I was planning on going to a Barbara Manning show one evening, and before I got out the door, I had come up with the bones of this song. I got into it deeper, and decided I was not going out at all. I finished the song, which was originally in the key of A, maybe on a detuned guitar. Either way, the song was moved a whole step down G. Well, the chorus is in Bb maybe. And the verse is C major? It’s possible it changes keys throughout. Definitely not in A in any case.
When I first started recording music in my house, I would spend a whole day programming machine drums, looking at a one-line LCD display on a MIDI keyboard. The final result, after all that work, was not so great. “Open Wide” was the first song I recorded with Bennett playing his drums. My friend Aaron Gregory showed me some basic tips on where to place the three microphones I had.
This song was completed but had no bass guitar, unlike every other demo I worked up. Months after I’d finished it, I’d met Pete Straus. He came in, played bass and sang a bit on the last verse, then had an idea for a big cymbal crash before the final chorus. There were no open tracks, so he hit the cymbal while I mixed the song. I had him isolated with headphones behind a door next to the furnace. We got through the whole song and when the big moment came, he messed up. The second try was the one.
With music, I have always done everything myself, after spending endless hours teaching myself how to do it. There is a personal satisfaction in knowing how to do it all, but I can’t deny my music is generally better when I let people contribute to it.
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Chris von Sneidern is a musical artist living in San Francisco.