Singled Out: Spirit Animal
"Lead!" is one of those 'FrankenTunes' that gives you great relief as a writer when it finally all fits together. The main riff was something that our guitarist, Cal Stamp, had introduced in several previous projects without it ever being totally right for those groups. Up to this point we'd mostly learned and played songs that the band had written when I lived in L.A. before Cal or Paul Michel (bass) joined. So this was really the first time one of the songs started this way, with all of us in a room looking at each other going, "got anything good?" He broke this riff out and it immediately made sense for our new sound: heavy as hell but also with a precision to it, something that would challenge the rest of the guys to make something special happen.
The lyrics, the opening ones at least, had a similarly long history to them. Before Spirit Animal gave me the chance to be in a real band I was doing solo stuff but I wanted badly to do a concept project called Hellvis Deathly where a four-piece would record minute-long speed metal songs and then slow them down like chopped and screwed sizzurp music so they'd wind up as two or three minute rock songs. The opening lyric in "Lead!" ("This is a test / this will always be a test / this is a test, at last, that you can't pass / at least this is a test") was initially the first line of the original Hellvis Deathly tune that never got recorded. It was the first thing out of my mouth when we were messing with "Lead!" so I just ran with it.
Conceptually, this song is about things becoming obsolete: keyboards because nobody plays them anyone, they just use computers; magazines because nobody reads them anymore (except Anti Music!!!), they just look online; and lead because nobody uses pencils anymore, they just type. It might seem sort of depressing but it's important to talk honestly about cultural phenomenons, to make light of them and to take responsibility for them. By doing this it's more inclusive and it can be a celebration of our flaws and the direction we're all headed. We're not saying, "you're all idiots, you should keep using keyboards, magazines and pencils." We're saying. "we're all idiots!" And I think that's just more awesome and positive.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!