Track By Track – “Are We There Yet” by The Turnback

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Track by Track” is written by the Artist who make the music possible. Today we feature – the new album from The Turnback , “are We There Yet”

The Turnback
Members: Todd Giglio – Vocals, songwriting, guitar, keyboards, mixing board, perfectionism Barry Nagel – Vocals, songwriting, drums, percussion, keyboards, guitar, professionalism Kenny Sherman – Vocals, songwriting, guitar, bass, dependability, skepticism
Genre: Power Pop, Rock, Indie
Hometown: Brooklyn, Queens & White Plains, New York

FAKETOWN

Kenny: This is one that Todd brought in almost completely finished. He made a few basic demos on his iPhone so that we could get some ideas of what to play on it and then it came together real quick. The first time we played through it at our studio, we just fell into our parts pretty much like you hear it on the album and it sounded almost complete right there on the spot. I can remember while we were playing it for the first time, I sat down on a Fender Rumble bass amp with a big shit-eating grin on my face because I knew we had the album opener right then and there. Also, because we’ve had so much trouble finding a permanent bass player who can sing harmonies on stage, I play most of the bass tracks on the albums. For some reason I had trouble coming up with something good on this one, so our drummer Barry ended up playing the 5 string bass on this one and it’s one of my favorite basslines on the album.

Todd: One thing we will never do is say what the song is about. What it’s about to us as the songwriter and what it’s about to the listener will probably have a completely different meaning and we would never want to take away that personal connection. That being said, I’ve previously written in a very straight ahead musical format with long drawn chord progressions and FAKETOWN was a try at something more staccato in the design of the verse. This opened up the melody line and allowed me to write with more angst giving the song a more aggressive nature (and we knew this album needed to be more powerful than our debut).

FIVE DAYS A WEEK

Kenny: I call this our “everyman anthem” because I think most people can relate to the song’s theme of struggling to make it through work during the week so that you can do the things you really love to do on few your days off. This was another one that came together really fast. I just put a capo on the 6th fret of my electric guitar one day for no apparent reason and played the opening riff, then I had most of the music within an hour. The next day I listened to my rough demo and the words for the first line –“five days a week, I make all the ends meet, five days a week I do everything that’s expected of me” just came out and seemed to fit the mood of the music. I recorded a demo on an iPhone app called Multitrack, complete with harmonies and sent it to Todd and Barry and they both liked it right away.I sing the lead in the verses and choruses and Todd sings lead in the middle bridge. I love when we both sing lead in the same song because it makes for a nice contrast and not many bands do that kind of thing anymore. Also, the “answer” backing vocals in the last chorus is my favorite single musical thing we’ve
ever done. Todd thought of those and recorded them in his home studio one night when he was
tinkering around, then sent them to me to see if I liked them. I think he was afraid I was going to think he was overdoing it, but I loved them so much that I think I almost cried!! Sometimes I just listen to that section over and over like ten times in a row. I don’t think I have OCD, but I just love it, ya know?

Todd: I loved this one from the first demo Ken sent me. Powerful tune with a very basic message that nearly everyone would get. As far as the answer vocals that Ken loves so much: I love ear candy. I love when a part of a song is something you look forward to throughout the song and you love it so much that you want to hear the song again. That was what I was going for (and it works, at least for Ken anyway) 

REVOLUTION GIRL

Kenny: That’s a song Todd and I wrote years ago before he got married and we were roommates in New York City and it’s a song we’ve played in every incarnation of the band. People love the song, but we always thought that the original lyrics were garbage because they really weren’t about anything other than a guy who thinks this girl is cool. But it never really established why she was cool and so we always said it was a song about nothing. We never want to be the band that writes songs like that because even though they might be hummable, ultimately they’re like musical junk food. Empty calories with no nutritional value. We really wanted to rewrite the lyrics so we could get the song on the album, but we couldn’t think of anything. Then I read a New York Times article about Edie Windsor, who challenged gay marriage laws in the Supreme Court and won, and I also saw a documentary about Nina Simone and thought, well those are revolution girls for sure and they inspired me to write a couple of lines and get it started. Once I had a few lines, Todd was able to help me finish it. So the music is
exactly the same as it’s been for more than 10 years, but the lyrics are completely different. And better. We had our friend Lenny Rocillo play the bass on this one because he’s such a pro he can do those bouncy James Jamerson meets Geddy Lee things that we can’t do.

Todd: Ken said what had to be said 😉

REVEAL

Kenny: That’s another one, like Faketown, that Todd had almost complete when he brought it to us. What I remember the most about it was that it took me forever to figure out a lead guitar part for it. I thought that everything I played was terrible. Finally, I decided to try to play in a style that I normally wouldn’t play and that did the trick, although it still took a long time to get it right because my hands would instinctively go to the places it was used to going on the fretboard instead of where they should’ve gone. It took a lot of practice before I could play it right, even though it’s not a particularly hard part to play. Apparently, old habits die hard in my case.

