10 years since this album was released and this album was some time in the actual making, I believe we started writing songs for it way back in 2008 (!) and then took a while to finalise recording and mixing, culminating in it being ready for a 2012 release.
The songs were deliberately written to be more like some of the songs on Battlesick, which had more melody associated with vocal delivery. Not that it really approaches “singing” but I do recall trying to do that.
The title was a play on the military theme running through a lot of our stuff, but was actually a description of where most of the song chord and bass notes sat which was around the third and fifth fret. Hence Songs of the Third and the Fifth.
John Stanier bought his multi-faceted weird timing to many of the songs, as he’d been doing a lot of work with his band Battles (I really wish he’d admit he got his band name from a fevered dream about tmoc and just removed the last three letters from our seminal album Battesick). The drum tracks for this album really pushed our boundaries as musicians, weird timings starts such as Grey 11, and odd time changes. John is a graduate of the Julliard School of Music, the prestigious music school, and to be honest was very patient with us (me). There’s even tambourine on 1000 yards – percussive implementation courtesy Stanier, which just lifts the whole song as it makes it journey.
Henry Rollins was over doing a tour in Australia during recording and was kind enough to provide spoken word vocals on Grey 11. He’d done a lot of work visiting veterans (and still does) in Germany and the US, and told us of the guys he’d met who were dealing with PTSD and other life altering injuries. Part of this song was trying to evoke the idea of someone feeling disconnected and apart, having been through events which profoundly change them and their perspective, then trying to reconnect with a partner, only finding their partner has moved on and both are no longer the same as when they began. Anyway, that was the gist of it and Henry supplied the middle part in his usual inimitable manner.
The looping Milosevic was so-named after we’d originally called this the slobbering riff. Someone quipped Slobodan Milosevic and the name stuck. No cancelling please. The songs itself was about the idea of feeling bullet proof when you are young, barrelling through life with your mates as if you were in a T-34 (Soviet Tank) and not giving a fuck, and coming to various points in your life where in retrospect you can see now were perhaps important decision points – in some cases affecting others, the wreckage you leave behind, and we make our way as best we can.
Barkhammer is pretty much about addiction and ensuring choices are made that keep you moving forward not back. It’s a complex song for us melodically and one of the more straight ahead songs we’ve ever done with what might be (?) described as a tune. I remember a review of this when it was out as a single questioning if we were a white supremacist band, due to our name…hilarious. Read Herman Hesse’s Demian, it’ll answer everything.
Anyway – 10 years went way too quickly! For another literary reference (since I am a complete and utter poser) anyone who has read Catch 22, remember Dunbar who is Yossarian’s friend, who cultivates boredom to make the time go slower and prolong life between missions? Well, I get that, I really do.
Thanks for listening,