Monday, January 26, 2009

Which Bitch? Track By Track

Kieren and Kyle took take out to talk about each track of the bands new LP Which Bitch?

1. Typical Time 2
Kieren Webster: That came about through Kyle tinkling around on the piano. But it’s an extension from Typical Time [closing track of Hats Off To The Buskers]. Kyle plays the lot. It was an idea that we had, to carry it on from the first album.

Kyle Falconer: It was a pretty decent tune on the last album, Typical Time. A lot of people said it was too short. The second one was done on the spot and it worked perfect, just using the same melody on the harmonica but changing the chords around it. It’s about splitting up with my old bird, pretty much.

2. 5 Rebbeccas
Kyle: That’s me getting five different characters and making them into one character. It’s loads of girls from my school in loads of different scenarios. It’s sort of an educational thing about a teenager going through school. It’s all about the smokey teachers, petty things, but the lassie’s a junkie. It’s just saying don't do drugs (laughs). That was written at the end of our first tour with Babyshambles. We never really got round to finishing it ‘cause we were touring so much and then once we got a bit of time, we just belted it out. Is it easy to write on the road? Nah, it’s pretty hard actually. On the last tour, we were coming up with different tunes every night but just never remembering them the next day.

Kieren: Probably a lot of rubbish anyway.

Kyle: Nah, they were alright, man. (Laughs) Pure under the influence, man. You think that you’re a genius. You wake up the next day and it's a bit shit. We had a studio on our bus before that as well, but we never even touched it. It just gathered dust.

Kieren: It wasn’t what I pictured though. It was just like a microphone sticking out of the wall. I’d pictured some space age thing.

3. One Off Pretender
Kieren: We got arrested in Aberdeen when we were doing a DJ gig up there. Our bus got stopped on the way back to Dundee by the police. Then me and Kyle got taken off and arrested.

Kyle: It was like a big bag of monkeys on the bus. And I was saying, "Settle down everybody." And then they [the police] just went, "Out you go."

Kieren: It’s just a rant about that basically. It’s good when you play it live and you can have a dig at the police. But I’ve been told to stop. My mate Jimmy’s a pure conspiracy theorist and he reckons I’m gonna get bumped off if I keep slagging the police. The first version we did we recorded it in The White Horse [pub] in Dundee and it was pure rappy but a bit dodgy. So I thought I’d make it sound not quite so rappy.

4. Unexpected
Kyle: That was written just after my dad died when I was about 16. The strings came later. We always had an idea to try and make it Fleetwood Mac-y and build it up. We tried the strings on the synth, but they never worked. So we had this guy Olly [Kraus] doing the strings for us in New York. He had a bash and it sort of changed. The mood was good, man. We never had any intentions of using strings. But this guy is a pure genius. He just does everything, every instrument, one by one, on his own in his flat in New York.

Kieren: And it was in 24 hours. That was what really struck me, I think. You’d send him a track and he’d send it back with a whole orchestra on it. And it was bang on. He always got the tune perfect.

5. Temptation Dice
Kieren: That’s a song about how just cause you’re bored, you end up getting tempted. It’s about the stuff that you do when you’re out. The stuff that you regret the next day. The line "Once a broken promise on my bone" – I still can't move my hand ‘cause I punched a wall when I was out, being stupid. That was the temptation of bevvy. You’ve got to stop it. "You’ve got to change." Pete loves his solo on that.

Kyle: Yeah, pure blasting it out, man. He was upside down and shit when we recording that. I remember we wrote it all sat in a circle with a litre of Southern Comfort. And every time we got to the end of the tune, we all had to do, like, a half pint or something. We ended up scrapping.

6. Glass Smash
Kieren: The Kyle Falconer choir.

Kyle: Actually that bit from the start came from Owen [Morris, producer]. I'd only done the choir on the middle eight and then Owen put it on at the start. I went away to get a beer out of the fridge and I came back and he's like, "What d'you think of this?" I was like, (laughs) "Woah". It was really haunting.

Kieren: It’s just about what goes on at the end of the night. It's about me and my bird arguing really. A pretty extreme argument. But then we make up in the end.

7. Distant Doubloon
Kyle: Me and Owen were listening to this composer, Mahler. It’s meant to sound like death. So we became obsessed with that in the studio, we used to listen to him all the time. That was the inspiration for the start of that. It’s sort of comparing Dundonians to these classic characters in Treasure Island. Just these stereotypes, chasing the doubloon. Everyone went to see their girlfriends and I was sitting with Owen just listening to the tracks. We had nothing else to do so we just kept putting the album on over and over. And then I just started writing bits down about Jim Hawkins and everything. Owen said, “Well give it a bash” and he started playing this piano which brought the tune into itself. We did 18 takes, recorded it live, picked the best one and then sent it to Olly for strings.

Kieren: I couldn't believe it, man. I went to see Radiohead, came back and they'd finished it. I was like, "Woah." It's still my favourite song on the album.

Kyle: There's lines about getting your bike stolen in [Dundee estate] Kirkton. It's funny, man. It's a good comparison. The chorus mingles in the two different eras.

