11/14 ESCAPISM: ‘One Last Song’
We have been writing a series of articles in the run up to the release of our debut album “Escapism”. You may have noticed? To be fair, the majority of the world is unaware of our existence at this specific moment. We hope to change that… but it is likely that these 14 posts will be read in retrospect by a lot of people hoping to get a bit of background on the album. I can’t think of an example of such a wealth of material being written by a band in relation to an album. It may have happened, we may not be unique… but we are certainly trying to do something a little different! When/if these posts are ever read back to back they will be the greatest set of liner notes in history! Ha ha!
I have been given the task of writing about our song “Where We Go Next”. For starters this was the very first song that Bill and I worked on. It was kind of a toe in the water… and it led to a whole year’s work on a full album. I do understand that the album as a format is currently dead and buried. However, I do not have to go with the flow. The idea of a set of songs telling an overall story, or a collection of songs that flow thematically and have enough time to breath is a concept I hold close to my heart. I admit this is probably due in part to the era I have grown up in… but I have a feeling that what goes around comes around, and the ‘album’ may yet rise again.
Vinyl sales are on the increase and I have bought more LPs in the last month than I have CDs in the last year! Although downloads are the new King and are here to stay… I have a sneaking suspicion that, given a number of years, even the kids of today will warm to the idea of “more than one song in a row”.
And so it was that “Where We Go Next” started the process that became ‘writing a whole album”. And “Where We Go Next” became such an apt title!!! Where we go next? Where do we go next? Where we go next. Was it a question or a statement?
I’ll say right now that the album is available for purchase from Monday 12th September 2011. You will be able to buy the album from iTunes or Amazon – this is a proper album launch! However, you also have the option of simply clicking the BUY link that will magically appear on Monday on the right-hand side of this site. It just says ‘share’ right now but it will say ‘buy’ too. (Hey, and while we’re on the subject, feel free to spread the word on our behalf!!!)
Anyway… I digress. If you were to buy the album from this site by clicking on the BUY button you will also get the Digital Booklet that comes with the album. And within this Digital Booklet is a little Eleventh Hour Initiative trinket.
Let me tell you the story of the trinket.
Rewind time a little. Picture me as a solo artist. I had asked Bill if he wanted to collaborate with me on a song. I then went to Africa and took with me a Moleskine notepad. I took a posh notepad ’cause I thought it would encourage me to use it. My mission was to write a song, without a musical instrument to hand. To write a song by just noting down ideas. I found the sun, palm trees and sand – the change in scenery – conducive to songwriting and I tried my best to get something scribbled down so I could get to work on the “new song” immediately on my return to England.
… Then a volcano erupted and stranded me in Africa. The airports of Europe shut down and I had an enforced African songwriting stay. And so it was that I wrote the skeleton of what eventually became “Where We Go Next” in that little black notepad. I had an idea for the melody of the song. It was based on an idea I came up with in my youth. An idea that I never properly recorded. I did however use the chords and structure for a song called “Out of the Low Times”.
It always bugged me that I had never used the original melody though. So when I was sitting in the sun in Africa I thought it would at least be interesting to pull the melody from the dark recesses of my mind. I sat there, drinking lagers next to the pool, avoiding the attempts by the natives to get me aqua-dancing to some disco bollocks. I thought it would be cool to bring an unused idea from the past kicking and screaming into the present. And you know what? It didn’t kick and it didn’t scream. It came quietly and appreciatively. Musically, in my mind, it began to take shape as a companion piece to “Out of the Low Times”. You must remember that this was before Bill and I were the Eleventh Hour Initiative. This was the origin story! At this point it was going to be an experiment to have Bill collaborate with me on a song. We weren’t sure it would work (but I had a fair idea that it would!).
On my return to England I recorded the song as set out in that notepad. I filled wine glasses with differing amounts of water and played them as chimes. I shook a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes as a shaker and I beat boxed the drums. The song on the page was brought into being. I breathed life into the monster. I then sent the music to Bill.
Bill came up with the most fantastic lyrics. Certainly lyrics worthy of reading – just don’t read them at the same time as listening to the song. Sometimes you shouldn’t multi-task even if you can! The song became “Where We Go Next”. The song became our statement of intent.
In the Digital Booklet I have included the original pages from my Moleskine notepad. This trinket makes interesting viewing for anyone with any interest in seeing how a song takes shape. And if you don’t have those kind of interests then you can at least mark me on my spelling and grammar!
“Where We Go Next” may be proved by a future society to be a landmark song. But for now I will just hold it dear as the song that reignited my spirit. The song that brought about the “Escapism” album. And therefore, perhaps the most important song I have ever written.
I thank you all.
Yes… you may have a point! I suppose when you collaborate with someone you suddenly have to do something to ‘up your game’. It’s like I wanted to catch Bill by surprise. And then when the huge drums come in at the end it literally catches you by surprise. I think not having any instruments to hand helped too. It’s amazing what bullsh*t you can write down as a set of bullet-pointed notes. But I was happy with the resultant song. It sounds strident. It has a purpose. It was meant to perhaps be the one last song… but it ignited a fire!
September 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm
haha bill ryan-vocals, emrys hughes- corn flakes , kent green-kitchen sink
September 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm
Emrys, it’s funny that the first song you worked on with Bill involved a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes as a shaker, wine glasses, and beat boxed drums. When starting to work with Bill on The Singularities, our first song has me literally playing my kitchen sink. I wonder if it is just a knee jerk reaction working with someone as creative as Bill to try and throw a left hook at him? That bastard flips it into a pop hook no matter what, though.
September 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm
I’ll eventually remove the “Out of the Low Times” player from this post. I just thought it added an element of background detail. It’s like that melody and chord sequence has dogged me for 15 years. I’ve got it out of my system now. (although there is still scope for recording my original vision of “One Last Song” – I could do that for the 10th anniversary reissue! Ha ha!).
September 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm
an important song indeed…Out of the Low Times isn’t half bad either ; )
September 11, 2011 at 12:09 am