The album isn’t about the place [High Royds psychiatric hospital, also referenced in Kaiser Chiefs’ song ‘Highroyds’], which apparently was one of the first loony bins for the poor. I just first heard about it on a TV documentary, and the words just struck me. I love the way it looked and the feeling it evokes.
The album cover comes from thinking about the words. It’s us getting dressed up for a party at the asylum, looking in the mirror at the costumes.
Amon Duul II‘s ‘Made In Germany’ is one of my favourite albums. I love the sleeve of that record, and I wanted to do something in that tradition. I just thought, bands don’t do covers like that any more. Some people might think we look silly, but I think it works.
This originally was going to be near the end of the album, but Tom [Meighan, vocalist] said to me we should open with it. In a way we’ve always been the underdog as a band, people tend to underestimate us which is good as it gives you a bit of a freedom. It’s like a boxer in a fight sizing it all up. Musically I think it has that rock’n’roll spirit, like a Stones song, but it’s a really 21st century sounding tune. It’s one of the reasons we got Dan The Automator in to produce it. It has a hip-hop feel to the production, yet it’s a rock’n’roll song.
Where Did All The Love Go?
Dare I say it, this is almost a disco tune. It’s a real stomper and it’s got a big, Marc Bolan-esque chorus and the strings at the end are massive. Lyrically it was inspired by what we were reading in the papers around the time, violence and stabbings. But it’s not preaching, it’s asking the question, Where did all the love go? Because we think it’s missing, but we’re not telling anyone what to do. We’re in the middle of it like everyone else.
Swarfiga is an industrial cleaner you use after working with machinery, so anyone whose familiar with it knows: this is what you need after a hard day’s graft. I placed this instrumental here as I wanted the album to be more than just a collection of songs, it takes you on a real, mad journey, and this mad little tune really makes you think, ‘Where is this album going?’.
We did release this is a very limited edition single before, so I guess some people have heard it and some haven’t. To me it was always destined to be on the album. It’s a proper British rock n roll song to me, it’s dirty garage rock. The lyrics are a real vicious spit, really angry. I think Tom’s vocals on this are amazing, it’s times like this I’m glad we have a frontman. “All you fuckers can’t touch me…” I couldn’t sing that, but he just delivers the line perfectly.
I kind of think of this song as almost like a little film in its own right as it moves through a few different moods. Its starts off as this dirty Mexican-sounding thing, and then it just gets bigger and bigger.
Thick As Thieves
Another one that was on the Fast Fuse EP. It’s a good little relationship song this, two mates. You can imagine them as boys going through it all, then confronting everything else again when their adults. It’s nice to be able to sing one with Tom, but it’s funny we don’t ever think about who sings what, it’s just what will work best for the song.
West Ryder Silver Bullet
Rosario Dawson had come to one of our gigs, liked us and kept in touch. So when I was thinking about who we could get to duet I just thought it sounded a great idea, getting one of the most exciting actresses around today on our album. Linking up a British rock band with a Hollywood actress – hopefully it will take people by surprise.
I’d like to get her to do it live with us at some point. Maybe if we film us doing the album live for a DVD next year? She played the track for Quentin Tarantino and I know he really liked it, perhaps we should ask him to direct it. That would be amazing.
The bit at the beginning is sampled from a film called ‘Sans Soleil’, it’s a little film a mate of mind lent me.
Vlad The Impaler
It’s been great seeing how people have been reacting to it. Initially when we’ve played it for people they’ve been a bit like, ‘What?’ but by the second time they’ve got it. I knew the moment I first wrote the opening riff it was going to be massive. It’s so much fun to play live and doing the video with Noel Fielding was outrageous too, just having him running around a country house impaling people. Brilliant.
Ladies And Gentlemen (Roll The Dice)
This is one of those ‘everything got very messy last night, but I wanted it to’ sort of songs. It’s sung with real experience. I love Tom’s vocals on this, he’s really pushed himself for the sake of the song. You can hear all those experiences in his voice. I think the album needed a moment like this. It’s a trip and this is a little step back to take stock, before setting it up for the climax.
I think this has a real opium chasers feel. It’s about this mad expedition to Cairo in the 19th century, lots of mystical weird stuff fizzing around. At the end we sampled Helmut Zacharias’ ‘Sakura Sakura’. It’s on one of my favourite album. I tried to sample it once before but in a different song. It didn’t work, but this time it just added something special to the end.
I really love the schizophrenic heart of this song. The verses are almost like a psychedelic Elvis, before it explodes into the chorus which is absolutely massive. It doesn’t change tempo ever, it’s just the change in emphasis that creates the different power. We’ve been playing it live quite a bit and it seems to be the one that everyone is going mental for at the moment, which is really satisfying.
This is the real kick back moment, like that ‘Perfect Day’, sink-into-the-floor moment in ‘Trainspotting’. I went to Los Angeles to record the vocals with these amazing soul singers. It was such a great experience for me, working with musicians from an entirely different tradition from what I’m used to.
I think the fact we don’t follow rules really helped us with this album. We don’t do things because of convention, we will experiment until we find what we’re looking for. This song, and I guess this album, is a real example of that. There were no rules, we just wanted to create the best record we could.