"Duchess 33" (released as Mark Nicholas)
Release Date: 2007
Where To Buy:
CD Baby (CD) - $11.99
iTunes (download) - $9.99
4. I’m Trying To Impress You
5. Two Sandwiches
6. Little Goth Girl
7. Coming Clean
8. I Wish
9. The Measure Of Pleasure
10. Selective Memory Loss
11. Eine Kleine Booty Musik
Hey look, I know it's crazy, but I'm just way too clean. I need to fuck this up. I need to turn it green. Oh sure, we have a pattern... and that's all very nice. But time has made us lazy. I say we feed this vice. Lets go... come on, shall we? You know you want to want me. Get free and watch her touch me. I'll make you wet with envy. Oh shit, it makes me crazy when you won't play along. You have to know we need this. You have to let her do this. What's that? You say it's stupid? You say it makes you sick? But I know it makes you flutter. I know it makes you stick. Lets go... come on, shall we? You know you want to want me. Get free and watch her touch me. I'll make you wet with envy.
I wanted to do a song about sex and I wanted to swear. I REALLY wanted to swear. Because I should be able to. Because "fuck" is just a word, people! Plus, it's fucking sexy, right? The story in this song, like all of the songs I've ever written, is based on true events. However, I also took a lot of creative liberties with this particular song. In other words, don't run around thinking I screw other girls while my wife watches. It just isn't so. (I know... way to burst the bubble, right?) Musically, this song set the tone for the entire album because it was the first song I completed. I was taking a lot of influence from The Prodigy (the electronic band, not the rapper), but I'm not sure that's hugely evident in the final production here. Maybe the "dirty" sound of the synthesizers, but in the end, I definitely think this track has a unique flavor.
You've chased me down. You've found me out. You've pulled my hair. You've made me shout obscenities at the top of my lungs 'cause it's so damn fun... 'cause it's so damn fun. Am I drowning in the things I've said? Have I lost you in the doubts I've had? Will you backlash now, or offer some proof, that book you are quoting is absolute truth? You've seen me push. You've helped me shove. I've taken more, though I've had enough. I've bitten off heads. I've eaten my young. I've acted on instinct, though you said I have none. Am I rubbing you in just the wrong place? Did I blaspheme you with my lack of taste? Will you backlash now, or will you, in fact, reveal your mercy and leave me intact? You've made me fight then watched me fail. Just waiving my arms through the bars on your jail. I've rallied my strength, still chained to this wall... still screaming cold truth, but you hear nothing. Am I asking for a mouth full of soap? Have I done something to offend your pope? Will you backlash now, or will you explain, just how the almighty is making these claims?
With a beat inspired by hip hop crossover artist M.I.A., this song came rushing out of me faster than any other song on the album. Every so often songwriting feels a bit supernatural, and writing this song was definitely one of those experiences. The themes in these lyrics range from an emotional response to all of the online hullabaloo surrounding the "Definitive" DVD, to the knee-jerk censorship that became the norm right after the Janet Jackson "Nipplegate" scandal on the Superbowl that still lingers in the air today. Also, this just in: "Backlash" was one of only 3 finalists in the 2006 John Lennon songwriting contest in the Electronic category. It was extremely nice to have one of my songs receive that recognition.
I've got this mirror that I look in sometimes, just to see what you see... just to see what scares you when you look at me. I know you like it. Yeah, I know you love it. Even though it shakes you. Even as you scream that I'm no good. 'Cause I'm perverse. Clean in reverse and it feels good. Yeah I'm perverse. It could be worse. I could be like you. You're slipping under a wicked spell of boredom... tired of all those morals... tired of all those rules that you repeat. I know you hate it. Yeah, I know you loathe it. Even though you preach it. Even as you snitch me out to God. 'Cause I'm perverse. Clean in reverse and it feels good, Yeah I'm perverse. It could be worse. I could be like you. It's true that I think some unthinkable thoughts. I live without fear. I don't care if I'm caught. I don't live under your blanket of rules... soft fabric for control of a bed full of fools. Sleeping and snoring your short life away. Oblivious to anything that's not your way. So open your book. Recite your prayer. You can live without challenge, but i'm taking the dare. 'Cause I'm perverse. Clean in reverse and it feels good. Yeah I'm perverse. It could be worse. I could be like you.