Todd: When I first wrote the song, it had more of a retro sound to it. I tend to write everything on acoustic and hope it translates well when going electric. This one was tough because acoustically it had a rockabilly sound to it. I wanted it tougher to match the lyrics so we plugged-in, gave it a nasty sound and played away. I knew Ken’s part would be more problematic so I gave him a riff and away he went.

UNMOTIVATED

Kenny: I’ve always thought that Unmotivated would’ve been a perfect fit for our first album, “Drawn In Chalk” and the “Drawing With Chalk” film because it fit the Matt character so well. Barry had the music and the lyrics for the verse a bunch of years ago and we always liked it, but we never could think of anything to go after the first verse, so we just couldn’t finish it in time for “Drawn In Chalk”. The damn verse is so melodic, anything we thought of was always a letdown. Finally, while we were writing “Are We There Yet?”, Barry came up with some the rest of the lyrics and he hit on the transitional chord that comes after the verse, and that was all we needed after six or seven years of trying, to come up with that Beatlesque bridge that starts with the line “you may think that I’m lazy but I’m just tired”. Another one where Todd and I trade off lead vocal lines. Also before we recorded it, Barry already had the whole production worked out in his head so he laid down all the guitar tracks. It turned out that they sounded so good there was nothing Todd or I could add or improve on, so we just left them as is.And this is the other tune Lenny played bass on.

JULY

Todd: Anyone who’s been in a band can understand where the next thought comes from. Being in an original band is one of the worse investments one could make. The expense versus the financial reward is vastly disproportionate. When we were in the infantile stages of pre-production, I approached my wife in hopes that we could use our basement to record drum tracks for one weekend. I was trying to reduce our expenses and thought this would be a good approach. Keep in mind in 2008 I started working on an indie film called DRAWING WITH CHALK which took much of my time, much of my money, and much of my house (we filmed a good portion of the film there) so it was completely understandable that my wife had issues with me continuing, and who could really blame her. Needless to say this question I posed to her (and we were on a family vacation at the time) didn’t go over well. A huge argument occurred making it uncomfortable for everyone. I was lost. My relationship with my wife and my passion for music once again butted heads. I went back to my room, pulled out the guitar and started playing. This was July. Do the lyrics represent the moment they were created in? No, but
the aggression and frustration does.

Kenny: I have to admit that this is the song I had the least to do with on the album. Todd wrote pretty much all of it and Barry totally killed it on the drums, which really pushes the song especially during the main riff and the middle 6/8 break part. Also, this is the other song Barry played 5 string bass on and again, it’s one of my favorite basslines on the album.

A PLACE FOR ME

Kenny: That song was a bitch! I don’t think we actually got it how we wanted it until the week before we went into mixing, so it actually came about 5-7 days away from being left off the album. The guitars and drums were always good, but the vocal was originally me singing solo in the verses and bridges with a harmony in the chorus, but a different one than you hear on the album. Well, Barry hated the bassline. And I mean, he actually said that he hated it and it wasn’t meant as an expression. And we all thought the vocals weren’t interesting and as a result, the song just laid there. Well, I think I recorded 3 or 4 different bass parts before I decided to switch to an Epiphone Viola bass. As soon as I did that, the sound was perfect and because it sounded so good, I finally hit on the right notes. And a little before the bass got finished Todd, as he often does, was up in his little home studio real late at night trying to figure out how to liven up the song and he came up with the high harmony that’s now throughout the entire song. So it went from a nice track with a solo vocal, some harmonies in the chorus and a bit of a laid back Manchester feel, to being a song that’s sung completely in two-part harmony from start to finish and now sounds to me like a lost kick-ass Teenage Fanclub track. I didn’t even know that Todd could sing that high until he laid down the vocals for it and I’m real thankful that he didn’t give up on the song, because we were so close to scrapping it and I thought that the message in the lyrics about not fitting in – “not quite the underground, not quite the hip, not quite the mainstream, I’m a misfit” – were crucial to the theme of the whole album.

Todd: Wow. This was a tough one (and we damn near gave up on it numerous times). It’s fortunate that we sing all vocals at my little home studio and that gives me a chance to experiment. And I did. I tried everything for this song and once I realized that two part harmonies throughout was the answer, the song came together. Another reason to never give up as we are really pleased how this one came out.

FIRST SONG OF SUMMER

Kenny: That’s another older song that took years to finish. Again, we liked the verse and the chorus, but the pre-chorus was abysmal. Even after we got the music right for the pre-chorus, it wasn’t quite right until Barry came up with the thunder drums that really carry that entire part. I especially like the lyrics because they’re nostalgic without being cloying or sentimental and there’s no rhymes, which is something that really lets you get descriptive. I also think it’s a great driving song, which makes sense for a song that references summer, and I really like my lead vocal on this one too.

