Amongst The Pigeons have just released their new album Get Amongst It. I caught up with them in their pigeon shed / recording studio to do a track by track walkthrough of the album:
With this track, the first 20 seconds was the fadeout sound on the first album. I really like the idea of taking that same sound to open up this album. All the titles came about from things other people have said, seeing things that people were saying on twitter or facebook or just conversations that friends were having. This track came about from my friend Si – we were having a conversation on twitter, and he was saying one of the things that all musicians should aspire to be is a future dead rock star, I think we were talking about the whole age 27 thing, and Kurt Cobain, and everything. This track only works as an opener, because it’s quite a slow song, it builds up, and it’s a bit ploddy for the first couple of minutes but it was one of those songs where I just kept coming back to it again and again, and I couldn’t not have it on the album. It’s a real headphone album – there are little bits that are coming in one ear, and looping over. I get really into just fiddling around with sounds for hours and hours and getting lost in the little bits of what I do.
The Man Who Smiles When Things Go Wrong
This was the oldest track on the album and it was a song I started making just after the first album. I used to do software project management, and one of my colleagues was working on a project which was notoriously disastrous. It just kept getting worse and worse, and his contact seemed to take glee when things went majorly wrong – the guy I was working with said once “he’s just the guy who smiles when things got wrong”. And that was the first time I thought of using something someone had said as a title. The vocal samples are made from the Apple speech module, playing around with the different voices.
The Inherent Racism of Doves
The title and the vocals all come from my friend Piers, who’s in the folk band Stick in a Pot. He texted me one night saying “you should write a song called The Inherent Racism Of Doves”, so I started making the song that night with various loops, and for quite a long time we were emailing each other back and forth little bits of the song and then it got handed over to him to do the all the vocals, and he came up with the lyrics and the melodies. It took quite a while to get this song finished, but I think it’s probably the best song that I’ve done.
I was talking to my friend Guy about song titles, and he said what you want to do, is call a song “sex” because that’s what everyone googles. I started making this song on a train journey, and there was a girl opposite me on the train, and she was reading Cosmopolitan, so originally it was called Cosmopolitan Sex. But because I get a campervan and because I know quite a few other campervan owners I thought it would be nice to incorporate a bit of that into the music that I do. So when I titled it, it was a bit tongue in cheek. In terms of the sound of this track, and on some of the others, I started listening to a lot of old big beat stuff again, and going back to things like Les Rhythmes Digitales, and that basic synth riff and everything that builds up around it all, and there’s a lot of older influences that I listened to when I was younger that came into this album.
Jaffa Clown Dog
The title for this comes from something someone said on the campervan forum that I was on – you’d write on there the word Orange and it would change to Jaffa, you’d write the word Clown and it would change to Kill You, and you’d write Dog and a little picture of a dog would come up, so someone on there was talking about Orange Clown Dogs, so I nicked that for a title. This is going to be the second single that’s going to be out in June. The vocals are a guy I used to work with, and he’s always supported my music.
This is a song that I was making that I thought was absolutely rubbish. I sent a demo version of it to my friend Anna, and she wrote back saying “I don’t think I’m the right person to sanity check something like this”. So I grabbed that for the title! It’s a basic 4/4 but there’s a lot of interesting things that go on in the background. This song’s going to be the opener of my new live set, because it sounds so good live. The sample is a little youtube steal – I was googling rollercoasters, and it’s the only sample on the album that I’ve got. It’s some Americans who were on a rollercoaster and recording themselves. The first album had loads of samples, but I kept this album mostly sample free. Out of all of the tracks on the album, this is most like the first album. It finishes with the words “it is over”, because the album is very much an a side and a b side.
Spoilers is my sci fi geekiness – throughout the whole of the last Dr Who series Riversong used to say “Spoilers” to the Doctor. Throughout the making of the album, lots of things with the word spoilers kept coming up. This song is like a theme tune to a sci fi program. When I was making the album, for a time I thought about calling it “Sci Fi themes and other songs”, but I ended up coming back to Get Amongst It.
Empties is a song I did with Chris TT. For a long time, he and I talked about doing a song together. The first album has a song by Frank Turner on it, and I know Chris through Frank. I had various demos and ideas for this song, which I’d email over to Chris. Just because of his schedule, it took a long time to get to the stage where we had time to get together. It’s called Empties because Chris takes photos of empty scenes – a road with no one on it, or an empty shop, just a scene where there should be someone there, but they’re not. When he came around to do the vocals he said that he didn’t want it to be about the photos, but he had the idea of it being about empty glasses. He sat here and we wrote out the lyrics and recorded them all in a couple of hours one Sunday morning in October. This will probably be a single later this year.
This was probably the quickest song on the album – it took about two hours start to finish. Again it’s a bit like a sci fi theme tune. It’s a bit Orbital – there’s a million demos that I’ve started which I’ve got halfway through and then ditched because they sound like Chime. Originally I wanted vocals in the song, singing the “throwing nightmares” notes that are in there. I demoed it, but I could never get it right, so left it without.
The Return of the Red Eyed Raver
It’s just a three minute all out mad dance song really. The title of this one came about when I got booked to play at Secret Garden Party last year. There’s a guy called Eddie on XFM, he said “I’ll book you for the Sunday morning, you’d be perfect for the Red Eyed Ravers”. It’s just a mad little rave song, and it’s really fun to play live.
Send out the Search Party
This is another Orbital influenced track. The title came about when I was staying at a B&B in Lincoln, where it was literally in the middle of nowhere, and the room was damp, and it was awful. So I was complaining on twitter, and someone replied saying “shall we send out a search party?”. All of the song titles happened at the time I was making the songs. The vocals are by a guy called Barry who records as Oxygen Thief. He’s a solo artist who makes an acoustic guitar the most metal sounding thing there is. The close of this track was influenced by the end of There Goes The Fear by Doves, with the drums at the end. Originally, the album ended here, then I was playing around one night and I did this last bit, which is my Beatles bit, which is the start of the track reversed and sped up.
Within Frozen Time
This was a song that I’d been working on that just seemed to fit. Maybe you’ve got 11 tracks that are the film, and this is the closing credits.