The drummer gives fans a look inside his mind.
Young Guns singer offers his thoughts on the band's second album, released today!
I'd never be so arrogant as to call myself a good lyricist, but I definitely do spend a lot of time what I say, agonising over what is often a pretty trivial word. I guess I have an obsessive personality, at least when it comes to the band. Rock Sound have kindly asked me to go through a few of my favourite lyrics from our new record 'Bones' so here goes…
I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die
Musically this song took months to get right. It was one of the first pieces we had for the record, but it was pretty different, quite a lot slower and totally different structurally. We revisited it time and time again, but it very nearly didn't make the record. When we eventually sped it up, it felt more alive and more vital. I took inspiration from that feeling while jamming on my own and tried to come up with a first line that would sum up that sense of urgency and 'life' that I felt the song had. I wanted to encapsulate that feeling in the first line (and I had a gut feeling it would be the first line on the album) and out came 'I was born, I have lived, I will surely die'. The inference being it's what you do in between that defines you. After that line came out, it all followed pretty quickly, and feels to me like a celebration of living in the moment, which is what I wanted it to be. I tried to approach this song from a Bruce Springsteen-influenced place, and though that might sound ridiculous to some, to me it really has that universal feeling.
All five of us played around with a cool progression that John [Taylor, guitar] had come up with in the studio one day. The chords moved around pretty quickly and were pretty major - something we don't tend to work with that often. We all really liked it and so chucked some ideas around and then called it for the day. That night John, Fraser [Taylor, guitar] and I hung out together and decided to try and wrap up the song completely. We didn't realistically think we'd do it, but a bottle of vodka, a case of beer and 12 hours later and we had a completed song. I really wanted to try and write a love song as I'd never really done that before, but being me I felt like I needed to put a dark twist on the idea and turned it into a song about the idea that love can be as destructive as it can be positive, and loving something or someone so much that you destroy or 'kill' it or them (metaphorically speaking of course, ahem). 'I want to be the last thing that you see, be my dearly departed'. I liked the duality of a line like that sounding so desperate and dark but also having it come from a place of intense love.
Lyrically it's probably my favourite song on the record. The line 'I feel it in my bones' was initially a temporary lyric I jammed in a garageband version of the song when we were partying at our producer Dan's studio in London. As much as it irks me to say it, it's definitely a hook that has echoes of the 80's in it, but I guess that's kinda cool anyway. I liked the power behind the line and ended up using that as a springboard for the idea behind the whole song. I worked on these lyrics for months and in the end re-wrote nearly all of them just before I tracked them in the studio in Thailand. I remember seeing Amen play at the LA2/Mean Fiddler (RIP! my favourite venue) what feels like a million years ago, and at one part in the set Casey Chaos smashed a bottle and sliced his arm open to make a point, and the idea that 'no-one can hurt us like we hurt ourselves' has always stuck with me since then. I liked that on the surface it sounded negative but it's actually empowering.
I had wanted to keep some parts of this record vague with regards to what I'm talking about, I think part of the beauty of music is interpreting it in your own way as a listener, and having that meaning not necessarily be the same as the person that wrote it. I think that's cool, but as a lyricist what I write always tends to be confessional or based on parts of my own life or experiences in some way, so it was a tricky balancing act for me on this album. This song is a conversation between two people, one on their death bed, and the other full of the arrogance of youth thinking they've got the world figured out. I guess it's me playing around with the idea behind the sentiment that youth is wasted on the young, but the inspiration behind the song came from a very personal place and situation.
You Are Not
Even the title was the source of a fair amount of debate. For me it describes the whole I'm talking about in the song. I wanted, instead of writing about all the bullshit standards that we're meant to be held up against, to write a song that celebrated the idea that it's ok to be normal, to be yourself. Maybe it's just me but I often feel like I spend so much time trying to be a better version of myself, to be something I'm not, and that can be a really tiring and dangerous thing, so I liked the feeling behind the line 'you are not a diamond, you are not a shining star, doesn't mean that you're not perfect, exactly as you are'. In a very basic way it just made me feel good, and I liked the idea that it could at least maybe do the same for others. Who knows, but I'm proud of the song either way.
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