Todd: This was Ken’s song. I had a suggestion to break up the pre-chorus a bit and give it more punch and then Barry filled in the part with those explosive drums.

SECONDS

Kenny: We wrote this as kind of a love song to England before we went to Liverpool in 2012 to play at the Cavern Club. We’d always had a starry-eyed vision that we’d somehow “fit in” if we ever got to go to the UK so when it was about to come true, we wrote this in anticipation of the trip just to let them know that we’d always wanted to end up playing there someday. Luckily, our premonitions were correct and we played to packed houses and enthusiastic crowds. Actually, it was even better than we thought it would be. Now if you read the lyrics, it’s obviously about more than going to Liverpool. It’s really about getting second chances in life, and Liverpool is just the catalyst that sets up everything else that comes afterwards.

Todd: I first came up with the song idea (once again playing it on acoustic guitar) but I knew that Ken would complete it with some nice electric parts. Our intent was to record a music video and this song would be our first single. As good as our Liverpool shows were, we really weren’t in the position to make a great video and the task was daunting to say the least. We scrapped the video idea but decided the song needed the right push (and thankfully to a very skilled mixing engineer – Mic Angelo – that it finally became the song we had envisioned.

IF I WERE GOD

Kenny: I’m going to have to say that I think this is probably my best written song, especially the lyrics. I don’t know if the guys would agree, but I think it says exactly what I wanted to say, exactly the way I wanted to say it. There isn’t one wasted word in there and if you really pay attention, you’ll end up get multiple meanings out of most of the lines. There’s a lot of psychological levels going on in there if you really open your mind and listen closely. Maybe one day I’ll explain the whole thing line by line, but I think it’s best if the listener figures it out, so I won’t explain it just yet except to say that the basic premise is to point out the hypocrisy and anti-social behavior of certain people who should know betterin our beautiful yet troubled little world.

Todd: I had very little to do creating this song but I was fortunate enough to create a music video to the song (and Ken’s lyrics gave me a lot to work with). Check it out on YouTube if you want to see it.

A LONG WAY HOME

Kenny: This is our little tribute to Pete Townshend and The Who with the 70’s Who guitar riff in the intro and the 60’s Who harmonies at the end of each line in the verses. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure about this one until we started mixing it. Once the mixing began I really got into the power of the drums, guitars and the harmonies. But I always liked the lyrics. There’s a lot of what I call “quotable lines” in this one. My favorites are the first line in the first verse: “They say that my cynicism isn’t smart or cute, it’s really negativity in a fancy suit” and the first few lines of the last verse: “This must be the prequel to a sequel that will never be the equal of anything that came before”.

Todd: This was a song we completed at out make shift recording studio. Ken and I stood with our acoustic guitars and finished the lyrics. Sometimes we work best under pressure and deadlines.

Kenny: Actually, we sat with our acoustic guitars to finish the lyrics, but yeah. What he said!

TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS

Todd: I love this song. I’ve spent many nights hearing John’s voice echo in my ears as the sitar draws me in and I always wanted to do a cover. It’s a difficult task covering one of The Beatles tunes since you have so much to live up to (and The Beatles are sacred to many). Once I realized that it wasn’t too expensive to license the song on physical media (CD) then I said we have no choice but to put it on the album. Would we draw criticism? Of course, but we also might open the door to potential music lovers who could appreciate what we attempted and might (I say MIGHT) be interested in hearing our original work. So far, so good. We had recorded all guitars, drums and vocals and we only needed the basstrack (which Ken or Barry usually lays down). I had this cheap bass guitar I had bought as a prop for our film “Drawing With Chalk” for $40 on eBay sitting in my studio and I was so anxious to hear how the song would sound with the bass line so I decided to plug it in. I didn’t expect much at all since, well… it was cheap, it had been beat up (I slammed it into the wall and threw it to the ground for a scene in the film), it had never been setup and still had the original strings on it from 7 years ago. Surprisingly the unfocused low rumble was exactly what the song needed. I think with a more defined bass sound that we usually go for it wouldn’t have worked as well for our take on the song. Something about that wide bottom end helped pull the tune together so we left it as is.

Kenny: We love to play Beatles songs (who doesn’t) and we’d been playing this in our live shows for a couple of years and audiences always dig it. Todd had the idea of recording it before we finished the album just so we had it documented. After a while the idea kind of grew into trying to put it on the album, but at first we thought we’d have to pay Sony, who still own The Beatles songs, too much money to use it. Todd did a little legwork and we were shocked when it didn’t cost much at all. But like Todd said, we only got permission to put it on the physical version. As a result, you can’t get the song if you download the album for iTunes or Amazon, and we had to do it as a CD bonus track. So if anyone wants
to get the track, they’ll have to pick up the CD at one of our shows or order it from CD Baby at

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Scott

From Pittsburgh, now in Florida, Cool Canadian artist wife , 4 great kids and two granddaughters!! I’m a lucky guy!

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