Hey guys, thanks for reading my other drivelous blog and getting involved in this Wordy Wooly World-premiere. I actually got a load of questions which was very nice of y’all, so I just chose a few at random for now – I’ll try and do another Wordy Wooly blog or something at some point if people enjoy my ramblings.
Anyhoo here you go…
Has William Control’s style of music had any influence over your next album? @HyperOnHeels
I wouldn’t say the songs have suddenly become Wil Control songs or anything, but he definitely had an influence on how we wrote and arranged songs for this album. It was the first time we’d truly had an artist-producer relationship on a record which is much more collaborative than we’re used to. Wil helped take us out of our comfort zone, ask the hard questions and tell us when something was shit – which we need to hear sometimes!
So his influence is sprinkled throughout the album ranging from very subtle addition to some undeniably Control-esque moments (as we’d occasionally give him a vague crazy idea and just say “y’know, we just want you to Wil Control it up!”
What process do you go through when writing songs? And, when starting up, how did you get gigs? @JackHarding666
Writing songs for this new album was a completely different experience to ‘Militia of the Lost.’ It was almost the polar opposite of that experience. On ‘Militia…’ Laurence and I wrote everything separately (except ‘Even Ghosts Forget’) whereas this time we wrote everything in collaboration, except for one that is the first Luke/Kier collaboration which is very cool. Then there’s the time-frame – before ‘Militia…’ we’d had a couple of years to hone our craft and road test a lot of tunes through gigging and releasing EPs; this time the bulk of the writing was done in a couple of weeks and rehearsed/learnt a couple of weeks before flying out! I mean there are some exceptions, and a lot of the songs we wrote together came from ideas we’d had individually beforehand but it was still a big change. Luckily it was actually a great experience, once we found our groove Laurence and I got used to crapping out tunes like there was no tomorrow and it was really exciting. We weren’t second guessing, we were writing very instinctually, knowing that when we brought it to the guys any kinks would be ironed out in no time and everyone would bring their own energy to the tune. It was even nostalgic as it took me back to High School, when Laurence and I were in our first band Self-Titled. We’d meet up every Thursday and we’d write songs together, jamming fresh ideas or ironing out songs we’d got stuck on.
To speak more specifically about the writing itself, we didn’t operate by any particular rule. Generally one of us would have an idea which could just be a riff, a verse or maybe even 3/4s of a song – sometimes there’d be lyrics, sometimes there would not even be a solid vocal tune. Then the presentee would either go away and write a section, or we’d just plonk on the piano and see what happened. The road we took to the end of each song was loose, with some albeit familiar stop signs along the way, which I think worked in our favour. Approaching songwriting from different angles can help yield different and interesting results.
Getting gigs is tougher. I was never good at it but in the early days, back in high school, we’d just call places up and try and get ourselves booked. And in Beccles there were slim pickings! Then in London we just played wherever we could, messaging promoters and taking offers we might be handed (as long as they weren’t pay to play – those gigs are always bullshit). You’ve just got to be fearless and put yourself out there and keep working hard at it!
If you could play any other instrument what would it be? @Sophiaa_Jas
I’d like to be good at the drums! I can play them a little but not competently in any way shape or form. Drums just seem really fun to me and have always fascinated me because, particularly in rock music, the really shape the feeling of the song. Plus playing them you can’t not get into it and just go crazy!
On the flip side I would love to play the saxophone, I always wanted to learn it but never got round to it.
Song you can’t stop listening to at the moment? @blackveilarmyx
I’ve been listening to ‘The Good Days’ by Marmozets a lot recently since seeing those guys again at Butserfest. They’re an amazing live band so whenever I see them it blows me away and leaves me wanting more! I can’t wait to hear some of the recorded versions of the new songs they played live, but for now this song is particularly brutally brilliant so check it out!
Who were your favourite band growing up? @miralawlessxx
I remember the first band I loved when I started getting into rock music was Ash. My brother used to make me mix tapes to ween me off of the Will Smith and Backstreet Boys pop I was listening to when I was tiny and naïve. He filled it with the 90s rock he was listening to of the day – Manic Street Preachers, Nirvana, Green Day, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene etc. Ash always stood out to me as they had great hooks and emotional melodies, plus ‘Lose Control’ started with a sample of a Tie Fighter fly-by so they were instantly geektastic in my books! ‘Kung Fu’ was one of the first songs I learnt on guitar and the first CD I bought of my own accord was ‘Intergalactic Sonic 7”s’ and that cemented my Ash obsession forever.
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? @SianFVK
What, African or European?
What’s the best band you’ve ever seen live? @goffzillaa
I’m not sure as I’ve seen many bands that I love play and a lot of what makes those shows dear to me is that I have a history with those bands. Prince has to be a stand out just because I NEVER thought I’d get to see Prince live, playing a set full of absolute classics (obscure gems as well as the big hits) let alone twice in one night! Just to clarify, I saw him at one of his many O2 Arena shows that he did back in 2007 and me and my friends had bought tickets to the aftershow (the 3121 club) because we’d heard that he might show up. Then during the show we got hit with “Damn London you guys are great, I think we’re gonna have to continue this party in 3121 tonight” and it blew my mind! So when the main show which was brilliant finished we then got to see him and his band jam for a couple of hours in this comparatively tiny club. It was mad
Also honourary mention to Iron Maiden as I was lucky enough to see the play at the O2 this year and, though I really like them, I’m not massively familiar with Maiden’s back catalogue. That night, though, it didn’t matter at all I was smiling from ear-to-ear from start to finish and was astounded by how much passion and energy they projected.
