GOODBYE

THE GOODBYE EP

I’m not going to write a load of individual blogs for these tracks. This will be my, and our, final ever post. These songs are my home recorded demos of what potentially would have ended up recorded properly by the whole band on album 3. Why not download them for free now and give them to a friend, lover or enemy as a parting gift?

THAMES FROST FAYRE 1814
The Thames used to freeze over periodically. Mini ice ages we had in the past apparently. When that happened, London folks held markets on the ice. Brilliant. This conjures up some evocative imagery so I delved in to my Sigur Ros-stealing songbook and penned this number. We opened with it at our last few gigs and I really thought we were on the form of our lives as a band. Classic TBOTB really. Long build up, harmony vocals, layered guitars. Bosh. I was looking forward to doing more of the electronica-tinged percussion elements to this that we’d started to introduce live. More synth stuff too. Piano at the forefront. This was definitely where we were headed.

ANYBODY’S GUESS
Another song we’d only very recently popped in to our live set. Maybe 2 or 3 outings. Blissfields, Bestival and maybe Isle of Wight I believe saw this in action. I was going for a kind of Talking Heads feel. Listening to lots of Field Music too which is obvious here I think. I predict album 3 would have been half slow-build, piano-led electronic things and half up-tempo semi-funk. Would that have worked? Who cares. A pretty political song (which was a rarity for us) talking about where and why we’ve p’raps gone wrong with our generation. Eat your heart out Billy Bragg.

MODERN LATIN
Elliott’s dad liked this one. A foot-tapper. Allowing our inner-funk out again. I blame Prince.

RAISE HIGH THE ROOFBEAM, CARPENTERS…
A little nod in the title to our good pals (and Ox & Elliotts other band) The Retrospective Soundtrack Players as they’d recorded a concept album about the ace novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’. ‘Raise High…’ is another short story that JD Salinger wrote and I thought it was a great post-rock song title so I cheekily pinched it. Another piano-led number with a bit of electronica thrown in. Indebt to Mogwai greatly here…especially their incredible Les Revenants soundtrack. This song was instrumental for a while too but that would have probably been too much of a rip-off so I flung some lyrics at it about THAT MOMENT. You know, the Eminen ‘Lose Yourself’ moment. P’raps we should have got Rhianna to guest on this. Then things might have turned out differently. The ending also sounds remarkably like that tune All Saints did for ‘The Beach’. TBOTB goes pop. We ended our set with it live a couple times in embryonic form and it went down well. Shame we never got to flesh this one out.

LITTLE MISTAKE
The only track out of this collection of demos that we didn’t get around to learning live. Not sure it would have worked but I liked the idea. Kind of Nick Cave meets Caribou (or that’s what I had in my head). Very vitriolic lyrics – again vaguely political….maybe this album would have been our ‘What’s Going On?’. Maybe not. The guitars on this were so treated and effect-laden that you can’t really tell they’re guitars. There definitely would have been more of that going on. Again – synth bass and sampled drums. A club banger with Calvin Harris would have certainly been our next natural progression. It wouldn’t.

RE-ENACTMENT
This got one live outing at an acoustic gig in a church supporting the wonderful Smoke Fairies. From the same place as ‘All Be Gone…’. A simple but emotional piano ballad. I would have loved to record a real string section for this. Lyrically about a parent who’s child dies before them but really for anyone who has lost someone. Another chirpy subject as always. S Club we were not.

So there you go. That’s it.

On behalf of the entire band (Elliott, Rox, Dave, Ox, Jack & Keef…) – and all who sailed in her in the past (Emily, JD, Maff, Matt, Fozzy, Cal…) plus more who got involved (The Dawn Chorus lot, the Pie & Vinyl chaps, Old Blacksmiths Studios, people who guested, sang or played with us, bands we supported on tour and who supported us…) I’d like to thank everyone who ever came to see us or showed us support of any kind. We had some incredible times that will stay with me for my entire life.

Thank you.

Christopher George Whitear.

The B of the Bang.

Signing off.

x

Thumbs Up

THIS WILL ALL BE GONE TOMORROW

And so to ‘This Will All Be Gone Tomorrow’. The end of our recorded output proper. This was initially meant to be a ‘secret’ song on the album (remember when CD’s had those?) after ‘Home…’ but time constraints and everything else meant it just went on as the last track. It’s a fitting ending though.

Again, pretty emotionally heavy. Just myself and a piano, this was definitely where my songwriting was heading at this point. I’ve been playing guitar 15+ years and haven’t really got any better since I was about 16 so writing on the piano is still fairly fresh and invigorating for me. It might be basic stuff but it means I don’t really know what I’m doing (always a good thing in my opinion) whereas picking up a guitar I generally immediately start doing something I’ve already tried previously. There are only so many songs I can write in A minor on guitar.

Remember those lighter clicks at the end of ‘Wander’? Well I’ve just remembered that they were part of the plot….the fire crackling through this track is the result of what the main character has done. Burned everything down around him. Metaphorically. And possibly physically. Who knows? The lyrics reflect that too. Post apocalyptic/cataclysmic stuff, leaving ‘Gomorrah’ and the Romeo/Juliet style suicidal references that represent his state of mind. It would have been an ace film I’m telling you.

