“Element” track 3 power forwardby August 24, 2023
For this one, we need to go waaaaay back to when Vashon Lee Page and I first met & started playing music together. A little origin story… around 2005 or so. I was working in property maintenance (college rentals in Morgantown? That can get ugly!), worked with Tony Evans, who is the best beat boxer I’ve ever known, and remains one of my best friends, whenever our paths cross. He introduced me to Vashon, who introduced me to Jason Brooks, big beautiful bad ass guitar player. So we began hanging out at Vashon’s house on Morgan Ave, jamming, riffing, loving it. Vashon on drums, Tony on bongos & vocals, Brooks on guitar, me on bass. Tony came up with the name: “3BW- 3 Brothers & a white dude” (me). I think we only ever played 2 shows- one at Buck’s, which burnt down several years back… anyway, then life did the thing where people hafta go separate ways. No ill will, just inevitable changes in situations. So it goes.
Now, fast forward. As the reality of Power Forward coalesced, this one riff I came up with on bass for 3BW had stayed with me, all these years later. We then developed subsequent parts that fit the groove and feel, and here is this song, a series of meaty hard rock riffs, welded to VP and Cor Win’s crushingly solid funk mastery.
Lyrically, it’s about being forcibly removed from a safe happy environment and thrust into an impossible & ridiculous situation- the system of gov’t being designed to keep certain folks down & out. So you laugh and/or cry and make songs as coping mechanism. The rest of the verses reinforce that general idea. Finding rhymes for “element”- elephant/ irrelevant / sellin’ it / smell of it… the chorus is about exasperation, desperation, escape- if not physically, at least “checking out”, mentally & emotionally. “… like an elephant, stuck in a cage at a zoo… / So I just sit here and stew, eww…”
Recording it was like the other tracks so far- drums/bass/ guitar live, then vocals, acoustic guitar & percussion overdubbed. As always Tommy Bailey expertly manning the controls. Keyboards seem to keep popping up as the interesting variable here- this song needed a thick gritty squonky fonky wah wah clavinet sound. The one that Tudore was using wasn’t quite getting it, a little too flimsy or thin so… gain some weight with an overdrive pedal (Tubescreamer)! Gave it just what the song needed, delivering the goods all the way. Having no prior experience with keyboards in a band, I am gleeful about adventurously pursuing the sonic possibilities of this..
Sorry this is such a long essay; there’s just a lot to this one! If you’ve made it this far, thank you for tuning in today!!
One other note, I had a really bad headache during recording of this one. My guitar playing was kinda sloppy. I know I coulda did better, but the ensemble performance was so nice that we got it down in 2 takes, and it’s a raw & rugged song anyway, so there.