Singled Out: The Static Sea's Whatever You Want
Back in 2010 when Brandon Kleiber and I first started The Static Sea, it took about a month until I had a full song to contribute to the project. I played around with a few guitar riffs and random melodies that I would present, but most of them wound up being garbage. We had already written the three tracks of Brandon's that ended up being on EP, so I was starting to feel the pressure.
One afternoon while Brandon was out getting coffee, I started playing the song that eventually became "Whatever You Want." I showed what I had to Brandon and he immediately wrote the bridge. It was amazing. I finally finished a song for the first time in years. I was thrilled. I remember putting our new track on my iPod and I wrote the lyrics on the way back from Jersey City to my home in Montclair. I called it "Breathe Fire."
We got together a couple of days afterwards and Brandon set up the mic for me to do my first lead vocal track for our new band. I remember being mortified, having to sing in his apartment with him in the room and his roommates partying behind the door. After I finished the vocals, we hooked up his computer to his massive Peavy monitors and played it back. It was… the worst thing I had ever heard in my life. I think it's hard to tell whether or not your lyrics are terrible until you actually stand in front of a microphone and attempt to sing your words with conviction. I was so discouraged that I wound up canning the song.
We worked throughout the rest of 2010 and in March of 2011, we had released our debut EP exactly two days after the last guitar part was recorded. For this EP, I had written three songs that I was, and still am, truly proud. All was well. One week after the EP was out the door, we started the next one.
A few weeks into the writing/recording, we had already written the next six songs that we intended to put on our second EP. Brandon and I worked so well together and we moved so quickly and consistently. I felt like this band, or duo really, was starting to become something special. I was absolutely certain that I needed to do this all the time, everyday, and it was going to pay off. The more time we spent doing what we were doing, the more I wanted to give this project my full, uninterrupted attention. Unfortunately there was something else going on in my life that required exactly the same.
I had been going to a trade school for the past year and a half for a trade that is sort of a family business. A very successful business. It was a trade that I happened to be very good at and one that would have made me a lot of money. I entered this school to prove to myself and my family that I was capable of doing something responsible on my own and seeing it through to the very end. I've never finished anything of value in my life. I'm a high school dropout and previous college dropout. I broke up my first band that I fronted for five years the moment the going got a little tough. I quit my childhood baseball team that I loved and spent years on because I wanted to go swimming one day! I make very irrational decisions under pressure. Or swimming pools. It was a big deal that I was committing to something "for real this time" and while I was attending this school, it felt really good to not be looked at as a f**k-up for once.
Eventually, I had to come to grips with the fact that I wasn't going to finish. I physically and mentally could not bring myself to commute to the college any longer. I had two semesters left, but my head was permanently in the clouds. I was failing tests left and right, each failure equalling more wasted time and money. I felt like I had no choice, and quitting was a tough thing to do. The toughest. I knew that everyone close to me was going to be so disappointed. I was thousands of dollars in debt for something I couldn't finish. Again.
I became very depressed, but since I decided to take the starving artist route, that meant that it was time to encapsulate these emotions via song. Small victory, yay. I kept going back in my head to that awful "Breathe Fire" song and the opening line: "Whatever you want." I liked that. I was so distraught over how I might be perceived after letting everybody down. The fact that I may have seriously messed up my own life meant nothing to me. It still means nothing. But if I could have just done anything to make everyone else happy, I would have. But as I previously stated, my brain doesn't work like a rational human being's does. I ditched the rest of the lyrics except for that opening line and wrote new ones almost instantaneously.
I wrote the song under the guise of a failing relationship. This impossible situation of two people who want nothing more than to be together but human nature won't allow them. No matter how much they dwell on the beautiful times that were had between them, things have changed and they're not going to change back. They make a choice to hang on as long as they can but the stress and misery slowly destroy them. The opening and closing lines of the song are the same ("Whatever you want") but the context is different. In the beginning, it's a confident promise of endless happiness. That promise swiftly changes and in the end, "whatever you want" becomes a desperate and defeated sigh.
I presented the song to Brandon. He set up the microphone and I sang the words with conviction. I had some ideas for harmonies to fill up some empty space and we recorded them quickly. I remember after finishing my last vocal part, I had went down the hall and into Brandon's kitchen to get a glass of water. As I was walking back, he started playing the song through those massive Peavy speakers. The four-part harmonies were bouncing off the walls of the hallway and I heard myself singing back these terrible things I desperately wanted to get off my chest and it was the best thing ever to me. It helped ease my sadness and guilt and I saw again what I was making this sacrifice for. I felt like I had made the right choice. This band was the only thing that made me feel at peace, and to this day it still continues to do so. Granted, I haven't been invited to any pool parties as of late.
At the very moment that the song stopped playing, we decided that we were no longer going to make another EP. We now had seven songs. Soon we would have five more and "Third Parties," our perfectly flawed picture of our first steps into a truly scary place-- disguised as a full-length pop album-- would be born. Another small victory. Maybe even one of value.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!