Behind the Band

A self-study I performed on the Battle of Jericho and the life of Joshua inspired the lyrics to “Rocket Fuel”.  The lyrics are about overcoming fear and its deception in order to run with reckless abandon to take down our adversary and receive the inheritance waiting for each of us, which I believe to be a predestined and personalized place of fulfillment.

We live in a society where anxiety and fear have kept so many people from attaining what was meant for them in their life story.  As I am re-entering my own post-Covid world, I am finding the best way to deal with battles is to dive in instead of waste too much time in a place of contemplation; I am finding that the battle is actually more comfortable to be in than the fearful place of contemplating whether or not to fight at all.

 Personally, I am not a fan of sitting in confined spaces with large groups of people; it’s like there is no way out.  I don’t know why, but it’s a little Jericho I am getting over, which is kind of embarrassing when you compare something as minuscule as that to charging a bunch of giants with swords.  However, it’s one of my battles right now.  We each have one; yet, diving straight in is like ripping off a band-aid.  It is quicker and less mentally painful than sitting there and thinking about it.

In the beginning, the Israelites let fear obstruct their ability to take what was rightfully theirs.  Aside from Joshua and Caleb, who both had faith they would defeat the Canaanites from the very beginning, the majority were so afraid of them that they refused to step foot into the land that was promised to them.  Years later, after Moses’ death, Joshua was given instructions that would close what could have been a gap in our existence unless he dove right in for it.

I love reading the remarkable encounter and itinerary given to Joshua prior to engaging in one of the most legendary battles of our existence:

“And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.” Joshua 6:2-5 NKJV

“Imaginations” expresses the emotions of a high-school senior who is torn between remaining with his girlfriend and the possibilities of being liberated to venture into the vast, intriguing unknowns of college life that high-school seniors can only imagine. For seniors in high school, the final January-through-June adventure is so individualistically unique. The dreams, expectations, and unknowns are ever-so authenticated for that person specifically. During all of the single times that a person faces, this is one of the most critical times of life. We all have known or will know that. I wrote this song many years ago when I was a senior in high school and getting ready to step into a new life medium.

The writing of this song was truly a journey. This song definitely has many more implicit features, and I would even legitimize criticism of the lyrics because there was a lot of intentionality in trying to express my feelings, all the while keeping the meaning of the song secret when I first wrote it. When we revisited this song many years later, I realized that there were parts of the song that I was writing to just finish, rather than yield elements that could be comprehended. Furthermore, the second verse and bridge had to be lyrically reconstructed.

With all of the heartache that I’ve experienced with not being able to watch many of my songs come to life, it was such a blessing for me to turn on King’s mix and share a song I had written many years ago with my children. I still remember penning the lyrics on the back page of a gas attendants’ fuel tracking sheet at B and B Mini Mart while working there in high school.

Being that I’m “spilling the beans” a little, does the song, for you as a listener, strike you differently with having prior knowledge of its meaning? Maybe. However, the hope is for all songs to be crafted to meet the needs of a writer for expression, yet enable the listener to make it their anthem.

I want to give a shout-out to our a good friend Jim Loomis. He was a part of building the rhythm to this song with Joshua King and me when the three of us first built the tune in high school.

I began to pen the lyrics to “Dust and the Ashes” after feeling compassion for all of those fighting the California Wildfires. My view from Pennsylvania left me hopeless in my endeavors to do anything for the people of California dealing with this terrible, ongoing apprehension. While drafting, I realized that many of us are facing battles in our own lives every day; the lyrics became a synthesis between the struggles of the inhabitants of those scorched areas, the firefighters, and all of us dealing with adversity in our day-to-day lives.

You are in a battle! Whether you are the smoke jumper I intended these lyrics to pump up initially, a Ukrainian soldier surrounded, a single-mom trying to make it, or someone fighting to close the door on a demon, we need to not only slay the dragon, but sweep-up the dust and the ashes and throw them away. If we don’t, the remembrance of dark times and tribulations will forever obstruct our paths towards happiness.

