Last week we were in Paris and we had the opportunity to interview backstage Paul and Duncan just before their amazing show at “La Maroquinerie”.
We had the opportunity to discuss their new album and the inspiration behind of some of their most recent songs….
Let’s talk about the new album “Risk To Exist”, what does it means for you lyrically speaking? Is there a connection between all its songs?
This album continues with the idea of being an emotionally driven band.
Our songs are always emotional, but this time we were looking to more social and political issues.
As a lyricist I was writing about those thing anyway and I’m very happy that the band did a conscious decision that each song needed to address society.
In the studio we had a white board where we were using to scribble on it our ideas for the new songs.
National Health, for instance, is a song about social and political things, but is not a “slogan” is not “didactic” …you as a listener, can make something out of it.
During the last two years, the world shifted to the right and politicians talk about only mainstream subjects while the problems of the society (more lefty) are not really considered.
This album is more straightforward in his approach, it tries to look at things differently, more subtle, less polarized….. things are not black and white, things are complicated and so the songs try not to be black and white themselves.
We live in a dangerous time and it is a “risk to exist”…
Is it a different perspective from your previous album “Too much information”?
Too much information was more influenced by novels and films, lyrically speaking.
It was very eclectic musically and this gave me the opportunity, as a lyricist, to have different approach for each song.
For instance the song “Brain Cells” in that record was telling about me going out when I was younger and wondering whether going out too much was destroying my brain.
Another song, “Leave this island” was inspired by a novel Alan Warner (that wrote an amazing book called “Morvern Callar” ) titled “these demented lands”
I wrote a chorus that said “Let me know when you want to leave this island. Let me know when you want to hear my point of view”
On this new record is not the time to be ambiguous, it is time to be more “straight to the point” , say what we are believing…..”Risk to Exist” it is more “in your face” politically.
People (our audience and those that they see us from far) can look at the way we see things and this can influence their opinion about past and future records…..at least they know where we stand.
We have to look at the world and say ” there is a way to make things better and more equal”, it is better for the whole world…
It is a shared responsibility, especially now, you need to say what you think and not be afraid to be political if needed.
This record is still quite open, we don’t say to people what the audience should think or say….. it just says “here is the way we feel” and the audience can take their own position about it.
We believe that people might change their way of thinking if stimulated in some way, we do that through music, we do that with this album.
What does music mean to you?
In some way, the music we make is about being yourself and being an individual, yet being part of something bigger.
We should not push people away because they are different than us…. we have a responsibility of “make the world better” all together.
Our band is a good example of that, five people who collaborate, everybody has his own ideas and ,even if sometime we disagree, yet we make the things work.
It is a beauty of being a band, we can achieve more than just being one person.
Music brings people together, music as such a great power….think about when you are in a club where people do not know each other yet dance together and are connected to a song.
Music soundtracks people’s lives and can help them in their most difficult moments.
With music we try to make a change, we are very lucky to be in that position to be able to create something positive.
Our music is about connection lyrically and musically.
How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
We wrote most of the lyrics of this record in Berlin in a studio owned by a friend of ours.
The lyrics usually are written in a little book that I’m always carrying around and sometimes on my phone.
It is harder for me to write lyrics because there is so much going on in the world…..
I don’t want to come out with a cliche’ or something we already wrote about …
we need more time to reflect to the message we want to communicate.
As I said before, in this record, we had a white board (it was the first time we were trying this) that remembered us that we wanted to do a danceable record and, at the same time, a political one.
For instance, there is a song in the record called ” What Equals love” , it is really an upbeat kind of a song….you can dance on it and it has a kind of sparkle ….but the song is about losing faith and love people.
It is about reconnect with love and the idea of compassion.
One of its verses says “And the lie was not enough, Tell the truth and you’re not tough…..”
It is crazy to think that,in the world we live, lies can get you ahead , at the top, and you will be seen successful and a great example…..
The white board helped us to have clarity on where we were going with the record and with the songs.
Which is the best verse you ever wrote?
The song Books for Boxes seems to have a real connection with people and we play it at every show.
I believe its verses are very good….the opening line says “Nightfalls and towns become circuit boards we can beat the sun as long as we keep moving”
it is about going around the world in a plane and we go fast enough it could be night forever..
Another verse I have been told was a very good opening line is from a song of our first album called “Going Missing” that says….. “I sleep with my hands across my chest and i dream off you with someone else”
(interview with Paul Smith and Duncan Lloyd)