Hunter H. Keegan
Essays, news, etc.
“RAINBOW” is a song that was written following an incident at a gay pride rally in D.C. wherein a mass panic erupted following false reports of an active shooter. The area surrounding DuPont Circle, an upscale, picturesque area in Northwest DC was suddenly swarming with police and frightened people.
The situation was intense, I was with a girl who I was dating at the time and took her by the arm as I navigated our way out of the immediate area.
While my relationship with that girl fizzled out after a couple more weeks, the surreal, self-contradicting image of groups of people wearing festive outfits and running in terror through the historic streets of Washington DC on a beautiful Summer afternoon stuck in my mind and the lyrics and overall tone of the song started coming to me pretty quickly.
Two songs directly influence “RAINBOW”: “Ohio” by Buffalo Springfield (a side project lead by Neil Young in the late 1960s) and “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen (off of his phenomenal early 1980s dark folk album, Nebraska). Both songs are minimalist in their approach but feature lyrics that paint vivid images of social violence and the impact that it has on the people who experience it.
When collaborating with Last Known Images on “RAINBOW,” I didn’t really realize it would be LKI’s first official release.
I’m heavily influenced by a German experimental/industrial group called Einstürzende Neubauten whose philosophy is basically, “Virtually anything you can find laying around in the street can be utilized as some kind of musical instrument.” We were very into the idea of using field recordings and “found audio” (I guess is what you’d call it) for percussion and background effects, utilizing little to no digital enhancement except to adjust things like reverb and compression.
My favorite unconventional sound in the song is a brief clip of bandsaw shearing through a piece of wood that was recorded in my father’s workshop (i.e. basement), it leads into the second chorus but we edited it in a kind of understated way so that the sound of machinery somehow feels organic and at home in the mix. There are also some clips of police helicopters that we recorded and incorporated into the chorus section in a way that could almost be mistaken for a manufactured flanger or phaser effect. The primary percussive sound heard throughout the song is a heavy steel plate being struck with a 2x4.
In the spirit of lo-fi aesthetics, the guitar track on “RAINBOW” was recorded in one take and was recorded with a handheld stereo condenser mic. I used my custom Warmoth (“The Moth”) guitar and two amplifiers with an array of overdrive and boost pedals to achieve a spongy, but textured and dynamic tone.
There are about 5 demos that LKI has sitting in the pipeline, but they range from “sort of dark” to “extremely dark” and the current consensus is that I should come up with some lighter lyrics to balance things out before we put together a full E.P.
We’ll see how that goes…
(c.) 2020 Hunter H. Keegan