Winning Streak “We Need A Plan” Track By Track FeatureWednesday, December 23rd, 2020
We recently teamed up with Thousand Islands Records to release Winning Streak‘s fantastic new album “We Need A Plan“. Frontman Andrew recently did an awesome track by track run through the album, and we’ve compiled this below for you to check out!
The title track “We Need A Plan” was one of the last songs written for the record, and one of the heaviest both tonally and lyrically. I sometimes worry about using it as the opener because it’s not exemplary of the Winning Streak tone overall. My goal as a songwriter is to always have a kernel of positivity or at least determination in my songs. I believe that dwelling in negativity is appealing but not constructive for punks.
This track was chosen as the album opener to start with a punch in the face. The high-guitar intro riff came to me while aimlessly noodling on my guitar while watching TV (which is when a lot of small ideas can pop up), and it just felt right. I fell in love with it when I layered some Much The Same – Greatest Betrayal style rhythm guitars underneath it. It’s probably the simplest song on the album, as far as arrangement, although the lyrical content and chorus do lend a little from Thrice’s “To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere” era.
The key line of the song is:
“This gun is much too powerful for one set of hands, so we need a plan to take it away“.
In other words, regardless of the situation, we should never be comfortable with giving one man power to decide when the troops get deployed, or who lives and dies.
Another chorus line is:
“A bullet on the breeze can kill from one mile away.”
Referencing how modern military tech can depersonalize and trivialize the solemness of what is being done. (By the way, one of my favorite punk songs on that topic is “Tomahawk” by Pour Habit.)
Man is an irrational, prideful and fickle creature, so checks and balances in government were a key part of the American recipe. I won’t go deeper into what ‘exactly’ inspired this one, although you might be able to work it out.
Track 2 “I Tried To Run”
“I Tried To Run” is one of the simpler pop punk songs on the album, but was a favorite of several people who heard it (including Thousand Islands Records). Because of this we stuck it in at track 2 to show the poppy part of the album right after the heavier track 1. It’s the first time you hear Chris’s vocals on the album!
While the intro guitar is sort of a bouncy, folk style chord progression, the style of the arpeggio guitars in the verses is directly inspired by a Northern19 song, a great Japanese punk band. I wonder if someone can figure out which song (they have a lot!).
I attended a very religious university (more about that in a later song) and went through a lot of judgment by people who meant a lot to me. When I was forced to decide what kind of person I wanted to be, I just ran from it, and became anti-social. Today I’m still figuring out how to not be that anti-social jerk.
This idea is in the lyrics: “I tried to run, tried to destroy everything // But maybe I ran too far away.”
And when I’ve tried to rekindle old relationships after a lot of soul searching, it’s clear that while I learned a lot, it didn’t mean anything to the other person. “I don’t want it to be true that 10 years’ thoughts behind my eyes are meaningless to you.”
But people who expect anyone else to be perfect are in the wrong. And avoidance is not a healthy strategy. Treat life as an adventure and don’t feel stuck where you are.
“Authenticity” is the fastest song on the record, and has more of a 90s pop punk vibe. Most of the pop punk on this record is in tracks 1-5, and then it starts to turn to a darker tone.
Like most WS songs, this one started around the riff. I kept going back to the intro riff over and over when I would aimlessly play guitar and decided it needed a song around it. But I didn’t want a straight punk beat, so Sam and I worked on the spastic drums that give it a lot more texture. Chris has a very steady voice that works great for choral parts like the bridge. We’ll put him to work more going forward.
The lyrics are inspired by personal experience, although intentionally they are somewhat universal.
Any time you have a very homogeneous community, everyone loses perspective on what really matters. They become cardboard, robotic, empty.
The second verse for example:
“There’s a real beauty in the words // that I have read // but you don’t resemble. Like layers of makeup on mannequins, what you can’t see won’t make you tremble, there are scars on every face.”
The ‘words I have read’ are about a religious area. But the idea could be applied to rural Texas, to the Bay Area in California, to anywhere. I really don’t like when people reject other people quickly for an opinion or for an appearance. I don’t believe in ‘safe spaces’ in that context, not at all. Being different makes people uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable is a sign of absorbing new information, of growing.
My whole life I have stayed friends with the people who are different. There is nothing interesting to me about a person who has never questioned their path, never stepped out of their neighborhood. To me that’s what punk really is.
“The Dark” is a special one. Very nostalgic track for us. In the original version of our band (2003-2006) Michael sang a lot of the lead vocals and I sang harmonies. This track is the first Winning Streak track primarily written by Mike with me singing harmonies in the choruses. I love it. Throw in another SOARING solo by Dave Nassie (who we’re honored to call a friend) and this song feels like an achievement of our dreams as teenagers, 17 years later.
