All I Ever Wanted: Top 5 Commentary Nuggets

Posted: September 30, 2013 in 5's
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The Airborne Toxic Event: All I Ever WantedBy Glen

We continue our celebration of the third anniversary of the release of The Airborne Toxic Event’s full-length documentary movie, All I Ever Wanted: The Airborne Toxic Event Live from Walt Disney Concert Hall.

No doubt, if you love TATE enough to be reading this, you’ve seen the film, probably several times. But not everyone has seen the commentary, particularly if they purchased the movie digitally. And that’s a shame, because it is chock-full of gold, both comic and otherwise. So today we present the Top 5 Nuggets from the All I Ever Wanted commentary – with 5 bonus “quick hits” thrown in for good measure.

5. The Way That You Screamed

If pressed to choose my favorite Mikel vocal moment from any of the albums, the best I could do would be to narrow it down to two: “Then you walk under the streetlight” from Sometime Around Midnight, and, “The way that you screamed, the way that you cried” from Half of Something Else. These two vocal highlights share something rather obvious in common: the singer lets loose with a raw, full-throated scream.

Two perfect moments, and yet in concert, these phrases are marked by restraint. The singer pulls back, opting for the falsetto in Midnight, and remaining equally measured in Something Else. Longtime fans likely already know why, but newbies may not know the story. As the band watches Midnight, Mikel explains that he substitutes the falsetto for the scream because, earlier on the tour, he had paralyzed his vocal chords: he just woke up one morning and couldn’t sing. They had to cancel a couple shows, and his voice wasn’t back to full strength for six months. He had to relearn how to sing in such a way that he didn’t damage his voice, and in the process he made a deal with himself: he promised that he would never allow himself strain vocally. As a result, the band changed up their live approach to Midnight, adding backing vocals and changing keys.

4. Locked Out

During a show in Cologne, where they debuted Duet, Mikel had to leave stage in middle of the show to… umm… answer nature’s call. Since there was no bathroom backstage, he went into the back alley, where it was raining hard. Someone was out there and said with raised eyebrows, “Aren’t you playing a show right now?”

This triggered an even better story. At a Chapel Hill show, some of the guys popped outside through a back door as the crowd screamed for an encore. Ready to oblige, Daren re-entered the building and made for his drum kit, the door closing behind him. Part way through his encore-opening drum solo, he heard a faint pounding on the door, and realized with some horror that he’d locked Mikel and Noah outside. With no other options, he left his kit in the middle of his big moment, let them in, came back onstage and restarted.

3. You Could Sing Me Anything

The week prior to the show, having just lost her mother, Mikel’s mom had seen a movie that featured the Peter Gabriel version of The Book of Love. Unbeknownst to her son, she spent the week trying to track down the song, because it reminded her so much of her parents. She and Mikel hadn’t discussed it at all, so she had no idea that they were going to play that very song. When it kicked in, she and her sister looked at each other in the audience and just started bawling. Mikel jokes that he likes making his mom cry, to which Noah responds slyly, “It’s just weird when you punch her in the kidney.”

Daren then goes on to confess that he has never heard any version of the song other than TATE’s. He’d never even heard of it before they started playing it, and he prefers it that way: he doesn’t like to hear the originals of the covers they perform.

2. How ‘Bout That Crawfish?

During that moment in This Losing when Mikel and Anna share a little laugh, the band lets us in on one of their favorite in-jokes. They just love to look over at one another in the middle of a song at a huge show like Austin City Limits (crowd: 25,000) and say something mundane like, “So what’s been going on? What’ve you got going on?”

Their guitar tech, Blake, once pulled Steven aside in middle of a show, like it was an emergency.

Steven: Is it the amp? Is it the guitar?

Blake: That was some good crawfish we had the other night, eh?

Incidentally, Mikel was very impressed with his bandmates’ ability to put away crawfish.

1. Heaven is a Map

If nothing else, the two-hour investment in watching the commentary is worth it for the insight provided into Innocence (the greatest piece of music ever written, in case you didn’t know). The intro piece featured in the movie and in most live performances was originally a separate song called Heaven is a Map. It was written in the same key as Innocence, so they combined them for the acoustic video, and included a shortened instrumental version on album. They usually include all of Heaven is a Map in their increasingly rare live performances of Innocence, but not always – it’s an audible. (HT to TATE forum member kethra for digging up this gem.)

And finally, because there were just too many goodies that I couldn’t bear to leave out, here’s your bonus: 5 more quick hits from the All I Ever Wanted commentary:

5. At the beginning of Wishing Well, Mikel turns and looks down at Daren. The reason? There was no monitor up at the organ, and he couldn’t hear where they were in the beat. That organ was so loud that even Daren couldn’t hear the kick drum directly in front of him, so Mikel had to rely on his eyes instead of his ears.

4. In writing A Letter to Georgia, the band tried upwards of 15 arrangements, including a “U2 version” with super atmospheric guitars, and another one with Steven on oboe. At the time when the commentary was being filmed, they were still planning on including the song on album two. It was later dropped because they didn’t think they could possibly top their performance that night.

3. Gasoline was one of the first songs Mikel and Noah wrote together, and they used to delight in singing, “like Steve McQueen” instead of, “like Gasoline.” Steven says he was named after McQueen, because his mom didn’t know many other American names, but she liked the actor.

2. The suit jacket Noah wore on stage came from a thrift store, and cost $4. The shoes were bought online “for Crocodile Dundee’s funeral.”

1. Daren shaved off his mustache the day after the Disney show. Mikel and Noah were slightly concerned, as they had attributed his power as a drummer to the stache, but it’s safe to say that he’s since proven them wrong.

Purchase The Airborne Toxic Event: All I Ever Wanted – Live from Walt Disney Concert Hall on iTunes

Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

  1. Susan says:

    16:38-16:39 – my very favorite 2 seconds of the entire movie, is when Mikel wags his finger at the computer/Noah. Too funny, big boss man! Musically, my favorite part is the practice/performance of Duet.


  2. […] there is more potential for the band to take it in a different direction. We know from the All I Ever Wanted film commentary that the band tried upwards of 15 different arrangements of the song before settling on the version […]


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