1. AMORES PERROS
This is a piece of music I’ve been playing around with for a few years. It all started with the drum loop. I’ve never spent so much time programming a drum pattern before. My idea was to create an almost James Brown type break-beat. Groovy, but dark.
The nice thing about being the music writer and producer for S&D, is with Matt’s vocals, you can be quite varied with the backing. Essentially, I can do whatever the hell I like ! And this 8 minute opener is a perfect example. There is no bass guitar, but rather a deep, sub synth. There is also some classic Juno 106 Synth playing the atmospheric keys pad, and then to finish it off, a very retro guitar chord part. I also added a really nasty filtered synth that comes in mid way.
I think I had been listening to lots old skool Prodigy when working on this track, so it does feel very different to what we normally do.
2. PLESSEY ROAD
This track is classic S&D for me. Combining two of our greatest influences, Johnny Cash (with the rhythm section) & The Smiths (the guitars). Anyone who knows me well, knows of my love for The Smiths and particularly Johnny Marr’s guitar arrangements. I make no excuses !
I think production wise, it’s really ‘Meat is Murder’ era influenced. I’d been listening to tracks like ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ & ‘Well I Wonder’ whilst putting this song together.
And it’s the first track on this album to feature acoustic guitar, which turns up on several of the other songs. I’m not 100% certain, but I don’t think I’ve used acoustics before with S&D.
3. LUCIFER’S CARDIGAN
This tune is one of my favourites on the album. Heavy use of acoustic guitars and old style drums. I was listening to The Go-Betweens & Orange Juice a fair bit when I put this track together, so it’s classic indie, but I think Matt’s lyrics give it a nice twist.
It also features a rare guitar solo/break. And there are a couple more on the album. Generally I try not to let my ego come through too much. After all, S&D is ultimately all about Matt’s amazing lyrics.
But every now and then I have to get the Gretsch out and pretend I’m some kind of guitar hero !
The music backing for this song is essentially ‘Amazing Grace’. I can’t remember what led me to use a traditional song, but I think I wanted to do something simpler chord & music wise. I wanted Matt’s lyrics to stand on their own with as little interference as possible from the music.
For S&D, it’s a really simple song. But one of the highlights of the record for me.
5. WHEN SATURDAY COMES
This is a chord progression I have literally been playing around with for nearly 20 years ! I’ve tried using it so many times in all the various bands I’ve been in. But have never got it to work, until now.
With Matt’s football inspired lyrics, I didn’t want the music to be too aggressive and end up making the song sound ‘yobish’. I wanted it to be subtle. And the acoustic guitar plays a big role but we also have the bass guitar playing a real ‘Peter Hook’ inspired lead part. And the drums have a nice country vibe.
6. BREAKFAST AT SYLVIA’S
This was pretty much one of the final tracks we did for the album. I think I had been spending time listening to The Strokes, Joy Division & Pavement etc. I was in a real retro lo-fi mood. I wanted to do something musically that wasn’t particularly intricate or clever. Just two chords and minimal instrumentation. Drums, bass guitar playing a lead line, and one other overdriven rhythm guitar part.
It’s probably one of the simplest things we’ve ever done. And unusually for S&D, I wrote the chorus lyrics and sang it, and then couldn’t believe when Matty agreed to let my vocals stay on there, rather than replacing them with his voice !
At the end of the day, this tune is all about the lyrics. Only Matt Abbott could write a song about a greasy cafe and make it feel so romantic.
7. CHIPPENHAM TRAVELODGE
Well we wrote this song pretty early on in the album sessions. But then decided we didn’t think it was quite right and so didn’t pursue it.
Then, towards the end of the recording, Matty suggested we might revisit it. So we did. And I’m really glad. It’s obviously very Johnny Cash inspired, but we don’t care. We are happy to wear our influences on our sleeves !
Definitely one of my favourite moments on the album. I spent ages on the guitars. Acoustics. Choppy electric rhythms. Mandolins etc etc. I really went for it. I had been listening to lots of Radiohead, although I’m not sure how obvious that is.
Matt’s lyrics are so good, I wanted the music to have real depth and melancholy.
9. THE LONG NIGHT THAT LIES AHEAD
Well, much like the album opener, this is not a typical S&D song. Heavy use of Orchestral Strings. Plus a nice Rhodes keyboard. And also, a ridiculous amount of backing vocals by me too. Plus an acoustic guitar solo !
But I think when all is said and done, I have to confess that Matt’s lyrics are the star. They really are extraordinary on this song. Definitely one of my proudest S&D moments.
Do I think “The Bit Between The Teeth” is our best album yet ? I don’t know tbh. I love the insanely over the top instrumentation and production on “Love And Other Catastrophes”. And I also love the melancholy and simplicity of “This Sporting Life”.
However, I do think this new album is our most varied. And for me, it’s the most mature record we’ve made so far. And also, the most honest.