The whole song started with the name. (It’s the only song on the album that kept its Demo name).
In Mike’s words:
I wanted to write a song that would convey that feeling of not knowing what direction your life is going in. It can be hard to describe just how down you can get when everything swings the wrong way. That feeling compounds on itself and drives you down farther and farther, and it can seem impossible to dig yourself out of that.
“How can I find myself when I’m lost in the dark / down in the depth there is no way to make a spark”
I still wanted the song to have a hopeful feeling though. The hardest part sometimes is just standing up off the couch and taking the first step towards bettering yourself. There isn’t always someone there to give you the push. Where you carry yourself is on you.
“I’m holding on to an imaginary rope / pulling myself up to the surface / now I can breathe”
Even though Mike had been through some serious life stuff, like all Winning Streak songs we want a silver lining, so the major key poppiness helps that. The bridge at 1:37 replaces the word “breathe” at the end of the second chorus and while the whole band jams with Dave for a full 30 seconds there, it feels super triumphant. This is a positive adrenaline song for us.
Fun fact; “Positivity (Everything Is Screwed)” was almost the album opener. The opener of this song is my favorite part of it.
The song is just riffs everywhere; even in the verses there are weird moving chords going on that are not power chords. The breakdown has a very “Heartsounds” influence (a band I’ve written about previously that is one of my biggest modern influences).
The lyrics are about the impact that social media, the news, and over-saturation of information, partial information, and misinformation has on us. It’s just so tiresome. We are “in a desert, searching for a spring.”
The verses lament the state of the negativity in the news, with the song asking a question:
“Is it not a flaw in is? This is what our dollars buy.”
There is so much more going on in the world than what is on the ‘news’. Much like ‘you are what you eat’, I would also say ‘you are what you consume’. And that includes mentally.
We live in a world of just absolute bombardent of negativity and out-of-context details, and a lot of us seek it out under the guise of “making a difference”. But it’s extremely difficult to love the news and keep a proper perspective. I don’t see anyone being successful at it in the long run. If it wasn’t for Winning Streak, I wouldn’t be on Facebook anymore. These tools that have given us such unprecendented human connectedness should not mean constant conflict. They should mean learning, openness, and listening. If they don’t, that’s a reflection of ourselves.
The world isn’t ending, and there is still hope. If you’re feeling bitter, stop scrolling, disconnect and create your own hope. Impact the people you can touch.
“Three Hundred Million” is probably the heaviest song on the album, and so it’s the favorite song on the album for people who are more inclined towards heavy stuff than poppy stuff.
This is one of my favorite solos to play, and someone who heard the demo called it “Megaman”.
When writing it, I knew the intro needed that “police radio” effect on the vocals, and then everything would kick in with the punk beat. Time to get angsty!
Again, not to let everything get TOO negative, the song phrases most of my annoyances with modern society as questions. Mainly: what’s the use in a country of 300 million people if they can’t make decisions or arrive at conclusions that are the best outcomes?
In a Democracy, the “brain” is supposed to be the people; or in a Republic we are the heart that chooses a brain via elected representatives. But what if the organs just aren’t working properly? Grid-lock, polarization, two-party tug-of-war and a culture primarily informed by Youtube do not result in useful outcomes.
In my education, and in my free time, I spend a lot of time wondering how to fix that problem, and seeing that problem in almost every social media comment I read. Too many people just aren’t interested in being informed; in understanding different perspectives; in compromise; in long-term decisions; in what’s sustainable; in how to prioritize.
As human society gets bigger, and more connected, and bigger, and more connected… have we outgrown our ability to manage it? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s the idea this song is thinking about.
“There’s too much hope, there’s too much pain, for this heart to accept this brain.”
Raise your hand if you recognized the voice in the second verse?
Big thank you to Lipona‘s Yamil for coming out of retirement (?) and lending his voice to this track. This was a really special part of the album for me, from a very underappreciated band (that needs to get back together and write!)
This is one of the longest songs on the record, with slow brooding verses sitting between some fast, thrashy melodic hardcore.
Lyrically, the song is about struggling to make friends or hold relationships, because so many are looking for perfection and intolerant of mistakes.
The line: “we act like love is scrolling through a list, searching for perfection, but what if you missed? what if that’s not love that will catch you when you fall” is pretty obviously about online dating.
It’s very easy to reject people nowadays before you even know what they are about. (Incidentally, a book recommendation on this topic is “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari, if you want a fairly detailed analysis of modern online dating sprinkled with sarcasm and a lot of cursing.)
The bridge caps off the message I want to tell in the song, especially written to my more zealous friends & neighbors. “We are people. Let’s be real. We’re a puzzle with a million pieces. The journey, not the rules, is how we’ll find divine.”
