The Pier: Golden with The Movement
The Movement is guitarist/vocalist Joshua Swain, bassist Jason Schmidt and drummer Gary Jackson.
Josh stopped by The Pier to give us a track-by-track breakdown of the bands new record, Golden. As you read below, you’ll find that Josh was quite revealing about the process of making this album, providing some fantastic back-stories, inspiration, depth and perspective to each track on the record. With only a few questions asked, I hope you pull away from this read with a new found respect to the process of writing music. My advice with this read is to listen to each song first, then read his back-story on the track before giving the song another listen with new ears of perspective.
You can purchase Golden via Rootfire by clicking HERE!
“First off, I just want to say that Danny Kalb, our producer and engineer, is responsible for making each song on this album what it is. So many thanks to him for all his hard work. And this couldn’t have happened without the never ending love and support from Seth Herman, Reid Foster, Curtis Bergesen, and our friends at Rootfire and Ineffable Music Group.” — Joshua Swain
“The lyrics stand alone on this one. Don’t be fooled by the illusion around you. Stay true to yourself.”
Q. What about this song lead to the decision of having it set the tone for the album with being Track 1?
“I wrote a demo of this song to an instrumental Gary gave me. It was a two chord song and I really only had lyrics to the chorus. The lyrical structure for the verses came when we began playing the song together as a band during practices. I originally intended it to be about a friend of mine who passed away but changed it to encompass a broader spectrum of ideas. In the studio, Matt Goodwin made a nice beat on the MPC and threw down a wicked horn line. It was that horn line that made us want to use it as the first track, but the lyrics and message of the song set a tone for the rest of the record.”
Listen: The Movement – “Blinded”
2.) Dancehall (ft. Mr. Williamz)
“A story about lost love, music, and magic in the Caribbean.”
“Dancehall really evolved over a long period of time. I originally wrote this as a slow acoustic ballad and thought the tempo would stay as slow as it is in the first verse. In the studio though, it was just too slow and a little boring. I had the idea of incorporating a dancehall beat and then a 16 beat section. We messed around with tempos. We made a dancehall section right after the slow intro that was just lacking something. I knew I wanted a dancehall artist to chant something during that part. We are really big Mr. Williamz fans and Gary reached out to him and he liked the tune. The first thing he sent was great and we added the verse and some overdubs too. So stoked to have him on the track.”
Listen: The Movement – “Dancehall” (ft. Mr. Williamz)
3.) Golden (ft. Elliot Martin of John Brown’s Body)
“A play on a Robert Frost poem- a retort if you will. Some things that are “gold” can stay. Hearts, souls, emotions, and energy, I believe, can linger forever even if only in a dimension beyond our understanding.”
Q. What about Elliot Martin made you want to bring him in to help convey the message of the album with the titled track? Was the song written prior to Elliot’s inclusion or was this written with Elliot? What can you tell us about how this collab came together?
“John Brown’s Body is one of our all time favorite bands. They are Rootfire family and Goodwin has toured and recorded with them. Elliot has been a big inspiration for many years. We picked out the name for the record before we even had a concept for this song and this song didn’t even exist until the last day in the studio. We pretty much had all the tracking done for the record but knew we needed one more tune. We had ideas for a punk/metal song but didn’t really like it. The last morning in the studio, I ran this jungle beat by the guys and we decided to try something different. I realized we didn’t have a title track so I wrote the lyrics around the ‘Golden’ theme. I left a 32 open hoping that Elliot would do it and he delivered. His verse is like a golden ray of sunshine bursting through the track. My favorite part of the record. Life complete.”
Listen: The Movement – “Golden” (ft. Elliot Martin of John Brown’s Body)
4.) Fair Warning
“Using that ‘West Coast Synth’ to tell a story of redemption and of getting a second chance to live a life full of purpose.”
“I wrote this in a hotel room on our first tour with Iration. Gary gave me an instrumental and we recorded a demo right there that we really liked. I think we would have been happy to use that version back then but this version blows it out of the water. Jay wrote a nasty bass line and it’s one of the only songs on the record that we have been playing at shows for quite some time so we got to experiment with how we wanted it. I showed Goodwin a synth line from a Snoop record in the studio and he tweaked it to fit the tune. It became the driving force behind the song.”
Watch: The Movement – “Fair Warning” (shot in one-take with Sugarshack Sessions)
“A story of a girl whose love for something else trumps her love for you.”
“I kept humming the melody for this track in my head in the van for days. Finally decided what to write about. I thought I would make one for all the stoner chick fans. There is a really funny backstory to the lyrics.”
Listen: The Smoke – “Smoke”
“The first song I wrote on the album. A tale of triumph and how the ups and downs of life can lead you astray — how your loved ones and the power of music can bring you back to what really matters.”
Q. How would you say this song set the tone for the theme of the rest of the album, being it was the first you wrote for the record? I feel like a lot of the songs on the album are consistent with struggle, redemption, truth and clarity…
“Some of the ideas for this record have been floating around in my head for a couple years but I wrote this song in California at The Compound in October 2014. It was right after I got sober. The first demo was really different. I didn’t like it and definitely didn’t want to ever use it. I wrote ‘Retriever’ the same day and didn’t ever want to use that either. It was my first attempt at writing for some time and I was really just practicing. Yeah, those songs are really indicative of my mindset at the time. Struggle, redemption, truth, clarity… those were all things I was and still am trying to come to terms with. We sped the song up and changed it from a one drop to a 16 in the studio and it ended up working. Because it was the first song we released, it does feel like it is the theme of the record and I’m OK with that.”
Listen: The Movement – “Rescue”
7.) On Top (ft. Leilani Wolfgramm)
“A “how to” guide on being a badass.”
