In 2003, my band during grad school, Finite Element, played live on 90.1 FM WEFT, Champaign, IL. It was a three-piece band consisting of Sunil Chopra, Kevin Welch, and I. I'll use the phrase "my band" loosely here -- Sunil wrote all of the music, Kevin had some musical talent, and I was... the guy who would talk on the microphone in between songs, and that was only because I wouldn't shut up.
I had some kind of grandiose plan to post all of the songs from that concert one-by-one, describing each of the stories behind the songs. You can see the detritus from that if you follow the tag WEFT Sessions 1 December. Don't follow it; I'm not sure what I was thinking. I didn't write the songs -- Sunil did -- so I'm not qualified to explain much. Dumb idea. So, I've uploaded the remainder of the songs, and I'll let this post serve as the gateway for the whole concert, which is what I should have done from the beginning.
So, if you -- yes, you! -- would like to download our music, here's the whole album. It's not a torrent or anything useful like that; I've just posted them to my wiki and you'll have to save them to your computer. I'd feel bad for you, but I'm posting them mainly for archival purposes and your enjoyment is secondary. If you really, really want to know more about any of the songs, please post a comment and I'll track down Sunil or Kevin to talk about it. They're more interesting than me anyway.
Finite Element: Live at WEFT, December 1, 2003
Download the mp3's from this event:
- Turning Into Energy
- The Patterns of Her Eyes
- Under the Steps
- Don't Believe It
- Pull the Knife
- Behind Your Eyes
- You Could Be Mine
- Stay Awake
- I Know Everything
- The Beauty of Lies
- I Don't Want to Know
- Forget About the Sun
You may ask yourself: "What is on the cover of that album?"
It's Quaoar, kids, a trans-Neptunian object. Nerdy, yes, but cut me some slack. I'm an aerospace engineer -- and cut Kevin and Sunil some slack: this wasn't an album we released, and the image is something of my own doing, they didn't have any say in the matter. Then again, our band was named Finite Element, an eye-rolling experience for those that knew what it meant, an "is that the movie with Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich?" experience for those that didn't know.
I may have seen this post before, but tonight I realized that I should comment on it...
some wine-drunk explanations:
1. Turning Into Energy
I'd rather not explain this one, I wrote it about something extremely dorky...
2. The Patterns of Her Eyes
I was out of high school for a year when a friend of mine told me the story of Louis Wain. Apparently, he had been educated on Wain's condition in some psychology class. As I understood it, Louis Wain was an artist who was stricken with schizophrenia. When asked to paint a picture of his cat early on it looked somewhat normal. After a decade, the cat was painted again, but this time there were waves of colors all around it and beams of light shooting out of its eyes. These paintings were supposed to be what he actually saw. I was intrigued by this...
After I wrote the song, I read a biography on Louis Wain and, although he did paint pictures of cats and suffer from schizophrenia, the truth was somewhat more complex. The song is partly based on my misinterpretation of his life plus some issues that I had with going crazy. I don't suppose it's such a shock to think that I, in my early 20s, thought that I should be afraid of losing my mind at some point.
3. Under the Steps
Here's another song about cats! Well, my old cat Kali used to get locked in the basement of my parent's house. We tried to keep her from going down there, but it happened on occasion, and when it did she would cry for hours before anybody found her. This is a song of sympathy.
4. Don't Believe It
After my mother was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), I imagined how my dad may be feeling. I don't remember if I wrote it after she died, but I wrote this song in consideration of the worst thoughts he might have had about it. We were all pretty depressed.
5. Pull the Knife
I had been reading about dub music and dreaming about beats. One morning, while in the shower, this melody came to me. My mind generally moves slowly in the shower, and this melody seemed to suit that. I was also feeling kind of paranoid and jealous, as you can probably tell by the lyrics. I was constantly afraid that things would pass me by.
6. Behind Your Eyes
After my mom died, I re-imagined her death as a car accident. I don't know why. I remember having some weird dreams about it, actually. I have a tendency to write songs in a first-person perspective even if they are not directly about me.
I have been dealing with eyelashes for my whole life. I seem to shed them more than most people, so that first line is sort of a joke about that. I had heard that people wished on eyelashes, that was news to me. And eating edibles is kind of funny.
7. You Could Be Mine
I'm not a big fan of religion. I don't like proselytizing (although I don't mind proselytizing preachers on the quad). This song is about a guy that wants to get with a girl, but needs her to be the right kind of religion first. The descending guitar riff is poorly ripped off of some old jazz standard that I can't recall.
8. Stay Awake
I used to be pretty petty about things. I used to think poorly of people that drank.
A communication breakdown as suffered by a computer. I had a hard time talking to girls.
10. I Know Everything
My brother wrote a song about how he'd live his life being only the sum of the things he'd experienced or knew. Somehow that fit into this idea about somebody that knew everything but ended up pretty empty and petty.
11. The Beauty of Lies
I read T.H. White's Arthurian books about Merlin (Merlyn?) and Arthur when I was in high school. I recalled that Lancelot was a disfigured or otherwise hideous young knight. This was important because of a legend (repeated by Arthur?) that insisted that the character of a person could generally be estimated by his or her appearance. As it turned out, Lancelot was a virtuous and noble individual, except for that one time he betrayed Arthur and wrecked Camelot. I figured that if Lancelot's deception was due to his appearance, then Gwenivere (with whom he had betrayed Arthur) must have been pretty ugly too.
I saw this as a base deception that, I felt, was mirrored in lots of people all around me.
12. I Don't Want to Know
A series of unconnected events about which I did not know. An early song that really demonstrated my eagerness to sing high.
13. Forget About the Sun
My dear friend Greg and I had an argument about a song or something. I was wounded, and, eventually, I realized that he was wrong (which didn't help). I've always had a tendency to be somewhat brutal and sarcastic about stuff that bothers me.
I remember writing this in India on an unfamiliar guitar as I stared out over the alien rooftops of New Delhi. The strangeness of the melody and doubling on guitar made more sense to me in that context.
Whoa! Just when I think I've forgotten the past, I find out I never knew the past. Thanks for the stories. I remember, ever so vaguely, you explaining the Louis Wain story back in the day. I always enjoyed playing your songs. Compared with other songs I've played, and with listening to the radio, I found your songs came from a more thoughtful place, which made them worth playing.