I admit it. I'm a pervert. I say so right there in the chorus. It's pretty fun. I recommend it! But coming to terms with my perversions was the easy part. From a production and programming standpoint this song wrestled me to the ground and had me begging for mercy. I completed this song, then had to completely rebuild and record it from scratch 3 more times before arriving at a final product I was happy with. (You can hear an early version on the album Perversions). This process took months! Through doing it, however, I think I ended up with a bit of a genre hybrid. Though I initially kind of set out to make a 4-on-the-floor club type of song, in the end I don't think this song fits in with what most club DJs are playing. That's definitely by design. After all of the doing and redoing, I finally concluded that this song needed to be a part of the darker, grittier overall sound of this album, even it meant frightening a few of the more timid DJs away.
I’m Trying To Impress You
I'm trying to impress you. Is it working? Are you thinking about me now? I'm trying to impress you. Is it working? Are you thinking about me now? What's new to a girl like you? What's new to a girl like you? Your eyes just can't see me. I wish I knew why. Your eyes just don't see me. I need to know why. I'm trying to impress you. Is it working? Are you thinking about me now? Your eyes just can't see me. I wish I knew why. Your eyes just don't see me. I need to know why.
I'm trying to impress you. No, I really am. Is it working? Are you thinking about me now? Skinny Puppy was a big influence when I started constructing this song. I wanted to tap into that groove they had going in a lot of their older stuff. As is often the case, though, there's not much left of that influence in the final product beyond the main groove. But the groove is good, no? As for the lyrics, I intentionally kept them sparse. I found myself enjoying just thrashing around to this track, and when a song is emotional like that, sometimes a simple phrase or two can have more power than wordy verses. Plus, it does a very nice job setting the tone for the no-lead-vocals direction I took with the next song...
(All samples, no real lyrics to speak of...)
So what the hell is up with THIS song, right? Well, the fact of the matter is that I play a lot of video games. I know... SHOCKER! But mostly I play a particularly popular online game - the same game nearly every night - and this game involves the use of headsets to discuss strategy with the other online players live. Well, as you might guess, there are a lot of weird-ass people who play video games late at night, and they say a lot of really insane things. Nasty things. Pornographic things. And it occurred to me one night that this is also the real world that many little kids are growing up in now. And all of these conservatives that attack artists like Marilyn Manson... or whoever is the target of the day... they just have no idea what's really going on. The lyrics of Marilyn Manson are like an episode of Sesame Street compared to what kids hear from these other players while they're gaming. Need proof? Check out the guy in this song. I hooked up a minidisc recorder as I played one night to capture the banter, and this guy is the real deal. What you hear is what he said (with a few "what?" and "whoa" reactions from other players in the game). As for the overall production, my key influences were Nitzer Ebb and Sander Kleinenberg and I think you can definitely hear a bit of both.
Little Goth Girl
My little goth girl. She doesn't know how sweet she is. She dresses up to scare me, but all she does is dare me to lift buttons from her corset... smell the clove in her hair... Lost in her extensions I pretend that I don't care so she won't think that I’m romantic, but rather dark instead. And with this slight adjustment she should love me, but as I've said... It must stay my little secret that I adore the pale undead of my perfect little goth girl. Precious goth girl. Wears black lipstick and a solemn frown. She thinks that she intimidates, but her darkness just initiates the relentless pure devotion of a lonely normal guy who wears eyeliner to the club. And you may just wonder why. It’s so she won’t think I’m romantic, but rather dark instead. And with this slight adjustment she might love me, but as I’ve said... It must stay my little secret that I adore the pale undead of my perfect little goth girl.
