United Dictators of Mars: The Music of Tom Mody & Jeffrey Harris

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cover art for UDM album Questions for God

Jeffrey Harris - voices Tom Mody - music

United Dictators of Mars
Questions for God
released 2008
songs:
L' Chai-im
That's Life
If I'm Falling
Piece of Heaven
Universal Holocaust
Heavy Dreams
Man in the Moon
Push
When I Die
Prediction... Pain!
Peace of Heaven
Answers [song info & play]
BONUS TRACKS  
The Sign [song info & play]
"Heavy" Heavy Dreams [song info & play]
BONUS DVD  
Making "When I Die" [song info & play]
VIDEO: When I Die [song info & play]
VIDEO: Peace of Heaven [song info & play]
VIDEO: Heavy Dreams [song info & play]
Out Takes [song info & play]
 
::.::| LINER NOTES |.::...:.

I can't believe it was 7 years between UDM releases. And "Smash Hits" was just suppose to be a little studio warm-up. Well, life gets in the way. I moved and had to rebuild a studio space plus acclomate myself to new software but it's finally complete. Oh, I fathered 2 kids as well.

Jeff and I made our first official demos twenty years ago to the completion of this CD. It's great to know that after all that time we had written and recorded our most varied and progressive album to date. And yet after all that time it was still very much a learning process, particularly from a technology end. But what started out as a plan to recapture the fury of our 1994 Archivon demos and in essence complete that 3 song project to a full album took a completely different direction and all attempts to keep on that track were not meant to be.

The 3 songs, That's Life, Heavy Dreams and Universal Holocaust from the '94 demos were so damn aggressive but recorded on an 8 track cassette multi-track. I wanted them updated and better and for all the writing to follow in that line. The drumming was so great on those old demos but I use a drum machine now and I didn't feel I could convincingly capture the reality of live drumming so I decided to not try or hide that fact with a little expirement that probably didn't work. Instead of the drum tom sounds available in the DR-5 drum machine I decided to use a set of 5 electronic kick drums tuned from high to low as a tom replacement. In the actual solo drum tracks I really liked the fresher techno vibe but once it was mixed with the music it's effect got lost in the mix and didn't consistently come across well. Another big obstacle with the old songs is that Jeff quickly became disinterested in them though I thought his performance on 2 of them were great, we had issues with "Heavy" Heavy Dreams. My intention was to have these 3 songs lead off the album and we butted heads over this. The othe reason for that is that I wanted a chronological progression to the album. Some songs were written as a whole or in pieces after the completion of "Smash Hits" in 2002. They would follow the '94 songs and then the CD would close out with all new material which began writing in '06. I was pretty stubborn about this until the end of the process and I realized Jeff was right and that it needed to be configured with some fresheness up front though I did keep my original intention of having That's Life open the album, with a little help from the opening seque. The final issue in my whole "plan" is that we simply don't write music the way we did 14 years ago. I attempted to do so on a few occassions with mixed results like the song Prediction... Pain! which ended up being as much whimsical as it was furious.

The best songs were the ones that had captured our essence from those very first songs we wrote in 1988- just being dramatic and progressive in what ever level of heaviness happened to come out. So what intended to be an album with a thread to these brutally aggressive songs from '94 turned into a thread of another type- lyrical content! It soon became clear that we were lyrically writing in a thematic way as pertaining to questions of our life experiences which I ultimately determined as "Questions for God". When Jeff liked that approach we continued to write with that theme in mind.

I can say that this album from a lyrical and performance standpoint is just perfect. Actually, lyrically it's off the charts in my opinion but maybe a bit too personal for comfort in some spots. I would be really hard pressed to find any areas of performance that I consider unacceptable comparative to all our other releases. The big issue in making this CD perfect for my ears is production... and that falls on me. One of the great things I was able to do is get a rumbling low end into the sound of every song and that really fills out on a quality home system. It doesn't really translate to computer speakers for which so many people hear your songs these days. I still have a long ways to go in capturing guitar and bass powerfully in the recording process. The fact is I don't play live anymore so I don't have a live rig. All of the bass and guitar was recorded via the "POD" direct. Though the CD has a consistent and unique sound which is always a necessity in separating you from everything else out there it still maintains an amateur finish when it's all said and done. And it certainly was written with many approaches to the classic metal of our great influences like Priest, Maiden & Queensryche. Bands that are still relevant today but certainly not on the cutting edge of newness.

The album cover artwork was an idea I had midway into the project once the title was determined. That's my daughter shot in my home with a little glow from a big window. I cut her out and placed her on a desolate lunar landscape. I thought it was conceptually a great piece though I think I needed to work a little harder on the drop shadow of her legs on the rock. I'm not sure it's natural enough. Conceptually some of the CD artwork featuers a broken cross on the back jacket then a taped up repaired cross in the jacket fold. It symbolizes of coure how faith can be damaged and we need to repair it by any cob-job means possible to continue. But that wasn't thought out on my part. During the filming of the video for Piece of Heaven I was tossing the cross and catching it for the end segment and as seen in the video out takes I dropped it and it broke during filming and thus the concept was born out of my clumsy error

And speaking of videos what really excites me about this album as a whole is the 2nd disc DVD which contains a documentary on making When I Die and our first ever music videos. The videos might be the most satisfying accomplishment of the whole project. They came out beyond my wildest expectations.

All in all, if this was to be the last album I made (which it's not) then I can go out with this knowing the performances are all pro in my opinion. I can't always control the production, I just need better gear and more experience, but the writing and playing is what I can control and it's as good as I can ask for from myself and Jeff.

 

Tom Mody
2008


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