09 December 2010

Over The Wall - Treacherous: Track By Track

So this is a bit of a late post, it had been pencilled in to tie in with the release of the album, which was weeks ago now. I had actually given up hope on actually getting sent this, so when it popped into my inbox a couple of days back it came as quite a nice surprise. Part of me almost felt like what's the point, it's been for ages now, but then I started to think of it in terms of me being a uni lecturer (god forbid) receiving an essay from that one pupil who they know 'this is going to be good', but it's late. Was it worth the wait, in short fuck yes. They might well be the most useless band in Scotland at replying to emails, but Over the Wall are also one of the most exciting too. In 'Treacherous' they have managed to recreate that over whelming sense of joy with an added sense of sombreness. It's been a cracking end to the year for Scottish albums, with the Scottish Enlightenment, Seafieldroad and now this.

I think that's enough of my ramblings for one post, here's Gav, one half of Over the Wall, to talk you through Treacherous....

1. Shifts

We wanted to throw everything at the opening track, all of the themes of growing older, searching for escape but being pinned down by your circumstances, the corrupting power of greed, it's all in there along with some heavy-handed lyrical and musical Springsteen references. We referred to the beat on this one as 'The Timbaland Beat' when we were working on it. It was originally twice as long with a big quiet bit at the start with loads more lyrics but eventually the decision was made to get to the fucking point straight away. There were a few decisions like that which made the album much stronger.

2. Settle Down

It's shite working in an office or call centre, and while that may be tedious to keep pointing that out, it's fucking tedious to have to do it. This is a song about feeling very limited in your choices which manages to sound quite joyous as it is also probably the closest thing to a love song that we have. Also, do you know of any one of your friends, and I mean any one, who didn't have some sort of mental episode in their early twenties? I honestly can't think of one person. This generation feels the guiltiest about it's laziness and lack of ambition of any in history. Sometimes idleness is the morally correct choice, as Bertrand Russell would say. Life's not a race. I also think this is the catchiest song we've ever done.

3. Guts

The way this opens out at the end is one of the biggest changes from our demos to what ended up on the album, as there's version on myspace which is very low-key electronica. By just adding certain sounds and spacing them out we managed to make it really kick out in a way that I didn't see coming at all. When I told Ben this he was surprised as he'd always imagined the song with the big chorus at the end, and he'd finally managed it. When I realised that it gave me a bit of heart as it became clear there was at least some method to what often seemed like our meandering madness (the album took a lot longer to make than we'd anticipated.)

4. A History of British Welfarism 1945-1984

This is as close as we get to prog on the album, although there are another couple of wee trips down prog alley here and there! The title is deliberately grandiose but we're trying to pin historical events down into a personal story. I think when the brass goes it alone with the synth sitting quietly underneath it is my favourite part on the whole album, and it's a part that if you pulled it out of it's context you would never guess would appear in an album of mainly pop songs. We wanted to evoke the feeling of the old colliery brass bands and how that ties in with the old way of looking at society which Thatcher tried to destroy (and to a great extent she succeeded) which again seems odd out of the context of a song which is driven by a very insistent hammering beat and the biggest guitar sound we've ever used.

5. The Crucible

I wanted to write a song for a laugh called The Crucible which was about a witch hunt (like the play The Crucible) at a snooker tournament (like the one held at The Crucible theatre in Sheffield.) Unfortunately I grew attached to singing from the point of view of a snooker player's wife in a ballad and that's ended up not really being what the song is about at all. It's kind of like a 'stand by your man' message now, as the husband has been unfaithful, and I got a bit emotional singing it in the studio. We set up the microphone at the other end of the room and I just stood and sang it out as loud as I could, so it's the full noise of the room that you hear in the vocal rather than my voice removed from it. I think of a certain generation of women, like the characters in Angela and Shifts too, quite a lot in lyrics. It probably relates to a recurring fantasy I have about Freud's father... I mean mother!

6. Two Nightmares

Often nightmares are merely your mind making up images because of physical discomfort. If you've eaten a large kebab or loads of cheese and you go to bed you may well see flying vampires tearing your friends apart as Ben describes in this song. However, they can also be there because you're worring about something, like receiving a text from that special someone. So the whole story of the dream could actually be you trying to sort your love life out in your head. As Ben is a rampant misogynist he must see all women as vampires. In seriousness, I remember telling Ben during a terrible spate of nightmares he was having to write down every detail as soon as he wakes up as it kind of disarms them (I suffer quite badly myself) and he ended up writing these amazing lyrics, so obviously I take full credit. Musically we tried really hard to bring the story out with instruments rather than go down the path of dodgy sound effects of screaming and sirens, and it makes for a pretty strange arrangement, but it's one that most people have reacted really well too. I think if you like this song you really like it.

7. Don't Listen To Them, Son

Sometimes referred to as 'The Paul Simon Song' (and we've even encouraged people to chant along like an African choir when we play it live) or 'The Dirty Song' as it is a little bit blue, as Bernard Manning would say. The thing is it's not actually really about sex, it's about lust and greed and the shite that people fill your head with when you're younger about what you should be doing with yourself. It has the bounciest and yet the strangest beat of any of our songs, we were struggling with how to arrange it for some time in the studio so Ben took it away and worked on the beat on his own for a while and it totally brought it to life. There are a lot of oddly timed clicks and booms in it that make me want to move.

8. Istanbul

Liverpool were losing 3-0 to AC Milan at half time in the Champion's League final in Istanbul in 2005, yet went on to win the trophy. What was said at half time? Ben is a life-long Liverpool fan (his dad is scouse, although his parents were originally from Glasgow, it's a funny old world) and this is his take on what could have been said. This also contains a guitar trick stolen wholesale from Metallica, where you split the riff over two guitars and pan them hard left and right over the two speakers. I remember trying to explain that to Ben and feeling like a bit of a fool until we played it and it turned out to be the most fun two guitar players of limited technical ability can probably have together. It's always going to be hard saying "I think we should do this thing that Metallica do..." but then it's almost always going to be worthwhile, unless it's suing fans or anything like that.

9. Stages

This had the working title of 'What Would Gabriel Do?' after the erstwhile Genesis frontman who's solo work we are so fond of copying! The main lesson to be taken from Peter Gabriel is that you can have really immediate pop music which, if you scratch the surface, is in other ways quite intelligent and complex. Stages has a very poppy chorus while, along with 'A History..' is another nod to the proggyness we find it hard not to indulge in.

10. Angela

There were certain women who lived in the scheme I grew up in that kind of acted like everyone's auntie. Whether this be through nursing a skinned knee, handing out ice poles or choc ices on a sunny day or acting as umpire in the constant warfare between kids they're often the unsung heroes in communities. All that the song consists of really is one rousing verse and chorus, which I like. It doesn't go near the danger of outstaying it's welcome.

11. Thurso

It seemed appropriate to have Thurso on the album as it does kind of sum up a lot of what we're about. We made the decision not to include a few of the songs that were people's live favourites cos they just didn't fit and there was new stuff we wanted people to hear, but the album would have definitely felt like there was a piece missing if this song wasn't on there. I think it's thought of as our theme tune, and I think we're actually both pretty happy about that. It's about coming to terms with death, ultimately, and at the end we kind of just play all of our cards in making it sound as joyous as possible.

Over the Wall - Settle Down

Treacherous is available to download now from all of usual download outlets such as iTunes and the like. You can also buy the CD directly from their label Motive Sounds. If you're still not sure what to get your mum for Christmas, then look no further. She'll love you to bits for it.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous15/12/10

    this album is absolutely fantastic. each song could be a single. i hope they make it big.