Matt - Background Vocals, Guijo
John - Lead & Background Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Bass

 
A billion years and counting, spinning in the sun
When all things return from where they did come
The burning sea rises and mountains sink below
You’ll wish you never knew what you didn’t know.

Was it a noble effort, or self fulfilling drive?
No moral mathematician, just universe divide
A flash of blinding arrogance and narcissistic lies
A fictional reality is all that money buys…

And now the light is gone
And now no dusk or dawn…
 
Now the saddened sun has burned its last breath
And what had given life has faded into death
Split second in a moment, how brightly did it shine?
And time’s the architect that laughed at our design

And now  the light is gone
And now no dusk or dawn….  
                                                   

John:  Well we knew that we wanted to end this album on more of a hardcore edge as opposed to New World (which ended with "Grace").  I went back and search through a lot of old songs I'd written over the period of a couple of days, but never could find anything I wanted.  I was getting a bit pissed about it.  I picked up the bass, and this riff just popped out.  I love it when that happens!  I pretty much wrote this one (including some of the lyrics) in about 10 minutes.  It just popped out of me.  I was a little concerned that it might be a bit too heavy for Matt's tastes, but he loved it.  I'd tried singing it in a lower register (as a reference for Matt to sing), but the song was loud enough to where it really needed something higher.  So - I sang it very high and very loud.  Wasn't sure about that, but Matt said "YOU MUST KEEP IT".  I don't claim to be "Mr. Vocal" at all, but I suppose it came out okay...

We knew we wanted total chaos at the end (the end of the world - right?), so I used planes, guns, screams, death, and all sorts of things at the end.  I was pretty happy with that ambulance sound.  That's actually my guitar going through a whammy pedal and a "Gonkulator" ring modulator.  It scared me how much it sounded like the real thing!  Finally - the last, fading out explosion sound you hear is me running through my whammy pedal while I was rubbing my acoustic guitar on TOP of the Les Paul's strings.  Not sure how many times that procedure has been recorded, but I feel confident in saying that I doubt it has happened too often... 
 

Matt: Well if you are going to write a song about the inherent evil of man, tragic demise and end of the world it better rock. John came up with most all of this one. I wrote some of the lyrics but that was it. It came together nicely and John sang the crap out of it, plus I can’t sing that loud and high. I added a Guijo lick in the main riff, and a vocal harmony, and it was ready to roll til the end. No pun intended.

The whole idea of this song is the conclusion that there will be no stopping the brutality of the human species until the Sun goes into what is called a Red Giant phase, at which it is calculated that the expanding Sun will grow large enough to encompass the orbit’s of Mercury, Venus, and maybe even Earth. Even if the Earth were to survive being consumed, its new proximity to the the intense heat of this red sun would scorch our planet and make it completely impossible for life to survive. .