John Scott has provided an insight into a few of the tracks from the album.
Track 1 – Barkhammer
“John Stanier had a riff and we used that as the main part of this song, which does stand out (I think) as a slight departure from our usual stuff, but still sounds tmoc. It was where I tried hardest to get more melody into the new songs and this song suggested it more or less.
The lyrics, are about separation, (I was going through that at the time, all the recriminations etc), also about being strong about getting over addiction to drugs or even a relationship and telling yourself that it’s pointless to go back and return to that behaviour. It’s not whinging “Awww I can’t go back”, its telling yourself and underlining the fact at your weakest moment that “I can’t go back”, and you should keep on going. Just drive on motherfucker is the term I believe…”
Track 2 – Avenger
“This ones about not wanting to be like someone close to you, or not so close to you, or just in general – sort of like when you recognise behaviour in yourself and you suddenly realise, “Fuck I am similar in manner, etc”. Also about self harm as in deliberately stopping your own success and then trying to distance yourself and take a view of everything and try work out where you are going. Breech loader is just a dangerous thing to do, just like drugs…
The middle part spoken is sort of a lament of the old days, being young, dumb, etc and feeling bullet-proof, and how ultimately you realise that no-one is bullet-proof. It’s definitely about the guys I knew, and the times we roamed the streets in search of highs and other such things.
I wrote the line “I have welts on my hands from killing windows” a long time ago, back when I occasionally did kill windows, not the microsoft one, but that works too for anyone frustrated by that evil empire. I love the middle section too, a real great bass line and groove right up Stanier’s alley.”
Track 4 – Milosevic
“The music came first. When we played it to John we described it as a “slobber riff”, sort of suggesting it was primitive somehow. When we were working out arrangements we would tape up butcher paper around the rehearsal room, an idea borrowed from John’s work with Battles, and write up the changes so it was easy to remember when rehearsing – a quick look on the wall told us all we needed to know! The riff and hence song needed a name. Slobber riff became Slobodan Milosevic after a Stanier quip regards name.
I actually didn’t have the lyrics written when we recorded it. I just wanted to get the song down, with all it’s different parts, which though it sounds the same all the way through it does have some weird timing counts in there too.
I used to and still do, read a Danish writer called Sven Hassel about a band of undesirables who serve in a Penal Battalion in a Panzer Regiment. I’ve always enjoyed the various exploits of Porta, Tiny, the Legionnaire et al and often set on the Russian Front. So when I went to write for the song, I guess the Milosevic tag made me think of the Balkans, and then that made me think of how there’s always been a ton of trouble there, and how the serbs were persecuted by the nazis during WW2, only to become part of ethnic cleansing 50 years later, just how fucked up it all is.
Anyway, the riff reminded me of a tank rolling through the hills and fields and then I thought of how a young crew either forced into armed service or not, might have thought about their youth being their prime time and that quite often, veterans say that even though it was the worst time of their lives and they saw and experienced terrible things, many still say that as it was their youth they would never change it…some of them…so i had the idea for a story about a bunch of guys crewing some tank something big and mighty like a T-34, so, I’m using a Russian Tank but I’m not saying who make up the crew – it’s a story of youth, being young, tearing up the miles and trying to survive.
In the middle of the song I allude to the many times as a youth my friends and I took off into the night, drinking, using drugs, meeting dealers, getting tattoos; roaming on those hot summer nights I remember so well; and some friends lived, some died, some were only there for a small amount of time but crammed 10 years into a single year.
So, its looking backwards I guess, at what was – and zero kills was just a thought about what I once heard may have been the derivation for OK, actually it’s normally quoted as zero killed, but I like the idea, Like “how did it go”? Answer, “Zero Killed”, as in “0 Kills” or OK.
In a way its a mishmash of images, mostly reflecting my strange twist of what I’m into, what I read what I imagine. If it was a film, a bunch of young men travelling through a war in the balkans, and at the same time they are living their lives in the city, also dangerous, but a different type, and in the end, even if we know the answers, and if we could tell someone of their future, those we lost, would we tell them their future, or let them live what life they have? Just some questions, no real answers.”
Track 6 – Grey 11
“Basically based on the many “Dear John” scenarios, this one the idea that no matter what they’ll make it home to their loved one, partner, and how it’s in their eyes that they may have been unfaithful, while the returnee is saying look into my eyes and tell me what you see.
I’d read somewhere that the US had got a lot smarter preparing families for their soldier sons and daughters coming back from overseas deployments in combat zones. Whatever department that is concerned with such things apparently now let the family know that their loved ones may be a little distant and may be unwilling to discuss their experiences. It’s explained that there is no way someone is coming back from a combat zone is going to slot straight back to normal life very quickly.
So, it’s quite a departure from the days when guys would come home 18 hrs after being in a fire fight, and get dropped at the front door of their home and be expected to get back to citizen life again. That’s the theory anyway, So, Rollins was in Adelaide town doing spoken word and came by to listen to the songs at the studio, and I asked if he’d like to do a piece in the middle of Grey 11 and since he’s had a lot to do with visiting wounded US soldiers recuperating in European and US hospitals, and entertaining troops, I thought for sure it’d be right up his alley. Rollins wrote the middle spoken part in 30 mins or so, then recorded three takes and we took the best of all them, and I really like it.
I also like the off-kilter guitar start and we rehearsed it for the tour but cut it out as we had too many songs to play as it was!”
Track 8 – The Argument
“This is a complicated song to play, live or anytime. I had this inversion on a Hendrix riff, Power of Soul I think, from Band of Gypsies and Kim would always start playing that if I hummed the Hendrix version and would find it hard to then remember the actual bass line! He’d get quite angry if I even started talking about that it was like the Hendrix riff, “Shut-up don’t even suggest it!” – Fun, but never before a show.
This was a lot of working out with John Stanier while he was here. We pretty well nutted the whole thing out and joined all the pieces together and recorded it. Worked a treat.
Lyrically its almost totally about splitting up and the walk on old man is me talking to me really, like “sort your shit out you old fucker and get with it”, in fact I think its a bit sad there at the end with the walk into the bright light, like your walking to your death or something, but I really do love this song, even if it is a bit feeling sorry for myself, or anyone really whose been through it. I mean, we’ve all been through it I guess.”