- READ MORE: Squid on the cover: “I don’t think people take us seriously enough to think we’re ‘pretentious’”
Earlier this month, the band gave listeners a first taster of the album with lead single ‘Swing (In A Dream)’.
“We started writing it the Monday after Green Man 2021” Judge said of the track. “We were really hungover, and I don’t think I could be bothered to play the drums properly, so that’s where that really simple drumbeat came from.”
Squid have cited the lyrical inspiration for the single as Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s painting The Swing. “I had a dream about this painting – it was all flooded, and everything was floating away” Judge explained. “I thought it might be a climate anxiety dream, so I rode with that and imagined everyone screaming and dying – like that scene in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”
‘Swing (In A Dream)’ was used to close Squid’s recent one-off headline show at London’s SCALA. The band were originally booked to play the King’s Cross venue in April 2020 after the release of their ‘Town Centre’ EP, before the lockdowns saw those plans scrapped.
Almost three years on, Squid used the venue to give fans a first look at tracks from ‘O Monolith’ – alongside select songs from ‘Bright Green Field’.
“It felt really nice,” Judge told NME. “I’m always a bit reluctant to just play loads of new material, because I know it’s not what a lot of people want, but that night felt different. The audience were really attentive, and there to listen.”
During the show, Judge playfully wrong-footed the audience by announcing “this one’s called ‘Houseplants’” – referencing their breakthrough 2019 single – before launching into ‘Bright Green Field’ track ‘Narrator’.
“That got the biggest cheer of the night” he laughed. Upon hearing that audience members were speaking favourably after the show of the decision to not play those early tracks, representative of a simpler incarnation of Squid, Judge seemed pleased: “It’s nice to hear some people get that.”
Speaking on the new material, Judge explained that “it’s quite proggy – for better or worse”.
“We’re leaning a lot more into experimental song structures,” he continued. “When I was having a really hard time writing lyrics and the album, I saw this tweet from Missy Elliot saying ‘Don’t make a second album that sounds like your first – just go fucking nuts’” he said. “It’s definitely harder to play live.”
At the SCALA show, the band drafted in additional percussionist Zands Duggan to augment the new tracks with a raft of congas, shakers and cowbells.
“It was Talking Heads’ album ‘Remain In Light’ that made us think about percussion in a different way,” said Judge. “The percussion on that is so stereo, and you can hear how it was recorded in different parts of the room.”
In addition to Duggan, Squid have been working with percussionist Henry Terret of rising Bristol band Bingo Fury. Together, they have helped realise Squid’s interest in more meticulously arranged percussion, indicated by ‘Swing (In A Dream)’. “We play a cowbell or two, but we thought ‘how can we take that a little bit further?’”
The SCALA show also demonstrated the band’s increased use of live electronics, with guitarist Louis Borlase and bassist Laurie Nankivell employing synths on the recent single. Judge affirmed the role this plays in Squid’s new chapter. “Yeah – the ‘Daft Punk’ era!”
Shortly after the release of ‘Bright Green Field’, Squid embarked on a socially-distanced ‘Fieldworks’ tour of works-in-progress – forming the basis of ‘O Monolith’.
“About 70 per cent of what we did on that tour is on the album” Judge claimed. “It was nice to try out new ideas, but it was also quite nerve-wracking. We did it when things were still socially distanced, and I couldn’t get it out of my head that everyone hadn’t seen live music in like two years – were they really going to want to watch us fumbling and jamming through these prog songs?
“I think that’s just the pessimist in me. People were happy to hear loud music – even if it was a kind of proggy jam at some points, without lyrics.”
The band have announced a UK headline tour for later this year, culminating with a show at London’s Troxy. “Touring had a big influence on this record,” Judge said of the band’s relentless live schedule. “I’ve got lots of stamps in my passport now. It’s annoying, because if you fill it up you’ve got to buy a new one, and they’re really expensive. I see the passport control people stamping right in the middle, and I’m thinking, ‘You could fit about five on one page – please don’t do that!’”
Since the release of ‘Bright Green Field’ Judge has been living in his erstwhile home of the West Country, becoming involved in Bristol’s underground music scene. Alongside the collaboration with Bingo Fury’s Henry Terret, Squid recently remixed a track by SCALPING, and invited local band Quade to support them at SCALA.
“Getting to know more bands like Quade and Minor Conflict, then stuff like NOODS and Mickey Zoggs – there’s this tight-knit community making really boundary-pushing music” Judge said. “The music industry’s so centralised in London, and it annoys me sometimes because there’s so much amazing stuff in Bristol, up north and all these places.”
Judge has indicated ‘O Monolith’ also marks a departure from ‘Bright Green Field’ lyrically.
“Bright Green Field is very, ‘Post-punk band talks about how shit the Tory government is’,” he admitted. “There are enough people doing it at the moment, and some people are doing it amazingly. This is more about stories I’ve made up in my own head. I wanted to make a really sincerely spiritual record – but couldn’t do that. I started imagining if I’d been reincarnated as a bedside cabinet, and all my family didn’t know I was there.
“It’s a really cynically spiritual record.”
‘O Monolith’ will be released on June 9th via WARP. Check out the full track-list below.
‘Swing (In A Dream)’
‘After The Flash’
I’f You Had Seen The Bull’s Swimming Attempts You Would Have Stayed Away’
Meanwhile, their newly announced UK and Ireland headline tour dates are below, with tickets available here.
Squid will play:
13 – Bristol, SWX
14 – Bristol SWX
16 – Birmingham, Town Hall
17 – Leeds, O2 Academy
18 – Manchester, New Century
21 – Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom
22 – Newcastle, Boiler Shop
1 – London, Troxy