Mig’s Backbeat Corner

Insights into the creative process of Plague Dad

As you may have read, we are releasing a new single. An original song called “They Ran Us Off”

Frank touched upon the creation of the tune, and all that he wrote was quite true. But it does not, in my not so humble opinion,  really grasp the the singularity that occurred the day/night that song was brought in to the light from the dark side of two like minded old farts that have had the pleasure of creating music in some form or other for some odd 35 years or so. 

It is often something you only hear about. Songs written in 15 minutes in a hotel room on tour, in the studio as a throw away that becomes the singular best song on the album. Popular even. 

Winehouse to her young producer in passing conversation: they tried to make me go to rehab I said No,no,no….”Shook Me All Night Long”, written about cars by a gear head Brit singer just hired by some Aussies to make a record after an icon passes away….

I felt like Bernie Taupin to Frank’s inner Elton John. 

I had these words and ideas rolling around in my brain for about a week. I hadn’t quite figured out how to connect them. How to express the feeling of being “lost”, disconnected, out of balance. It wasn’t a paradise or Eden story, because there is nothing really all that great about returning to dark times and fear and fighting for survival every day. It was about how could we get back to a way to integrate  our current industrial socio economic system with meaning and balance and lack of alienation. 

I just did not have it. Until this other thought came into mind as I was walking the streets of Portland ME, on a pleasant dusky sunset evening and seeing clouds. And trees. Pine Trees of course. This is the Pine Tree State afterall, but other trees and angles of sunset and colors behind them. And:  

I wish I was back in the tree….popped into my mind. 

I felt the power of that thought. And said to myself, “Self, this is the opened gate!” 

And I was returning to my shelter. That space us mostly hairless primates must have, but it’s a cave, right? Sure, it has electricity and running water and such, but really it’s just a cave with a “fire” and a little creek (toilet) to pee and poop in.  

The desire to be able to scramble back into what we once were, just heavy headed apes that mayhaps ate some shrooms growing in dung, is always with us. We Got “Airs”, however. Thought  we were better than. (And still do, much to our constant chagrin)

I returned to my cave and this poem tumbled out of me:

 iDreams become I wish  (They ran us off). 

(Original Dreams of Wishes)

I see a rocky wall

Soot and flame ash fall

I wish I was back in the tree 

I wish they did not howl at me 

as they ran us off

I wish I did not burn and cough with anger and retribution 

I wish I had their fur 

I wish my toes could grip the branches

      I don’t care. I will show them. 

I will remember their slights

I will remember to wager their life 

against mine. 

I will forget 

       Why my head is so heavy

       And why

I  leave my senses

I will escape 

I will thwart my sentence 

I will imagine myself

   I will not forget

And yet…

I wish I still had 

Toes to grip the branches

No more fire and ash

I wish I could breathe

like the trees

And just be

RSanchez( TheeAmbry. © 2021) 

And I felt it was pretty good. I did a little tinkering, but I tend to write what I feel with little editing once it is out on the page or electronic media.

I sent it off to Frank as I am wont to do when I feel I’ve written something with rhythm and creative expression. Sometimes he likes it and says good stuff. Sometimes he just puts the thumbs up emoji. And sometimes he doesn’t really respond at all. That often means he doesn’t want to say so, but it didn’t do much for him. 

Which is totally fine. I write my poems mostly for me. If they happen to have lyrical content, that is gravy. And he did not reply to this one. At all. 

Then, about 2 hours later he sent me a demo recording. Just guitar and vocals. Wherein he distilled my rhythms and wordiness into a concentrated spirit to be poured into a tumbler, neat, no chaser. I listened to it twice before responding. 

It was everything I had wanted from that poetic revelation. Connection, inspiration. He wrote a haunting opening riff, parsed the words to their primal meaning and imagery, included a beautiful expansive sky opening melody, a primal chant, and a build up to a hopeful,  if thought provoking ending. 

Powerful stuff. We’ve been doing this collaboration, Plague Dad, for just about a year now, and we both have been making music for years, but I have, up to this point, never felt a song come together in a way so forceful and impactful, that I knew it had to be shared. 

At first I wasn’t even sure there Was a drum part for me, it was so gelled and complete.  Of course, gotta have that primal instrument on such a song. So I hunkered down to create as much atmosphere within the context as I could. Add some growls, and driving beat at the end to add impact to the sense of longing, yet urgency, for that return to some sort of balance within ourselves externally and internally. 

I believe the song will strike a resonant chord for whatever reason for whoever You are at this time space moment. Check it out. And own it on cassette in November. 

Take care, be safe (TCBS)


About Me

Miguel Sanchez is a drummer, percussionist and poet. He plays with Plague Dad and a few other projects you might soon hear about – or not. His call

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