My first full length album: Metal for Morgan

The album has been submitted for approval and will be pushed to streaming sites and other sites in a few days. Once it’s availble I’ll post links to it and add more notes.

I’ve recorded with friends on their songs, and I’ve recorded a few singles of my own, but I never found the time to record my own full length album until being laid off earlier in the year. I was looking for a place where I could go hang out, work on my songs, and then record them when a friend’s wife saw a post I made pertaining to that idea and he contacted me.

At first, I had planned a mostly acoustic album with the majority of the same songs that are on MfM, but not with electric guitars, or drums, or anything like what I ended up producing. I went to the studio on the very first day with the intention of just doing acoustic and maybe a few instrumentals. Now, mind you, the intent was to make an album so that I could one, record my first full length, and two, have some music online for my son, Morgan, to be able to listen to. I didn’t even think about doing an album like this until I started jamming with Ryan Clark, and then realized that he was an absolutely fantastic drummer and loved metal. I knew he was an engineer and producer, but always just thought of him as this super nice and happy guy who played cajon, and wrote acoustic songs. Ryan even played with me a few times over the years but I never knew more than that impression and was quite happy and surprised after he contacted me.

To explain how I got to the final prduct from wanting to do an acoustic album, I guess the part I wasn’t really thinking about was the Bogner Uberschall that I’ve had for eighteen years and barely used over the last eight. I took it to the studio just in case we might find some inspiration and a few places to use it on the album, not that it would become a hugely inspirational and foundational piece of this entire thing.

The Bogner Uberschall is, in my opinion, one of the finest sounding amplifiers ever made. I originally bought it while living in North Carolina and didn’t understand that it in combination with my old, green ESP Vintage Plus and the Seymour Duncan Vintate Rails, made a matched set of awesomeness and a fairly uncommon tone when combined. I took the same ESP when I tried out the amp before buying it and was immediately hooked on the lush and flavorful tube tones that it produced, but still didn’t get the combination and didn’t truly understand that until Ryan’s eyes lit up and he grinned from ear to ear when he first heard it.

The pairing of the ESP, Bogner, and Vintage Rails gives a metallic and not overly saturated tone. It’s biting and visceral, but still refined enough to cater to rock and roll, yet powerful enough to make a metal song have the bite and growl it needs to fit the bill. I have to say that altough I haven’t tried a lot of new amps for quite a while, this is and will probably always be my favorite amp. Tubes just yield the best tones to me and this baby, loaded with EL34s, makes me smile every time I play with it. It’s the type of amp that you don’t have to turn up to seven to get a rich saturation, and you can quietly play this 120w, 4×12 driven amp in your bedroom at a low volume and it still sounds amazing.

To cover a little more of the gear used on the album, we also used a Bogner Barcelona with various pedals (Keeley modified Rat, Red Bogner) for doubling the guitars, and I bought a new, purple ESP loaded with Seymour Duncan Saturday Night Specials, to help differentiate the tones. The purple ESP, as we refered to it, would end up being used for all the solos on the album and 95% of the doubled rythym. We also used an Orange amp loaded with two ten inch speakers and an SG on one song for a little difference. And to give credit where it’s due: I was against using the Orange at first, but it really does have a great sound and I’m not one to deny facts, and I will always admit when I’m wrong. I was wrong.

The concept of the album came to me quite suddenly, and many thanks to my son for his input, ideas, and inspiration. I made this album for him and the title came after realizing we were making a harder, heavier, and more metal based album because he would ask me from time to time to play metal while jamming on the guitar for him. He loved the more “angry” riffs and would dance around, playing air guitar, and banging his head to them. I would play different riffs for him and ask him to tell me what mood he felt from them and all the metal(ish) stuff was “angry” to him. After establishing the new direction and sound for the album, it easily came to me early on in the process that this album would be ‘Metal for Morgan’. Morgan loves Ozzy and Crazy Train so I had Stella add the T shirt and she came up with a few other east eggs.

To describe the whole album, it’s mostly rock songs, with three heavy instrumentals, and two acoustic songs. I was going to add a few acoustic instrumentals but decided to hold them for the next release. I may even debut them as singles now that I have the momentum and desire to share and document my music. To say the whole album is metal is not true, but rock mostly, and maybe a little bit harder due to the Bogner and how tough it was to turn down the gain on such an amazing sounding amp!

Tracks and Notes:

Diatomaceous Earth — This is an instrumental idea that I’ve had for many years and nearly forgot. Fortunately I had a video of it on Youtube and quickly relearned it. The name came from the substance of the same and was part of the recording experience, which I’ll just leave you to wonder about. No, I wasn’t eating it…

Mother Nature — Most people who know my music or have heard me play out somewhere, know this song and it’s always been one of my more popular tunes. I started writing this when I was about sixteen but put it down for a long time until I came up with more music for it in the early 2000’s, then after moving to California a few years later, penned the rest of the lyrics and finished it. MN is the first song I completed and is about a place I used to walk to clear my head. It was my cathartic process to get all the negative stuff I was experiencing when I was young, out.

Garbage Trucks — I wrote this song specifically for Morgan and worked on it over a few years untli I found the rest of it due to his input. I had all the music down but writing about a specific subject has always been hard for me and I just couldn’t figure out where to go with it until I asked Morgan and he told me to say something about where the trucks take the trash and go at the end of the day. That was enough for me to complete it and after Ryan pushed me to add more verses, I wrote out a few based on Morgan’s input and we completed it. The guitar solo parts I had in my head for a few months and managed to translate them exactly. All I needed then was a good, solid backing with the drums, a tasty bass line, and the smoke to help me sing it with the right tone! Yes, the fires in California at the time played a big role in recording this whole album, but also the vocals for this song.

