I suppose the most important thing about the album to us is that it was designed and written to represent one body of work, broken into several individual movements – some people have even described it as a symphony in that sense. There are no re-hashed, or re-recorded old songs here. We always felt that our album was something that deserved to be a coherent entity, not some patchwork of scraps and leftovers collected from the table and presented to you as a meal. Of course each track may have particular merits and personal highlights, but we hope that the listener finds the time to enjoy the album as a whole. Just to contradict that statement, here is my track-by-track breakdown of the album.
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St Mary Will Be The Death Of Us All. This was the first song that came about in the writing process, knowing that we were working towards the album, rather than working towards a single or split release. To all of us it signalled a start of a new chapter for the band, and when it came together for the first time at a practice, it felt great, and almost instantly we knew it would be the first track on the album. It also allowed us to loosely toy with the idea of making a concept album- something we’d joked about before we commenced writing. Whilst I wouldn’t say that the album is in fact a concept album, having a narrative running throughout its duration certainly enabled us to thematically develop the album, and the way it would run from here on in. For example we decided quite early on how many tracks we felt there should be, and how they might sound. This also meant that we’d write a track and say ‘well that’s track four sorted, but now we need to write track three!’ 'St Mary' is one of two characters imagined as part of the album concept, the other being 'Peter Pan'. I suppose 'St Mary' represents some sort of oppressive, all-powerful force, intent on exhausting the very essence of joy. Peter Pan on the other hand represents a captured optimism and expressive force of youth- ambition perhaps. It is one of the more lively tracks on the album, packing a lot into a few minutes of fairly relentless noise. We wanted to ditch the overly relied upon formula of typical ‘post-rock’ in the loud/ quiet/ loud/ quiet dynamic. It certainly owes more to Post-Hardcore- in particular I’d say there are some These Arms Are Snakes influences creeping in there (one of my favourite bands of recent years.). In The Shadows Of Our Stilted Homes offers a little respite, now that both characters have made their introductions. This track is perhaps one of my contenders for favourite track on the album. It has a certain eerie quality, and builds gradually, with layers of violin and guitar washing over each other, before the initially sporadic drumbeat takes hold. The title came about as a result of a dream by our other guitarist, Sam, where all the houses were somehow suspended on stilts above the ground below. It fascinated me, evoking all sorts of notions of a bleak, post- apocalyptic futurescape. The artwork across the inner sleeve of the album cover loosely reflects my imagined idea of what this future might be. We had fun recording parts of the song- there is a genius ‘nu-metal’ section that came about by complete accident, and Sam also recorded one of his guitar parts through a length of plastic tubing- kind of like what you’d find on the end of a vacuum cleaner. Apparently it was a technique originally used on a Michael Jackson song! An Expected Future Event is something perhaps more akin to what you’d find in a film soundtrack. I wrote it quite early on in the album process, using ridiculous midi strings on my computer to start, which we then worked out properly in the studio. Short, and moody, it sets the scene for the next chapter in the story. Iris starts off with a gentle dancing of feet, an awkward tiptoed shuffle, before evolving into a more fluid exchange of blows. This was written quite soon after 'St Mary', so is probably the second oldest track written for the record. It also features a section on the verge of a blast-beat - it still brings a smile to our collective faces every time we play it, as it kind of started out as a joke, yet it ended up staying in the song. You could say it’s like an in-band in-joke… yeah we’re pretty crazy guys. Impala was written later on in the album process, and is probably the most upbeat song on the album. A straightforward beat feeds in from 'Iris', with a repetitive chord pattern and the violins leading the melody. Of course things soon become derailed, and in many ways this song ends up being one of the more chaotic songs on the album. We’ve been informed the end section sounds like a ‘Metal Carnival. On speed. Backwards’ (Kev from BSM). Great Railroads is the track that despite being a fairly stripped back affair caused us the most problems in studio. The violin parts Reuben had written pretty much all went out the window once in the studio, and the song evolved from a solely violin based track to a more full on song. We didn’t finish it as part of the album recording session- we literally ran out of time- and so it ended up being completed in Tom Woodhead’s basement in Leeds. The end result is actually very atmospheric, and reminded us of a film score from an old Western movie, hence the resultant song title. I’d still like to dig out the demo recordings of the original song and develop those into a song in the future too. Hollow Depth. Being the last track of the album, we knew exactly how this song needed to sound. Just over 10 minutes in length, this song is not only the longest song that we’ve ever written, but possibly the most complex too. Twisting and turning throughout, it soundtracks the final encounter between 'St Mary' and 'Peter Pan'. At precisely 5.41 you can hear my favourite moment on the entire album, the singularly most crushing low we’ve ever put to record. When we first listened back to the track, we knew we’d captured the sentiment of the moment perfectly. The end of the song actually represents the inverse of the Big Bang theory whereby everything, as we know it is shattered into million pieces, as the two celestial bodies at the centre of our tale combust.* *Feel free to interpret these songs however you like. We just talk a lot of rubbish mostly. Hollow Realm is out now on Big Scary Monsters You can visit the band by heading to http://www.myspace.com/gotalons