Q: What inspired the lyrics and song title?
I read an article in Time about a Swedish study that found a correlation between being a criminal and having a low resting heart rate. The song was inspired by that article and additionally plays off the idea of what it means to be viewed as a criminal (or at least potential criminal) based off outward appearance and how that perception is manifested over and over very negatively in the US. On a personal level, I used to have a jazz steady in the Castleberry Hills neighborhood in downtown Atlanta. There were often police checkpoints setup when I'd be heading home around 1 or 2am... over and over and over again they'd always wave me through, but if there was an African American person in the car in front of me it was almost never a quick process for them. This is not an indictment on police or police protocol, I have uncles who are police officers and additionally many family members who served in the military and I have the utmost respect for any man or woman who choses to serve their country professionally. But what I always thought was off about the situation is that I had a beat up old Mazda and could have easily been typecast as a “typical musician type”, while a lot of the black drivers getting stopped were affluent and driving very nice cars. From those personal experiences I started to think about the fact that as a white guy I've never been fearful of police. The character in the song is a kid who acts really hard, but is actually sweetheart and is scared sh*tless of the police.
Q: What inspired the sound of it?
We knew we wanted to grab onto some 90s drum machine sounds and blend them with acoustic drums. The melodies in the synth lines (particularly in the bridge) were meant to be similar to the marching band cadences that I remembered from high school. The aggressiveness in the guitars and bass grew naturally around the drums and synths pallet.
Q: What are some specific studio techniques that helped create that sound?
Pat uses a Kemper modeling amp which allows him to dial in basically any guitar tone. Dune 2 is our workhorse synth and most of the synth sounds are from 3rd party presets that we tweaked and processed. We used iZotope nectar for all the pitch shifted FX vocals and did a lot of transient design to get the verses tight and punchy. We ended up using some of the (more raw) demo vocals to pad the studio vocals to make it little rough around the edges and add tonal variance.
Q: What do you hope your audience feels/walks away with after hearing it?
I think some people are going gravitate to the feel of the instrumentation and some folks will grab on to the lyrics. Obviously those in law enforcement have unbelievably difficult jobs where they are forced to make split second decisions and the consequences can be visceral with a healthy dose of hindsight bias. On the flip-side, we also have to deal with the reality that there have been a string of horrible events between young men of color and law enforcement. Without pointing fingers or drawing a line between what is objectively right or wrong, I think as country we have to open up a much more honest dialogue of what it means to be a minority in this country.