I Met a Girl — I wrote this song as a concept a few years back, about how I always met the same type of lady. Now, to preface this song description, I’m not saying anything negative about women at all — this is about me and what I attract, not about women in general. I just always seem to attract the wrong type of women to me and I guess I do have an idea why and this song helped me understand it. But there’s a lot more to it, and in chorus I touch upon an empty feeling I’ve always had inside and a lady that I’ve dreamed about my whole life but I don’t know if I’ve ever met her. The song Said and Done is related to that and may give a more clear definition. I took this song to a songwriter’s group I used to attend and co-host, and they always struggled with me reusing the name Mary Ann, but it makes sense to me!

Rule the World — Rule is my favorite track on the album and was one that I had started to write and shelved about ten years ago. I just couldn’t find what I wanted to do with it and kept thinking that the verse was going to be the chorus. I was looking for a harder edged song for the album after our first session and new direction for the album, and off the cuff, I wrote the chorus, very loosely and didn’t fully realize it until we jammed on it in the studio and I’m pretty sure the rythym in the song was the first take with some improvised parts. I quickly finished the lyrics and the song was done. Now, I know it might be easy to assign the meaning to specific people, but it’s not about anyone, but more about everyone who craves power and money. Maybe more to the ultra rich and how every single one of them loses touch with the humble parts and the sickness of greed takes over.

Moving Slowly — You could definitely say that this track is related to Mother Nature, and more of an adendum to it than anything. It’s about being stuck somewhere you aren’t happy and watching others get out while you’re still there. It’s about several attempts I made to get out of WV when I was young and how I had to come back a few times. I was apprehensive about playing this song with distortion on an electric guitar at first but found inspiration from Ryan due to him identifying the Rush in my influences.

Hammification — The name of this instrumental came from a process I use for making Sous Vide steaks. I add a lot of salt and slow cook them at 126F, which is enough to keep them pink and juicy, but it gives them a rainbow, metallic sheen from being basically cured like a ham. The music was some that I came up with a long time ago and we even improvised a few new parts for it and cut down some of the original. I love the raw, rock and roll feel to it and draw a little on a lot of my roots in it.

Gopher Hunting — I was going to originally call this ‘Potty Training’ and still consider both hunting gophers and training a child to use a toilet at about the same level of difficulty. Which is the same as recording this piece after not playing it for years. I have barely used a guitar pick over the last ten years due to a motorcycle wreck that left me with titanium in both arms and pain when using a pick. It was only after our first jam session together that I picked the pick back up. We improvised a few new parts for this and I wrote a few and even cut out an original part. You can hear the original on my Youtube channel as one of the three heavy samples. This is a throw back to my 80’s metal inspirations and was all the purple ESP. We cranked up the gain on the amps and I practiced the riffs over and over until we recorded it. We spent one day and recorded four solid hours of jamming just this piece. I thought it just about killed us! Ryan looked like he had just completed a marathon and my arm hurt for three days! I think this is by far the most energetic piece on the album it’s definitely not something you should drive and listen to!

You Know Me — I wrote this song kind of for my ex-wife and kind of just a general piece about loving someone a lot but feeling a bit beat up from it. The chorus is just me saying that I liked the old us and never wanted it to get some complicated. You could probably say this is one of my punk songs and I intentionally didn’t put lead guitar on it to emphasize that. I really like how it came out and was surprised when Ryan added the harmonies to it that he said he didn’t think it needed! I think they worked quite well and am quite proud of the final version.

Seasons — This is a song that I’ve recorded before but didn’t think I was really nailing what I wanted to say. I’m still not sure that it’s 100% where I wanted it to be but I’m very happy with this version and adding distortion and electric guitars gave it a very different feel and power. The song is about life and merely just an observation of me looking at it through the lens of seasons. It was a concept song that I wrote during my time in the songwriter group when I first realized I could sing and wanted to write more. It doesn’t really have a chorus as tradionally defined, but more of a statement.

Standard Issue Guy — This was originally just a short acoustic song that I wrote to fit a riff I came up with that I liked. I had played it at a few open mics and wasn’t even going to record it until we jammed on it and Ryan mentioned that he remembered it from me playing it out somewhere and that it had a punk feel to it. We worked on it a good bit and some people might prefer the acoutic at the end over the first part but I liked it and the final version is something I’m proud of and thankful to Ryan for helping me understand how it could be.

Said and Done — Here’s a song that’s a continuation of I Met a Girl, but more in touch with my emotions about it. The song basically just says that I’m still alone and probably never will find this lady who I keep seeing in my dreams. Maybe she’s not real and all fantasy, but I’ll probably never know. It’s also about how there’s nothing new that we can say or do and you just need to take people as they are with all their faults and find the parts you love and appreciate them. We all have flaws and the best of us will always try to overcome those and grow.

Birthday Song — Back when Warner Bros made a stink about their Birthday Song, I had this little piece of music and wrote the lyrics to it as an alternative. Nothing more but to say Happy Birthday!

Liner Notes

All songs written and composed by Brent Shinn
Recorded by Ryan Clark

Brent Shinn
Guitars, Bass, Vocals

Ryan Clark
Drums, Sheep Sounds

Special thanks to Melissa Lyn for making this happen and being an awesome person and friend.

Dedicated to my son Morgan: May you always love music and be humble with your ability and talents. And if you never become a musician, I’ll still love you but I’ll sell my guitars! My baby boy; I’m so sorry life has worked out the way it has, but some stones are impossible to move and all you can do is walk around them.

To my brother Mark Shinn for being an influence in art and music, and to my twin brother Brian Shinn for being supportive when I needed it.

Mom and Dad, I wish you could hear this.