Golden Bloom “Doomsday Devices” (Influenza)
Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: Influenza, Music.
Approach Influenza as a series which serves to help give insight as to where music is born; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists. In this edition, Golden Bloom’s Shawn Fogel describes the myriad of influences that inspired both the song and the music video for the band’s single “Doomsday Devices.”
On “Doomsday Devices”:
I once read an interview with Neil Young where he talked about his songwriting process being that when he sits down to write a song he doesn’t get up until it’s finished. This left me a bit envious of Uncle Neil’s level of focus and determination, as it seemed to be the polar opposite of my usual songwriting method. Often it starts with a chord progression and a little melody, and “Doomsday Devices” was no different. I think the last song I had listened to before I sat down to write was Band Of Horses’ “Is There A Ghost,” and I must have been inspired by it’s simplicity, powerful melody, and dynamic arrangement. When I put down my guitar I had a song with no words, and a phrase stuck in my head, “Doomsday Devices.” For some reason I find it easier to write lyrics for songs when I’m traveling. Ideas start to percolate when I’m driving, and rarely do I get on a bus or train without a notebook. In fact, I wrote the words to “Doomsday Devices” on a Metro North train from NY to CT.
I’ve watched “The Atomic Café,” the 1982 documentary on the development of the atomic bomb, dozens and dozens of times. The collection of newsreel and army training footage are somehow humorous and horrifying at the same time. If it was fiction it would be comedy, but the fact that it’s all real leaves me with a chill. My obsession with this film may be where the initial idea for “Doomsday Devices” came from, but there is also the Bush administration’s insertion of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” into the American lexicon. The surface level meaning of this song can be seen in the music video that was made for it, where the President of the United States (who in the video is myself) alludes to his hidden agenda of using Doomsday Devices. In the opening line of the song, “You think you see me but it’s only what I’m willing to show, you think you understand me but it’s only what I want you to know.” Most of my songs have been first person narratives, but this is one of the first songs I’ve ever written in a different voice, where the “narrator” if you will, is someone other than myself. – Shawn Fogel
When I first recorded this song, it was shaping to be a guitar heavy rock song, much like the Band Of Horses song I mentioned before. But with a name as dark as “Doomsday Devices,” I decided I wanted to push the pop factor and come up with an arrangement that would be in stark contrast to the title. Working with studio guru Peter Katis (The National, Interpol, Mates Of State, Longwave, etc.) really helped the pop shine through as we began to layer it up with synths galore, glockenspiel and the Casio drumbeat bridge. In the end, “Doomsday Devices” doesn’t really sound like any of the other songs that will accompany it on the debut Golden Bloom album, and that’s probably why I like it so much!