HOME (ANYWHERE BUT HERE)

I’m not sure if I’ve said this about any other songs on the album so should probably re-read some of these posts first but ‘Home…’ I think is my favourite song on ‘Tremors…’ – possibly my favourite song we ever recorded. Sigur Ros-tastic (of course) but I always absolutely loved playing this live. It’s a pretty emotional number to sing too.

It dealt with the plot of the album nicely (the chap realises that as far as he tries to get away he’s always inexplicably tied to where he grew up…which is entirely autobiographical) and kind of an ode to my own youth. Heavy stuff eh? P’raps not but I think, although it’s melancholy, it’s also quite hopeful. That recurring theme again. Accepting your fate and dealing with it. Basically manning up. What do they call those sort of films? Coming-of-age? This was TBOTB (and my songwriting hopefully) coming of age.

The end with the guitars going everywhere and Rox singing gets me welling up even now. And I loved messing about in the studio to record that extra long loopy-feedback outro. We used to end our sets with it for a while and, for me, it’s the proper last song on the album (which I’ll explain next…)

Published in: on January 6, 2015 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

BRING YOU BACK

This was another old track brought back from the dead. Originally a more straight ahead rocky-thing (you can hear us ripping off QOTSA ‘Little Sister’ from the off…), we changed most of the structure but kept that original riff from mine and Dave’s past band Manifesto.

It was a pain in the arse to record this if I remember rightly. I like the long intro (Wild Beasts ‘The Fun Powder Plot’ to blame there…), bass riff, hammond organ and ridiculous swing-style ending but listening back now it actually doesn’t really do that much for me. I was always proud of the ‘by process of osmosis’ lyric though.

We didn’t play it much live and I think it suffers a little from trying to be too clever for itself maybe. I know a few of the others liked it, mind.

SOMETHING IS HOLDING ME DOWN

The ‘epic’ one. Being ‘epic’ without being ‘wanky’ is everso difficult. I don’t know if we achieved it but we gave it a good shot. A few of the tunes on Bon Iver’s second album do it well. Knowingly overblown. Not saying we scaled those heady heights of course. It’s basically us playing the same chords over and over, slow build up, big crescendo ending. That seemed to be becoming our trademark. Well…it’s Mogwai’s trademark but we borrowed it.

This is the moment in the story arc where everything seems lost and our hero/antihero steps up, the cameras pan out and the violins swell. Or something. Hopefully it’s hopeful. We chucked everything at it whilst recording it. Kitchen sink. The lot. This would have been the one to get the orchestra in at Abbey Road. Unfortunately we did this in the freezing cold studio I work in so an extra cup of tea was all we could bring in on our budget. Good tea though. For some reason, there’s something about the organ that reminds me of Billy Ocean’s ‘When the Going Gets Tough’. That in turn reminds me of the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner 80’s classic film, ‘The Jewel of the Nile. No bad thing.

Here’s a vid from our Wedgewood Rooms album launch back in 2013. Top 3 gig for us I reckon. Good times.

WANDER (THROUGH THE NIGHT)

I better get a bit of a wiggle on as I don’t want to be writing about this stuff after Chrimbo. Let’s get cracking.

So ‘Wander…’ was our first single of the album. I think, in the same way ‘Alfred…’ did on the first album it sort of summed up in succinct fashion everything about the band at that point. Harmony guitars, weird time signature, little bit heavier, creepy lyrics. It also has a Westlife-style key change in it. What more can you want in a song?

The words themselves are very stalker-y. Seemed to come naturally that part. Not sure what that says about me. We made a lovely video (see below) with our pal Joe Watson who fronted the excellent Attack! Vipers. They also split at Southsea Fest this year though. The TBOTB curse strikes again? Sorry about that. The vid itself was filmed in the round tower in Old Portsmouth where I’m fairly sure we weren’t allowed to be so in vaguely rock and roll style we got in and out before THE ROZZERS COULD GET US. I doubt the rozzers would have really given a toss.

It got a wee bit of radio play on 6music specialty shows and Amazing radio (where the esteemed Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins/Bella Union gave it a spin…probably a career highlight for me personally…) and also gave us a bit of a fright when we got the test-pressing of the vinyl back from the plant as there were 3 suspicious scratches at the end of the song. Turns out it was when we recorded Elliott’s lighter for some reason and I’d forgotten that we bunged it on the recording. There was a reason for it but it escapes me now….I also recall myself and David doing a reworked, quiet acoustic version live on Express FM. It was hideous.

CANARIES IN THE COALMINE

Canaries in the Coalmine. It’s a great saying. If you’re not aware it basically means an early warning for something dangerous approaching. Miners used to take canaries down the pit to see if deadly gas was present apparently (i.e.…if the bird keeled over, it wasn’t safe to be down there…). It’s also apparently the name of a song by Sting and co when they pretended to be a law enforcement agency in the 70’s and 80’s. I didn’t know that prior to writing it though.

