The music for Staring at the Sound was written pretty impulsively. I wanted something that would vibe well with the energy of what I had written for Haunting a Ghost. Something that was just as unhinged, but something more straight forward. At that time I was listening to The Desert Sessions 9 and 10 a lot and I think you can hear a bit of Josh Homme's influence in the guitar riff I wrote for the verses. The chorus is in the same key as the verse which was intentional. I just really wanted something stripped down and straight forward for this one, something that the band could let loose on.
In particular, I am really happy with the sound of the rhythm guitars we wound up with for this song. Once I described what I was going for to recording engineer Michael Barile, he knew exactly what we should use. He had a really great, vintage Sunn Model T bass amp that was really warm and loud. That combined with a Rat II distortion pedal, it was just perfect.
Greg Puciato in The Gauntlet 2008
Greg Puciato had this to say about Staring At The Sound in an interview with The Gauntlet in 2008.
"Another rock song that came really quickly vocally. John sent this, and again, the melody came really quickly. The lyrics are more or less about being in a relationship with someone in which you are criticized a lot and put under a lot of scrutiny by people trying to defame or condemn something that they don't fully understand. The world is a critic always, and older people or people stuck in conservative mindsets often don't realize that they hurt the ones they love and stifle the growth of both those people's and their own lives by adhering to antiquated and outdated beliefs or social paradigms. John's guitar solo in this song was really cool to hear, he ripped it out pretty much in one take. He has a great feel in his soloing that I'm excited for people to hear. I think everyone knows he is a great guitar player but I don't know that he ever got to be too expressive as far as playing a solo goes with Candiria. It's funny, a couple people have told me that this song reminds them a bit of Jane's Addiction, because of the soaring nature of the vocals and the guitar solo, and I never ever heard that before but now. I can totally hear that in his solo, whether he felt that way about it or not [laugh]. That's the thing about this song I'm the most excited about honestly, for people to really hear how expressive his guitar playing is."
As Greg had guessed, Dave Navarro's playing on the early Jane's Addiction records was an influence on me as a young guitar player. It was way more emotionally charged than all of the classically influenced, metal guitar players and the Jazz musicians I was listening to and when we were in the recording studio, I felt that style and attitude would be the perfect vibe for the guitar solos in Staring At The Sound. The entire ending section of the song is very powerful to me. I think Greg’s voice sounds incredible. I also really dig the call and response aspect of that section, between the anthemic vocals and the wailing guitars.
There is an ambient segue between Staring At The Sound and I Should Have Known You Would. Initially this was all going to be one long piece of music but Greg felt it was best to keep the two pieces as separate songs with a crossfading musical section in the middle instead. I am glad we went that route.
The segue section was created using a guitar loop that was heavily manipulated with effects by Michael Barile and a Roland JX305 keyboard / sequencer. I really enjoy making ambient music and this piece in particular was exciting to create. I wanted something meditative but something that would also fluctuate between minor, major, suspended and so on. The thing I loved most about working with Michael Barile is that he understood how important vibe was. Bringing the lights down in the studio, making sure no one else was around for this section of the song. That sort of thing. It made for all the difference in the end.