Bells Motors & Doors
The Story of Bells, Motors, and Doors. In 1999, I was living in a Coop house two blocks away from the University of Texas at Austin in the neighborhood known as West Campus. The house was called the German House. I had about 26 other housemates at that time, in what was, a very international setting. I decided to rent some recording equipment (a condenser mic, a mixer, a pre-amp, and an 8-track ADAT recording machine) and make an album. At one of our notoriously turbulent Monday night house meetings I told everyone I'd be making a record and asked if people would help me write a multi-language "quiet on the set" kind of sign. On that sign were messages in German, Spanish, Russian, French, Polish, Sri Lankan, and English. Recording took about two months. I played all the instruments and did all the vocals on the record. Even though my room was the quietest one in the house, the audio tracks were soon decorated with the sounds of doors slamming, the doorbell, car alarms in the neighborhood, and the occasional waaaaaa naaaaaa of a motorcycle speeding off in the distance. Because West Campus was so noisy, I decided to do all the vocals on Thanksgiving Day, when all the kids had gone off to be with family, so I could at least have clean vocal tracks. The songs on Bells, Motors, and Doors (now you know where the title comes from) were all written by me between 1993 and 1999. I like to refer to this record as the chronicle of my dark and stormy twenties. I love it when bands tell about their songs, so below are some notes about each song: Me and The Insects was written in 1996 when I was a regular at the Monday night open mic at the Cactus Café. I was living in an efficiency apartment and one morning I was awakened over and over by a fly who kept landing on my face as I slept. When I finally woke up for the 10th time, I grabbed my notebook and the words just flowed out of me. Never is Enough was written in early 1994 just days after I had met a really special girl. I knew I was in love with her, but I also knew from the get go that she had planned on moving away in a few months. Metaphor was written in the laundry room of the dorms at New Mexico State University in early 1994. That song compares me to a rocket, and a doomed romance I was in is abruptly ended as the rocket crashes. Brave is all about being depressed. I wrote it in early 1999. One Act Play was one of those poems that I could never find a tune for. I wrote it during the time I was scoring Friederich Duerrenmatt's Besuch der alten Dame for an upper division German Theatre course at UT. When I finished the poem I realized the text was shaped like a coke bottle, so I printed it out on a clear transparency sheet, cut it in that classic shape, cleaned out a coke bottle, put the poem inside, and gave it to the girl it was written about. I don't recommend doing that, by the way. Late was written a few months after I moved to Austin. I was working at Milto's, struggling financially, and tired of being broke. I was 23. I wrote Soles in 1994 at the end of a relationship I had had in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I remember being really sad and staring at my worn-out Chuck Taylor's wishing they could point me away from all this. Luminary came to me one day when I was at a friend's parent's house and I saw some childhood drawings preserved forever in plastic dinner plates in the kitchen. As far as I know, there is no Tupelo Plate Company in Tupelo, Mississippi. Smoke in a Balloon is all about an image from childhood that really stayed with me. Back in the day, I was at a friend's house blowing bubbles when that kid's dad ( a smoker) took a big drag off his cigarette and began blowing smoke-filled bubbles. It was magic. The song is about being depressed and looking to the light of beautiful memories to get through it. Geocentric Cowboy came to me while I was in a freshman Astronomy course at NMSU, taught by the famous, Dr. Rita Beebe (She worked on the Hubble Space Telescope, you know.). In class we were talking about the antiquated geocentric (earth-centered) view of the universe. Travel was written about an all night road trip to Denver. My tape player in my car was broken, so I was listening to the radio and I noticed how, as dawn approached, the AM radio stations grew more faint. Blue and Grey is obviously about missing someone. The title availed itself as we were mastering the disc. Jim Wilson (my mastering engineer) kept making civil war jokes because he thought the melody was something straight out of a Ken Burns civil war documentary. I was like "O.K. Jim, we'll call it Blue an Grey." Thanks, Jim. In the End is one of those spoken word thingies we all like to make fun of. I have no idea what that one's about. Death, maybe? Birthday Gift is about a girl who gets killed in a car accident. The story is told from the brother's perspective. When I wrote it, I kept thinking about South Central Rain by REM. I think it's the saddest song I've ever written. Comfortable Chips is about a really hot day in Austin. Go Out was written about a girl I had dated who was several years younger than me. She told me I was the oldest person she knew. How cute, huh? Gone is all about a bike race I was in called the G.A.S.P. - the Great Austin to Shiner Pedal. On the last day of May in 1998, me and some bros rode our bikes from Austin to Shiner, TX. It was about 100 miles and I did not drink enough water. Towards the end of the race, I began to hallucinate and I thought I was gonna die. It was crazy. -Doug Snyder March 5, 2007.