Note: this is about a new single of mine, a looping cover of the Who's "Eminence Front." I’m playing all the instruments on the track: cigar box slide guitar, bass, vocals, and drums. It releases Friday, June 14, 2019. It can be downloaded now at https://caseywickstrom.bandcamp.com/track/eminence-front
Part One of this blog was written in February of 2018.
Eminence Front, Part One
I saw the Who at Shoreline amphitheater in Mountain View in 2002 when I was thirteen years old. It was the first concert they played after their bassist John Entwistle had died. It was an emotional and amazing show, and it was a defining moment of my life. I remember looking up at the sky when Roger Daltrey was screaming “Love Reign O’er Me,” and thinking, “I am going to play music for the rest of my life.”
One of the songs they played that I had never heard before was Eminence Front. Pete Townsend led this orchestral score that intensified and grew, and by the time it all kicked in, it was this flowing, intricate, deeply layered song.
Fast forward from 2002 to 2017. I had made my very own cigar box guitar with my good friend Teddy Randazzo Jr, of Dazzo pickups fame, and I began looping a dark and bluesy song, with a bass line that held down the track nicely. I began to add more layers, bit by bit, like a delay and a wah that accented the rhythm. This song that I was working on was heavily influenced by my friends in the band Aotearoa; these guys are the biggest influence on my looping. This whole song is kind of a shout out to them. Also, the bass looping influence can be credited to my friend and musical genius/madman Kalle Mathiesen.
The song’s buildup became really cool, and I thought about what to do with it. In a flash of insight, I thought about Eminence Front. I looked up the lyrics and set to work. I intentionally avoided listening to the Who’s version because I had a certain sound that I wanted to capture with the song; it was a deep vibe that I didn’t want to lose. I listened to the original track maybe twice during the whole process. It took about a week or so for me to have a structure with the loop pedal that I felt was really tight. This song was a game changer for me, because it became a whole musical experience of live looping. The audience saw me build this song from nothing into this flowing, layered composition, much like I had seen Pete Townsend do nearly two decades before.
Quick note: my electric guitar is an American made Schecter Telecaster, the Pete Townsend model from the 80s, and it just so happens to be the guitar that he plays on the Eminence Front video. I didn’t know that until very recently. I had fallen in love with the guitar in high school, before knowing it was the Pete Townsend model. It just made sense that this was how it went.
Anyways, I had a weekly residency at Forager in downtown San Jose for the month of October 2017, and they wanted to do a promo video of me playing to some studio recorded tracks. I went into this really nice studio at Harvest House Church in Fremont and recorded Eminence Front, and also a solo rendition of Grindhouse Blues and Broken Girl for B sides. The engineer and mixer in the studio was Anthony Pereira, who I would work with on the production and tracking of the song. He’s an awesome dude—this song would not have happened without him.
The promo video was never competed, but I had this really awesome take of Eminence Front. I decided to mess around with a drum line, once again, evoking the sound of the band Aotearoa. I have a drum kit at my home studio, so I started writing a drum line, which took a few months to nail down. The song is nearly six minutes long, and there’s a lot of parts to it. This is the most complex drum part I’ve ever recorded, and that’s because it evolved over a period of nearly four months. When I felt I had the drums down, I reached back out to Anthony at the church studio and set up some time to record the drums.
I tracked the drums in March of 2018, in a single day. After various mixing sessions and edits, as well as extensive email messages, Anthony and I began slowly wrapping up Eminence Front over the next six months.
Eminence Front, Part Two
My decision to release my version of Eminence Front in June 2019 was sudden. It just felt right, and when I decided to take the leap, things fell into place incredibly fast. I had received the most recent, mixed version from Anthony back in January of 2019, and I’d been sitting on it for half a year while I focused on my live shows, getting my degree in English Lit, and teaching yoga. I hadn’t played at the Brit in Cupertino since the amazing St. Patrick’s Day show with the Irish Rogues back in March, so my June show returning there was a perfect opportunity for me to schedule a release party. The track was ready, and I needed some artwork.
I reached out to my friend Cuatro Kruse in Durango, Colorado. I had grown up with him and his sister Gracie in Hermosa Valley, just outside of Durango. Cuatro and Grace front a reggae dub rock band; they’re both phenomenal musicians—together and independently, they’re badass, artistic, creative, genuinely awesome humans. I had started following Cuatro’s artwork on Instagram, and I really liked the designs he was creating with geometrical shapes, especially the Metatron Cube. I commissioned Cuatro to work out a design for the cover of the single; he sent me the artwork and I designed some flyers, posters, and shirts for the single’s release.
Once I looked into it, I found that the Metatron cube is part of what’s known as sacred Geometry. According to the site Soul-Flower:
“Metatron’s Cube starts with the Fruit of Life shape, and connects all 13 circles with straight lines. Metatron’s Cube includes all 5 Platonic Solids hidden inside, symbolizing the underlying geometric patterns found throughout our universe. It’s named after Archangel Metatron, who watches over the flow of energy in creation and provides a connection to the divine. Metatron’s Cube is balanced and provides a visual focal point for meditation. It can replace negative thoughts with positive ones.”
It also had this image:
Far out stuff. I didn’t even know this was a thing, but I had felt the design, especially Cuatro’s take on the metatron cube, speaking to me. I knew I needed it for the song. The kaleidoscopic vision of Eminence Front, all the layers and the depth, the moods that I felt were captured, perfectly matched the image. The design is super fucking cool, and what it stands for is even cooler—I’m happy that I get to share the concept of sacred geometry through my music, with people that may have never seen or heard of a Metatron cube.
I’m incredibly proud of my version of Eminence Front. This song was a total labor of love that was literally years in the making. I’m so stoked to finally have it out to the world. It’s available for download here: https://caseywickstrom.bandcamp.com/track/eminence-front
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