Singled Out: American Tears' Fire Down Below
Prog veterans American Tears recently released their new album "White Flags" and to celebrate we asked Mark Mangold to tell us about the epic song "Fire Down Below". Here is the story:
Fire Down Below, as with so many songs on this record and "Hard Core", unfolded in an organic way, in the moment...just playing and "what's next".
I wanted to start the song with an earth shaking low end, maximize the bottom that could rattle the speakers, and then discovered/created the heavenly-ish lines above it. Being a fan of Bonham, and wierd timing, the drums just did what they did in no particular time signature. It all crescendoed into the riff which could have been played on a guitar but we don't play guitar ha ha so it's a grindy Hammond organ...probably my favorite instrument. It flows and morphs from one section and energy to another...I like putting something aggressive, kick ass, even ugly, next to something beautiful, lush or that, hopefully, sweeps you away. Def into tapestries and combinations of sounds that mesh to create a "thing" that they don't individually have. The goal is to get the hair on your/my arms to stand up...which cannot be planned...and which reveals some sort of connection or emotional response to the music or mood or moment. That kind of thing can't be controlled, analyzed or duplicated...it's instinct, I think, maybe prehistoric...but whatever it is it means we are HUMAN and that moment is what I always strive for and which, when it happens, I try not to mess with. And then, at a point with no where else in particular to go, it launches into a blues shuffle thing and changes energy...and then figuring out how to get it back...which reveals itself in an instant...again just shifting energies and it must be natural, whatever that means. Alot of instinct involved as there are no "pop" rules or forms for this stuff...which I find makes it more creative and "true". A bit of trust involved. On a side note, I do notice that things depend on our level of patience...when do we get sick of something and want to move on. My feeling is the time has gotten shorter and shorter...may depend on what your are smoking or the generation you are in. These days it's almost all about sound bites in our lives...no patience ha ha. This theory just occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was listening to another group...from around the 70's and it was "MOVE ON" already...we don't need to hear that again...ha ha. The worst thing we can be is BORING ha ha.
Behind it all somehow is the idea of "Fire Down Below" which revealed itself as I was mumbling some non-sensical lyrics and melodies over part of the track...ie. where to sing, what to sing. I find the unconscious takes care of that and "knows" what belongs where and what it's supposed to do. Very often I am singing sounds that will morph into the words that they sound like...just going along with the energy. I know I am not the only person who does it that way ha ha. The subconscious is an amazing and faithful servant if you give it a task.
Anyway, the idea of Fire Down Below has to do with alot of things, life force, survival instinct, sex drive, motivation...that "thing" that makes us human and keeps us going...in fact maybe we don't even need to be human...just alive. The lyrics follow the mood of the music they are matched with and, as I look back at it, I guess it's in sections...who knew ha ha. No matter who you are...what you do, what sins you may have committed...you have a Fire Down Below. Then it flows into a seduction sequence...let's party...and the Fire Down Below is an energy to be free and release...live life. As the lush Mellotron section comes in it becomes about survival...as the darkness and tide tries to bring you down...FIGHT IT...you have the Fire Down Below...and that may mean simply surrender...and trust...it's all gonna be OK. Simply Hold On...to the Fire Down Below. Essentially at it's heart, it's love.
I was not too concerned about time constraints for the song, it's over 9 minutes, and thankfully people are liking that aspect...so..NOW I have permission ha ha. Look out....:))
I guess my last comment, regarding "Bring back Jack"...Jack is the son of my close friend Al Fritsch from Drive, She Said. Sadly, Al passed away last year too f***ing young. I was kind of talking to/about Jack in that moment...not exactly sure...but the melody and lyric just came out...and maybe at some point I will understand fully what it means in this thing we call the English language...All I know is it reminds me of Al and Jack, and expresses a deep regret and a wish to bring it, and Al, back to where we were. Not a single day goes by...but that's another song.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself right here!
Singled Out: American Tears' Fire Down Below