Do You Remember The Verse Time?
Taken from nme.com, 22 October 2001
NME called it "a grandiose, symphonic affair buoyed by succinct orchestration and white-light choral interludes". Blimey. Produced by the legendary Scott Walker, it gets its UK release today and what better way to celebrate than to get Jarvis to tell us all about it...
"I've always been fascinated by plants growing in places where they shouldn't really be, like weeds growing in cracks in the paving stones. For some reason I thought, 'That's a bit like humans in a city - you're a natural thing but you're growing in this slightly hostile, crappy environment but somehow managing to survive'. I started thinking about how most good music comes from people who are in shitty circumstances and then the Svengali comes along and makes all the money and the artist gets fucked off.
Then there was the drugs connotation. There's a slumming-it mentality in our society which is going back to a 'Common People' theme - people getting a buzz from scoring drugs off a council estate. 'It's so authentic, I was in a real council house, and these people had tattoos and everything. It's like they've got real contempt for these people and they'll spit on them, but when they want some drugs or they wanna shag a prostitute they're OK."
Weeds II (The Origin Of The Species)
"Because a lot of ideas seemed to come out in 'Weeds', I wanted to expand on it. My favourite line in the song is "Come on, do your funny little dance". You create your own world in a band and, in a way, when it becomes popular it gets taken away from you. The things that you did naturally somehow make you feel like a performing monkey: 'Go on, do that pointing thing'. For a while I toyed with the idea of standing still onstage because it was expected of me. But then I thought to myself, 'I invented that stupid dance. No-one forced me to do it. Don't worry about whether it's a cliché'. So I'm still doing my funny little dance."
The Night That Minnie Timperley Died
"That's just a dream I had one night about me and Steve [Mackey] DJing at a rave in Scotland and getting all our equipment stolen and a girl getting killed at the same time. It came together really, really quickly. It was written within ten minutes, more or less fully formed."
"That was the last song we wrote. I'd had the song we sample in it ['Tell Her You Love Her' by Stanley Myers and Hal Shaper] for about four or five years and wanted to write a song around it. I'd had loads of gos. We were getting to the end of the sessions, so we had one more go and we nailed it. [In reference to the first line...] I'd like to point out that I've never shot an animal with an air rifle! There was an air pistol at my granny's when I was growing up and I was allowed to play with it without any pellets in it. As soon as I got to an age where I might have wanted to go out and shoot creatures, it was hidden. So I've never shot even a magpie... even though they are one of my least favourite because they bully other birds and they spoil their nests and stuff like that. They're a bit of a pest actually."
"That came after I'd been back to Sheffield. I'd been to the café that gets mentioned in the song and just remembered all these things that had happened 13, 14 years before. It was mainly the idea of a river running through a city and the city changing but the river always keeping its same course. Musically, it was written in bits like 'This Is Hardcore'. We just kept going until we had enough bits. We got the sample from 'The Wicker Man' and that seemed really appropriate because at the time these things were happening I was living at a place called The Wicker in Sheffield."
I Love Life
"The happiest song on the album. When we first started writing the songs, 'Sunrise' and 'Birds In Your Garden' were the first ones we did. At that point I thought we might make an acoustic album - there must have been something in the air at that time because there's been that New Acoustic Movement since then. In the midst of all that I came up with the guitar riff and thought, 'Well, that doesn't really fit'. But if it comes out there's a reason for it, I think. On a basic and immature level, we just liked the fact that it was really loud and horrible at the end. For me, the idea of that song is someone trying to regain control of their life, and it's not all that easy sometimes."
The Birds In Your Garden
"After the extreme noise terror of 'I Love Life', you get a nice bit of calming down. The words... it was a love affair that I had at a period when I wasn't really that together. I thought that I'd fucked the relationship up because I was fucked up. It was the start of me feeling I had to get a bit more natural. Instead of thinking about everything, just actually feeling things and doing them. Maybe think about them after, rather than working it all out before you even do owt."
Bob Lind (The Only Way Is Down)
"There was this bloke in the late 60s called Bob Lind. One of his most famous songs is 'Elusive Butterfly', which was one of my favourites when I was younger. Something about the sound of this song made me think of him. It was a working title and then I couldn't think of another one. It's about someone who is a fuck-up. And sometimes there's something good about admitting that. Most people who are famous and wealthy tend to be more fucked up than everybody else."
Bad Cover Version
"The main tune came from Candida. I wrote the words at night, then I went to bed, woke up in the morning and thought, 'I bet they're really shit, them words'. But then when I sang them they worked alright. When we recorded it with other people it never sounded right - it sounded like a pastiche of something. It's just a pop song but I find it quite emotional."
"One of my favourite songs on the record. It's got a nice fragile feeling to it that suits the slightly morbid lyrics. It's a pretty sad song. I didn't want it to be 'Let's all fucking slash us wrists' so it's got a delicate feel which stops it getting too maudlin. Lyrically, it's about the death of a relationship... as they all usually are."
"They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn, don't they? I don't know if it's true, but they say it. I always hate it when you've been at an all-night party and then suddenly the sun starts coming up and you think, 'Why didn't I go home an hour ago?'. You feel unnatural because every other creature's just waking up and the birds start doing the dawn chorus and you feel out of step with nature. So on a simple level the song's just about trying to react to the sunrise in a better way and not to screw things up for yourself."