The Chase

The Chase is a songwriting team from London, Canada founded by Adam Fearnall and Tom McIntosh.

"August 3rd" (Session #4)

It’s 7:30pm on October 18, 2017 and Tom and I are back at the song that we are calling August 3rd. It’s interesting that we’re calling this one August 3rd because the first track that we wrote on our EP was called August 31st until we named it All We Are. This isn’t a trend yet, I don’t think.

I think you need three data points before it becomes a trend.

This is an important session because a verse starts to emerge. It’s a verse that really draws on Tom’s melody skills. He gets me to experiment with digging for a slight variation from what I’d normally write at :23 seconds. I can’t find the note in this recording, but I know what we’re going for. I also struggle with the pre-chorus at :38 and :44 but you get the idea.

We also start to play with a couple of little verse lyric ideas.

Staying up nights, roaming the halls where nothing’s wrong

When I write lyrics, I often start off by mumble-singing whatever pops into my mind that has the appropriate number of syllables to fit the melody. In this case I was guided by our chorus concept, which, in my head is set in a residence room at a university. This first draft of a first line for a verse wasn’t planned, but it seems like an attempt to reference the halls outside of the four walls of a tiny room. I think that I’m trying to explore how the four walls of the room (or the walls of your mind and body) are equally good at keeping you safe and trapped in fear.

I remember, as the session progressed, experimenting with taking the scene out of a university residence and placing it inside of a home where two lovers are living together. That’s where the other somewhat audible line comes in.

In my hands one ring, keeps spinning round, keeps spinning round

This is what I’d call an “on the nose” lyric. The word ring kind of makes me squirm. It feels like the song could quickly tip into cliché because of the strong associations that the ring provokes. We left it in because it has the potential to be powerful but only if we make a really clear decision about what the song is about. We threw around ideas about someone agonizing about a proposal, but thankfully (in my opinion) we didn’t fall completely down this rabbit hole.

And that brings us back to the chorus which in my opinion still sounds, “bitchin’.” However, I’m still not confident that the lyrics say enough. This song is important to me because of the source material in my head. The inspiration for the scene came from a story told by someone very close to me and I’m feeling quite responsible for communicating the depth of feeling that they expressed to me. It’s like I’m caught between communicating how it felt to be trusted with the story and describing what it felt like to experience the situation.

In particular, I’m not totally pumped about the last two lines, “footsteps on the road to almost home/I’m happy leaving now” They’re not far off, but they lose some of the specificity of the original story in favour of something more singable and more generic. They also just seem to lack direction. I’m also wondering if there should be a second set of lyrics for the second time through the chorus. The benefit to doing that is that I get to communicate more of a story, but the downside is that it’s less singable and more likely to feel wordy.

At any rate, we finish off the session with a decent concept for a verse and without messing with the chorus. That’s a win in my books.

As I wrote this post I listened to the clip on repeat and didn’t hate it by the end. I enjoy listening to it because the guitar and piano end up balancing out nicely (especially the texture of the guitar strumming), Tom sings some nice harmonies, and the base notes in the piano start to really sync up with the guitar towards the end of the chorus.

We haven’t made a decision about what the song is trying to say yet and as you’ll find out next time, that proves to be a fairly significant hurdle.

"August 3rd" (Session #3)

After laying down a solid “nah, nah” chorus, I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment. This is a familiar and dangerous feeling for me. It’s dangerous because this sense of accomplishment comes with a heavy drop in motivation. It reminds me of a feeling that I had in University, after finishing a draft of an essay. I’d sit at my desk, contemplating whether I could get away with hitting submit or print without reading it again. Most times I fought against this feeling and did some rewriting and editing, but every so often I’d take a deep breath and just be done with it.

Finishing the “nah, nah” chorus put me (I’m not sure about Tom), in a similar place. I was feeling like we’d made a lot of progress. I knew that it wasn’t ready to submit, but I wanted the next part to come more easily.

It didn’t.

I spent three sessions, between August 16th and September 9th, on my own, banging ideas out on the piano. Scary things started happening: voice cracks, melody changes, random sounds, lyrics with puns. Somewhere in between Tom and I might have gathered to work, but if we did, we didn’t like anything because I don’t have recordings.

Amid the terror, something productive must have been happening because on September 13th a chorus with lyrics appears. I remember working out words on the whiteboard in my studio/office (one might call it a song shop) but I don’t have pictures anywhere that show the progress. At any rate, here is what we start with. Take a listen.

Take it slow, put the fear behind me
I’m all of the hero I need
Footsteps on the road to almost home
I’m happy leaving now
I’m happy leaving now
I’m happy leaving now

"August 3rd" (Session #2)

When we set out on our Songshop experiment, we had big plans. We were going to post something like weekly because well, we were writing weekly.

Unsurprisingly we failed, like for serious failed, uhhh…failed BIG. In case you’re wondering that’s the technical phrase for “committed publicly to a new project and then didn’t do it even a bit.”

This is redemption time, but maybe, don’t trust us? This could be a mirage.

We recorded the bones of the song “August 3rd” on, you guessed it, August 3rd, 2017. We posted it four days later on August 7th, 2017. If our little idea isn’t still stuck in your head, refresh your memory below.

Tonight, November 28th, 2018, I’m sitting at home with my Calgary Flames hat for some unexplained reason that has to do with all sorts of explainable things that I suspect I’ll write about someday (figure that shit out), I dove into the voice note archives and realized that this song has a path worth following.

So, 482 days later, on August 16th, 2017 (I counted, are you really going to check my math?), I want you to hear where we go next.

We pick up the session sometime around 7:30pm after we’ve been at it for a little while. Listening back to the tape, we cycle through a lot of bad ideas before Tom hits on something and says, “that’s the chorus.” Next, we fiddle around, figuring out chords, and some harmonies (kinda) at which point Tom says, “that’s a bitchin’ chorus.” I obviously am as cool as he is so I echo, in my super comfortable Adam-swears-not-that-much voice, “that is a bitchin’ chorus.” Then, a little more Tom wisdom, “you gotta be free with it.” Then, before we leave for the night we give it a little performance, complete with “nah, nahs,” and a Tom vocal tag at the end.

A quick warning, this track is a little longer, so if you’re super impatient and don’t know to find out how we got to what we left the session with (I mean, who are you if you don’t want to hear that?), skip ahead to 2:25.

We’re older than we were then!

We’re older than we were then!

"August 3rd" (Session #1)

The Songwriting Sessions give you a look inside of our songwriting process. These are the demos that we create in The Chase Song Shop. Each time that we get together, we leave with a snippet of verse, chorus, or bridge. As a songwriting team, we aspire to work with people to develop creative processes that help them to feel alive, this is a look inside our process.

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Welcome to Our Song Shop

I think, for now, what we have to share is our process. A window into the way that we keep our friendship, our songwriting, and our dreams alive. A process for chasing, I think. The message, if you want to call it that, is that anyone can have a creative process. Songwriting is a form of creating; something that we can all do. Occasionally our creative process results in verses, choruses, and bridges, and sometimes there's no song to capture. The important thing is that we keep showing up and keep noticing the moments that make us to feel alive.

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