Blink-182’s 2001 anthem gets a second lease of life in this bittersweet remix mastered at Abbey Road.
With Tom DeLonge dramatically walking out on blink-182 last week and the future of the band in jeopardy, it seems no better time to release a remix of ‘Stay Together For The Kids’.
I remember the song from when I was younger; it seemed out-of-step with blink-182’s usual Green Day-meets-Jackass persona. It’s a serious song Tom DeLonge wrote in his teenage years about his parents’ divorce; characterised mostly by its soft verse/ loud chorus dynamics and music video centring on a wrecking ball demolishing a building while the band plays inside (sidenote: the video was filmed on September 11th 2001 and promptly abandoned and remade with a new concept a few days later). It’s a song very much of its era – back in the early 2000s when ‘dark and edgy’ were the operative buzz words around rock, punk and pop music. Though to me it seemed more intense, more thoughtful and more intricately arranged than a lot from that era. And for a song with such a heavy sound, what struck me the most was the piano and acoustic guitar that enters in the midsection and adds an evocative touch to the noise. Where a lesser song would have stretched out into some weepy 6-minute opus, there’s a real sadness to the song that’s beautifully underdeveloped by the time the fade-out comes (the title ‘Stay Together For The Kids’ isn’t even mentioned in the lyrics), and it’s this reflectiveness that drew me to the song and made me want to adapt it for the listening market of 2015.
So, how does one take a sad punk-rock tune and make it a viable piece of electronica? Well, one tune that inspired the remix hugely was this re-imagining of Jimmy Eat World’s “Drugs or Me” (2004) by Belgian producer Styrofoam.
I’m not a fan of the Jimmy Eat World song but what Styrofoam turned Drugs Or Me into is incredible. He took this slow pop-punk ballad, another unlikely candidate for remixing, broke it down and stitched it back up as a glitchy meditation on the original song’s theme, taking its melancholy feeling and expressing it a refreshing new way. Much like the work of William Orbit, production genius behind Pure Shores by All Saints and Madonna’s Ray of Light, he uses electronic production not to sound robotic and hi-tech, but to create the exact opposite effect – to give a song light and air and space to breathe, a brand of electronica that’s like candy for the ears in its relaxing effect.
This is the kind of remix I love – it’s hard to categorise, and it’s not generic or indulgent; it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and most of all it’s not some assembly-line product for the record company as the business model of remixes can often lead them to be. It has warmth and character; you get the feeling there’s a real story behind the original song, and that the producer has utterly transformed it with his own unique interpretation – he’s not sticking some six minute dubstep loop behind the chorus and calling it a day.
And that’s exactly what I wanted to do with Stay Together For The Kids. I wanted to create a sound that people wouldn’t associate with blink-182, or with remixing in the traditional sense, and encourage to think about both of these things in a new way.
Musically, the remix is built on a recurring pattern I made by reversing the first few seconds of the song. The opening guitar notes are very distinctive, and reversing it created an unusual drone that evokes the meditative mood I was going for.
Opening guitar melody
-> reversing it becomes the new melody
I had fun playing around with it, and recreated the pattern on MIDI guitar in certain parts of the song too.
New melody re-recorded on MIDI Guitar; and heard in context of song
Also, a huge influence worth mentioning is the work of San Francisco based EDM composer Brian Trifon. Brian produces some of the best EDM on the web under the moniker Trifonic and has the uncanny ability to mix hi-tech electronica with natural, organic sounds to create stunning instrumentals. I spoke to Brian when writing my masters thesis on creating binaural sound using Logic Pro 9 (MA in Music Technology, Cork School of Music 2011), he’s recently set up the production company Finishing Move Inc. with the equally talented Brian Lee White, producing the music for Halo 2 and Massive Chalice among other games.
I hope you all enjoy the remix, this could be the official blink-182 breakup tune, so spread it around!
Oh, and I managed to grab Mark Hoppus’ guitar plectrum when they played Dublin in 2012!
Steve Collender’s remix of Stay Together For The Kids was mastered at Abbey Road by Geoff Pesche (Kylie Minogue, New Order, Gorillaz) and has been requested for review by blink-182’s publishing group.