ROB: We were seeking creative license to go insane I guess, and I feel it is safe to say the resulting track “Space Gun” on our "Stone Fly" album is one of our most adventurous sonic assaults to date. For the best listening experience I would recommend that Space Gun be listened to cranked up as loud as possible (preferably with a sub kicking) – “so yo’ feets can move and yo’ heads can groove.” ( “Rob’ism”)
CLAY: We originally intended “Space Gun” to end the “Stone Fly” album, but ultimately we overruled ourselves after completing “World Upside Down,” which technically ends the CD. But as a form of compromise and so we could sort of have it both ways (and with the idea of hopefully surprising a few listeners) we separated the two songs by a long period of silence and an ambient track titled “Bugs and Bongos” (“Bugs and Bongos has an interesting story of how it came into existence - but we will leave that story for another day). “Space Gun” serves as the official end of the album and “World Upside Down” is a special, hidden, bonus track ending the disc.
CLAY: On our first album “Beggars & Thieves” we had two instrumentals: “As a Matter of Funk” and “Wash Out.” “As a Matter of Funk” is a short, hit and run style funk jam with clean guitars and “Wash Out,” which begins the album, is a three and a half minute, heavy hitting barn burner with distorted guitars. For our next full length album ("Stone Fly") we also wanted a couple of instrumentals, and by the time we got to “Space Gun” we already had the short funk jam with clean guitars, “Earth Buddy,” in the can. To distinguish one from the other, for “Earth Buddy” we took the concept of “As a Matter of Funk” and ramped it up quite considerably by putting a totally ridiculous, over the top spin on it. So for the follow up to “Wash Out.” we wanted to do the same and write an over the top, epic, gonzo monster of an instrumental jam. But this time we wanted to end the album with it.
CLAY: The first things to do were double the size and then stretch it out to nearly seven minutes (at the end of the track you can hear Rob laughingly say “that was about a long fucking song” after nailing his final take). The final drum take (as with all of Rob’s drum takes) was done in a single take from start to finish (no punch-ins and no pro-tools drum comp’ing was done). Instead, we did it old school style, we just played and recorded a BUNCH of drum takes to get that “one take” of Rob’s best drum performance from start to finish.
CLAY: I had the basic framework of distorted guitar riffs and also some funky, clean riffs for a middle solo section. Rob and I worked it out, rehearsed it, and then laid down the drums. While Rob was recording I was also recording the basic guitar track running the Digitech processor direct to the mixing console. During pre-production on the drums, Rob found and used a percussion sample called “space gun” that had a wicked, sci-fi laser gun sound (think storm trooper laser rifle), and so we had our title. The “space gun” was triggered “live” (not overdubbed) while Rob was tracking the drum takes. We might have just intended on using that as a temporary title at first, but the name felt appropriate and stuck. I had been playing around with the main, distorted riff and thought it sounded like Godzilla on a rampage through Tokyo. But with the inclusion of the “space gun” triggered drum sample and the sci-fi title we began to envision it more like the soundtrack to an interplanetary dogfight.
ROB: The “space gun laser shot” sound was recorded as part of the original drum take by taping a drum trigger to a practice pad (which itself creates no real noise when you hit it) so I could use the practice pad as if it were another drum to get the triggered laser gun sounds. Thus, I was able to play the “space gun” sounds as if they were part of his drum kit. You can hear the interplay between the space gun shots, high-hat, cowbell, and ride-cymbal throughout the track.
CLAY: Once the basic “foundation” tracks of drums and guitars were recorded, I spent a long time “filling in” the rest with a ridiculous amount of layers, overdubs and ear candy. Most of it is guitars, but there’s also some keyboards routed through the Digitech guitar processor, specifically at 5:10 with the “red alert” keys and another moog synthesizer through a wah pedal. There’s also a regular piano at a 1:54, but I think even that was run through the processor to give it more of a futuristic flavor. The main guitar riff has the phase shifter all over it, as was the custom on the “Stone Fly” album, but on “Space Gun” it’s supposed to invoke the sensation of spacecraft pitching, diving and accelerating during the battle. I was also really into Tom Morello from “Rage Against The Machine” at the time, so I used a lot of staccato hammering on the fret board to great effect as it adds quite well to the chaos. I had first started using that technique on a track called “How Does It Make You Feel” from the EP of the same name (between “Beggars” and “Stone Fly”), but on the EP track I was using my fingers to hammer out the chords and on “Space Gun” I was using my pick, which gave it a much more brittle, metallic sound. But actually, at some moments, I’m trying to channel Randy Rhoads and the way he used to get a similar effect by toggling the pickup switch in rapid fire succession.
ROB: There’s a short but cool little drum interlude section around 4:40 that has a definite Latin feel. I think I played every drum I had during that section (save my Congos, but they might even be in the mix somewhere). The Latin drum interlude was overdubbed after the main drum take was down. The Latin flavor actually works pretty well and it is sort of cool to hear those flams and triplets over the straight driving beat, that always creates a unique feel for the drums.
ROB: We have always enjoyed trying to push the envelope of rock music by combining or blending styles, sounds, or genres that are not necessarily supposed to fit together (like storm trooper laser rifles and hard driving guitars). With Space Gun we feel like this may be an instance where perhaps we actually pulled it off and created a musical work that is honestly unique, something that people will find interesting and really enjoy listening to, and that will stand on its own merits as a Foothill Tribe original work. That’s our goal and while we don’t always reach it, we keep trying and keep pushing the creative envelope.
ROB: In the end, we were proud of how “Space Gun” turned out and we hope listeners will enjoy rocking the track with us. Thanks for listening and for any feedback.
- Instrumental Electronica Rock Guitar Jam