This song is loosely based on the experience of meeting my wife. I had previously written a romanticized version of these events in a song called "Sedgwick", but this new song seeks to approach the story from a different, more specific angle: the very real fear and excitement I felt when I went to meet her for the very first time at a goth club in Detroit (where she was a DJ) called The Labyrinth. A lot of the themes in this song reflect my mindset when I went down there. Of course, I've added some revisionist details here, but I'm not telling you which parts are fiction. That'd ruin it, no? Musically, I have to admit I was taking a bit of influence from Marilyn Manson. Not that I can think of any Manson song that has a harpsichord solo. But hey... I gotta be me!
Each night before I sleep, I think and sometimes freak out loud about my life. Each time I think of us... the things we don't discuss... those neat, unwrinkled sheets. And now isn't quite what we projected. I know tonight won't go as planned. But I want to anyway. Even awkward, it's still good. I want to anyway. It still feels like it we should. You took that Cosmo quiz. It said that things like this are fine. We'll heal with time. That's great. That's good to hear. Sometimes I live and fear the truth is far more dire. And now isn't quite what we projected. I know tonight won't go as planned. But I want to anyway. Even awkward, it's still good. I want to anyway. It still feels like it we should. Look into my eyes, you will find an excuse. Just because it's weird doesn't mean I don't want to. If you see something wrong I'll just turn out the lights. I know it won't change a thing, but it'll work for tonight. And now isn't quite what we projected. I know tonight won't go as planned. But I want to anyway. Even awkward, it's still good. I want to anyway. It still feels like it we should.
Right from the get go: Yes, the title has a little sexual innuendo in it. It's intentional. And once again, though this song is based loosely on actual events in my life, great liberties were taken so that I could craft it into a song that has more open doors to it. I was listening to a really weird, wide variety of music when I did this track, but I did find myself thinking "what would And One do?" (WWAOD - make me a bracelet!) rather often. I think their influence is most notable in the warbly (detuned) synth parts.
I wish I were skinny... all wirey and neat. 'Cause then I'd wear vintage and make you feel weak. I wish I had charm like my charming friend Jack. Maybe then I could tempt you, or at least make you laugh. I wish I were more than these words reveal. I wish I were sedate... all smooth and elite. Not twitchy and glitchy, but calm and complete. I wish I were British... maybe then I'd seem clever. At least I'd have an accent. A fair trade for shitty weather. (You'll never have, you’ll never have, you’ll never have, you’ll never have the things that you desire.) I wish I were more than these words reveal. I wish the world were black and white. I wish I could say what I mean. I wish I were a little less bitter... maybe then you'd reconsider. I wish I saw things clearly or you could see what I've seen. I wish I could stop scrubbing my skin, but I'm sure it's still not clean. I wish I had gotten on my knees. I wish I was better at apologies or at least, somehow, maybe, the kind of guy who wouldn't need one now. I wish you could see inside of my head... my world of intentions, things I should have said. I wish you could feel the heat in my hands... How my body just knows you and my blood understands. I wish I were more than these words reveal.
Lyrically this song functions on two levels. On the top, I'm admitting that I'm always going to be a little nerdy. I'm always gonna be a little socially awkward. I'm always gonna prefer Plochman's mustard to Grey Poupon. But there's always another layer in this song: Persistent hints that the shallow little quips are really just a cover for some deeper sin that I've committed. Probably. Everyone has a secret. Musically, I wanted to make something like a harder-edged version of one of my favorite Cosmicity songs called "I Want You". In the process I also started thinking about a bass line like the one in "If I Only Had A Brain" by MC 900 Ft. Jesus. And in the end, I think it kinda sounds like both songs and neither song at the same time. Success!
