The History of Jagged Spiral

It all started in the Summer of 2005. Colin was kicking around some guitar licks and Zero had just upgraded his home studio from a Tascam 4-track to a PC-based Digital Audio Workstation program called Sonar. After a few sessions of recording Colin’s guitar parts and laying them over percussion loops, they were roughed into the traditional Verse-Chorus-Verse format. Song structures began to take shape as they added lyrics, bass, and MIDI programming.

In the Fall of 2005, Colin and Zero were approached by Stone Soup Productions, and asked to provide the musical score for their upcoming production; a vampire movie called Pray For Daylight. Since the pre-production wouldn’t be finished till early 2006, they continued working on the songs, keeping in mind that some of them might end up in the movie. They became more excited about the project and devoted every Tuesday solely to writing, arranging, and recording.

The band had no name, and no song names other than general descriptions: ‘Spooky Number One’, ‘Angry Number Three-Hundred-and-Seven’ etc… They had no drummer. This was a problem.

Early in 2006, rough tracks of all the songs were done, and lyrics were mostly written. All the drums were programmed Loops or MIDI played off the computer. Zero and Colin agreed that the Loop/MIDI drums had to go. Meanwhile, Josh had been doing audio work on Pray For Daylight, and when he learned about Colin and Zero writing the score for the movie, he offered to play the drum parts. Once he heard the MIDI and drum loops Colin and Zero had used, he almost changed his mind. But, several shots of Jagermeister later, he was working out new drum patterns, and became the official third member of the band, which had (after several band-naming-sessions which generated thousands of possibilities) chosen to work under the name “Jagged Halo”.

Spring of 2006 was a madhouse of movie post-production hysteria. Colin and Zero worked on scoring the film, writing new material on the fly to go with the movie scenes, and laying in songs from their existing (unfinished!) recordings where appropriate. Josh and Zero actually appear in the movie, Josh as a bartender, and Zero as a ‘Serbian Vampire’.

In Summer of 2006, the post-production for Pray For Daylight was finished, and the band was able to refocus its efforts on finishing the writing and recording of their project, which had taken on the name “Days From Evil”. Unfortunately, the band found itself ‘unnamed’ when they discovered that “Jagged Halo” is actually owned by Gary Numan, and he uses the name for his record label. Doubly unfortunately, it was too late to edit the credits in the movie, and so the band will forever be listed in the credits as “Jagged Halo”.

Progress through the Summer and Fall of 2006 was slow, and the closer the album neared to completion, the slower the progress became. Writing, Recording, Rewriting, Re-recording, Microsurgery Editing, and Re-re-re-recording took up most of the summer, but the tracks “Not Enough Bullets” and “Let It Out” were declared to be ‘cigar’ versions. (The band planned to smoke a cigar after each of the tracks had completed the editing/mixing phase and could be moved on to mastering.)

On 3 Oct 2006, the band chose the name Jagged Spiral, and reserved both a myspace page and the internet name jaggedspiral.com. They also realized that the “Days From Evil” project should be called “Years From Evil” because the album was taking longer to complete than it took for Stone Soup Productions to make a feature-length movie. Winter of 2006 was a stressful period of re-recording, mixing, and listening to multiple mixes of tracks. The writing of the final song was completed, after in one night of frustration, Zero re-re-wrote the entire melody and lyrics for “Hallowed Ground”.

In the Spring of 2007, he re wrote them again. This would be the fourth (and last) rewrite, and lyrics for Hallowed Ground and all other songs on “Days From Evil “were finished.

Also in the Spring of 2007, Jagged Spiral did something they had never done before. They played a song together live. It sounded exactly the way you would expect for a band which had NEVER played together before. It sucked. They did something else together as well: they jammed. A piece of a completely new song came out (which would later be known as ‘Blood on the Velvet’).

The band was hooked. The Tuesday night recording/mixing sessions turned into jamming/writing/practicing sessions. Days From Evil fell to the back burner as Jagged Spiral constructed NINE more songs in a six month period. They pressed various versions of the Days From Evil album during this time, and after many last minute tweaks and adjustments, finally turned the album over to Reid Rejsa for mastering on Friday the 13th of June, 2007.

Reid did a test-mastering of the song Forced Entry using two different methods. One was run through a 4-track analog tape deck, which gives the audio a slightly different character. Comparing the two versions, the band decided to go with the analog-mastered verson, and Reid finished mastering the album on 21 July 2007.

MP3 versions of the tracks were released under Creative Commons Music Sharing License through jaggedspiral.com. Over the last nine weeks of 2007, the tracks were posted to the web one per week. We were pleased to see other bands follow this same marketing/distribution method, (namely Radiohead, NIN and Atmosphere,) although I somehow doubt they were influenced by our decision.

Forced Entry, the first “Days From Evil” track, debuted on Halloween, 2007. The ninth track, ‘The Last Song’, was uploaded on 26 Dec 2007.

I can’t really explain why it took us until June of 2008 to get the CD duplicated and book the CD release party. Perhaps like a fine wine, the album simply needed to age? Perhaps the album was ahead of its time, and had to be held back until the world was ready for it? Regardless, after three years of hard work, “Days From Evil” was finally released in CD format to the public on 11 July 2008 at Club Underground in Minneapolis, MN.

Fire and Dice

At the time of the Days From Evil CD Release party in 2008, the second album was mostly written. And where Days From Evil was conceived a piece at a time in a recording studio, the second album was conceived live in a practice space. The actual room was the same, but creating the songs live and practicing them to a playable state before recording was quite different.

Recording of the second album went until the middle of 2011, which was pretty unanimously a pretty bad year for all of us. We’d played our last show long before that.

We turned over mix files to a recording studio in Dec 2011 and received a version 1 master in Jan of 2013. We asked for some minor corrections and I picked up version 2 on 30 Apr 2013. That master was approved and sent to duplication.

There was no “release party” for album 2 per se.