The Story Behind Flirting With Disaster by Brave Machine

Flirting with Disaster is one of the stranger songs on this album. It isn’t my favorite but it is one of my favorite stories of the progression of a song from how it begins to where it ends up.

Flirting with Disaster began life as a very generic sounding pop punk song. The lyrics were about a guy meeting a woman at a bar contemplating infidelity. And how that action would be a disaster for his life, for himself, for his wife, and his kids. I sent the original demo to a friend who rightly commented on how generic the song was musically and lyrically. He was completely right. 

The first thing that I rewrote were the lyrics. I changed it from a guy sitting in a bar to a guy going into a comic bookstore that is being destroyed by a super villain named Disaster. I changed it from some generic lyrical set up to something that is at least a little bit unique. But I still wanted to keep the idea of Flirting with Disaster as something of an allegory. So that when someone might hear the song that phrase ‘flirting with disaster, you should know better’ might trigger a thought to not do whatever the potentially disastrous action is that they are contemplating doing. Originally as part of this rewrite I had a whole ending to the story at the end of the song that really went into the detail of the fight between Disaster and the occupants of the comic bookstore. As a storyteller, I liked it. I like resolving stories. The couple people I showed this version to though didn’t like it at all. So against what I wanted to do, I trusted their judgment and cut those lyrics out.

The next thing I needed to change was the music. The rewrite of Flirting with Disaster came at a time when Joe Wanger had pulled out of being directly involved in the project and moved into more of a support role. So what I had originally conceived in my mind as a pop punk project that was sort of a continuation of the band he and I had been in together many years earlier, now was mostly a solo project. This kind of threw me for a loop and I didn’t feel like the pop punk style was necessarily where I wanted to hang out with most of the songs. So there was actually a lot of time that passed where I kind of felt stuck and not sure what to do with the project in general and with this song specifically. One day while driving in my car I had a bit of a revelation about the band Weezer. Specifically how a lot of their songwriting and chord progressions, especially on their early work, were chord progressions and melodic choices that I wouldn’t necessarily make as a songwriter. So when I got home, I sat down with the song and just kept plugging different chords into the verses, and seeing what I could make of it. Seeing how different chords would affect my melody choices and the cadence of the melody on the verses. What came out of that was something unique to my songwriting and unique on this album. Flirting with Disaster doesn’t sound like something I would normally write and that’s why I still really like it even though as I mentioned earlier it’s not my favorite song on the album. It’s also funny that the song sounds nothing like a Weezer song but just thinking about how Weezer wrote a lot of their songs in the early days influenced my choices of rewriting this song and making it into something completely different.

This was also when synths started playing a bigger role in the album. With Joe choosing to be less involved in the project I needed to rethink some of my approach and to my mind synthesizers worked better as a mostly solo project as compared to a band project.

I think this is one of only a few songs on the album that I did not have anybody contribute any instruments or background vocals to. It was however mixed by my good friend Duane Mays. He’s had a habit over the years of making some of my songs better than they otherwise would be. The music on the song Plutonium Girl from my previous band CrewmanNumber7 was co-written by Duane. 

Next Song Story: Dark Planet

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