When we were preparing to release our new album in Japan I was asked to write a small blurb describing every track on the album. Aware that it would all be translated i tried to keep it fairly straight forward and simple. If anyone is interested, here is what I wrote.......
Under The Glass Towers
This is the heaviest and most in-your-face track we have every written, it made perfect sense to us that it should be the opening track on the album. Under The Glass Towers is a song about financial inequality, about a world where the vast majority of people have to work themselves to death merely to survive while a small minority, the 1% as they have been labeled, hide out in untouchable “Glass Towers” hoarding wealth and resources. This song is intended as a battle cry, one that squares up to these seemingly immovable powers of the world with a raised middle finger and says “Come on then, take your best shot, we are ready for you”.
New Trance is a song about addiction. A very modern addiction. Our generation, myself included, finds it almost impossible to go five minutes without needing to look at phones, iPads or laptops for new information and content. We get nervous that we might miss something, while in reality we are missing everything. I wrote this song at a time when I was feeling frustrated at having no time to do the things in life I loved, but was still managing to spent hours of my day mindlessly scrolling through online content streams that I had no real interest in. I get scared that we are becoming a generation that will never achieve all the great things we are capable of because we are too lost in technology.
Identity is a big theme running through this entire album. I often wonder why I do the things that I do, and like the things that I like. Are these my own free choices, or are they merely dictated to me by the social group to which I belong? I think it is getting increasingly hard to find people acting entirely on there own free will, at least culturally. The rise of social media has provided a blueprint for every type of modern character, meaning that people no longer really need to think for themselves. Are you a masculine sports guy? A comic book nerd? A hippy traveller? Political? Celebrity obsessed? There are so many boxes that people can be squeezed into. I sometimes wonder when speaking to someone if I am speaking to that individual person or just an example of a character, and if I myself am just going through the motions on auto-pilot.
Something About Forever
This is another track concerned with the way modern technology is changing our social lives. It is a kind of sister track to No I.D. in a lot of ways. This song follows a character that has given up on the physical world and has recreated themselves as a completely new person online. The real world can be hard, people can be cruel, it is a world filled with rejection and hardship, but to me these are things that help to shape us as people and make us stronger. To live without them is to live as a child. The character in this song lives behind a closed door, projecting a false and idealized version of themselves to the world. It may seem like an easy way out, but I think can only lead to us becoming a generation of self obsessed zombies.
Piranhas is a song about fear. It is a song about a potential future that I felt my life was heading towards. I had a job I hated, and I got drunk to try and forget about it, I had no time for a social life. I felt numb and helpless. Living like this I knew that it would never be any of life’s great issues that got me down, just all the little meaningless things, all the small bites, the circling piranhas pulling at my flesh. This song is a scream of frustration and the starting point on a road to change.
This is perhaps the one song on the album I find it hard to talk in detail about. In its most simple form it is a song about doomed and tragic romance. Sometimes two people can be involved in a sort of wild romance that is too destructive to last so it ends up destroying them both.
I suppose Second Life is last of the albums modern identity trilogy, coming after No I.D. and Something About Forever. It is a song about the little lies that people try and sell to the world about themselves via social media. Not everyone has the perfect life, with the perfect family and the perfect well informed opinions, but one look on Facebook, Instagram etc and you would start to think that maybe they did, and this might make you start to feel bad about your own life. When every picture is taken from a certain angle with just the right filter it can be easy to forget that none of it is real. I know so many people who are pretty fucked up, and who have a ton of problems and flaws yet project an image of themselves online that is perfect yet ultimately very far from the truth. It is all a lie. I don’t want to see an airbrushed version of humanity; I love people for their weird little quirks and the blemishes that make them more interesting.
Muscle Memory is a song written around the same time as Piranhas, and I guess it comes from a similar sort of place. I was starting to think I was going a little insane and quite possibly turning into a robot. Everyday was the same. I was lying to the world and myself in the hope that no one noticed I was falling to pieces. I found myself getting up and living each day mechanically, for no other reason than that I had to. This song is written as an admission that I might need someone to help me break out of the routine and become a living, breathing person again.
I think it is safe to say that Elixir is perhaps musically and lyrically the simplest track on the album. I wrote Elixir about a guy I used to work with. He was young, single and healthy, free to do and to be whatever he wanted but he opted to work every hour of every day. And its not like he was building his own business or making something new, he was just a small cog in a massive multinational company that dreamed of one day becoming a slightly bigger cog. He chose to work for free on his holidays to gain favor with his bosses; he attended every conference and licked every boot. I always thought that one day, maybe twenty years down the line, he was going to wake up and think, “Holy shit, I’m old and soon I will die, I think I may have wasted my life”. But I guess it is entirely his choice, maybe he found some sort of perverse joy in it all.
Bleach Your Bones
If we had been a prog-rock band this song could have lasted for three hours. Thankfully we are not a prog-rock band. I had so many verses written for this, it was more like a short story than a song. On an album filled with concerns about where society is heading I think it made sense to end the album with a vision of a sci-fi dystopian future. Consumerism and technology scare me; this song is where I think we are headed if both are allowed to continue unchecked. Bleach Your Bones is rambling stream of consciousness set in a world of burnt out supercars and murderous children, where billboards swallow shoppers and a darkened sky is heavy with rain clouds of guilty men. I guess I had been reading a lot of George Orwell, Aldus Huxley and H.G Wells, probably watching too much Blade Runner and probably drinking too much coffee.
Mount Olympus is another track concerned with people trying to present an unattainable, idealized version of themselves. It seems to me that a lot of people are seeing photoshopped images of celebrities online and in magazines and trying to imitate them. Everyone is striving for the same gym fit body, with the same tattoos and the same flawless hairstyle. It’s slightly ironic that in doing these thing which aim to make them more sexually attractive they are turning themselves into hallow, sexless bores.
In a strange kind of way Processed Air is a love song. As much as the lyrics talk about money worries and bad skin the over-riding goal is a positive one. I think it is one of the most musically uplifting songs we have ever written. It’s a song about the desire to step outside of everyday life and say “Fuck this, I’m going to jack it all in and start again”, a desire that I think simmers gentle under the surface of many people.
I wrote Five High when I was going through a phase of obsession over 80s and 90s UK indie bands. Bands like Pulp, Blur, The Smiths or Suede. They all have a very British sound, and tend to write about very British things, romanticising the little characters and events that will seem so very mundane to most people. Five High was written in that spirit, and is an ode to a certain type of woman in British culture. She is an older lady, but one who still images she is young and desirable. Always a little drunk, always holding a cigarette, dressed from head to toe in animal prints and drenched in an eye watering perfume. She refuses to give up on glamour and romance, and for that reason she will always have a place in my heart.
Devils is the last track we worked on when we were in the studio recording this album and is one of three tracks that were written in their entirety while we were based in Thailand. It is a song about that little streak of evil that lives within all men. Sometimes I think it can be hard to understand the ways in which the world is organised, and the suffering inflicted on certain groups within society until you face up to the fact that within us all lives a potential for wrong doing that we do well to control in our everyday lives. In spite of its optimistic sounding chorus this is a pretty dark song all round. Devils is probably the one track from the Thai recording session that I wish we had done differently, and may well appear on a future release in a completely different form.