My band, Transpose, released our second album, "Retribution," six years ago this month. It had been four years since our first album, and we had played enough shows in those four years where we really wore out that first album. It was time to not only have some new material to play live, but way past due to give the fans a new batch of songs.
This album was the most unique album I have ever been a part of. It is the only true concept album I have ever written. The songs can't be listened out of order, there are characters, dialogue, a plotline, a climax, and resolution. We began writing this album right around the time I was in the editing stages of my second novel, "Welcome to Parkview," and there was a part of that novel (which was eventually removed and not part of the published version) that was about 20 pages long and told the story of a man who knew his wife was cheating on him, so he follows her and spies on her meeting some random man at a hotel, and when he confronts her the next morning, she won't tell him what happened, so he burns the hotel where the affair happened to the ground, killing everyone inside, but ultimately forgiving his wife in the process.
I removed this part from the book and instead rewrote the 20 pages into lyrics, keeping some of the dialogue to be sung in the songs. We were really going for a true concept album like Pink Floyd's "The Wall," Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," or The Who's "Quadrophenia." An album that is really, just on big song; a story put to music.
It was also the first album, of the now-7 albums I have written, where the lyrics were written first, and THEN the band put music to what was happening in the story. Up until "Retribution," every song was completely finished musically, and I would come in and write the lyrics and vocal melody around the preexisting music. This time, as a band, we had to verbalize what was going on in the "scene" and then write the music to that action.
In the studio we added sound effects to accent what's going on in the scene: alarm clocks, sound of people eating, a woman moaning, footsteps on stairs, firetrucks etc. That was a lot of fun to drop those in the songs throughout. This was also the most keyboards I had written/played on an album since Drop Kick Jesus' album "Splatterguts," which came out in 1998, so it was also a lot of fun to get behind the keyboard and compose again.
As soon as the album was finished, that was also the birth of a totally new live show for Transpose. Gone were the random order of songs from the first album. Our shows were now "Retribution" from start to finish, and then our encore; which was about three songs from the first album. We moved the songs from the firs album to the end of the show, and performed the new album in its entirety as the meat of the live shows. We toured pretty extensively on the "Retribution" album for two years.
I even made a film to go along with the album, a visually journey of the story as the album plays. That can be found here on my site or on YouTube. We would play the film at our merch table during the tours and shows.
I have been a part of 7 albums in my musical career total, and "Retribution," still to this day, is the album I am most proud of than any other album I have written. I don't know what the future will bring in regards to how I will feel about future albums, but this one will always be super special to me. It was one of those albums where I felt everything just clicked, the whole way through. And not just because it was the first time one of my stories had been turned into an album, that I could sing every night on stage.
Oh, and we also recorded a cover of Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" during the recording sessions and added it as a hidden bonus track on the album. Ha!