Track By Track of And So I Watch You From Afar " All Hail Bright Futures"

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‘EUNOIA’

(‘The goodwill a speaker cultivates between himself and his audience.’)

This song was one of the last to be tracked in the initial recording sessions, however it was created to provide a snapshot of what was to come in the album. The faint voice of Rhiannon, Johnny’s 9 year old niece can be heard in parts.  The basis of ‘Eunoia’ came from an old guitar loop of Rory’s which also gave birth to the next track, ‘Big Thinks Do Remarkable’.

‘BIG THINKS DO REMARKABLE’

With All Hail Bright Futures, we were striving to make a guitar album but one with unconventional guitar tones and sounds, and ‘Big Thinks..’ was the first of the experimentation. Essentially it was the three of us writing music for a four, six or sometimes seven-piece band. We decided that we would worry about the performing of the songs later and that was a liberating feeling.  The ‘sun is in our eyes..’ lyric came late in the recording process. It represents various obstacles we had to overcome in the making of this album, as well as heralding in positive changes the band experienced along the way.

‘LIKE A MOUSE’

This track was named after a Mike Watt lyric, inspired by our encounters with the great man during a few shows we played together in Europe.  Mike is a true road warrior and sets a shining example to all bands that tread the ardous touring path.  The riff came from a Noiser writing session, one of our many side projects.  In this track, the drums and cymbals were tracked separately which proved a welcome challenge for Chris who tracked that afternoon bashing pieces of foam instead of cymbals. Niamh from The Danger Is provided the female vocal, and she kindly spent a couple of hours singing and screaming to create the desired effects.

‘AMBULANCE!’

Another big departure from our conventional guitar tones, as well as Rocky (producer) and Johny’s stellar work on achieving that obnoxious bass sound which blended beautifully with the guitars.  The end section of the song is one of our collective favourite parts on the whole album, which is topped off by Lindley Hamilton’s (Van Morrison)  majestic trumpet work.  The piano outro was Chris playing an old organ, his first non percussive offering to date, making it sound like the end of an old Nintendo game.

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‘THE STAY GOLDEN (PARTS 1&2)’

We wrote ‘The Stay Golden’ as we wanted to make a song that pulsed and flowed well on a simple repetitive beat, away from time changes and frantic dynamics. This song underwent the most change of any on the album. We struggled with the start sequence; trying to find the right balance of a mechanical feel without losing organic sounds. ‘We know, we know, that that’s not the way no’ was about being aware that you’re not always in control of everything but that you can reply on gut instincts to make the best decisions in a situation. Niall has a cameo on this track with an arp towards the end, and also appears is some of the gang vocals throughout the album.

Part 2 continues the quest for unusual and synthy guitar sounds, and the drums were recorded in a loud concrete stairwell to capture a great natural reverb.

‘RATS ON A ROCK’

From a very early stage this sounded like it was heading towards a song with a real tropical feel to it, so we decided to go all out.  Guitars that sounded like steel drums led on to us getting steel drummer Jonathan Scales from New York to guest on the track, as well as dropping in samples of birdsong and generally pushing boundaries. Moments like this on the album really sum up the fun and daring recording process that All Hail Bright Futures was born out of.

‘TRAILS’

The string arrangement on this was an example of us taking melodies normally played on guitar and expanding their potential through other instrumentation. The track also further exploits the masterful work of Lindley on trumpets, who on his day in studio was laying down amazing tracks within five minutes of being in the building. The background noise on the track is us chatting backstage at a show in the UK. This was put in as ‘Trails’ has a travelling feel to it, and represents a snapshot of touring life for us.

‘MEND & MAKE SAFE’

‘Mend…’ was a track we had been working on quite a bit before the recording process, so the solid structure meant a swift tracking stage, allowing for more time to embellish and experiment with interesting sounds.  The flute loop is provided by Julian (Rory’s Dad) and Phil O’Connor, who appeared previously on Gangs, and features several times on the album, adding further dimensions to the songs. The song also contains the first melodica track ASIWYFA have ever used, which started out as a bit of a joke but turned out to sit really well in the track. There is also a cheeky tribute to Jimmy Chamberlin in some of the drums.

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‘KA BA TA BO DA KA’

‘Ka Ba Ta…’ is maybe the biggest departure for the band thus far in terms of approach to song production. Rocky suggested  replacing Rory’s original guitar melody with vocal and pieced together a really interesting blend of frenetic, stacato voices. The track also has the first acoustic guitar on any ASIWYFA song. A really fun track to make, it solidified our wish to always push ourselves in different directions and continue to make music we really enjoy.

‘THINGS AMAZING’

This song produces a dynamic shift from ‘Ka Ba Ta…’ and features more of the multi-layered and heavily modified guitar and bass sounds typical of the record. In this track, the guitars and bass were run through a Moog synth. The track also features heavily synthesized drums to give it a more dancey atmosphere.

‘ALL HAIL BRIGHT FUTURES’

Starting as a simple rehearsal room demo of just guitar and drums, this song really came to life once we began working on it in the studio. The arrangement process was quite swift and the song was tracked within a short day. In the end section, original guitar melodies from earlier forms of the song were replaced with trumpets and vocals. It is another favourite song of ours as it was an exercise in us expanding our writing repertoire  creating a song with a simple repetitive rhythm and pace rather than relying on shock dynamics or time signatures.

‘YOUNG BRAVE MINDS’

The final track on the album came out of Rory’s guitar loop, with the guitar, bass and drums being tracked live in one take after a brief run through of arrangement. We wanted this to be a big finish to the album, so we set about creating a huge wall of guitars and other instrumentation. The lyric line was written in our house late at night after a seriously long day at the studio, but sums up the enthusiasm and vigour the making of this album brought out in us. Like ‘Eunoia’ opening the album, we wanted ‘Young Brave Minds’ to provide a snapshot of all the characters and sounds that had appeared throughout the album, we wanted the song to almost be like our end credits.

All Hail Bright Futures is released via Sargent House on March 18th.

You can pre-order the album @ asiwyfa.bandcamp.com/album/all-hail-bright-futures 

Read our review HERE

Intro by Will Richards

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