Song: Self-Repair by Vandarth. From the album Space Coffin.
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Musical inspiration: Queens of the Stone Age (especially Dave Grohl’s drum style)
The Story: Self-Repair is a song about the internal battle that sometimes takes place when we confront our own personal weaknesses. There are things about each of us that seem to slow us down or prevent us from becoming the person we want to be. This song describes a fictional battle between the person we are and the person we want to become. It’s inspired by an “experiment” I once conducted when I tried to deal with my own weaknesses by creating a new, more efficient “self.” Self-Repair describes a person who took this concept to an extreme by creating a new identity within their own mind. At first the old self seems to be successfully buried. Eventually though, the old self attempts to re-emerge. The main character finds himself caught in a conscious battle between two versions of himself.
Fun Facts: I accidentally deleted the session files for this song during the mixing process. I thought I was deleting an old backup of the song, but I was actually erasing the final recording session! As a result, I lost the files for the vocals and final drum take. Instead of re-recording these parts, I decided to release the demo mix on the album. As a result, the guitar and drum sound isn’t as “polished” as a normal studio recording since I wasn’t able to go back and EQ it. I kind of like how it turned out though, as this recording sounds a little more like a live performance.
Stream the full song below:
If you want to read about my ridiculous “experiment” that inspired this song, read the blog below!
Behind The Song Blog:
Have you ever wished you could make a better, more efficient version of yourself? I’m sure like me, you’re all too aware of some weaknesses in yourself that seems to be holding you back in life. If only we could just erase these weaknesses and create a self that isn’t held down by things like depression, anxiety, fatigue or lack of focus. What would you be like if you could repair these damaged parts of yourself? There may in fact be a road to a “better self” but sometimes we have to make some mistakes first in order to find it. Some of my mistakes just happen to be hilarious. This is the story behind my song Self-Repair.
A better, more efficient self… no longer weighed down by depression. I have searched for solutions to these problems for years. A battle with depression was sapping my energy. As a struggling musician in a competitive music town, I did not think I could afford to continue wrestling with depression. I needed to be out there meeting people and getting gigs so I wouldn’t starve. But it seemed like I was losing that battle.
One day I stood outside in my backyard as a dark storm front crept towards me. As I stared into one of the darkest thunderstorms I’ve ever seen, I thought to myself… “I cannot continue like this. If I don’t change something soon, I’m not going to make it down here in Austin. I’ll run out of money and my dream of becoming a career musician will be lost. Everything I sacrificed to come here will be for nothing.”
A bit dramatic? Maybe. Aren’t we all when we’re young though? In that moment while staring into the storm, I thought I’d finally found a solution. I would create a new self and lock my weaknesses away somewhere deep in my mind. Plus, it seemed like a great topic to write a song about, so I sat down in my garage with a notebook. The garage door was wide open as the storm rolled in. I began to write Self-Repair right there in my garage during the heaviest downpour I’ve ever seen.
“I’ll make a new self out of myself. Bigger… better… aluminum shell.” – lyrics from Self Repair
A fresh start isn’t a bad idea. Maybe I took it a little too far. I remember announcing on my Facebook page in 2012 that I was now “Nathan Version 2.0,” a joke about creating a software patch for my mind. The thing is, it wasn’t totally a joke to me. I mean, I knew it was ridiculous, but I was also half-serious. I wanted to assume a new identity that was pure rock ‘n roll, efficient and never wasted energy because of emotional fatigue or depression. Think of how much music I could make if my mind was firing on all cylinders! Surely Nathan 2.0 could become the rock star I had dreamed of becoming when I moved away from my family and friends!
I wanted to create a mind of STEEL! What a great idea!! And it WORKED! At least for awhile… but a few days later I started running out of energy to keep this new state-of-mind up. The same emotions that haunted Nathan 1.0 were beginning to find their way through to Nathan 2.0. Thoughts of self-doubt, loneliness and depression began to creep back into my mind. It was disappointing to say the least. I wasn’t ready to give up on Nathan Version 2.0 yet though.
At first I thought I’d just slipped up; I thought I just hadn’t worked hard enough at maintaining a “mind of steel.” I thought to myself, “it’s okay, I’ll just upgrade again and become Nathan Version 2.1.” But then I realized that if I truly wanted to leave my old self behind, I needed to leave my name behind as well. After all, it was a symbol of the identity I was shedding.
“If you knew who I was… then you know now I’m gone!” – lyrics from Self Repair
Maybe it was stress. Maybe I had been alone in the big city for a bit too long. Regardless of what pushed me towards this bad idea, I planned to legally change my name to “Bruce Wayne.” I thought it would be cool! Sometimes I wish I had gone through with it because if nothing else, it would make a great party joke! Heck, sometimes I still introduce myself to women as Bruce Wayne. But it would be so much funnier if it were true! My mom would have killed me!
“I’m changing my name. Call me Bruce Wayne. The face is a mask of a sad little man.” – lyrics from Self Repair
I realize this sounds a bit crazy, and to be honest, I don’t know if I would have ever really gone through with it. But I researched the necessary paperwork, legal fees and even figured out where to go to complete the process. As I thought through my great idea more though, I did what any rational person would do and I started to get cold feet. Something just didn’t feel quite right about discarding a name that my mom and dad had chosen for me. Besides… weren’t there some good things about the self that I was trying to escape from? What if getting rid of the things I didn’t like about myself meant losing some of the things I did like? And what if I changed my name and found that I was still the same person as before? How damaging that would be. I came to my senses and decided to keep my birth name. In the battle between my real self and my imaginary upgraded self, my real self won.
As I’ve looked back on that experience over the years since, I find it interesting that I chose “Bruce Wayne” as my ideal name. Bruce Wayne is someone who is trapped in a perpetual identity crisis. He’s never sure if his real self is Batman or Bruce Wayne. One identity wants to be normal and settle down; the other sacrifices those dreams for the mission of fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves. In my plan to escape my own identity crisis, I chose to assume a new name that represented the same identity crisis I was trying to escape from. Ironic, right?
So would I really have gone through with changing my name to Bruce Wayne? Honestly, probably not. I’m not quite that crazy. I did learn something critical through my Version 2.0 experiment though. The way that I had tried to cope for most of my life was not the healthiest; it was the equivalent of putting on a mask and hiding my true self. There’s not a person on the planet that doesn’t struggle with personal weaknesses. There is no “mind of steel.” To develop one would require losing that which makes us human. A mind without emotion may be efficient… but it’s too cold to create meaningful relationships.
Maybe there’s a better way to deal with our weaknesses. The pressure to maintain a perfect self is far too great for anyone to live under. But what if part of the answer lies in acknowledging our weaknesses? Wouldn’t that simply mean we’re still human? We certainly wouldn’t be alone in that. We might have better luck if we accept who we are and learn to grow from there. Maybe the “perfect self” I was pursuing is actually worse off than my true “flawed” self… without coming to terms with our past mistakes, we might be incapable of learning to grow. Take a lesson from the humorous experiment behind Self-Repair. Let’s shed some of the pressure we often bury ourselves under when we demand perfection from ourselves. Maybe without the weight of impossible expectations, we’ll find ourselves more free to focus on who we want to become.
Self-Repair appears on Vandarth’s full-length album Space Coffin. The story from this song comes to a conclusion on the album’s final song titled 15 Minutes.
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