The Measure Of Pleasure
Think on it now, just what do you want? You want to close your eyes and be back there again. Confused as you were, you were in love. The minutes were raw, sad and elusive, but the days and the months... those were conclusive. Which brings you to now, just how you are. So, how are you? So, how are you now? Sleep on it now, just how do you dream? You build elaborate sets so you can redesign the frame of mind when you weren't happy. At least you were real, lost and alone. Your romantic lifestyle: the perfect exile. Which brings you to now, just how you are. So, how are you? So, how are you now? Oh you know just what the problem is here, but you wouldn't admit it to anyone near 'cause you walk at a pace that must always have grace. But the truth of the matter is you've never been sadder, and hiding that's madder than any mad hatter. But you climb into bed and forget what's been said again. Blinking and skipping and sprinting and tripping down memory lane 'til it drives you insane, well, it's just not the way that you used to behave. And we all see it coming... the shifting... the dumbing... the swearing... the thumbing your nose at the people who want you to be who you know you could be again. Ponder it now, what could you regret? You've lost so little, depending on your measure. Perhaps a slight drop in the measure of pleasure. But the things on your list - those right at the top - you've checked them all off so there's no need to stop and wonder out loud just how you are... So, how are you? So, how are you now?
This song is about examining your own life and trying to make rational judgements about what you've done and where you are now. Which is, of course, impossible. So, by default, this song is also about how easy it is to lie to yourself and tune out common sense advice from the people in your life who might see you as you truly are. Musically I recorded and completely finished this song as a ballad first (you can hear the original version on the album "Perversions"), with a heavy influence from Portishead. But, because it was so depressing, this version of the song seemed to break the flow of the entire album. So, I rebuilt it with a little minimalist club beat influence, and actually ended up being much happier with it this way.
Selective Memory Loss
Static stocking feet on fuzzy beige plush shag. Talking through commercials and the standard sitcom lag. A shock to my system would be so incredibly welcome, but the room just keeps on waiting. The light just keeps on fading. Tonight I won't sleep. I don't want to dream. I don't own this life. I don't know what it means. Tonight I won’t move. I don’t want to feel. I don’t know this place. I don’t know what’s real. Faking that I'm tired so I'm left alone to pout. Laying on the edge of comfort, sagging soft with doubt. A reason to revolt would be everything I need, but the air is stale and silent. The darkness somehow violent. Tonight I won't sleep. I don't want to dream. I don't own this life. I don't know what it means. Tonight I won’t move. I don’t want to feel. I don’t know this place. I don’t know what’s real. Won't you show me how my choices have made me a whore? Can't you dare me to stop and not do this anymore? Even casual suggestions, or part-time interventions, would be better than the quiet of this pointless self-confession. Tonight I won't sleep. I don't want to dream. I don't own this life. I don't know what it means. Tonight I won’t move. I don’t want to feel. I don’t know this place. I don’t know what’s real.
While I keep hearing "40 is the new 30" bantered about quite a bit, I think the reverse may be true when it comes to the midlife crisis. I certainly feel like I had mine around the age of 31, and many of co-workers appear to have faced the same thing around this age. For me, it was an unshakable feeling that I simply could not accomplish the things that I'd set out to do with my life. I wrote this song while I was actually going through it, and I think because of that, anyone who's ever faced a personal crisis will probably find it very easy to relate to there lyrics. Musically, I decided to let myself stray away from a lot of grit and instead do something fairly clean and pointed. I was confident the song I'd written would lend itself to that kind of production. And, while I was definitely influenced by Goldfrapp for this one, I also got the idea to use very basic drum machine drums after listening to a Smashing Pumpkins song called "Eye". And that sampled guitar sound? Who knows? Too much hip hop in my diet, I guess!
Eine Kleine Booty Musik
I want you, so just feel it. Come on come on just work it down beside me where you’ll get it. Come on come on just take it where it needs to go. That’s right. That’s right. I know you feel me. I know you feel me now.
I wrote this song in one night for a friend who was making a Dodge Ram commercial in which a hot girl is getting her groove on at a hot club. The direction I was given was "kinda hip hop, but also kinda club music... and not a lot of singing". Dodge used it in the commercial, but then pretty much buried the song under the dialogue and effects, so you couldn't really hear it. I thought that was a shame, so I decided to include it here in all its original "glory". Plus, I figure it's a lot more fun to end my album with this short and groovy little track, as opposed to the melancholy ballad that precedes it. I like melancholy, but I LOVE a happy ending, know what I mean? *wink*