When you write lyrics, you venture towards tackling things that are bothersome and combat those things that afflict your sense of peace with songs to sustain tranquility for yourself. It becomes an antidote that you believe in personally, yet a vague, undefined trail of words appears to other people, and you hope they can relate to those words in their own ways individually and uniquely.

The lyrics to Something Else were initially directed towards Adolph Hitler and how one person’s selfishness can destroy the potential of so many people. Yes, this is an unorthodox concept to wrestle with; however, these are lyrics that I penned in high school while being easily impressionable and disconcerted.

If you destroy someone’s potential, you adversely impact those around them in which that potential could have reached as well. I can’t help but think with each genocide or even small-circled act of selfishness we can commit, “What books could they have written? What inventions could they have made? What songs could they have written? What diseases could they have cured?”

It’s pretty easy to point a finger at one of the evilest human beings that has ever lived, Hitler. Right? Now that I am older, however, I can point the finger at myself and determine if I am truly helping anyone that is reaching out, or if I am doing anything to maximize the potential of the people around me.

Final thoughts…
On a side note, the chorus drives home a Karma-like conclusion. Personally, I want people to know that this is NOT an integral ingredient to my life or spiritual philosophy. “What comes around goes around” is too true to ditch. Even though it was a major part of my thought process at the age in which I wrote the chorus, from that point until now, I have seen too many good things happen to bad people and too many bad things happen to good people to contest that the chorus’ lyrics should be the staple in the jam. I think the hope that Joshua and I have is that the song would encourage people to actually do more for those people that truly need help. That’s what really matters right now.

oval-studio-logoWhen Jesse and Joshua first started down the path of getting the “Overload in Stereo” project up and running they were both convinced of one thing. Because of their hectic schedules, they needed to focus only on recording and releasing music. Playing lives shows is currently out of the picture, at least for now. This gave Joshua the reason he was looking for to get back into recording, mixing, and producing music. At this point, “Cackling Dog Studios” was born.



The evolving studiomic in bedroom

Old studio

When Joshua first started out building his studio, he was living in a small 3 bedroom townhouse. So, a compact solution was needed for that time. Through multiple iterations, he finally settled on a setup that would work for this project. He used moving blankets in the master bedroom when recording vocals and focused primarily on using amp sims to get the tones they need.  This was because of the noise from live amps and being so close

to neighbors. He didn’t want to get shut down before starting. As for drums, they enlisted the help of Roy, who is oddly never around for any type of photographs. Although not an official member of the group, Roy has been fundamental in the drums of the music.

So, this is how we started working on songs like “Going Back,” “Something Else,” and the soon-to-be-released “Know What I Mean.” It wasn’t the best solution, but it was the solution that worked. It served its purpose well

for the time that Joshua lived there.

studioboothThe final version…for now

After moving to another location in the late summer of 2021. Joshua outfitted his basement into a full production studio. The studio has the space to record full live drums, a booth for vocals and amps, and is able to handle most mid-sized band needs. His studio mainly consists of a Universal Audio Apollo x8 with a Behringer ADA8200 piped in via ADAT to expand to a total of 16 channels.

The studio does have some outboard gear, such as Art Pro tube pre’s and optical compressors, but most of the mixing is done in the box. The recording is done using either Avid’s Pro Tools or Apple’s Logic Pro. It all depends on the song and what is needed. Aside from that, the studio is equipped with an array of microphones and a full drum set. The dead logic pro and deskspace is great for capturing sound without the nuisance of having room frequencies being an issue with the recording. It’s big enough for most amps as well as taller people. However, it does get a bit warm in there.

Ultimately, this new recording space has opened up much more potential for Overload in Stereo. Being able to track new songs when inspiration hits are invaluable. Not having to depend on external studios or services also proves to be much more beneficial to their more hectic schedules.



Honorable mentions

studio catjovie in the studioThe new space also comes equipped with a studio cat. That’s Mittens, he’s the mascot for Wobbly Cat Records. We also can not forget about Jovie, the Boston Terrier that was the inspiration for the namesake of the studio: Cackling Dog Studio.