ELASTICA may have almost split up over it, and it’s been at least four years in the making – but ‘The Menace’, the band’s long-awaited second album, is almost here.
promised yesterday, here’s JUSTINE FRISCHMAN‘s exclusive track by track dissection of the album, out on April 3 through Deceptive – and something, she reveals, she never thought she’d finish.
Plus, the truth about the rumours of who wrote what – and which song’s about Justine’s ex-boyfriend, Blur’s Damon Albarn.
“The dog’s from one of those little kid’s keyboards. I was trying to learn how to use Cubase (a sequencing programme). Dave Bush, our programmer and keyboard player, set me up and let me run on the Cubase and I spent a day doing it and ‘Mad Dog‘ is what I came up with, the drum beat and the dog noises and stuff. So that’s kind of like my first go at programming.
“I just liked the idea of the album starting with the sound of dogs barking – it seemed appropriate. It’s quite a positive song, it was the first thing the band in this form worked on together. It’s about picking yourself up and getting on with it.”
“‘Generator‘ was the first song I wrote with Paul (Jones – aka Shag) and it’s more back to our punky roots. It’s quite kind of adrenaline-based. Paul‘s fitted in brilliantly. I saw Lineoleum like five years ago and I just stood there watching him all night. I just thought he was amazing. He’s really really good, very inspiring to be working with.”
How He Wrote Elastica Man (featuring Mark E Smith)
“We were in the studio and he (Mark E Smith) was in a pub around the corner. Dave bumped into him and invited him to come down. He was up for doing some stuff so we did.
“I was initially too scared to come out of the control room but when I did he was charming. I think he probably can be quite scary but he chose to be the perfect gentleman when he was working with us. He was actually very inspiring to be around – really cool.
“We’d had that track for a while and we didn’t know what to do with it and he walked into the studio room and plugged his mic into an amp, turned it up until it was all feeding back and started shouting ‘E!- L!-A!’ doing his cheerleader bit which was quite bizarre.”
“It’s actually the only recording from the original session from when Sheila and Donna were in the band. Donna and I were singing it together and Dave had just joined. It’s quite a dark sort of song, but it’s got a really nice fragility to it which reflects our state of mind (at the time) quite well.
“We’d spent quite a lot of time in a studio in Ireland and it was quite a different session for a number of reasons. There was a lot of shit going on really. I think we were all really pleased with the way it come out. I think it benefited from the amount of production that had been invested in it. There’s quite a lot of textures and sound but it doesn’t sound overproduced.”
Your Arse My Place
“We wrote this for a Peel Session we did. It’s the first time I’ve used 12-bar blues. Some of my favourite songs are written around 12-bar stuff, I’d kind of resisted it for a while – but this just came out of a jam really. The sentiment is comedy.”
“‘Human‘ was another one that was written when Donna was in the band and it’s got quite a strong sense of isolation. Although I don’t want to comment on Donna‘s lyrics, but for me, the lyric was about the space that should be taken up by a partner being taken up by a drug. Almost being in love with something that isn’t human.
“In another way I actually felt like Donna had written it for me to sing, thinking that I wasn’t totally human, and I am. So it’s kind of a pertinent song. It’s a dark song and I think it’s quite a different song since we’ve re-recorded it with Shag and Annie on the bass.The first time it was recorded it was a lot slower and it sounded a bit gothic which is why we kind of re-did it.”
Nothing Stays The Same
“We kept it quite true to the original demo. We wanted it to sound quite ‘Velvets‘, quite a simple arrangement.”
“This came out of a period of time when I’d pretty much given up on writing for the band and it didn’t seem to me like the band was going to carry on – 1997.
“I was writing with my flatmate Loz (Hardy, formerly of Kingmaker) in the basement were we live. We’d been listening to a lot of Eno, ‘Low’ by David Bowie and trying to do stuff like that. There’s a real sense of isolation. I was in two minds about whether to put it on the album because it was on the EP but we had a remix done. I thought it was quite important…there’s a link to that and tracks like ‘Image Change‘ and ‘Human‘. It was basically the bridge between what we started out doing when we came back from touring, with Donna, and then we got into the later stuff. It hasn’t got any lyrics on it, so it’s not really about anything.”
A Love Like Ours
“This is written from those early sessions that we recorded, same sort of lyrical content. If it’s about anything it’s about me and Donna but Shag added a really ‘Frippy’ guitar thing to it and it just seemed to be quite rocking with the new band when we were playing it live.
“I’m not going to tell you what it stands for actually. ‘K.B is basically what Mark helped arrange and put together into a song. Again it’s what Shag does on the guitar is probably the best thing about the song. I really love that one. Live it’s my favourite one to do. It’s Shag doing what he does best.”
“It completely isn’t directed at a certain somebody. It was written in the basement and it’s quite ‘Low‘ again. I didn’t really think about it being a song for Elastica but the band really loved it so it’s gone on the album. It’s probably the most personal thing I’ve written. It’s a foray into something I’ve never done before, like a spoken word thing. It’s just thinking about all the romantic moments you’ve ever had with anybody over a period of time. Like the beginning of a relationship where you’re thinking ‘This is the one’. Those moments that stay with you and at the point, which was quite a low one for me, it was about remembering the positive.”
The Way I Like It
“That’s another one I did with Shag. That’s probably about a certain somebody (ex-boyfriend Damon Albarn) – lyrically.” (One of the song’s verses goes: “And I’m living all right/and I’m doing OK/had a lover who was medicine/and the wind blew him away.”)
Da Da Da (a cover, originally by Trio)
“I found this old Casio Vialtone in the market and took it into rehersals.I put it up to the mic and started doing ‘Da Da Da’ over it. Shag just started doing wild things over it. The original is so simple, it’s kind of a blueprint for a song so we had a lot of room to fuck about with it. It’s always nice to do a cover, it’s quite relaxing. I grew up listening to that song. It was a pop-tastic one hit wonder when I was like 12 or 13 but I kind of got a kick out of it.”