The Secret of Elena’s Tomb

The Secret of Elena’s Tomb

The Secret of Elena's Tomb

‘The Secret of Elena’s Tomb’ refers to an audio book Keely’s roommate at the time, James Olsen, was editing for his father. The book recounts the demented story of Carl Von Cosel, a Florida doctor who kept the corpse of a patient he had fallen in love with entombed in his house long after it had degenerated, even going so far as to sleep beside it.

The EP was recorded in Nashville. The cover art depicts a pencil rendering of Princess Margaret of Sweden (c. 1911) done by Keely on canvas. It had originally been intended as a painting, but he liked the look of the pencil sketch and did not want to ruin it with paint.

This is so far the only proper EP made by the band, in that it does not contain versions of songs also found on an LP.

Mach Schau

Lyrics

Well, we had a mod-fuck jubilee
To celebrate our broken hearts
We carved tombs from the rocks and the stones
And transformed them into art

We gave the plot a twist
Blew the past a kiss
We turned it upside down
To quench fiending lips

Freak sons and forgotten ones
Who disappeared before the Flood
Tell-tale signs of our thoughts and our minds
Have been encoded into blood

Well, we spun the wheel of the Armageddon
Just to see what it would bring
With blood and rain it will spin again
Let the voice of judgment sing: Mach Schau!

Annotations

The lyrics for Mach Schau were inspired by the book Fingerprints of the Gods, by speculative archeologist Graham Hancock. The book also inspired the video for Relative Ways, and cites several unsubstantiated facts to build up the loose theory of an advanced pre-historic civilization. Although fascinated by the theory at first, Keely has since sided with Head of Egyptology Zahi Hawass in accusing Hancock of cultural racism (ie., making the assumption that ancient Egyptians and Easter Islanders were too unsophisticated to build pyramids and moai heads, thereby conjuring up stories involving aliens from outer space).

The phrase “Mach Schau” came from an interview of George Harrison from 1963 in which he recounted how, during their tenure as a bar band for the Star Club in Hamburg, the German crowd would yell at the Beatles to “mach schau!”, or make show.

Keely has since asked several German folk about this phrase, and all have unanimously agreed that it makes very little grammatical sense, calling into question George Harrison’s memory of this time, during which he was also known to be on various types of amphetamines.

All St. Day

Lyrics

It was All Saints Day
Wind and rain hit my face
Ripped apart from lack of grace
Now so torn

You never said
All of this would end so strange
Walk to a church across the bridge
Find my shame

Never been the type to confess
It all seemed to waste away
When your double-tongued mouth opens wide
Everybody knows you can’t hide forever

November fades
Never could put this mind to rest
Step in the cold and on the mess
Felling scorned

I found myself
Hinting with nothing to give or show
Never gave or cared (a care), until now
Now it’s late

Never been the type to confess
It all seemed to waste away
When your double-tongued mouth opened wide
Everybody knows you can’t hide forever

Pariah prophet faltering way too much
Crazed crusades got me in a crux
Like a mute without a voice
With a bottle in my hand, make some noise

It was All Saints Day…

Annotations

‘All Saints Day’ had the blessing of having one of the better Trail of Dead videos made for it. The video had no budget, and was funded entirely by the director, a feat of raw talent for which Interscope saw fit to compensate him zero dollars (we will not go into how much money was charged to the band by the label on flights, hotels and dinners for various executives during this time*).

The video made several references to the Golden Ratio, a subject that fascinated Keely after the reading of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (which he’d been recommended before it became popular and a ridiculous fuss had been made, and long before the awful movie version would stop anyone from reading it).

* In rhetoric, this is known as apophasis or paralipsis.

Crowning of a Heart

Lyrics

Crowning of a heart, textures and shades
A bitter London night on the motorway
You looked so divine, back in the seat
Wicked desires ablaze in me.

Back inside the house, into the room
Watching as the lights slowly fade from view
Couldn’t even talk, what could you say?
With every thought just racing away…

Annotations

One of Keely’s favorite songs, ‘Crowning of a Heart’ was inspired by a London taxi ride across town with a girl he was seeing (who also happened to be a low-ranking member of British royalty, and later married a Belgian banker). It is one of the few actually romantic songs recorded by the band. The instrumental section was inspired by the band Mogwai, a band that Trail of Dead once toured with.

An original demo for the song was recorded in Cotati during the Source Tags sessions, and Keely fought to have it included on the album, but by that time the band was exhausted and the idea was received with very little enthusiasm.

Counting Off the Days

Lyrics

Counting off the days
How could I be so afraid?
Feeling nearer my gloom
So much nearer without you

I’ve been on the run
From the dirt you talk about everyone
So much nearer my gloom
That much nearer without you

And it’s so hard to starve
Yes it’s so hard to starve

Annotations

Although many fans expressed a strong dislike for this song, Keely considered it another one of his favorites because of the fact that it was a spontaneous composition. In his words, “I had been experimenting with writing songs by simply pressing ‘record’ on a machine, then making up chord changes and lyrics up on the spot”. Only one other song we recorded that was written like that was ‘Sigh Your Children’. Both were written about the same time, along with Witch’s Web .

Intelligence

Lyrics

Eyes obscured, by those bangs
Sun is shielded, by your shades
Kick it on the corner
Leather coat and safety pins

You got some Berlin news
And you smoke your Berlin cools
And it’s 1977

You were ragged at dawn
With last night ring in your ears
Kids are hopped up now
They are ready to go

In this burned out, shell of a place
Everyone, everybody, hustles around
They were looking for that fiery court
To make this troubled sound

You were ragged at dawn
With last night ringing in your ears
Kids are hopped up now
They are ready to go

You said they’d hate you first
But now they’re coming ’round
You said you were a curse
But now your look has changed.

Annotations

An interesting excursion by the band into electro-pop. This song was recorded for the same session planned as a final EP for Merge Records, along with Homage, Baudelaire, and a cover of the Genesis song ‘Back In New York City’. It was co-written by Tylor Jacobson, a friend Reece was in another band with at the time, A Roman Scandal. In truth, Intelligence sounded more like a Roman Scandal song, but received the Trail of Dead treatment with several layers of Lind Drum and Ensonique overdubs.