8. Jimmy’s Crazy Conspiracy
Kyle: It's about Jimmy and Clarky, our two mates, who argue just for the pure sake of it.

Kieren: They're both stubborn.

Kyle: It just takes lot of bits, the highlights of all their arguments and puts them into a tune. We all used to be obsessed with the Illuminati stuff on the internet. We were all, like, "Woah, have you seen this?" But then my mate Jimmy dug too deep (laughs). Then he started saying he knows too much about it and he's being deadly serious.

Kieren: But they know that he knows too much (laughs).

Kyle: That they can check when he's logging onto the net and stuff.

9. Covers
Kyle: It’s a song about being selfish in the middle of the night when I can’t get to sleep and I’ll pull the covers off my girlfriend to get a conversation. But it’s also about someone trying to tell me what to do about the relationship and it’s me saying that I don’t want his opinion. We recorded it in a simple way and then Paulo [Nutini] happened to be next door in the studio. So I just says, "D'you want a shot at singing on it?" It was already finished, there was no intentions of anybody else singing on it. So he just did a couple of my verses and they sounded good together.

Kieren: Is it true we kidnapped him [as reported in the NME]? No, he willingly got kidnapped, kind of thing. [To Kyle] I saw your eyes light up when you got told in the pub that Paulo was along the road. "Covers! Covers!" His voice does suit the tune, like.

Kyle: I was thinking about him - like his kind of music and the way he sings it – when I was doing it. And it was just weird it happened.

Kieren: It was a funny night. It was probably one of the funniest nights in the studio.

10. Double Yellow Lines
Kieren: That’s about being drunk and trying to find your way home, following the double yellow lines. Kyle challenged me to write a song in one night, so that's what I came up with. The record company wanted to get rid of it, but we liked it. It's really poppy.

Kyle: It's probably the poppiest thing on the album.

Kieren: It's cool. It's singalong. It's like this album's "Streetlights", I think. It's an easy song to sing along to and play at parties.

11. Shock Horror
Kyle: It’s about just sorta sitting having a good time. I’ll be at the bottom having fun, you might make it to the top. It’s just don’t waste your time, pretty much. It’s a good thing to write about. [To Kieren] He’d already done it on acoustic and it was just dead slow.

Kieren: So we just totally scrapped it and kept the lyric.

Kyle: It was good 'cause we were in the studio for ages and we hadn't done nothing. It was a good stepping point. We'd never made any progress.

Kieren: Drunk again. We thought we hadn't got nothing done. But then we got Glass Smash, Give Back The Sun, Shock Horror.

12. Realisation
Kyle: Reni, the guy who plays keyboards with us, wrote the chorus and we'd always tried to put a tune to it, 'cause he never had any verses. So we had the chorus for ages and then we tried to play it but it wasn't really working. We were in the recording studio one night and everyone was going to bed 'cause we'd been up for ages working. And me and Kieren just sat down with two guitars and just started playing.

Kieren: Remember you were just pointing the verses out of my book? And we did it that way. Owen playing the whistle was funny as well.

Kyle: He just started playing it and it sounded amazing. That song is probably my favourite on the album.

Kieren: It's about people in Dundee reveling in the fact that they're skint. It says, "Never throw away a sunny day." 'Cause my mate Nigel says that he'll never work in the summer. But he doesn't work in the winter either…

Kyle: I only wrote a couple of lines in the verses. Just about my next door neighbour who's always shouting at you.

Kieren: He's always just on the bevvy. I don't think he works either, does he?

13. Give Back The Sun
Kyle: It’s about me and my mate Ryan Macphail going to a brothel that we never knew was a brothel and we got chased out. That was a scary situation. We were going about London, genuinely looking for Jacuzzis. You know when you go to Jacuzzis in hotels and just chill out? That's what we wanted. And we couldn't find one anywhere, so we ended up going to this place that said "Jacuzzi Spa." (Laughs) We genuinely didn't have a clue! I think we had £20 between us and it was a tenner each to get in. We're thinking, "It's a bit steep, like. But it'll be alright." We were in the steam room and there was nothing there. It was like, "This is weird, man, We've been here half an hour and there's nae steam." They're coming down and saying, "D'you want a beer?" and we were going, "Yeah, I'll have a Heineken, please" and they're just giving us cups of water. Then we just clicked on and this big pimp boy comes in and goes, (bellowing cockney accent) “Facking get out…” Then we had to get changed in front of all these hookers. Scary. I went and told my girlfriend and her whole family the story and she never spoke to me for about a week. So it's just like, "Please give back the sun", as in the good times.

14. Gem Of A Bird
Kyle: We had Drew from Babyshambles playing bass on that. We all sat in a circle and recorded it live. That’s about my girlfriend [Katie Gwyther who duets with Falconer on the track] trying to tell me what’s right. There were no plans for her to actually sing on it. 'Cause I'm not saying anything good! It's just saying how my bird is always telling me how to spell stuff and everything. But I know better than her. And so forth, man. It does what it says on the tin.


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