That feeling of forewarning and imminent doom is really what the whole album and the story behind it was about. This song was kind of the pivotal point of it all I suppose. The lyrics are probably the nastiest I’ve ever written. The protagonist is losing it, becoming a right b’stard and this is him venting on everyone around him. Not me. Well….a bit me.

We played it live only a handful of times but I always loved it when we did…especially the end section. It gave our inner ROCK band a rare chance to come through which was always fun. In fact, I think everyone is bang on it in this…bass, drums, keys….it really comes together to pack a punch. Dave’s guitar on it is especially fearsome. Although I do remember neither of us being able to play the mandolin bit in the chorus very well and cracking up every time we fucked it up. The little piano bit prior to the choruses also came from when we recorded it for an original demo many moons ago. Jack went to play and it was in the wrong place. Turned out to be my fave bit so it stayed in. Happy mistake. Much like the band itself.

Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

BUNGALOW TOWN

So I think enough time has gone by now and the dust has finally settled to finish the last few posts about the songs we released. Grieving period over….I think (sniff sniff…). We had our final gig at Southsea Fest and my word it was emotional. I’ll probably write a little bit more about that at the very end of these posts…

ANYWAY – WHERE WERE WE?

Bungalow Town. Yes. A duet. Myself and Rox sharing vocal duties entirely. I always wanted to do more of this as I think it sounds rather nice in general. Her vox and piano make this song for me, really.

This was the ballady one on the album. A guilty pleasure of mine (actually I don’t feel guilty whatsoever) is The Connells. Those of mid 90’s pop-rock one-hit wonder-smash ’74/75′. ‘Bungalow Town’ is me basically ripping it off. Yes, yes yes you can listen to all the Ben Frost/Nils Frahm/These New Puritans you want and pretend how hipster you are but at the end of the day….THE CONNELLS. Crikey, what a song.

The lyrics stemmed from something I was reading at the time regarding a sort of little English version of Hollywood that sprung up sometime at the start of the 20th century on the beaches of Shoreham-By-Sea. As unlikely as that sounds. I think it was a film star who first moved there and had a house built. Lots of others followed suit and it lead to this bacchanalian little set of Primrose Hill-esque trendsters having a bit of a party in all these new bungalows they’d had built. A lot of the buildings burned down though quite soon after being made of wood which all seemed like an appealing metaphor so…there you go. I guess personally growing up in a small town and wanting to leave as soon as possible is something universal to lots of folks in similar positions too which also informed the lyrics. However, when you get to this new exciting place, you still have that same ‘grass-is-greener’ feeling inside. That’s what ‘Bungalow Town’ is about in a nutshell.

I’d also read an article on the recording of an REM song (I forget which one) but it was pertaining to the fact that, although the song was just piano, guitar and vocals, there were tons and tons of tracks recorded and layers of instruments to give it a thick, lush sound. I tried the same for this so there were quite a few acoustic guitar and mic combos even though it sounds like one guitar playing. To be honest, Jake the Snake who mixed it probably got rid of them all anyway so I may be talking balls. No change there.

SHARKS OF THE ATOMIC ATOLL

I think Sharks of the Atomic Atoll was the name of a documentary I watched ages ago. It’s a great collection of words. Quite evocative. It was a completely different, and shit, song I wrote many moons ago but I always liked the title. I pinched it for this as it represented what was going on in the weird little story behind the album. In a nutshell the story is thus:

– boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy goes mad, boy gets locked up, boy has visions of world ending, boy gets taunted by people, world actually starts ending, boy escapes, boy kills taunty people, girl and self, no-one lives happily ever after –

It’s no Notting Hill but it’s slightly less bleak than The Road.

The male/femal dual vocal stuff I talked about before was used to good effect here and I also like the little choral thang at the end. Even if we did nick it from Everything Everything. What’s the saying about ‘genius steals…?’ – we steal a lot of stuff it seems….

Some more recording tomfoolery below (and another demo that didn’t make the cut in ‘Since I Came Down’…)

And the usual live shenanigans…

Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

THE FOREST (THE DEVIL IS IN THE DIRT)

‘The Forest (The Devil is in the Dirt)’ is definitely one of the songs that is most fun to play live. What with me ripping off Survivors ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bootylicious’ it certainly was an off kilter direction for TBOTB to head in. Like I said before though, if something made us chuckle in practice, it went in. Really piling on the Carlos Santana guitar too. Ridiculous.

It got some play on the ace Amazing Radio which was cool and an email from Rob Da Bank said it reminded him of Nick Cave which I was over the moon with. Funny that we got asked to play Bestival this year on the same day we announced splitting up. Life is strange.

The song itself doesn’t really mean anything at all – I think I was just trying to outdo ‘Alaska’ on least-words-in-song. But it fitted in with the story running through the album which I try badly to explain below. Me and Elliott were both working in the studio at that point. We clearly didn’t have much else on. It does include us playing a song that didn’t make the final cut called ‘All Our Days Are Wasted’ though. Chirpy.

And here’s a bit more of that recording lark which contains some live ‘Forest’ action…

Plus 3 other live renditions…

Also, hats off to Jake the Snake once again as he made this song sound tons better than it did originally…as this little titbit showed…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.