Today we’re diving into the reproduction of Jimmy Eat World’s “Kill” as the first cover we’re doing off of the “Futures” record.
Check out the original recording by Jimmy Eat World:
Now check out the cover:
I tackled this one in parts over 3 days.
I was originally considering making this track my first acoustic-based cover for the project, but I’ve always loved the ambient & dreamy tones this band slides into songs like this and I wanted to try and replicate them in my own way. It’s funny because each time I approach a Jimmy track for a cover I find myself picking out one major element of each track that I deem too important to ignore in the cover-version, in this case it was the guitars and the way the track dissolves into the bridge/interlude before the final chorus.
I took my time with this one because this song is lyrically one of my all-time favourites, which winds up putting a bit of extra pressure on myself, so let’s talk a bit about the lyrics first.
I’ve felt this particular feeling a lot, a push to move towards something but having some unknown entity holding you back. I’m not sure it’s something I’ll ever get rid of entirely, at this point I’m pretty sure it’s just part of my DNA to be this way.
Right off the top of this song I feel like I fall right into these shoes, or rather, that the writer has gone ahead and slipped into mine, which is something I’ve always appreciated about this song.
When Futures came out, I spun this record religiously in its entirety. I was 14 then and these types of questions were always easy to pull me in. In my loneliest days, I’d find myself sitting alone outside looking up at the stars, listening and contemplating.
I’m still not sure, of course, if everything happens by chance or things happen the way they were always meant to, and I think that’s one of life’s greatest mysteries. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
At 14 the top of this lyric wasn’t wholly relatable, though I did find myself frequenting shows & by associated, bars, quite early, but the feeling I think it emotes is the same as anywhere you might spend any sort of alone-time.
For a long time I’ve struggled with a certain sense of phone-anxiety. There’s just something about not being able to see the person on the other end that sometimes makes me shy away from it entirely; I think you can better determine what someone’s saying by paying close attention to their body language and the older I get, eye contact is more important to me. But that’s not really what this lyric is about for me, instead, I think a lot about lack of self-confidence and worthiness and putting too much stock into what terrible thing could happen instead of just taking that risk you really want to take. The weight of those feelings are really enough to cripple you.
For me this lyric carries on with the feelings of self-doubt and it’s one that I’m all to familiar. I’ve always said patience is not a virtue I hold and I still struggle with that, spending too much time worrying about the what if’s and what-could’s instead of just embracing life for what it is in the moment and maintaining a positive outlook.
The second half of this lyric I like because of how direct and conversational it is. I find myself thinking this about a lot of people and conversations I’ve had over the years, and reaching a point of “pointlessness” about it/them/the situation, wanting so badly to move on but feeling a reluctance to it, for whatever reason.
Usually, I just don’t want to disappoint people, or feel like I’m abandoning them, often at a cost to my own mental well being.
For me Jimmy Eat World have always had the best “calls to action” for lack of a better way of describing it. They’ve managed to get me out of bed on the worst of days and this is exactly the type of lyric that pushes me out of a funk, while also giving me something to chew on for the rest of the day.
People that know me well would know that I spent much of my teens talking about “escaping,” leaving my hometown for greener pastures, as it were. And as I write this in the same room I began to have those thoughts then, I find I’m still hearing those calls and still carrying the same reluctancy that we talked about from the first lyric in this song. Ultimately I think what it serves to remind me is that I can’t go back and fix everything, stick around and hope for better change right here, right now, no matter how much part of me might think that’s the right thing to do, because I’m the one that still searching for those better days ahead, and I’m the one who has to live with every second of regret.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is let go of everything (and everyone) holding you back.
I highlighted this part of the song in a recent Instagram post so I wont repeat that part here, but I want to focus in on the second half of this lyric again because again I find myself with crowded shoes and laces bursting through the holes.
For years I found myself shying away from telling anybody (friends, family, impactful strangers) how important they were to me, how they helped lift me up or make me think about something in a way I hadn’t before, and I’ve seldom told anyone I loved them even when I felt it to be true.
And I hold a lot of regret over that alone, because I think it’s not as uncommon as I believe it to be, it’s just not talked about often because it’s, well, awkward, being so forthcoming, and depending on the person it can be the very thing that scares them away, leaving you again alone in a hotel bar repeating the things you said or didn’t say that led you there.
But I still hold strongly that the words itself hold less meaning than the actions behind them. People show love and care in their own ways and it’s important to recognize that.
Of course, this lyric also, for me, brings forward the very resentment I feel for that, for wanting those things and not receiving it despite asking for it.
I’ve always been a big fan of choruses whose lyrics alter slightly each time like they do here in Kill, and the distinctions I think are really important to pay attention to.
It falls right out of the bridge with that same frustration, almost as though you’ve now had enough of the back and fourth conversation running itself ragged in circles, and I think everyone can relate to that. We’ve all found ourselves head-to-head with another where no matter how hard you try, you’re just not going to see the issue from the others perspective, or, you’re too stubborn to really make an effort of it, and that’s what I think we’re talking about at this stage in the song.
