Vocalist Dave Alley divulges details on how "2020" came to be, stating: "This track was one of the last ones recorded for The Fifth Row. Upon listening down to the albums flow, we realized we needed a more upbeat, driving tune. The album needed one more straight ahead "rock song" to get the listener into somewhat of a happier place, before the album takes a turn towards the finale/climax. We knew before we started that we wanted it to be upbeat with plenty of hooks and "the four chords of awesome", which are used in most modern rock songs. So we leveraged our RUSH influence heavily to write a track that carried weight within the story, but also was strong enough to stand on its own as a single. One of RUSH's greatest abilities was to write progressive material that had great parts, but was still fun and accessible to the listener.
When the pen hit the paper, we pulled other riffs/melodic content from the album to craft the main parts of 2020. The intro guitar part is inspired by the last track on the record, "Collective", played in a more aggressive way. The main guitar and bass riff early in the track (and interjected in the choruses) is a modified version of the bridge from the first musical track "2001". We thought it would be really cool to throw in elements from the beginning and end of the album as base material for the tune.
From a tracking and parts perspective, we wanted the guitar tone to have that Alex Lifeson feel to it. This is obviously most apparent in the verse, with the clean channel and delay. The bass was tracked with a pick, to give us some more dirt and attack within the bass track, which was also heavily influenced by Geddy Lee of RUSH. Though the chord structure of the song is pretty basic, we dressed up the tune with unison lines in the bass and keyboards. Vocally, we wanted to ensure that, though this song was up beat and driving, it's lyrical content was somewhat dark and intense. We loved the juxtaposition of a more straight ahead song with an intense and dooming vocal context. This is seen as early as the opening line "God is dead", in which our character professes that he has elevated himself to the point of supplanting religion."
"The Fifth Row" was self-recorded at the band's home studio before being sent for mastering via Andy Vandette (Rush, Devin Townsend). Consisting of 15 tracks which brilliantly showcase the band's melodic hooks and unique arrangements, the concept of the album is based on the role of artificial intelligence and technology in modern day society.