Song Talkings #3: “There’s Nothing Missing”

“There’s Nothing Missing” is a song that’s been stewing for a long time. It started out life as an instrumental for our Christmas album, and ended up as a song with about a million vocal parts and having nothing to do with Christmas. There are still elements of the song that belie its origins as a Christmas song, including the use of toy piano and sleigh bells (which I use on almost all our songs, Christmas or not), but I’m not sure it screams Christmas. Perhaps that’s part of why the person who owns the label that was going to release a Christmas album for us in 2011 kind of loathed this song. Oh well. I still really like it. It’s not one of my favorite TVM songs, but I’m still quite pleased with it.

This song is a collaboration with Jake Hite, who was the full-time drummer of the band from 2008-2012 and will continue to play in the studio with us as needed. He’s also an electronic musician who performs under the name Discoma (best electronic band name ever). He created the basic structure of the song and sent me a bunch of synth tracks containing pads, bass, and leads, but no beats, interestingly enough. I added the beats, toy piano, sleigh bells, backing vocals, electric guitar, and bass harmonica (more about that later). At first, I relied on one of Jake’s synth leads to provide the main melody of the song. I just couldn’t see singing a vocal over it because it varied as much as a vocal would and would clash with anything I could have sung over it. That’s why I initially thought that this song would be an instrumental. I sent a rough mix of the instrumental version to the owner of the label, and, as I mentioned before, he really didn’t like it at all. So, the song sat on my hard drive for quite a while.

When the time came to make our new EP, I decided to revisit this song, only this time I got some input from Elijah Jensen (our guitarist and my brother) and Brion Rushton (our bass player). They both provided valuable insights, and both agreed that the song was too long, that it needed a vocal, and that I should probably take out the melodic lead that Jake sent. After I took out this lead, it was easy enough to improvise and refine a melody over the backing tracks. After coming up with the harmonies and melodies, editing the song down quite a bit, and adding the super high descending guitar leads, I felt the song was more than good enough to include on our EP. I hope you agree.

My absolute favorite thing about the song is the use of bongos and bass harmonica in the second half of the song. I think it gives it quite a Pet Sounds vibe, and I’ve had a couple people mention that to me as well. Since the bass harmonica isn’t the most well-known instrument in the world I thought I’d make a little video where I show you my bass harmonica and demonstrated what a crappy bass harmonica player I really am. Enjoy!

(Sorry for how quiet the video is. I’ll work on getting the levels up for our next one.)

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