The story of this album begins in Tom Wagner's basement. A couple kids from Neighboring towns walled up with our instruments in a dank, dark, musty and muggy underground practice space that we shared with a Bruce Springsteen cover band. The Scissors had been performing all over Chicagoland from 2002 to early 2004 in support of our first full length album, Tijeras. In the Fall of 2004 we got underway with the demos that would eventually become, VIVA. I Started recording those with my brothers old "Dr. Rhythm" drum machine and an acoustic guitar. I had a lot of ideas back then. Some pretty great, and some not so great. Over the next couple years, The band would shape those demos together in that basement on Maple avenue in Lombard, Il.
After 10 years of keeping this material to myself, I thought it was a good time to let 'em loose. I'm aware that VIVA isn't the type of album that would warrant some sort of reunion tour or grandiose re-release. Many people don't even know it exists. I wanted this to be more of a look into the creative process than getting involved in some kind of convoluted self indulgent renaissance. The bulk of these recordings will be ruff on the ears, but hearing them together is a glimpse into the process of making an album. A "behind the scenes" type of deal as it were.
I've included a brief story behind each song with the demo attached to it. In some cases i've added a photo or video that will help to place the content with the time period. The playlist(s) of the full length final album (spotify) and the full demo playlist (soundcloud) is also attached below in the event that you'd rather dive into the songs without reading or viewing the accompanying material.
VIVA wasn't 2007's smash hit record by any means, but it was a dedicated attempt to write some great songs and take our band to another level artistically, creatively, and sonically. Hope you'll enjoy.
Whisper Man was one of the first songs I got into for VIVA. I experimented a lot with low harmonies during this time. This song set the stage for what the album was going to be. It's a tale of a group of kids heading out through the night in Transylvania to find Count Dracula and kill him. I love the imagery of night falling with those kids completely freaking out that Dracula is going to wake up and turn the tables on 'em.
Trauma I wrote this song about my girlfriend at the time. I was always one foot in and one foot out back then. 'Spose that had a lot to do with being younger and partying too much with my friends. I felt torn between the two. In this one i'm splitting time trying to give her advice while mentioning the things that annoyed me. Today I'd be thrilled if a girl I dated was interested (in me) or at the very least in my record collection. Sounds kick ass now, but that wasn't the case in 2005.
Take No Prisoners Around 2002 I got real heavy into the films of David Lean. Take No Prisoners is a direct rip from his film Lawrence of Arabia. I wanted to convey what it feels like to be pushed to the brink. You know, when someone just pushes and pushes your buttons until one day you go fucking nuts on 'em and they're like "what the fuck dude!?!! What's wrong with you." Yea, as if you don't know dick.
Cobra Zone "The Enemy" was a common theme in The Scissors. I liked (and still do) to write songs about shit that bothers me. Here i'm talking about those bookish smart guy types. I guess today you'd call 'em "hipsters." Back then I remember going to parties and there would be these cliques of dudes talking 'bout Bukowski and Nietzsche and acting like everyone else didn't know shit about it. "Oh you haven't read 'Ham on Rye?' Get fucked, bro." I remember hearing the term "Cobra Zone" somewhere and loved that as a name of an exclusive circle of dingbats. Weird way to sing about not fitting in, but that's the objective of this one.
The Games That You Play Some of the early demo's were mined for parts. For instance, this one was used for the Karate Bonnie bridge. It always kind of bugged me that we did that because I liked this one as a whole. Another one I wrote about my girlfriend at the time. Everything seemed so out of control when I was younger. Which of course ruled and I loved every minute of it.
Vampire Wake Something really special about this one. Our guitar player Steve wrote a lot of it. Love that guitar lick. It's a story of a guy waiting for daylight so he can kill himself because he turned into a vampire and killed his girlfriend. The line "A vampires kiss is one i'll miss but when the sunrise comes I'll clench my fists and pound them down upon your coffin lid" is so fucking fantastic to me. Really captures the emotion we were trying to convey. I think this one stands up and could of easily been included in the final album.
