“Expectations” A lost, then found recording from Lunatic Fringe
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Years ago, I was in a hard rock band called “Lunatic Fringe” This Hollywood based band was active from 1988-1996. Leading up to the release of our self-titled debut CD in 1994, the band had a heated “debate” which resulted in one track being left off the record. Now, years later, the track was rediscovered and on Sept 14, 2021 this “lost” Lunatic Fringe track will be released. The song is called “Expectations”.
While working on this release I have been reflecting on the journey a song takes, from being a “spark of an idea”, to a fully recorded track that can be released to the world. I can tell you, from my experience, that it is a labor of love and has nothing to do with reason or cost benefit. It is fueled by artistic drive, and not just “ego”; at a deeper level it is the need to communicate, and to be accepted and loved.
Here is the story, of the journey, of one such song, called “Expectations”.
Around 1992 or 1993 I came up with a guitar riff that, to my ears, was a strong “hook”. That riff slowly evolved into a song idea with a basic song structure. I had a few melodies for the chorus and some draft lyrics centering on the topic of expectations. At this point I then took these ideas to Pete “Zar” Salazar, the lead singer of the band I was in, Lunatic Fringe. We collaborated on all LF songs and the process was always somewhat unique for each tune. But in every case, there was always a lot of back and forth and iteration. As John Mayer calls it “kneading the dough”. After the two of us worked on it the next step was taking it to the band to work it up as a “real” tune that could be performed; more back and forth and iteration. At some point the tune was added to set lists for various live shows. I do not remember how many times it was played live. After what could be a long time (in this case months) you reach the point of deciding whether to record the song or not. I can tell that recording in 1993 was not what it is today. Back then if you wanted a quality recording you had to pay $$$ to block out a real studio with a real engineer.
So, we did this, the band shared the cost and booked time at a professional studio to record an album. “Expectations” was one of 6 songs recorded. Once all the parts were recorded the songs had to be mixed down and mastered; more time and money.
Once all this was finished the band then had to decide on a running order for the album. During this discussion Pete felt that “Expectations” did not match the vibe of the rest of the tracks. Most of the other tracks where on the darker, heavier side, this tune was brighter and may be too “Pop”. I was out voted and “Expectations” was not included on the album we released. I buried the loss, like we do with many unpleasant emotions, in the interest of getting on with life. At some point I forgot about the tune. Occasionally, while practicing, I might land on the opening guitar riff that started it all, but that was about it.
This experience of bands voting to keep and drop tunes from an album is very common. Many times, there is also a record company involved that has veto power over the whole band! If you want to be a fly and the wall and see this played out, I recommend the Aerosmith documentary, “The Making of Pump”.
So fast forward to 2020. One day during C19 lock down Pete sends me a text that says “I found a copy of “Expectations”; that song is great; we should have put it on the record!” In the days that followed he shared with me the real reason he did not want to include it on the album way back when. The lyrics he wrote for the song were inspired by a very ugly breakup with his girlfriend at the time. So, whenever he heard the song, he would relive that emotional pain. Now, the passage of time had given him the benefit of hearing it for the first time, with fresh ears. Pete suggested we release this as a “lost track”. I did not agree or disagree, again it was emotional baggage that I had packed away in the overhead compartment. Finally, after months of his subtle reminders I agreed. And so, now after all this time, the fruits of our labor, from many years ago, will see the light of day.
I know I am close to the situation, but I still think this tune holds up and is a great song. For now, I will wait to see what everyone else thinks and I will do my best to manage my expectations.
Thank you to Ronan Chris Murphy for remastering “Expectations” and bringing it up to 21 century audio standards.