About a song – Zack Plank

My initial demo of this song came up on random this morning, so I thought I’d take a little time to give you some insight into this little beaut. Ha. Insight.

I know you’re interested, so I’ll let you have a listen to the initial garageband demo I put together. Pay attention in particular to the laughable programmed drums – especially the intro that is almost stolen from Lead Me On 2012. It’s quite easy to see how much the other members of strangeday bring to my song ideas looking at the contrast between this and the final song.

I’d decided I wanted to do something like the ending of Goodnight by easyworld, getting faster and faster and then coming out at a slower speed. The band came up with something different, and I like it! We ended up dropping instruments out one by one until just Aaron was left, doing something otherworldly with the electric guitar. Then we’re all back in for a normal chorus, followed by a chorus where we swap the first and last sections around as far as the chords were concerned. This allowed for a switch up of the melody and for us to bring in the coda. Nice.

I had the idea for Zack Plank whilst reading a book. I think it was A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The book casually mentioned two of the craters on the moon at one point. There’s one named Zach and the another called Planck. For some reason, in my mind, the two names became one: the name of a little boy who lives on the moon.

The song was originally called The life and times of Zack Plank (I changed the spellings of both craters – who knows why). The story I had imagined was that Zack ran away from everything and ended up on the moon. He wanted space and he got it. And he is kind of ambivalent about the success of his plan.

It’s all an attempt at a metaphor for pushing people away, only to find how well you can manage to isolate yourself completely by doing so. We added the coda at the end whilst recording and I love how it sums up the creeping dread of the situation: “What if I never come home? I never meant to come this far“. Incidentally, the last half chorus into this coda, with Paul’s snare fill linking the two is one of my favourite things we’ve recorded. If I ever listen to the song, I have to play this section at least once more.

As a character and story, I feel like I’d like to come back to Zack eventually. Whether I will or not is another matter. I didn’t really go too far into the actual story with Zack Plank, just the feelings involved. I could explore it more I think. As far as I’m aware he’s still up there.

When it came to the artwork, we’d been using photos for our single covers, so I thought it would be fun to get some public domain photos of the craters themselves and overlay them. Luckily the images existed and I created my very own new lunar crater based on Zach and Planck.

Zach + Planck = Zack Plank

And here, for posterity and your enjoyment are the actual lyrics. See if you can spot the line I changed in the first verse.

Zack Plank
I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes
Follow your feet into the emptiness
Desolate in the skies
You’re on your own oh no
But do the stars shine that much brighter for you?
And it’s a long way down
It’s a long way down
If you choose to think about it

Hey, I just wanted to be far away
Don’t bring me down
Hey, just like me to wind up lost again
I came in last again
Looking down
I can’t see the end

Well it’s the boy without an atmosphere
Faking fear and an attitude
Finding you’ve got space to spare
Star of the whole show oh no
With the real world that much smaller to you
And are you coming down?
You’re not coming down
Is it easier to stay?

What if I never come home?
I never meant to go this far