This track started out as a really really simple jam in the studio – sort of a warm up really as we were preparing to do something else. We have a pump organ in the Crypt which Ed bought for a bottle of wine about a year ago. It’s a magnificent machine (apart from the fact that the whole thing is slightly out of tune so all other instruments have to tune to it, oh and the very top note is stuck on) – a real joy to play – and I quite often sit down at it and mess around when we’re between tracks…I just love it. So I think it started with myself, Gary and Simon (Goff) playing around the verse section and it was Simon that bagged the fantastic riff which all the instruments now play. It was a really great tune from the off but it started to become a sort of H&S anthem or battle song when we came back to rework it with the idea that it would be a call to arms – a song for the road and all the people who give their time, money, hearts and souls to share a couple of hours of joy at one of our shows.
Last year I moved away from Leeds and so for this recording period the days in the Crypt were bookended by a 45 minute drive to and from home. With past records I’ve had lyrics much more fully formed before we even started recording tracks but as this process was MUCH quicker and more fluid a lot of the lyrics were written as the track was being recorded – sometimes in fact as the vocals were being recorded (as with Caught in the Wake and Pitching Far Too High). Most nights in the car I’d spend forming the lyrics or fragments of lines, singing the track in the car on the way home, jotting down the ideas in my book at traffic lights or pulling in to sing them into a voice-recorder on my phone. The chorus for this was started in such a way – with the town names being integral to that from the start. I first suggested they be part of the actual sung line all the way through the end (as the “Hartlepool” line is on the recording) but Hux had the idea of shouting them out instead. Web2 master that he is the call went straight out on Twitter for town names to feature in the track and the shouted names you hear on the record are the result of that process.
The brass really make this song – another fantastic arrangement by James and an effort well above and beyond the call of duty as he gathered together a make-shift marching band to come and record for the day. I wasn’t around for that day but I’m hoping Ed, Hux or James will enlighten us with some more details…. I know they ended up actually marching around the outside of the church and recording it with a couple of mics – which is the refrain you hear right at the end of the album after Eurospin.
I know we probably bang on about this too much at times but we really have had some incredible experiences in this band and met some wonderful people in the “roads and the towns” and this song is about keeping on that march and enjoying music, gigs, making art, putting on a show, meeting people and sharing some great times, and importantly about doing those things for their own sake and own reward, not because it’ll get you to some mythical destination or produce some grand reward. We turned a huge corner when we became Hope and Social – we stopped the pointless fight to ‘make it’, to get radioplay at any cost, to sell out this gig or that, to get on MTV, to have the hit… we decided to only do the things which involved people and which, in turn, we enjoyed. I know it seemed like insanity for those who followed Four Day Hombre but the sentiment in this song is genuine and we’re still marching on through because of that decision and the good times it’s allowed.
I think I speak for Hux as well in saying that we love singing the line “Wherever we meet there’ll be bars of angels”. It’s not a collective noun by the way, it means just what it says. Bars of Angels.
Addendum – 22/06/10
Also, just to say what a great riff this is. We loved recording this. Loadsafun!