Songs From The 2nd Floor (Album)
The Long Stairway to the 2nd Floor...
The initial sessions for this album started as a side project during the "Blast Off...." sessions.
Towards the middle of the "Blast Off...." sessions (July 2021), Domm had to take a break from the band due to some sudden health issues, but encouraged me to continue writing music.
I didn't like recording alone, so I chatted with a few people on some Discord servers I was on to see if anyone wanted to do a little "one-off album supergroup" thing.
Sure enough, two people (both from Japan) said they were interested, their names were Rokudai and Yu, we started writing some songs and I found I had good chemistry with Rokudai.
(Yu left pretty early on before any collaboration started due to his busy work schedule.)
The first songs worked on were:
Old Man Blues Band
(Take A Stroll Thru) The Flower Garden
There were a few more songs written around that time, but they were never properly recorded beyond demos.
Since it was just me and Rokudai, I eventually asked him if he was interested in joining Cellophane Company, and to my excitement, he said yes.
Right after the release of Blast Off, I was more excited than ever to continue working on the then untitled "2nd album".
Originally, I thought it would be cool to make an album with a fantasy adventure concept (wizards, dragons, and all that), and there was some work done in that direction, but it quickly fell apart.
Then all three of us agreed that it would probably be for the best to make a more "straightforward" / "accessible" pop rock album.
At that point (around mid-2022) the creative juices just weren't flowing and we kind of fizzled out for a while, a few months later we felt rested and ready to go and the sessions resumed.
These new sessions produced "Subcon Wave", "Skeleton Castle", "Sunrise! Hello! (Good Morning To You!) and "Hello Arigato", a few more songs were recorded but not used for this album.
Things were going well, but a common theme was that due to Domm's busy work schedule, he unfortunately missed most of these sessions.
It all came to a head in August 2022 when Domm announced that he was leaving the band because he simply had no time to participate, we understood and wished him well in his endeavors and made it clear that if he ever got some free time again he was more than welcome to come back.
Soon after that, we decided to release the first single as a hype up for the second album, "Old Man Blues Band / Far Out City (JP)", and it did quite well, so the sessions continued.
Those sessions after Domm left were kind of weird because they were very scattered and a few songs were recorded but for one reason or another, they got shelved.
So we just carried on and decided to focus on mixing what we had already recorded instead of continuing to record more songs, and we found that there was a complete lack of instrumental songs, something that was so prevalent on our previous album "Blast Off....".
Domm’s Return! (With Dark Clouds in the Distance)
Two months after Domm left, I contacted him to see how he was doing, he was quite surprised that I chose right then to message him, as it turns out he was typing a message to me at the same time.
"Our cosmic connection shows yet again!!" said Domm.
Turns out he was letting me know that his health problems had returned to the point where he had to leave his job, and he was going in for a CT scan the following day.
After that bombshell, we spent the next hour or two talking about general health stuff and diet, towards the end end of the conversation I mentioned:
"Well Domm, your seat is still available here if you need something to do while you're staying at home."
"Thanks Paul! I'll be gladly joining back!" Said Domm.
Very little recording was done in October/November as I was busy with my own job, and in my off time hanging out and watching music-related movies with Domm.
Towards late November, Domm mentioned it would be cool to make a little Christmas EP with the band in the style of The Beatles Fanclub Flexidiscs, so we did just that! (See here)
After many visits to the doctor, it turned out that Domm had somehow ended up with a NET tumor, and he was scheduled to begin treatment in December.
January "Wrap-Up" Sessions
The year was new and we all agreed that this album had been lingering around long enough!
Domm and I had a lot of conversations about what we wanted to do this year and what direction we wanted to go.
We decided that it needed at least a couple of instrumental songs to fit in with "our sound".
It was decided to finish one of the mid-2022 tracks called "Colors (In Theory)", and Rokudai made a new track that would eventually be called "The Rain Trip", it features Domm strumming on an instrument called a "Saz", he got said instrument on a vacation he took to Turkey in 2022.
I added an electronic-sounding bridge and an Indian-inspired section in the middle of the song.
Everything was going well and we were on track for a mid to late February release.
The shock of all shocks
Domm seemed to be making good progress with his health, he was always so unusually thin, yet he was starting to put on a little weight from two months of eating a bit more of a high-carb diet, which I thought was a good sign.
On January 14th the three of us discussed that it would be cool to make an EP of songs for release in March or April, little did we know that this would be our last conversation with Domm.
Domm mentioned that he was going to take a few days off to "to concentrate on his health".
I found this a little odd considering I thought he was doing pretty well and making decent progress.
Then January 23rd came and that was it, I received a message from Domm's parents telling me that he had passed away.
Needless to say, this was the shock of all shocks, and I still can't get over the fact that one of my best friends is just suddenly, gone.
I'll be honest, I don't remember much of February or most of March, it's mostly a blur.
I didn't know what I wanted to do at first, I considered scrapping the whole album and recording something new.
Then I had a dream that I can only describe as very surreal, and after the dream, I really felt like someone was shouting at me: "STICK WITH OUR PLAN!!! STICK WITH OUR PLAN!!!!!"
It only made sense to me that this was Domm, so I figured that wherever he is now, he was trying to communicate with me to continue with the plans we made in January.
Finishing up the mix, and then the release.
Finishing this album was difficult, as I obviously wasn't in the best mental space.
But nevertheless, I didn't want to disappoint Domm, wherever he was now, so I mixed and mixed away.
Eventually, I got the whole thing mixed, and we made our April 8th 2023 deadline.
1: Sunrise! Hello! (Good Morning To You!) [Tanaka/Sterling]
2: Suburb Happenings [Sterling]
3: Time Machine [Tanaka]
4: Subcon Wave [Sterling]
5: (Take A Stroll Thru) The Flower Garden [Sterling]
6: Skeleton Castle [Tanaka]
7: Colors (In Theory) [Sterling]
8: The Rain Trip (To The 2nd Floor And Back) [Tanaka/Sterling]
9: Old Man Blues Band [Sterling]
10: Hello Arigato [Tanaka]
11: End of the Day [Tanaka/Sterling]
Produced by Paul Sterling
Another fine album cover, drawn by our own Rokudai Tanaka.
Man, what an odd trip this has been.
Even with all that has happened, I'm very proud of this album.
The mix, the songs, everything to me is exactly how I wanted it to sound.
We wanted to make a more accessible album compared to "Blast Off...." and I think we did that without giving up our sound.
My favorite track off the album is probably Suburb Happenings, I just love the chords and it was a fun time while writing it.
Now is a time to kick back, for a while.