PropertyOfZack Track-By-Track : : Mansions

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 5, 2011


Mansions is a name that we truly believe in here at PropertyOfZack, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to be posting our track-by-track of Dig Up The Dead today. Chris was kind enough to detail each song on the record, and he did a great job. Dig Up The Dead is out today, so make sure you buy it or at least give it a spin. Check out the meaning behind each of the ten songs below!

Dig Up The Dead
This was the last song written for the album, and it is probably my favorite. I don’t want to get too specific, but generally it’s about writing and playing music. It took me a little bit to figure out how to arrange this one, I didn’t want it to be just acoustic, but it didn’t feel like a full-band rock song either. The version on the record is the first version I recorded, which felt good, and the roomy vocals sound like our old apartment in North Carolina.

Blackest Sky
This one’s about getting older. I got really into the idea of having bass and drums stay pretty constistent throughout a song with just guitar and keyboard making the changes, and I think it worked pretty well. The instrumental bridge is probably the first “riff” I’ve ever written, and it surprised me when I wrote it. It made me feel cool for a minute haha. Did some fun knob twiddling with a delay pedal on the piano and the vocals, and the vocals are also going through a RAT distortion pedal. For whatever reason I got really into distorted vocals on this record, maybe as a crutch, but mostly just cause I think it sounds cool. My buddy Bryan played bass on this and came up with those cool fills in the choruses.

Not My Blood
Also known as “Adrenaline,” this was the first song written for the record, and it made me believe that maybe I’d be able to make something good. It was one of those rare instances where a song comes out all in one sitting, although it was acoustic and less minor sounding at first. Lyrically it is about being an introvert and a homebody, and being ok with that. There’s a ridiculous amount of guitar tracks on this song, mainly cause it is a combination of like three different recordings, including demos. There was just too much cool fuzz to leave anything out. There’s also a weird drum loop I recorded to cassette during the bridge. My dude Sal played drums on this and did a great job, and Bryan did bass.

City Don’t Care
Last spring I recorded a version of the album, but I wasn’t super happy with it. The recordings were missing something, and not all the songs were very good. So I basically threw out half the songs and rerecorded the others, and then tried to write some new ones over the summer. In one especially productive week, I wrote City Don’t Care, Close That Door, and Seven Years. This song is about that feeling of being anonymous in a big city. I have no idea where the bass riff came from, that’s a total mystery. The guitars are from the demo and recorded in a weird way, but I got attached to them.

Call Me When It’s Over
A breakup song that’s not about a girl. This one is 99% from the very first demo of the song, the first time I had played through it. Fuzz guitar with a mic in the room. I tried adding full drums and bass on this one, but It just didn’t add anything. The demo always had a rawness the other versions lacked, so we stuck with it.

This one’s about only having one life and one path you get to go down. I played the drums in our apartment and recorded them with one mic. Decided to take the slow-build approach and have each section of the song get a little louder and more intense. The counter-melody in the choruses was a late addition and seemed to make a big difference from earlier recordings.

Close That Door
Written at the same time as City Don’t Care and Seven Years, came out pretty much in one piece (except the chorus, that went through a few changes). Tried to get the shittiest and garagiest guitar tones, but somehow when they combined with the lead they suddenly sounded shiny and radio-friendly haha, so whatever. Lyrically it’s about not being a slave to the past and allowing yourself to change. The weird radio sounds are originally from a different song that didn’t make the cut. Basically I dialed a radio into NPR and ran it through a bunch of guitar pedals until it was unrecognizable.

Seven Years
This one’s about being selfish and my conflicted feelings about that. Robin (our bassist) sang some background vocals on this that really stepped it up a notch, the rest of it was all about reverb and atmosphere. One of my personal favorites, and the structure isn’t the usual verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus, which feels good. In the heavy instrumental part at the end, the synth plays the melody from “You Got Cool,” the next song.

You Got Cool
This one is the opposite of Close That Door, it’s about not forgetting or denying the past, eventhough you’ve changed. One of the earliest songs written for the record, this arrangement stayed pretty true to the demo. Some fun slide guitar in the bridge, and delay pedal stuff on the vocals.

Yer Voice
I wasn’t sure if this one would be on the record, honestly. I think I was nervous about the honesty and vulnerability of it, I don’t know, it seems like it’d be an easy one to make fun of. But I’m glad it’s on there, because it sums up a lot of my feelings about the past year, and the future, and it feels like a good final song. “And the one thing that I need is the dreams back in my sleep” is probably my favorite lyric on the album.

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