On 6 August 2018, to commemorate the second anniversary of the release of my 1st full length record,‘Life’, we released an acoustic rendition of ‘Somewhere’, the single from that record.
‘Somewhere’ has gone through different incarnations from its inception till today. In this blog, I’m going to tell you how this song came to be.
Lyrically, the song talks about a dream world where everything is great, peaceful and perfect and the real world where everything is built on lies, war and sorrow. I wrote those lyrics when I was 16; that tender age when I was transforming from a boy to a man. As I’m writing this blog, it just hit me that maybe, subconsciously, that song represents the mental shift I was going through as well. Children who lead normal childhoods are normally shielded from the bitterness, darkness and atrocities of the world. As those children grow up, they become exposed to all sorts of hardship that life brings with it. So at 16, I was at that pivotal point of seeing my world shifting from that perfect dream world to this cruel real world.
I started working on the music for this song with my old band and our producer back then in the summer of the year 2001. We wanted to make a demo tape to send to the labels and ‘Somewhere’ was supposed to be on that tape.
We went to my parent’s country house in Lebanon with our 4-track-recorder ( yup that was before GarageBand existed) to write and record those demoes. We spent our time there practicing to shoot with our hunting rifles and, like any normal teenage metal band, drinking. Amidst all the shot blasts, ringing of tin (this is the only thing we could hit because we were terrible hunters), junk food, tobacco, and alcohol, we managed to record the music to the first incarnation of ‘Somewhere’.
After recording the music, we needed to do the vocals.
Now, I don’t want to bore the non-musician reader with recording technicalities but I have to say these few words about recording vocals. In a studio, the singer sits in an insulated vocal booth and in the other room sits the producer, engineer and the rest of the band. In the vocal booth, the music is played through the singers headphones and in the other room, the music is played out loud. Therefore the singer sings in his insulated vocal booth without the outside sound seeping into the microphone. When you're recording vocals in a regular room (not a studio), only the singer hears the music through the headphones as he is singing into the microphone. Basically, you don’t want the loud music to seep into the microphone. So, aside from the singer, the rest of the people around will only hear the singer singing with NO music.
Another note that, for now, might seem irrelevant, but Lebanon is ahead of the USA by 7 hours in time.
Why have I told you all this you may ask? Well, we decided to record the vocals in my bedroom in my parents' house in Beirut on September 11 2001 at around 3pm Lebanon time ( 8am USA time). By 9:30 USA time, we all know what happened on that date. As the world was crumbling, I was screaming my lungs out into a microphone demoing ‘Somewhere’ completely unaware of the catastrophe that was happening in the world. I remember my mom walking into my bedroom in complete shock and disarray because she just watched on CNN what happened in the states ( at that point the details of the attacks were not clear yet and nobody really understood what was going on) and her son was screaming head bowed down into his fists (the typical pose of metal singers when they are screaming into the microphone) like an insane gorilla with his friend cheering him up (remember she couldn’t hear the music and thus didn’t know what we were doing). From the look of awe on her face, I think she thought that doomsday was coming then and there. Can you blame her?
“ Bloodshot eyes can never see
Endless cries of misery
Humanity dies from insanity
No more lies, want to be free”
I get chills down my spine every time I sing/read/listen to those words because, as I was singing those words of cataclysmic doomsday warning in my own cocoon, the world outside was falling apart.