Song Stories: how The Strokes inspired James Bay’s ‘Pink Lemonade’

"Pink Lemonade – where the hell did that come from?"

When writing his latest album, ‘Electric Light’, James Bay was seeking reinvention. Channelling everyone from Frank Ocean and David Bowie (on the glittering electronic lead single ‘Wild Love’) to Blondie (on thumping ‘Wasted On Each Other’), he branched out from the soulful riff-led pop of his Grammy-nominated debut ‘Chaos and the Calm’.

On the cantering ‘Pink Lemonade’, Bay looked back on the “college rock and roll” and “garage band” sound that was popular when he first learnt guitar. Talking to NME he reveals that whilst there was a ton of new influences on this record, there were a few ’00s rock bands that he specifically tried to channel on ‘Pink Lemonade’. “When I was 12 and had started learning to play guitar there were bands like Kings of Leon and The Strokes that came out and they were changing people’s lives, I was there, kinda behind, listening to The Rolling Stones and listening to The Faces. [Listening to] older rock and roll, so I came late to it.” But then these were influences that he came back to later: “Over the years I’ve gone back to it and got it, and got it more and more. And it was in making this record that I was always looking for: ‘where can I do something that I haven’t done before? Ah! [I could use] that sound, that college rock and roll garage band thing!'”

“It’s harking back to that time in my life and remembering how potent that music was that made me want to make this kind of track.”

Bay also explained the music video, likening it to when you’re a child and you want to runaway from home – so you pack up your most precious toys and tell your parents you’re off (and then you probably get no further than hundred metres from home). He told us: “there’s this whole theme running through this video, where I’m getting into a rocket and I’ve got my space suit out of the closet, I built this thing in the garage, the house is quiet and everyone is asleep, and it’s time to go. So as a little kid that’s what I would have been imagining – like “I’m gonna get out of here and it’s gonna be incredible.”