Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences - The Wrong Life // Track-by-Track
Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences are set to release their EP on Audio Anithero this Monday, and to celebrate we got Paul Hawkins to write a track-by-track guide. Not only that, but we have the full EP stream for you to check out too.
For more information, head to http://audioantihero.com/
The Beginning of Mr Hyde
One of the big changes for this EP, and most likely are next album, is the amount that the band, and particularly our bassist Jes, have started contributing to the song writing. Which is great from my perspective as I think it gives another dynamic to the sound and gives me freedom to write lyrics without knowing quite how the songs are going to end up. With this one I already had the idea for the song in my head and had drafted some lyrics, then Jes came in with the music and I refined the lyrics to fit it.
The basic idea for it is effectively the same idea of the novel I’m referencing – the way you’ve got this side of you that wants to do all the things you’re not supposed to do and how you suppress and balance that. Not long before I wrote it, one of the most respected senior and respected people in my old place of work had lost his job in pretty unsavoury circumstances and I was quite interested by the question as to whether discovering someone has done something very wrong necessarily invalidates all the undoubted good that they’d previously done.
The Finest Cherry
I wrote this absolutely literally just after a relationship break-up. We finished the relationship in the morning, started writing it in my head as I got the bus back to my house, and the second I got through the door I picked up my guitar and wrote it pretty much as it is.
One of the difficult things with both this and Gomorrah, which I’ll come onto a bit, was the problem of writing a song where the person it’s written about is likely to hear it, which is why it’s a lot less direct and more allegorical than most of the songs I write. I often think about whether or not you end up with better songs when you write when you’re feeling emotionally turbulent. On the one hand you can end up with lines and ideas you’d struggle to come up with when thinking straight but on the other hand it’s quite easy to end up with an incoherent rant that only you can enjoy or relate to. I think on this one it’s hit the right balance I think though.
I really like the band’s work on this – especially the backing vocals and our former guitarist David Serra’s guitar lines.
Of Course I Stole the Train
Occasionally a song title pops into my head and I think “I’ve got to write a song with that name” and this was one of those occasions. The incident it came from was on an underground train when I was going out for the night in Brixton. I was a running a bit late and the train kept stopping ‘cos someone was playing silly buggers with the emergency alarm. I was sat at the front of the train and virtually alone in my carriage and, at one point, the driver came out to go and investigate the alarm and left the door to his open. At which point it struck me that, if I was ever going to get the chance to illegally drive a tube train, this was probably it.
Obviously had I done it I’d have been arrested, probably lost my job and almost certainly been plastered all over the newspapers as this utter idiot who’d endangered passenger lives for his own brief amusement but there’s still a tiny part of me that feels I’m a bit of a chicken. This song is basically about what would have happened if I’d had the courage to embrace my stupidity. This song is a hell of a lot of fun to play live – I remember one gig when our keyboardist Niall, who kicks it off, came in about three times too fast – the speed at which I had to spit the words out pretty much knocked me out for the rest of the evening…
The story in this song is an urban myth I heard in my school playground as a child – one day I’d been looking around on the internet to see how widespread it was and found that, although there were lots of versions, none of them seemed to tell the story particularly well, which is why I had a go. It’s fascinating how far these stories spread too – I remember after one gig a Turkish girl came up to me and told me she’d heard the same story when she was growing up thousands of miles away…
This is another live favourite – I’ve taken to acting out the song in the manner of a slightly deranged children’s presenter, which is a thoroughly enjoyable experience!
This is probably the most radical departure from our previous sound, especially thinking back to the days I started out as an acoustic guitarist who really couldn’t sing it seems incredible to have been involved with a song like this.
Like the Finest Cherry, it was a song written about the end of a relationship and specifically the fine line between trying to move on and get on with your life and looking like you never really cared about the other person in the first place, which can be a tricky thing to negotiate especially if it’s a fairly amicable split. One thing I realised about this EP is that, especially for someone who isn’t and has never been religious, both sin and the Bible seem to come up quite a lot – I think every song on the EP is either about the temptation to do something you shouldn’t or the consequences that come when you do!
What fascinates me about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah incidentally is best summed up by a Momus song called “The Lesson of Sodom according to Lot”. I’m not particularly one for telling people what they should believe or reading religious texts to find the flaws but I do find it quite perplexing how one minute Lot is the one morally virtuous man worth saving across two entire cities yet two pages later he’s committing incest to repopulate the Earth…
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