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KARL SIMON ON THE WRETCH, TRACK BY TRACK

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1. Bastards Born

This was one of the middle songs. It wasn't an early track. I wrote it after letting a fill-in guitar player know things weren't working out. I felt like a bastard doing it. He took it hard. The lyrics and the song came together about 25 minutes after the phone call. The solo break is a Randy Rhoads lick that I mastered, so I was proud of that. It's simple and to the point. And I love when Jason [McCash] harmonizes the bass line at the end.

2. The Scovrge ov Drvnkenness

One of the first things I wrote for the record. The title comes from an epic English poem from 1614. I can't remember the guy's name. [Ed. note: It's William Hornby.] It’s about a guy who gave up drinking and found religion. The way I talk about it is drunkenness as a scourge. I work in a bar, and, frankly, I drink too much. I also see people drink too much. I have to clean up when they make a mess. I've seen people with the shakes, who need a drink first thing. The fallout is terrible. This song is about how drinking can be painful and debilitating. I love the jarring riff.

3. To the Rack with Them

Jason wrote this and wanted to scrap it. I said, "It rules". Jason usually writes 12-minute epics, and this is only four minutes. It's fun to play. There were some issues with the lyrics because Jason writes differently. I had to do some rewrites to get it to work, but I dig the solo, and it came together.

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"To the Rack with Them"

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4. Day of Farewell

My favorite song Jason wrote for the record. It's about feeling like you want to end it all. Rather than throwing yourself off a bridge, it's better to write a song. I like the build, and how it's plodding before it gets to moments of intensity.

5. Castle of the Devil

This was Clyde's [Paradis, drummer] big moment. The whole bluesy Sabbath break was Clyde's idea. He just played this beat, and I was lukewarm at first. It turned out to be just right. I played an Ibanez hollowbody. There was no upper fret access. I had to wing the solo. I did it in two or three takes. The atmosphere works with the layering and vocal effects. And it's one of the few fantasy songs on the record. It's about the Solomon Kane story "The Castle of the Devil".

6. Coven of Cain

I like to needle Jason, and one of his hates is tour songs. He never wanted a "Whiplash" or a song about the road. I'd written a song and instantly wrote tour lyrics to piss him off. He had no idea I'd written them. He had something about witches dealing cocaine. When he saw my lyrics, he called me a dick. We ended up altering and changing our verses, and it somehow worked right with a new third verse.

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"Castle of the Devil"

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7. The Wretch

The intro riff has been around for years. We tried to do something with Bob [Fouts, ex-drummer], but never got the right feel. I revisited the riff when we put songs together for the album. I couldn't come up with a verse for ages. I drew on "The Psychopath", which is one of my favorite Saint Vitus songs. I tried it in the key of A, built off the first riff. It finally came together. I didn't expect it to be the title cut. But we didn't use "Scovrge" because we didn't want people to think this was a party record.

8. Iron and Fire

This was two different songs combined into one. It's about Nero. I like the solo break. I would have liked to edit the first bit, but you need to respect the creative process. It's pure Jason, a 12-minute song.

— Karl Simon
As told to Justin M. Norton

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Our review of The Wretch
Our interview with Karl Simon

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