Slaying Song This song was used YEARS later when we wrote the song Hard As Fuck. We mined that entire verse. This song was inspired by the movie Unforgiven. A man with nothing to lose that used to be a no good son of a bitch, but had been cured of his wicked past. Stopped drinking, killing, etc. The verses talk about the duality of the character, and in the chorus we find that you can't take the bastard out of the man. Also there's a really huge Misfits homage in this tune. Can you spot it?
Silence This is the shell of what eventually became Every Single One on the final record. It's from a victims perspective. A story about two lovers who find themselves in a hostage situation after the boyfriend commits a bunch of murders in town. They're trying to size up one another and find a way out of the situation...which of course, there is not.
Your Band Was Fucking Great Is the song that would eventually become Spring Break on the final album. I wrote it about my best friends band, The Brockmeyers. I think the lyrics will kinda tell the story. We had another version of this with the lyrics poking fun at a rival local band but I decided to omit that one 'cause this one's got a little more heart.
Wait For This Since I was a kid I've suffered from Asthma attacks. Pretty brutal ones at that. Back in '05 before I was going on runs to condition my lungs I'd have terrible 'bouts with trying to get air. This song is about waiting for one of those attacks to happen and what it felt like. Seriously debilitating.
Lies and Sorrows To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what the hell this one is about. I know I wrote it about my girlfriend at the time, and I think I was just channeling some kind of vague emo shit in the hopes she'd hear it and think i was deep or something. Either way, I dig this one and I hope somewhere she hears it and thinks I'm deep.
Silhouette's I was watching Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" one night and got inspired to write this song. I don't think it would of been a good fit for Viva but it was a song I remember wanting to make less "punk" and think it out a bit more. Some cool back ups and a great bridge came out of it.
Everything But What I Want I used to (and still do) think about how meaningless material possessions are. This song was an attempt to say "hey, you can give me all this shit but I just want you. There's nothing you can give to someone that is going to make them truly like you more if they don't like you already. Getting shit is cool, don't get me wrong..but if ya love someone then that shit is just like a bonus.
Karate Bonnie Looking back on this demo, it really shaped a lot of what would happen with band members and friendships inside and outside of the band. I almost omitted it from this lot but then I wouldn't be painting a complete picture. Eventually we chose the name Karate Bonnie to make it less about a specific person and more about a girl who digs a band (the scissors, of course).
Making Progress This was in response to a lot of detractors telling me "you should do it this way" or "have you thought about trying it like this?" I was never really good at being told how to write a song. I've eased way up on that in the past 10 years..but back then it was a hot button that sparked this song. "Don't tell me what I can't do." - John Locke
Saturday Night Turning Blue This one's a little hard to re-live, but I like it a great deal. I wrote it the morning after I heard that my good friend tried to kill himself. I should of spent some more time writing a bridge to it and re-shaping some of the progression. Glad he survived tho and fuck that was a tough time for all of us.
Angel With Angel, I have to say that I was just throwing a bunch of lyrics together cause I really loved this melody and progression. So it didn't really have a real rhyme or reason until our drummer Dave took hold and wrote the humorous/crude lyrics that are on the final album version. I remember singing this in the studio and our engineer Matt said, "Dude are you sure you guys don't want to change these lyrics? They'll live on there forever." Yikes!
Follow This song appeared on The Scissors second to last album "You Can Make It Dangerous." It was first demo'd for Viva, but didn't seem to fit in the end. I wrote it for my best friend who's brother had passed away suddenly.
Spending This is just kind of like a fuck you to the record labels and bands that are so hell bent on getting signed.
Whisper Man - Full Band Demo Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Missing MIA - When I was younger I got hit with really bad anxiety. I wrote this song about feeling lost in life. "Gotta find out what my mission is: More TV, More Beer, More sedatives. I gotta calm down this used to be under control. But I never want a life that's full of shit and it looks as though I can't avoid it." Still one of my absolute favorite written lines of all time.
Back 2 School - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Silence - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
You Can't Just Go Around Killing People - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Permanent Midnight - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Angel - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Eraser - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Karate Bonnie - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Spring Break - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
Choke - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
The Hating Game - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.
The Man - Full Band Recorded on my digital 8-Track in Tom Wagner's basement.