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  • Writer's pictureBret Helm

Song Title Reveal #4 featuring Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia

Updated: Nov 9, 2018

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And now for the fourth song title reveal…

Back in our pre-production listening session this past summer, this next song was marked by everyone as being one to possibly consider for the next record. At this point, ‘Planet of Me’ was a demo that I recorded in my little studio consisting of drums, a synth line and bass guitar. The original demo was called ‘September 02, 2014’ - named after the day that it was composed. It was one of those songs that I spontaneously created one evening and then forgot about. At some point I renamed it ‘Planet of Me’ and figured that I’d play it for Bart and Jason and see how they felt about it. Everyone liked this vocal-less idea, so I got to work on completing it.

Let's rewind. Back in 1997, Audra opened for a band called Lycia at The Atomic Cafe in Scottsdale, Arizona. That was the first time I met Mike VanPortfleet and Tara Vanflower - the husband and wife team behind the band. They were touring in support of their album Cold. A couple years later, we would become labelmates on Projekt Records. At some point in the early 2000s, Mike and Tara moved from Ohio to Arizona - coincidentally the same exact apartment complex that I had just moved out of. Strange. Anyways, over the years we’ve kept in touch, meeting up for coffee and swapping band stories. Great people. The kind of people that you’re hanging out with and don’t realize that the coffee shop closed an hour ago and the workers are giving you the eye because you just keep on talking.

Anyways, for the last couple of years I’ve been secretly wanting to collaborate on something with Mike, but opportunity never presented itself. That is until ‘Planet of Me.’

A little over a month ago, my wife Sarah and I met up with Mike and Tara to listen to the test pressings of their latest album - In Flickers. Sarah and I were both blown away by it. Seriously. Here’s the link to get yourself a copy.

So, after a couple of beers, I ask Mike if he’d like to add a guitar part to a song that I’ve been working on in 6/8 time with tribal drums - and he says, ‘Yeah.’ Cool. It’s on.

At this point, I’ve been working hard on the demo - sending updated versions to Bart and taking his feedback to continue to hone this song. One day my hands stumbled across an arpeggiated guitar part that was perfect for a bridge section. Vocals came quickly. By no means do I consider myself a traditional songwriter. I go where the song takes me - if that means the entire song has only 2 chords, then that’s what it has. ‘Plant of Me’ required a much grander structure.

So one Friday I went down to the studio with Josh (the engineer) and we laid down the basic tracks minus the drums. A few nights later, Jason came in and holy cow - the sound coming out of those toms was enormous. The next morning I sent the rough mix to Mike. He responded and said he’d get it back to me in a few weeks. Two days later, his guitar part had arrived. And it gave me goosebumps. I can’t wait for you all to hear it. Once again, thank you Mike.

‘Planet of Me’ has never been played live. We ran through it as a band during a rehearsal for our show with Gene Loves Jezebel back at the end of September, and that was the only time this song has been played together by the three of us. It’s an interesting way of writing and recording. In the past, songs would often be played live and refined that way. It’s super cool to have it all completed before it ever sees the light of day by the public. Bart and I have always set aside a song or two for each album that is written ‘in the studio’ - and we’ve kept up that tradition, but even more this time. It’s been a really fascinating process to hear these songs evolve from the original demo. Some of the songs have like 10+ versions of back and forth between Bart and myself. In the future, these might be boxset worthy. Hehe.

Thanks for reading, Bret

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