Too High To Die
“We should put together a supergroup.”
The term is kind of absurd to begin with. It was coined in the late sixties to describe bands comprised of members who had already achieved fame or respect in other groups or as individual artists. Think Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Think Bad Company. Or Cream.
Of course, only rock ‘n roll would brand its own, “super.” But I guess that’s what makes it rock n’ roll: bloated sense of self, outsized egos, delusions of grandeur.
Of course, putting the “super” in “supergroup” has only become more difficult with time. The Traveling Wilburys? Audioslave? Velvet Revolver? I think it’s fair to say that the parts far outshine the sum.
Still, around The MTV, outmoded terms (“record”) and phrases (“Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It’s just not really widely reported.”) still provide a good laugh.
So when New Line Cinema’s “Snakes On A Plane” soundtrack contest came up in a news meeting, well, we had to get in on the fun.
You know the movie, right? It’s a Sam Jackson action flick in which — you got it — a terrorist releases a bunch of deadly snakes on a transcontinental flight. Hilarity like, “Get these muthafuckin’ snakes off my muthafuckin’ plane!” ensues.
It doesn’t come out until August, but it’s already got a life of its own online: blogs, fake posters and trailers. And then this. New Line decides to ride the internet zeitgeist by sponsoring a soundtrack contest.
So, who’s in the MTV News supergroup, Bluddfang? Robert Mancini (Cockfight), Andrew Millard (Candygram For Mongo), Smita Shukla (aka Lady S), Rich Sancho, rapper German Luger (a bona fide hip-hop artist), and me (singer/songwriter extraordinaire, Smith Family, Cockfight).
And what have we come up with? Behold: “Too High To Die.”
It’s actually a pretty cool rap/rock track, kinda Linkin Park meets Jay-Z, or Peter Gabriel meets Method Man. I like it a lot. And it came together pretty easily.
I asked Rich to lay down some beats.
“We’re thinking ’99 Problems,'” I said.
A few days later, Rich had a :50 track. It was a little more Trent Reznor than T-Boz, but it worked. It was menacing. And it rocked.
“Awesome,” I said. “It needs to be three minutes with three verses, three choruses, and a bridge.”
Three days later, we had the basis for the track.
Mancini came over last week and laid down some guitars. We talked about ideas.
“I’m thinkin’ something like ‘Too high to die / Too young to go slow,'” he said.
I spent the rest of the night laying down some scratch vocals.
Yes, me spittin’ beats and rhymes.
Last Wednesday, Andrew, Smita and Robert came over to Skyline Studios (aka my bedroom) after work. Fueled by a few Negro Modellos and a healthy dose of good ideas, we laid it down. We had everything: the James Hetfield-esque chorus, the blistering guitar solo, and the sexy vocal hook. But we didn’t have a front man.
Enter German Luger. He’s a buddy of my colleague Rahman. I don’t know him from Adam. But I know his email, and in this day and age, that’s all it takes. It sent him the mp3 and a brief (slightly absurd) description of the subject matter (“Ok, so you’re on a plane. Maybe you’ve got a bag of weed in your pocket. Maybe you¹re checkin’ out the flight attendant. Maybe you’re crankin’ some tunes in your headphones.”), and twenty-four later, we had “Too High To Die.”
I mixed it last night. I’m sending it to New Line today.
I already know what I’m gonna say to Sam at the premiere.