Thursday, June 16, 2011

Looking back on Cupid Full of Eros in Context

Almost a decade's time has passed since we originally wrote Cupid Full of Eros. I think it is important to look back on that song in context, because it says a lot about how Look What I Did is usually perceived generally. This may seem hard for some new jacks (I don't say that with any denigration, as it isn't someone's fault when they might take an interest in certain types of music) to imagine, but the song was considered wildly extreme and very bizarre when it was first written. It also explains why we were pressured by Combat/Koch to re-release it on Minuteman for the Moment despite having already released another version on My First Time. Put simply, much like a lot of our other music, Cupid Full of Eros' time came a couple of years after we wrote it.

To set the stage, it was approximately 2001 when we wrote the song, though the first recording was officially released in 2003. Cupid Full of Eros was one of the first songs we wrote, so it was crucial in the development of our sound. Look What I Did had just formed from the ashes of a funk punk band called Point of You? which featured a wide cast of characters including, among others, Dylan Napier, Noah Darling, Colby Shea, Miles McPherson, Brent Coleman and Patrick Damphier later of the band Keating, and Evan Brewer, currently of The Faceless and his own Sumerian Records branded solo project, with whom I still occasionally record music under the name Climaxes. That project itself was a rejection of the machismo of Nu-Metal, as we often dressed in drag and did other such things to agitate the status quo.

Look What I Did formed after Point of You? split, with the original lineup of Colby Shea, Miles McPherson, myself, and Chris Bradley. When we wrote Cupid Full of Eros, it is important to understand that the mainstream underground was still very satisfied with the bouncy and aging simplicity of Nu-Metal bands. We rejected that, of course, and, in context, Cupid Full of Eros was considered EXTREMELY heavy at certain points, if you could imagine that. A growing undercurrent was beginning to embrace metalcore and youth crew bands, both of which seemed terribly dated to me at that point, as I had seen all those types of bands play for years at various local venues like Lucy's Record Shop, Indienet, or The Nxt Generation, albeit to tiny crowds.

At this point, we were from another universe, listening to bands from a broad spectrum of influences like Gorguts, Dillinger Escape Plan, Mr. Bungle, Fishbone, and Kings X. 

Looking back on Cupid Full of Eros, there were many things about the way we wrote the song that were at the time considered outrageous. For example, the opening riff was somewhat of a spoof of black metal, which wasn't really a well-known genre among people outside of the more boutique sub-sects of metal at that point in time(though it had been popular a decade or more prior to that moment in history). The ending riffs were our effort to out-heavy the metalcore bands of the underground, and we did so in a tongue-in-cheek way by placing this section after a techno part. At that time, playing Cupid Full of Eros live generated awkward stares and feelings of confusion. It was very heavy for the times, and people had a shocked look on their faces when the techno bridge would kick in. Now, this is hardly a weird thing to do in a song, but, back in those days, it was like we were from Mars.

Sure enough, a few years later, after moving to Los Angeles, the times changed, and Cupid Full of Eros must have seemed contemporary. It has gone on to be played hundreds of thousands of times online so far according to visible metrics and even garnered lots of record label attention for us. To this day, it pretty much always gets the crowd going, but, when we first wrote it, it was like musical leprosy -- no one got it at all. 

This phenomenon always happens to Look What I Did. We aim to avoid the trends of the underground. We seek to expand upon those traditions that already exist to create something new. Also, we look to combine musical styles and music theory principles that are considered "illegal" in music at any given time. The natural consequence of this is that our songs function somewhat like time bombs. We place them, but their explosion comes later on when the music community bores of the current trends. Then, the public's fear of something new fades and the context around the songs seems to change as well.

I wanted to write this because I think a lot of people who discover Cupid Full of Eros today may not understand that it was once a really bizarre, almost avant-garde song in the way it came across. Nowadays, nothing in the song is as extraterrestrial as times have changed so drastically.

The song's subject matter touches on insincere gestures, much like The Soiree. The operative pun is that the song's protagonist kills Cupid with his own arrows, and the term arrows is interchanged liberally with Eros, symbolically lust, throughout the song. The samples in the original version of the song from My First Time are from the movie The Dark Crystal.

For reference, here are the lyrics:

Pluck ambrosia from vines
and drink grape wine from his jiggling cleavage
pouring open from his broken, arrow staken heart
imagine kindergarten, gluing red and pink construction paper hearts
to shoeboxes

fingers and thumbs, fingers, glue tidiings of love
and simple charity
very cute its insincerity
play dumb

a quill of arrows in tow
I track the cherub below
from elevated position
hoping for a certain easy , messy mortal blow
I owe this pig a pennance
for stealing perfectly good conscience for a heart
from good logic

a cupid full of arrows is a
cupid full of love
play dumb

In Other News

Zanzibar III is coming along quite nicely -- we may have some stuff for you guys to hear somewhat soon. :) Also, I recently wrote Radiohead Proven to Be on the Right Side of Music Industry History and Appealing to the Attention Span of Information Age Music Fans for



  1. i think the reason it may have seemed avant garde back then was because the bassy breakdown was forever long and included you counting to some unknown number :-p

  2. OOH I remember when we still used to do that. One time I counted that riff to like 175 at a show. HAHA :)

  3. I think that during that time bands were either metal or radio rockish. There were many exceptions but usually you either had a screamer or a singer up front. People were going to shows to either mosh or listen to the vocalists actual voice and how well he pulled his melodies off live. Emo(among other genres, but emo in particular because of its mainstream appeal) hadn't treaded on people yet so bands were not mixing screams with actual melody and harmony yet on a regular basis. Not that Emo bands did it well either, but it was just the average listener hadn't had the oppurtunity to become comfortable with both styles in one piece of music yet. I think you guys were ahead of the times with using many different vocals in songs which has always been one of my favorite strands of the LWID DNA. Not only did you scream, but back in the day you screamed, growled, shouted, talked, and sang with added harmonies and an occasional falsetto as well. People did not know where the hell CFOE came from, and surely did not know where it was going. Strange looks are given to the unknown, the unique, and the avant garde as you said. People couldn't head bang because they didn't know where or when to head bang or how long they could before they were out of place and people couldn't sing along for the same reasons. It probably was awkward for you guys at times, but that can be a great feeling and maybe even a rewarding one to some. I'd wear it like a badge of honor that you all created something that people didn't know well and now understand much more, youv'e came a long way, and in that time either changed the game or proposed the rule changes long before they passed. Keep up the great work guys....I love the music and look forward to all the blogs, it's good that your voice is out there and you make the bands opinions available to those who care. Can't wait for the new Zanzibar!