Q. What about her helped represent the “how to” guide of being a bad ass?
“We wrote this in the back of the bus on the Tribal Seeds tour with Leilani Wolfgramm. We ended up using the actual vocals that we cut that night which is crazy considering the gear we used. I had written a ton of lyrics that day on the ride up that I really liked. It was just a stream of consciousness rap thing I wrote and didn’t really have too much of a theme. I asked Leilani to write a hook. She asked me what the song was about and I said “it’s just about being a badass.” She is a bad-ass. She made the song one of my favorites on the record.”
Listen: The Movement – “On Top” (ft. Leilani Wolfgramm)
8.) Through The Heart
“The pen is mightier than the sword but perhaps it is mightier than everything. This song is about conquering the world through self expression.”
“This was another one that we wrote a couple demos for a while ago. It originally had a different title and had a couple different featured artists. We wanted to use the original tracking from the demos but it didn’t work out and I’m glad. The new version is way better and although I wrote the lyrics a while back, I didn’t really understand them until recently.”
Listen: The Movement – “Through The Heart”
“Is it about a girlfriend? Man’s best friend? One can only wonder.”
“Every time I pick up an acoustic, I’m always playing ‘Redemption Song.’ I liked the idea of writing a guitar melody that starts out sounding like something familiar, then goes in a different direction. I thought it would be more obvious than it is. I feel like this song has the least substance lyrically, but makes up for it in the instrumentation. It’s the most organic track on the record and one of the few that we really melded together as a band in a live situation. The lyrics are vague, generalized, and unoriginal on purpose. It’s one of those that’s left up to listener interpretation.”
Listen: The Movement – “Home”
“The darkest song on the record, this is a retrospective on a low point in my life and the feelings of desperation that can accompany a trying time.”
Q. What about this experience influenced a song that stood in contrast to the rest of the album that is predominately reggae? I feel something exceptional took place that led to this song and its production…
“Yeah, I got sober and went out to Cali to meet the guys for rehearsal before the Pepper tour. I was in a really strange but really good place. I think I write songs like most people; slightly ambiguous and without a clear picture of the tune in its entirety, but I usually write in a stream of consciousness type of way and go through and make edits later. This one though, I had this hip hop instrumental and hadn’t written a rap in forever. I did not want any hip hop/rap stuff on the record but I enjoy trying and was really just messing around. I didn’t ever intend for anyone besides Gary and Jay to hear it. So I wrote all this stuff really fast and allowed any and all emotions I was feeling at the time to come to the surface. We redid it in the studio using live instruments and made it a unique addition to the record.”
Listen: The Movement – “Retriever”
11.) Habit 2016 (ft. Collie Buddz & Bobby Hustle)
“A remake, this song was originally written in NJ in 2007 when all I cared about was drugs and girls. Now a classic of sorts, it embraces the party life.”
Q. What about Collie Buddz and Bobby Hustle made you want to revisit this specific song with them as guests? While Buddz & Hustle seem to embrace the party life by detailing their habits with pride, your lyrics (outside the chorus) stand out in contrast that you’ve seemingly moved on from those distractions while you fight with the struggle to replace the habit with greater substance. The song is fantastic — I hear the soul in your struggle to move on from the habit, yet you’re singing with 2 others that still embrace their habit in addition to the image of its lifestyle. Am I wrong in that observation?
“We toured with Collie Buddz for a little bit and he was always saying how much he liked the tune when we played it live. It was really his idea to remake it. We got Dan from Loud City Music to make an instrumental using the theme of the original track and he nailed it. Bobby Hustle is a mutual friend who has been crushing the scene. It just made sense to collab together. You’re right in your observation but the lyrics in the chorus aren’t meant to be much of a party anthem either. That’s what I love about music though, it’s art. It’s as open to interpretation as a painting or sculpture might be. Music is also entertainment, and musicians can sometimes be actors. I wrote that song when I was depressed and addicted and I can still go back and look at those times with a fondness that only an addict can. I like that duality in man and in music. That song is saying a lot, especially in this new version and there’s more going on behind the curtain.”
Listen: The Movement – “Habit 2016” (ft. Collie Buddz & Bobby Hustle)
12.) Wild Time
“Almost an apology letter to my loved ones, this is a song that looks back at the special people in my life and the insanity and amazing adventures we experienced with fondness and a desire for more.”
Q. If “Retriever” stands in contrast to the rest of the album with its passionate verses and dark production, then “Wild Time” kind of reveals itself as the calm after the storm. This song feels like the dust settled and what was left from a storm of chaos was your breath of fresh emotions under a warm sun of clarity and this was the song that rose from the ashes. What about the mindset of this song led to the production that is unlike anything else on the record?
“I like the idea of having an acoustic song on a record and especially ending a record with one. If we combined all of our records together, this would still be the last song. You described it beautifully. It is a deep breath. It is dust settling. It is listening to the crickets before you drift off to sleep. It is really about gratitude. It’s impossible to wrap up all that I was feeling into that one song. It’s vague, as it can only be vague. When I say loving ‘you,’ I’m talking about everything. All that was, is, and will be. Everything.”
Listen: The Movement – “Wild Time”
There you have it. Now try listening to all of the music again. Whether you hear it differently or not, this discussion gives us a small glimpse into the artist’s mind, and further displays that inspiration can come from anywhere and anything.
You can purchase Golden via Rootfire by clicking HERE!
The Movement – Golden Track List:
2.) Dancehall (feat. Mr. Williamz)
3.) Golden (feat. Elliot Martin)
4.) Fair Warning
7.) On Top (feat. Leilani Wolfgramm)
8.) Through the Heart
11.) Habit 2016 (feat. Collie Buddz & Bobby Hustle)
12.) Wild Time