Thoughts on Rewind the Film? @Vengeful_Joker
Over the past few days I’ve been listening to ‘Rewind the Film’ over and over again and while at first I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it, it’s grown on me massively and I really like it. What’s interesting to me is that this is the Manics really expanding into new territory trying things that they’ve never done before and some songs that, to me, don’t sound like anything else I’ve heard.
I think it may have been Nicky Wire who said that there were two incarnations of the Manic Street Preachers: The kind that makes the jagged, dark punk of ‘The Holy Bible’ and ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’ and the band that makes the glorious, sweeping pop-rock of ‘Everything Must Go’ and ‘Send Away the Tigers’. This album doesn’t seem to sit in either camp. As I’ve seen a few reviewers mention it’s most tonally similar to ‘This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours’ – which I would highly recommend as it is a beautiful, melancholic record (even the bouncy ‘You Stole the Sun From My Heart’ is still tinged with lyrical sadness) and is my go-to album when I’m in a bad mood and need to wallow in sadness. But I think musically it’s more of an extension of the quainter, wistful side of ‘Postcards From A Young Man’. The whole is bathed in echoed acoustic guitars punctuated frequently by Sean Moore’s excellent trumpet work that really, for me, paint a vivid picture of a traditional idea of working class Britain. Perhaps it’s the imagery of the first two videos (one being set in a 70s working man’s club) that help conjure this but I’m sure it was also their intention to musically hark back to a bygone age, reflecting on their youth from the point of view of middle-age.
Some of my highlights from the album include ‘Running Out Of Fantasy’ which itself conjures a poignant, reflective image -“Has my fantasy run out of delusion, has my fantasy reached its logical conclusion.” And musically I love James’s finger picked guitar chords and those mournful strings – stirring stuff my dears. Then on the complete opposite side of the musical spectrum (but next in track order iRoNyyyy) is ‘Manorbrier’ which is this bizarre instrumental track with a barmy guitar riff that stamped a big “WTF” on my brain. It’s great, it sounds so alien to me – the only comparison it really conjures for is the instrumental tracks on ‘Low’ and “Heroes” but even so that is a stretch (although a part of me does wish this had become a full song, partly out of curiosity of wanting to know what you could sing over that riff). I won’t go on all day about highlights as this is already rambling on into oblivion, but I just wanted to say the horn line in ‘Builder of Routines’ almost sounds like Rufus Wainwright to me (the horn solo in ‘Art teacher’ is maybe what makes me think of that), if they could combine that with the Jeff Buckley tinged moments of ‘This Is My Truth…’ then they would make me a happy FVPreacher.
To sum up quickly, my favourite Manics albums do unshakingly remain ‘The Holy Bible’ and ‘Everything Must Go,’ those are my go to MSP albums. So while this is a very different side of the band that I love, it is for that reason that I like it – I respect the desire to push on into new ground and not linger on the laurels of past glories. Bring on that Krautrock album they’ve been talking about!
How did you find studying music at college and stuffs? (I’m doing it and quite enjoying it ) @bhsLisa
I was quite conflicted about it even though I did enjoy it and don’t regret doing it at all. A part of me felt that to advance as a musician learning the more theoretical, almost mathematical side of music could help me. After all, great classical composers learnt the rules behind the art and you can’t deny the emotion felt when listening to a Chopin piano prelude or Schubert lieder (excuse the me while I get all pretentious :P). Plus I remember reading an interview with John Frusciante and a quote stuck in my head (which I shall attempt to paraphrase), “You need to learn the rules before you can break them.” On the other hand I felt that some of the greatest songs ever written were done so by those with little to no knowledge of musical theory. John Lennon didn’t studiously check for parallel fifths when he wrote ‘In My Life’ and I’m sure David Bowie didn’t sit back and admire his frequently modulating chord pattern before tracking ‘Life on Mars?’ – it sounded good, and that’s the most important thing.
So I was constantly uncertain about my path in music education but the skills I’ve learnt have already come in handy when working out tight vocal harmonies and extra instrumental arrangements. I got to learn the basics of conducting and would love to conduct an orchestra someday, that’d be sweet! I just have to remind myself every once and a while to trust my gut and my ear even if my mind is saying “No that’s not allowed! You can’t sing a G# there, it doesn’t make any sense!!!!!!!”
There we go, I certainly can prattle on can’t I?
I’m trying to think of some cool things to do on here so it’s not so blog bare so anyone who has any ideas or requests do let me know!
Ad of course the Madina Lake tour is coming up so GET EXCIIIIIITED! I know we are :).
Spread the word and we’ll make it a belter!