In my own experience, these types of conflict happen almost exclusively with the people you care about the most, making it that much more difficult to just say, “let’s just forget about this one.”
At to that same point, because it’s happening with someone you care about, their words, if/when directed at you and your faults, are enough to bring down your entire sense of self worth, and when it’s a recurring pattern it starts to feel like they’re doing it on purpose and in some sick way enjoying it.
I personally can’t stand to see it when it happens to other people but I’m all to familiar with being right in the thick of it, and the number one biggest thing I’ve learned about these conflicts is, most of the time now, it really is just better to walk away.
On day 1 I mapped out the song with an acoustic guitar and scratch vocal, determined the right tempo for myself, and then dove straight into rhythm guitars and drums. I kept the drums relatively simple throughout, because I wanted this track to just pulse along, keeping it upbeat and airy as much as possible given the nature of the lyrics (or my interpretation of them).
The rhythm guitars largely follow the bands original recording here, but I needed to put my own spin on the lead lines. Funnily enough I’ve always found myself really drawn to the types of lead guitar lines you often hear in Jimmy Eat World’s songs, where they just kinda hammer on the same note, but it’s not something I’ve really tried in my own work. I was going to go ahead and just learn what they do on the record here, but again, largely out of fear of that then distorting my inner monologue about it, I ignored it completely and just asked myself what I thought I’d do if I was presented this song with just a rhythm guitar to go off of.
The verse line came in first, which I was trying to mimic the feel of the original record without actually copying any of it.
And because I was keeping the drums pretty minimal throughout (there aren’t too many fills in this one), I needed to help lift up the chorus a bit.
When I fumbled into the first note you hear me hammering into in the chorus, I was stoked. In all honestly I’m not at all sure how to describe the feeling when you’ve caught yourself unintentionally doing something that is so sonically pleasing to your own ears, but I almost didn’t want to stop playing it.
A popular recording technique is just to get the best take and copy and paste it all over the relevant spots, but I’ve never been to keen about doing that, so instead I gleefully ran it over all the choruses, with some minor variation in the final chorus.
Who says you can’t have fun with just 1 string on a guitar? Not me.
I was so hype on the track by this point that I could’ve just went right ahead and finished it that night, but I wanted to savour it, and also, sometimes I get worried that when I’m too stoked on something (like a simple lead line), that it’s probably best to give the ears a rest, just in case we’ve been hearing it wrong or something. It’s like the equivalent of beer-goggles, but for recording albums; sleep on it, and see if you still dig it the next day.
Holy shit we still dig it. Okay, let’s go!
Time for a little bass action. We sort of fell into the same trouble here as we did with Surviving, where the guitars were already doing so much of the lifting that we didn’t want to distract from them, so we tried to beef up the verses by playing a similar rhythm and then in the choruses we just give it the traditional rock record treatment and dig into those quarters and eight notes.
Vocals were next up, and while I’m pretty sure I goof up a lyric at the end, I was entirely too excited to play around with harmonies on this one, and most importantly, lush up that bridge. (I’m pretty annoyed at myself for doing it, though).
I still have a hard time hitting any high notes and I am entirely envious of every singer that seems to do it with ease, but I tried my best here. Otherwise, the major difference between my vocal and Jim’s on this one is that I’d say I’m a fair bit more theatrical with it, especially coming out of the bridge and into the last chorus. This is pretty common for me across the board with my covers, but as I said, this song in particular brings out those feelings of frustration and hurt that for me, were arguably the most vital consideration of the vocal recording.
Once I had all the pieces in, which didn’t take too long to sort out, all in only about 2 hours of tracking for Session 2, I again, reminded myself of the “Ear-Goggles” I was having, and took the rest of the evening away from it to mix with fresh ears.
7AM. Mixing Time.
When I feel the urge to mix a track as soon as I wake up, I jump on that.
I think over time as I go through these sessions I’ll really dive into the nitty-grittiness of it all, but the truth in the mixes I’ve done for these covers so far is that it’s relatively minimal, repetitive, and as a result there’s not a ton to say about it, because the drums are MIDI and already loaded full of their own character as a result, and taking the necessary time to find the right guitar tones means I don’t often have to do much there, either. It’s really just a couple hours of me pushing faders up and down to determine the right level of a part, adding some sweet reverb, delays where I find it suits the lyric, and the odd little modulation/harmonic effect; it’s really just like building a custom puzzle where you’ve designed all the pieces yourself.
In any case I just was so hype to share it, so this went out last Sunday almost as quickly as I put it all together.
I’ll be turning my attention to the Invented and Damage record this week because of some personal stuff I’m working through, they seem equally the most fitting to focus in on this week. No set release date for anything yet, but I’m hoping to have at least one done by the end of next weekend.
Thanks for listening & reading & see ya next time!