Singled Out: Lisa Savidge's Fire Exiting
First a little background. I did two combat tours in Iraq and a lot of awful things in-between working as part of a special ops/intelligence group. All in all, I would say the horror that I partook of during those years absolutely pales in comparison to the things you heard about on the news. Well, the weight of it all finally got to me and I snapped, finding myself back in the "real world" on a mental health status. That is, until a year later (after I'd already started writing for Lisa Savidge) when they tried to "backdoor draft" me for some more fun in the sun. All of the demons that I thought had been kept at bay with a steady diet of this country's primary legal - and incidentally most powerful - drug, alcohol, came out of the woodwork and I had a complete nervous breakdown.
They stuck me in these awful WWII barracks while they decided if I was fit for duty, and during this time (two weeks or so), I did not sleep, eat, and after about day three, could not stop my hands from shaking enough to perform even the most basic tasks. I felt as though the mind of a crazed and rabid monkey had been implanted into the body of a dying 80 year old man. Thankfully, the doctors there had two brain cells, and figured out that this whole ordeal probably wasn't a good idea and decided that I could go home.
By the time I got back, my symptoms hadn't improved much - I still couldn't sleep (or rest at all) and my hands were still shaking uncontrollably. I was relating this experience to Ellery (while under heavy sedation), who wrote down the bits that would work for a song ("capitalizing on your misery" as he called it). That's where most of the lyrics came from, except for the last one (and title line) which was in reference to a sign I had seen in the barracks. You see, above the door on the top floor (where I had been housed) there was a sign that said "Fire Exiting" - presumably meaning "Fire Exit" - which, when opened, revealed that the stairs had gone and nothing awaited you but a 30 foot vertical drop onto solid concrete. An apt metaphor for the military's treatment of their "damaged goods" if ever there was one.
Later on (when I could play guitar again), I took to the task of building a song that musically conveyed the feeling of losing one's mind. We went for a sparse, semi-instrumental arrangement to play on the way that everything becomes sort of abstract as your grip on the real slides, and built the whole thing around a drum beat that really can't decide if it's 3/4 or 4/4. The final piece came in a bit of production on the jittery rhythm guitar, which I wanted to use to convey a sense of paranoia. For this I used a ring modulator to create the sense that the listener is surrounded from the very beginning - no escape - and then double-tracked/hard panned the rhythm with my foot on the wah pedal, but moving it as little as I could. I think it sounds kind of like being submerged up to the ears in a hostile, staccato, organic mass.
I especially came to like the sheer beauty of the instrumental segments, as things can take on this paradoxical majesty when viewed from the bottom. Also, when it came time to record the vocals I did them leveled right to the clip line of a cheap tube preamp I had lying around so that the words would waver unpredictably between clear calmness and mad raving from moment to moment and capture the sort of twitchy nature I had developed.
People often ask me about my various experiences and what they were like, and I've never really had right words... This song's probably the closest I've ever gotten to being able to describe it.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself as you check out the video right here!