“Time vs. Money” is a song older than this band. I think I first had the idea in 2007. I categorized it in my head as an “aggressive rocker.” When Ben and I started working on material for The Bynars in late 2007, having aggressive rock songs wasn’t our goal… actually quite the opposite, so I pushed the song aside but it was always lingering in the back of my mind.
Lyrically, the song was inspired by my life at the time. I had just finished college, moved close to Boston with my girlfriend, the first time I’d ever lived away from home. So much changed that year and although it was exciting, it certainly wasn’t easy. We had the inevitable money problems young people have, and I had a chip on my shoulder about time and age. I was spending time. She was spending money. (Hoo-whoa.) The song is about that push and pull. Time and money were pushing and pulling us, ruling our lives, but what was actually holding things together? Time and money don’t hold things together… those are concepts created my man – words, constructs, unnatural things. Those things aren’t real. What was actually holding things together was our secret: love.
Fast forward to 2012. In the middle of a writing frenzy for The Bynars’ second album X vs. X, I was writing daily and was challenged by my bandmates (and myself) to do things that were outside the box of what we would later dub “Bynars Classic” — a.k.a. the simple sugar-sweet pop tunes of our first EP’s and album. “Time vs. Money” came to mind. I’d never done a proper demo of the song before, so I sat down and worked out the arrangement that was rattling around in my head for the past few years. This is the demo I shared with them:
We decided to work on the song as a contender for X vs. X. In fact, this is the song that inspired the album title and the concept behind the album. Replace “Time” and “Money” with any opposing concepts: “Love” and “Hate” / “Fun” and “Sad” / “Stay” and “Leave.” Are they the same? Are they different? What do those concepts actually mean? Are they just ideas or are they real? That’s X vs. X.
Anyway, Ben wasn’t crazy about the demo arrangement, but Mike and I were feeling it at the time so Ben agreed to humor us. It was Ben’s suggestion to change the rhythmic feel to what it is now – perhaps more of a New Order feel, with the bass at the heart of the song; simple, chorused out, but dark, and the guitar coloring here and there with simple leads. It was in 6/8 time, but still miraculously dancable, which we thought was cool and something we didn’t hear much of. It was now something we were all excited about and we added it to our list of songs to record for X vs. X.
Ironically, time and money were the reasons we didn’t end up finishing it for the album. We still had a lot of work to do on the track if we wanted to put it on the album, so rather than rush it, we shelved it, put the album out without the song, and started playing it live. It shaped itself even more over time in a live setting. Ben left the band in early 2013, and we started playing it with Andy on tour. By the end of 2013, we decided the song was sticking around and it was time to finish recording it.
The recording process for this track was long – the longest we’ve ever worked on any one song. We had the skeleton (drums, bass, basic guitar and vocal ideas) from our album recording attempts and our live set. We landed some free studio time at Converse Rubber Tracks Boston in February 2014 where we re-amped drums and recorded the guitars. We recorded a bit with our friend Shane McMahon. We also mixed and recorded a lot on our own, with lots of trial and error, exhausting as many possibilities as we could before settling. This extra-meticulous yet experimental approach is something we’d always wanted to take with recording, but never had the time to do before. We started warming up to this idea of a tripped-out mix, lots of delay and reverb, but we were very deliberate about it all. The delays are all panned in perfect symmetry, the intervals of the delay timing all in perfect balance… I imagine even some engineers/producers would think the attention we paid to detail was overkill, but it was something we enjoyed and it was something we felt suited the song. After 4 months of doing this and only this (we literally weren’t playing our instruments most of this time, just mixing), we took a trip down to Brooklyn to do the final mix with Abe Seiferth, sent it off to be mastered, and it was done. We released it as a single on April 29, 2014.
Somewhere during those months of getting lost in this track, we mentioned to Shaun Clarke that we’d like to do a video for this song. We said: 1. We don’t want to be in it, and 2. We’d like to involve dancing. With that, Shaun came up with the idea of working with ballet dancers, backlit black & white imagery, and really focusing on how movement relates to the song. We couldn’t be happier with how this video came out.
I’ve never explained the song to anyone. What I wrote just now is the first time I’ve ever attempted to articulate what the song is about, but with this video I feel like everyone picked up on the concept on their own and each incorporated some of that into this project – the lighting, choreography, camera work, performances, and editing all fit the song so well. The fact that this happened without me explaining it makes me feel good as a songwriter, and like we did our job as a band.
– Matt Jatkola
Watch “Time vs. Money” music video.