From the vault: Unused drum tracks inspire new album



As a screenwriter and composer, Darren Callahan is always searching for a creative spark. For his new instrumental album, “When a Pill Becomes a Law,” the industrious Dayton-native found inspiration in unused drum tracks by frequent collaborator Kelly Morelock.

Callahan was home in Los Angeles when he recently logged onto Zoom with Morelock in Dayton. The longtime friends discussed how this laidback release with layers of airy synths and hypnotically repetitive beats evolved from an aborted 2005 session for their old noise-rock band Travel.

Morelock: “Travel became more of a group thing where we recorded all of our parts playing together, but I recorded drums by myself for the first album. We had no preconceived idea of how it was going to sound. I just played what I thought would be a three-minute song. I did that with 10 or 12 songs. I embraced it so it was fun recording that stuff.”

Callahan: “Some drummers have their own sound, but Kelly can play 400 different styles. As a guy constantly changing styles, it’s awesome to have somebody so diverse. When I recorded my parts, I just played off of Kelly.”

Morelock: “A few months later, I’d get the recordings back with Darren’s music on them. I’d go, ‘Wow, that’s awesome. That’s crazy.’ It’s never what I expect.”

Callahan: “I literally just wrote to match what he played and we did the same thing on this record. Kelly gets co-songwriting credits on all the songs he played on because I wouldn’t have even thought to write those without him. His drum tracks were an essential element.”

Morelock: “I was very surprised when Darren said, ‘I have to fess up to something. I have a new record coming out and it’s stuff you recorded decades ago.’ I’m like, ‘Awesome, I can’t wait to hear it.’ I don’t even remember him coming over to my basement and recording this stuff.”

Callahan: “In 2005, Kelly was like, ‘We should do another Travel record like we did the first one.’ I had a free weekend so I went over and recorded all of his drums.”

Morelock: “We never used those for a Travel record.”

Callahan: “I actually started this record with a drum machine but it didn’t sound good on that material. I remembered I had those unused drum tracks and I knew Kelly would freak out if I surprised him with a complete album from something we did 15 years ago. It was basically a lark to make Kelly laugh and it turned into a pretty good record.”

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