When approaching this record, we’d decided on a somewhat southern-rock, garage-y, understated vision in terms of production. Too many alt-rock records these days suffer from sounding too shiny, too polished, too precise. We wanted the squeaks and the crackles. Tom Mitchener was more than capable of helming this vision, being a fan of a lot of records that we admired stylistically and where we felt we sat most comfortable and ultimately, like some of us, was not a metaller but an indie kid at heart.
As such we set ourselves strict guidelines in order to keep the record sounding organic, honest and real, and not stripped of all soul: No click track or beat matching; No autotuned vocals; As little overdrive as possible; Little to no pro-tools after-effects; The older the effects pedals the better; and finally, Fender Rhodes keyboards thrown all over the fucking place at every opportunity (the actual vintage keyboard you have to plug into a guitar amp, and not a pro-tools plug-in).
Track 1: Mary Rose’d
One of the earliest songs we wrote. Jamie had been kicking around with the verse bassline long before Eager Teeth had set foot in a practice room. The song is about a person that is a complete idiot to their own fate and chooses to ignore their own downward spiral and decline. It’s full of lots of delicious religious and satanic references, all the stuff we love.
Track 2: Baby, I Don’t Wanna Know
The title of this track is the chorus line from the Fleetwood Mac song ‘Silver Spring’, sung by Stevie Nicks. Lyrically, it’s about people who are full of themselves; coming from Brighton, you get to know a lot of these types, they’re everywhere. Slimy, shallow, self-promoting simpletons with overblown senses of self-importance who swan around like they own the place and don’t listen to a word from you. "Sharing air gets harder to bear, with these tongues lapping at my life force as I’m trying to rest".
There’s a nice little call-and-response vocal interplay going on in the middle 8 of this song, but the best bit is the backing vocals – we wanted to got our good friend Rachel James (ex-singer of Gary’s former indie bands Cinema and The Unboyfriendables) in to create the effect of a chorus of girls in the background, emulating the outro from Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd (can’t get more southern rock than that).
Track 3: New Bones
The second song we wrote. This is our version of “the circle of life”. It touches on the theory of the movement of energy - not necessarily reincarnation but how we’re all just borrowing carbon.
"We’ll be born, but with new bones and you won’t know".
Track 4: Golden Tongues
This song’s about the treacherous path to fame and glory. Most people would be prepared to do anything to get ahead – but at what cost? If in order to get to get to the top you deliberately compromise who you are by trying to fit to a crowd at the price of your integrity, you might get liked/loved/successful but hey, your opinion no longer counts for anything in my eyes.
“We sold our tongues to taste the gold.” We also very much enjoyed the lyric “boys just wanna have fun”. And the line “will I be seeing you in hell”, was kept as a nod to Die, Die My Darling by Misfits. We love the Misfits.
Jamie wrote a fairly skanking bass-line for the verses of this song, and musically the rest of it kinda evolved around that. We were hoping for some hint of 70s punk in there somewhere, though how well that translates is beyond me.
Track 5: Constant Entertainment
A nice slow number for all you love-cats out there. This song was so simple in its construction – it’s just two fucking chords all the way through! – but we feel it was a good example of showing our ability to change dynamic at a moment’s notice if we wanted to. We tried to give it a vibe similar to Waiting Room by Fugazi, though on closer inspection it could also fit in with Lose Yourself by Eminem, haha.
The crazy-ass noises in the middle-8 come courtesy of a Fuzz Probe pedal, which literally had a mind of its own. Lyrically this is about a relationship, any relationship, whatever that may be, when one side is doing all the work. “Hey, I should be getting paid, there’s enough to carry for two”.
Track 6: The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
The first short keyboard interlude. Gary played this on a Fender Rhodes which Mitch had in the studio The song sounds quite gentle and pleasant, but you should read the book of the same name by JT Leroy which it’s named after – it is pretty bleak to say the least. We always imagined this album to someday have a vinyl release, and this would be the last track on Side One as a little chime to remind you to turn the record over, like in those Ladybird books with a cassette to read along to – “BBBRRING! Please turn the page.”
Track 7: I Decided Long Ago Never To Walk In Anyone Bigger Than Me’s Shadow
This is a straight-up, double-time, 40 second pop punk song about doing what you want, not comparing yourself to anything and not sucking the proverbial dick. Oddly enough it never had a name until partway through the recording process, where after a conversation about the book/film American Psycho we decided to paraphrase a line from Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love Of All… and two days later she died.
When we initially started tracking this we wanted all of us to record their parts drunk, but time ran short for unnecessary drinking… Nick did the drums shitfaced at least. And perfectly. What a prick.
Track 8: Exorcise Bike
This song wrote itself in about 2 minutes. It was very fun to play on the record. I guess it’s about choosing the right path between good and evil… "I never planned to be your fork stuck in the road, but which god is it you chose?" It was an obvious favourite of Mitch’s, so much so that we really went to town on it – Big Muffs, multi-layered guitar parts, juicy keyboards, the lot. The backing vocal melody over the chorus was lifted directly from On Our Own by Bobby Brown, as featured in Ghostbusters 2 (no shit).
Track 9: Somehow
This was the original suggestion for the first track on the album, and as such there’s a version where the guitar intro goes on for a deliberately infuriating duration (about 45 seconds) – jury’s out as to whether it would have been a better opener. It showcases a lot too – slips from hip-hop style jolty drums to balls-out hardcore quite deftly. Definitely an angry song, about not wanting to conform.
Track 10: Your Life Could Change
Our vocalist Will states that “This song is very personal to me lyrically”, as it was inspired by “a child that was dealt a rough hand and made bad decisions from an early age. RIP Jon.”
And a bit of trivia – this song had the working title Abba (on account of its A-B-B-A song structure) for so long, one provisional title was No More Ace To Play (a lyric from The Winner Takes It All). But Will said no.
Track 11: Lights Out
Where it all began. This song is about those among us that never really wake up and grab life, the sponges of society and walking dead. “This won’t be yours”. At the start of it all we thought this song sounded a bit like Paramore to our dismay (“but I like Paramore!” – says Gary), but the vocals breathed a whole new life into it.
Track 12: La Fin Absolue
The title comes from a fictitious film-within-a-film called La Fin Absolue Du Monde, from the John Carpenter horror short Cigarette Burns. Apparently if you watch La Fin… you will go mad and kill yourself and everyone around you. We’d initially called this song End Of The World Song, as Arran thought it sounded ‘like the end of the world’. This track was simply meant to be a way we could end the album on one long, looming, building crescendo, which builds and builds and builds – then suddenly drops to dead space…
Track 13: I Don’t Wanna Know (Reprise)
This is the dead space. An acapella, gospel-style R&B sing-off with group handclaps (and just a Rhodes for accompaniment). We were always fixated with the idea of making a loud rock record that ends deliberately quietly, just to be annoying. The idea behind this was to recreate something along the lines of the fade out of the Boyz II Men song End Of The Road… and that’s exactly what we did. This was one of our favorite moments in making the record. Expect more of this on record 2.