And then a thrashy solo that I really enjoy playing.
One reviewer said this song was probably a gamble for Winning Streak. Some have said this is one of their favorites on the album.
Either way, “Antihero” is a big half time jam with a groovy Thrice-esque distorted bass riff carrying it. It does get a bit fast in the bridge, we have trouble being too slow.
Like most of my lyrics, they are written to specific people in my past. But the idea of this one is that I’ve been told by girlfriends multiple times that I question things and they do not like my devils advocate politics. They just want to be comfortable and follow a party line.
So here is to the punks and the ones who question everything and like to be thoughtful and selective about what they believe and where they put their passions.
Sometimes people label you something, its only from their perspective. Its only in their world, where they are the “playwright”.
“We Live Here” was the second single for ‘We Need A Plan’, and I also did a quick & candid guitar video on it, did you catch it? The tapping part at the end is one of my absolute favorite parts of the album both to play and to listen to.
Every punk band needs a good environmentalist song, right? Haha. My friends would definitely NOT describe me as a leftist tree-hugger. However, since a young age I’ve had a huge affinity for animals and nature. I connect with animals easily and I find something sacred and spiritual in nature. I do not approve of much of anything that wrecks the environment for instant gratification. This is all encapsulated in the line: “I wouldn’t say I am a bleeding heart, but we just don’t need you if you don’t play your part“
When the chorus sings:
“What’s the reason we live here? I don’t know. I just know there’s no more noble fight.”
The noble fight is caring about the effects of our choices and their impact on others, including indirectly.
Most open conversation about sustainability gets derailed by sloganeering or misunderstanding (like almost everything). It’s obviously a huge macro issue that is an aggregate of a ton of micro issues. We just have to take them one at time and keep educating and learning about the impact that our plastic-watter-bottle habits have.
“How can we cause change alone? I don’t know. But that’s not relevant to what is right.”
“Stop Screaming” was our first single, and if the play count on Spotify is anything to go by, it’s the favorite song on the album!
This was the very last song written during the WNAP sessions. I was noodling around playing funky sort-of-power-chords with a capo and just fell in love with the melody for the verses. Somehow that melody just really works over the dissonant and dark chords.
The thrashy heavy riff when the full band comes in is something I’ve been sitting on for years. I actually used to play it in a 6/8 time on an acoustic, but could never form an entire 6/8 song around it. Once I adapted it to 4/4 it just came together.
Chris’s call-and-response vocals are one of my favorite parts of the album (and again we certainly plan to use him more next time). Michael ran the intro and bridge high riff through a pedal to give it that funky metallic sound, and I love the texture that whole intro has.
I haven’t given enough kudos to other band members in these posts, as I’ve mostly been talking about the background. But Sam shreds the drums on this one. It might be my favorite drum track on the album. And my favorite bass by Davey was in Anchor In You, but I’ll mention it late here. I’m really proud of how this album came together from 5+ different cities in 2 countries. It wouldn’t be that way without the input and talent of the guys in the band.
Like most my lyrics, this song is written to my past and the people or places in it. The entire inspiration of this song is my time living at a religious university where I believe people have their priorities seriously out of order. Some have asked if I’m targeting a certain political group. I’m not. But if you like the message of the song and think it applies somewhere, that’s cool.
The point is not to tell people their problems don’t matter. It’s to help people understand that all humans have layers and complexities and perspectives. We need to learn to listen to others. If all we do is get in a screaming match, no one helps anyone.
The closer! “We’ll Make It Home” is the oldest Winning Streak song so far. In fact I wrote the instrumental parts around 2005 in our old days playing local shows.
The lyrics, though, are recent and are written about mental health and meditation. The verses are about meditation and accepting circumstances, while the choruses are about determination to deal with problems.
Instrumentally, it was written intentionally to have that massive guitar solo tie off the album. Then we added that crazy drum roll/solo by Sam as a bonus, indulging ourselves a bit. Haha.
So who is this Eddie Haddad guy who has now played solos on Liar and We’ll Make It Home? Well he’s a long time best friend and honorary member of Winning Streak. In fact he played on track 1 of our very first (terrible) album in 2004.
He is a special talent and for a while could be seen as the touring guitarist for Eddie Money, and now as one of the members of the Guitar Mastery Method service and YouTube channel. I’ve actually been watching a few GMM videos myself to get better mastery of the fretboard and patterns, because everything I do is completely freestyle.
Thanks for lending your virtuoso skills to the album as always, buddy!
If you’ve enjoyed reading and listening to the tracks above (which I’m sure if you’ve made it this far, you have!) please pick up the album now from us at Disconnect Disconnect Records in the UK and Europe here or Thousand Islands Records in North America here