My recently completed rock opera, 8-Bit Time Machine, did not begin as most of my albums do, with a list of song titles to serve as inspiration, an overarching concept, and a handful of drum beats or keyboard grooves.
No, it began with this Post-it note.
You see, I keep my cheap Fender Strat hanging next to my desk in the studio, so whenever I feel inspired or just need a mental break, I can take it down and noodle for a few minutes. In September I started tinkering with a chord progression, which I had to write down so I wouldn’t forget it, and then I continued to expand on it and rework it, until it became the structure for track 10, “You’re Not That Old Anymore.”
In fact this chord progression ended up serving as the basis for almost the entire album, as it first appears (in its entirety) on a keyboard in the opening track, and crops up again in bits and pieces in other tracks (especially #2, “Daydream of the 8-Bit Time Machine”, and #7, “(No) Meaning in the Machine”), before getting its full realization in the album’s penultimate track.
I kept this Post-it note stuck right on the front of that Strat for over a month before I actually began recording the album. At that point the chords were in my blood and I no longer needed a cheat sheet to remember them. But I kept it anyway as a rare physical memento of the unusual origins of this most unusual album.
Obviously not everything from the Post-it was entirely relevant. There’s nothing on the album in 5/8, for instance, although perhaps that interest in 5 is what inspired the crazy quintuplet drum fills in the loud section of track #8, “Horizontal Hold”.