[Origin Of A Song] Cuecliché – “A Song For Charlie”

Greetings all! You may or may not remember me, Terry Rytz, from my piece on rejoining the music industry after a nine year break that I wrote for TDL in the past? If not I’m sure Tina will do something really cool by putting a link here? <–She did!

Anyway, promo for previous work out the way, let me tell you why I’m here now. Last year in March my band Cuecliché released a 5 track EP entitled One Last Chance and since the release, so many people have asked me about the songs on the EP, the inspiration behind them, if they were about them and much more. I’ve enjoyed a year of inquiry and every time someone has asked, “What’s this song about?” I’ve replied, “What do you think it’s about?” and when they tell me their theories, I raise my eyebrows and say, “Interesting” and that’s where it ends. Well now I’m changing that! In a five part series I’m going to go through all five songs on the EP and share stories behind each, from which ones nearly didn’t make the EP, which ones were written about specific people, what stories are connected to the songs and so much more.

I’m going to run through the EP track by track and it’s worth pointing out I am one of two singers/songwriters in the band so this is only my perspective on each song. My wingman and brother-in-arms, Jake, put a lot of himself into the songs so you’re only really getting half the story, until the day he decides to share his side. Firstly I’m sure every band is different in how they write songs, how we do it is Jake will write an original piece of music entirely himself with guitars, bass and programmed drums and we’ll grow it from his original demo. Keith will put his own beats to it, I’ll maybe change up the bass a little but the core music is put together by Jake; he is a genius when it comes to producing music. We’ll then take the music piece and write lyrics to it.

So we begin with the opening track, “A Song for Charlie.”

The main thing about this song is it was never ever intended for the EP. Jake had some computer issues at his home PC a few days before we went into the studio to record drums and lost the demo version of one of the songs we were meant to be recording. So literally on the day of recording we had to change “Take it Away” for “A Song for Charlie” and it worked out in our favor though because we’ll be including “Take it Away” on our upcoming EP (out December 1) and it probably sits better amongst the other tracks on that one.

We opened the EP with this song because of the really strong “punch in your face” kind of intro! I’ve always been fascinated by how bands start their albums and it really sticks with me when a band’s opening track has a good opening quality. It might not be the best track on the album but just works so well to open. Some great examples are blink-182’s self-titled album starting with “Feeling This.” That ringing octave riff, when you hear that anywhere now you know exactly what it is, or The Used opening In Love and Death – the opening monologue which finishes with a gunshot just as the “Take It Away” kicks in with a really powerful, fast paced riff gets me every time. Neither of those songs are the best songs on their respective albums but both are great openers. We really felt that powerful way the song starts with lyrics instantly was a great way to open.

We used to open all our live shows with “A Song For Charlie” until a few months ago. A friend of mine said he believed we should probably open with one of our more catchy, less aggressive songs just to draw people in more before getting too in-your-face. Looking back that same advice could probably be applied to our tracklisting too. I still think “ASFC” is a perfect opening track for the EP but because we are a small, unheard of unsigned band, we probably should have opened with a more audience friendly, popular track. When we send the EP out to venues, promoters and the likes, this may be a bit too aggressive as a start and 9 out of 10 times this is the first song they hear. So amongst the collection of songs as an EP, it’s the perfect opener but as an EP from an unsigned band perhaps we should have lead with our more popular track, “One Last Chance.”

Jake and I wrote the lyrics to this one together in his studio and wrote out the full song before we the divided up the lines to who would sing them. We tried different splits of the same lyrics, singing alternate lines, taking a verse each. In the end we felt Jake’s rougher vocal sound worked with the aggressive intro and then I’d take the other lines in the verses and then again in the chorus. Jake’s voice made the chorus a lot stronger.

The song itself is loosely inspired by the Stephan Chbosky book and film The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s one of my favourite books and films and it was in my mind the whole time we wrote this song. Like the book, the song is about a person who doesn’t really fit in, but at the same time isn’t a total outcast; they’re somewhere in the middle but that’s OK and I think that message really comes out in the interlude line, “I won’t fit in, I won’t blend in, I will disappear.”

I could be here all day mentioning all the subtle nods to the film’s themes within the songs themes but I think it might be easier to just watch the film (I recommend it) and then listen to the song (I highly recommend it). You can hear the song below!

Terry Rytz

Terry Rytz

Born in Liverpool, UK and raised between there and Denmark, Terry is the bass player and vocalist in emerging pop-punk band, Cuecliché. Terry is rediscovering the world of music after a nine year break and will be documenting his journey exclusively for TDL!