So a bit of necessary background before I get into the guts of "Nothing Left To Say."
Obviously those who know us know this but for those who are new to the band, while The Code Duello may be The Ivins' debut album, this is far from our first album. In reality, we have been putting out records and playing in bands for nearly 15 years, the latest and biggest of which was called, simply, The Jim Ivins Band. This was more of an acoustic-driven pop rock band – think Goo Goo Dolls, Matt Nathanson, Gin Blossoms, Third Eye Blind. We put out five releases – four of which you can hear on Bandcamp – and it was on our fifth release – 2012's Everything We Wanted, which is on iTunes, Spotify, etc. – that we moved to New York. On that record is a short song called “Emergency,” which has these cool vibey synths, distorted vocals and huge rocking guitars. Once we moved to New York, I thought, “what if we made the whole band sound like that song?” and that was kind of the impetus for The Ivins.
The process for making that transition, though, was a long and evolving thing. For instance, a song like “Masquerade” was written early while I was still thinking “Jim Ivins Band with a twist.” That mindset during that early time period in New York (January 2013) also produced a demo that I called "The First Place," which you can hear below. To me, the song always felt a little, as Metallica would say in "Some Kind Of Monster," "stock." Meaning, pretty run-of-the-mill, nothing groundbreaking, nothing great. Except the bridge. I thought this typical little pop song could use an edge so, in an attempt to try and write a killer riff like Switchfoot on "Stars," I wrote this heavy, kind of off-kilter bridge, which you can hear come in at 1:55 on the demo:
This bridge always stuck with me so fast forward a year and a half to Summer 2014 when Jack and I are woodshedding songs for the new album, I played some demos and we agreed that the song as a whole didn't work but we liked that bridge and thought maybe it could be the basis for a new song to be built from scratch. Jack picked up a bass, I kept playing the guitar and we grinded it out. We bashed our heads against the wall all day unable to crack the nut but finally what Jack was doing on bass set off an idea storm and it finally clicked to what you hear on the song now.
That high flying melody in the chorus was actually born from a keyboard melody that Jack wrote that day. We thought keys could sound cool and give the song a bit of freshness and then the next day when I went to write the lyrics, I thought, "well what if instead of keys, that's what I sang?" So I wrote to that.
They say, "write what you feel" and at that moment when I went to write the lyrics, what I felt was writer's block. So I wrote about it. And then I expounded on that idea. Going deeper, the song is about trying to keep your art fresh in the face of art having existed for so long. Everything has all ready been done, so how do you make something unique and cool? So, as the song goes, "how do you say what no one's said when there's nothing left to say?" I was then able to tie this into the music industry kerfuffle that we had found ourselves in at that time, with outside forces taking hold of us and multiple people having conflicting visions and us really not knowing what to do. That's where the heart of the song lies.
Lastly, we recorded this song with the great Bill Leverty. One thing I knew I wanted to do sonically was make this powerful rock song but have the choruses be heavily synth-driven. Much like "The Everlasting Gaze" by Smashing Pumpkins. When you hear that song, it sounds like it's just this massive wall of guitars (which is part true) but when you really listen, it's incredibly synth-heavy. We tinkered with keyboard sounds for ages and then we finally got the right one and it killed. Again, you may listen to the song and only hear guitars, but listen to the instrumental below. So much synth.
Love this song. Packs such a punch. And I screamed my head off hitting that chorus high note because I wanted those choruses to kick in huge like Brandon Roundtree on a Conditions song. I'll never be as good as him but this is me giving it my best shot.