Song 49, Dec. 5 - 12, 2011

"Pump It Up, Girls"

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"Pump It Up, Girls"- song #49 - MP3 file

"Pump It Up, Girls"

Length: 3:42

Track count: 12 tracks

Instrumentation: Stratocaster, Rat distortion, Electronic drums, FM synth, Arpeggiated synth, Breakbeat samples from "Erase You" by E.S.G. (Drums, Bass, Voice)

I just discovered the band E.S.G., originally consisting of the Scroggins sisters - which is a crime, because during their heyday in the 80s, I would have loved knowing about them. They were - and are - a super-tight band, with funky drums and bass and spare guitar lines. I instantly gravitated to their song "Erase You." And when I was tapped to play a benefit show for Danielle Ross, I decided to grab some bars of the song and make something else out of them.

I cut the hi-hat intro - one short bar on the original recording - for my intro, and clipped out three or four other sections. I had to cobble together measures out of partial beats and phrases to avoid most of the singing and all of the guitar, and to make the song different than the original. My favorite part of the original song - apart from the super-cool guitar line - was the "woo woo woo woo" vocals they did, to sound like a barking dog.("He ain't nothing' but a dog - WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO!")

For a breakdown, I grabbed their original "pump it up, girls!" exhortation (which I especially loved since after the vocalist says it, the rest of the band pretty much just keeps going as before) copying and stuttering some of the voices.

I stabilized the tempo to 140 BPM in LIve, and laid in an electronic drum beat. I played some synthesizers, including an arpegiated line that starts after the intro and pulses throughout. For the show, I played this on a tiny MIDI controller. Then I used Live's "Looper" top lay in overlapping guitar lines that got denser and denser.

I played the song at the benefit, and it was pretty crazy. The Loopered guitar turned into mud, but I loved it. I felt like I was getting to jam with some of the greats!

Anyway, that was the song of the week for last week, and I did play it last week, but I finally got around to doing a studio version this week. I had been using Live's built-in guitar effects, and I'd gotten a good crunchy distortion sound, but it was REALLY noisy, and noise gates weren't helping. The noise was so loud, the gate would cut the tail of the sustain off with it. So instead of grabbing my Vox amp, which I've been using a lot to record guitars lately, I pulled my ProCo Rat off the shelf. I have had this pedal since the 80s, and I'd forgotten how good it sounds. I played in the guitar parts one by one instead of using Looper, and also quoted the original guitar line from the song near the end.

Anyway - apart from getting to dive into and plunder a great song by a great band, and play at Danielle's benefit, I also loved re-discovering the Rat distortion pedal. As 365.52.12 winds down, this was a high point for me. Wow, only 3 more songs to go!

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