Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Dead Flowers Reject - Mansun's Virtual Album

I thought that as I've been playing this album for the last couple of days I'd share this extract from Paul's 10th Anniversary Blog about Six where he talks about his vision for the alter-album he calls "The Dead Flowers Reject". Its a great read and a great way to listen to the b-sides from Six as a cohesive group.


"THE DEAD FLOWERS REJECT" PROJECT

When we recorded each album I had in mind that I would record another albums worth of material at the same time. These songs could be used to make the EPs we would release to promote the album. I never really thought we were a singles band, instead we would put 4 EPs out with every album. Miraculously all these EPs went in the bloody charts! But the real reason for doing so many tracks was that I was trying to make at least two albums worth of material.

Now a lot of people have said about Mansun that the b-sides were our best material, well that's possibly true, because they weren't b-sides, they were an album in their own right in my mind spread across 4 EPs. I always planned to release these tracks as the albums they were meant to be at some point in the future, but the band collapsed before we got there. I wasn't surprised the band ended, just surprised we managed to finish the bulk of the recordings for the 4th album 'Kleptomania'. (Hence the last song on 'Little Kix' being called 'Goodbye'!) So in total we recorded 7 and a half albums, they just come out as 4 albums proper, 3 albums worth of EPs and the unreleased bonus CD. With the 'Kleptomania' sessions box set we released the guts of the EP material with the 'Kleptomania' album proper on the bonus CD3. Incidentally, some of my favourite tracks destined for these EPs were on the 'Kleptomania' bonus unreleased CD, including 'It's OK' and 'Drones'.

'The Dead Flowers Reject' project is how I envisaged the second CD recorded with 'Kleptomania' to be sequenced at the time, I've dug back through my notebooks to make sure I have the running order correct as it's important that you listen to these 'b-sides' for the first time as an album in its own right, that album was entitled 'The Dead Flowers Reject'.

It's a better rock album than 'Six'. 'Six' was just an idea of making a vinyl record in the CD age, as I said, but nobody would go for doing the cover idea, even if we did a little CD inside it coz apparently we wouldn't be able to get 'rack space' in HMV. With a little more foresight the powers that be could have seen that to release 2 albums would have been awesome, one a straight rock album and the other 'the vinyl experience'. Radiohead did it a couple of years later with the 'Kid A' / 'Amnesiac' sessions, they really liked our first album as they were in the next room recording 'OK Computer' when we were finishing off 'Attack of The Grey Lantern', we shared the same A&R guy at Parlophone and Ed from the band really liked 'The Chad Who Loved Me', the segued different sections and mellotrons etc... I'd really liked 'The Bends' and it was really kind of them to praise 'Attack Of The Grey Lantern' when they collected their awards for 'OK Computer'. We got a Jo Malone candle each, if I'd have known who Jo fucking Malone was, I'd have kept it.

Talking of 'Attack of The Grey Lantern' in relation to 'Six'; 'Six' wasn't a concept or prog rock record, as I explained earlier, just a 'vinyl experience' on a CD, but 'Attack of the Grey Lantern' was supposed to be a pisstake, like a Monty Python skit on a concept. A journo once asked me if it was a concept album and I tried to explain to him it was half a concept and I said it was a con album, meaning it as a joke i.e Half of the word concept is, ahh forget it. He thought I was a complete cunt. But it was only supposed to be a joke, we'd already made one album before 'Attack of the Grey Lantern' which we released over 4 EPs thru 1996. That was our early sound with samplers and drum loops. 'Attack of The Grey Lantern' was a separate project as a skit on the album format coz it was gonna be our first long playing release. If you think of 'Six' as our third album then 'The Dead Flowers Reject' could be thought of as the fourth Mansun album if you're that way inclined. I think the record would probably have been my favourite Mansun album, it's the closest to how we played live. The title, well it's obviously a nod to the Rolling Stones, and relates to it being recorded at the same time as 'Six'.


1. WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE HATED
2. GSOH
3. BEEN HERE BEFORE
4. WHEN THE WIND BLOWS
5. CAN'T AFFORD TO DIE
6. CHURCH OF THE DRIVE THRU ELVIS
7. I CARE
8. KING OF BEAUTY
9. BUT THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME
10. CHECK UNDER THE BED
11. I DESERVE WHAT I GET
12. RAILINGS
SPASM OF IDENTITY (HIDDEN TRACK)

WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE HATED
I played bass and actually wrote it on bass originally. I recorded it in my home studio and played everything myself. I programmed drums up first but I got Andie to replace the drums when mixing the track, the same process as making 'Attack of the Grey Lantern'. You can hear the 909 kick drum I kept in the drop down and my tambourine in the chorus background. Chad might have doubled up my chords on the chorus to make it bigger, but I can't remember. Essentially it was me with Andie playing drums. The best lyric in it is definitely 'piss in the face of the sick'. LOL! Fucking brilliant! This song was omitted from promos sent out to journalists for review because of the lyrics. (Fucking awesome!!!)
This is one of my favourite songs that I ever wrote along with 'Keep Telling Myself' off 'Kleptomania'.
Here is some exclusive behind the scenes footage of me writing 'Keep Telling Myself' whilst getting the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf.


OBSCURE MANSUN MYTH NUMBER 7 - Have I made all this myth shit up to make us look more interesting than we really are? Well it would be cool to just go, yeah of course I have and laugh, as in the line from 'An Open Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter': "If you believe all of this you're a bigger fool than me." That was specifically referring to 'Attack of the Grey Lantern'. But actually, it is all true. In fact it's all quite an underembellished version of the true events if there isn't such a word that doesn't exist.


GSOH
Chad plays the part of the guy placing the ad on the voicemail on the first verse and the reply in the 3rd verse, and he plays the girl answering the ad in verse 2. I was reading the paper and noticed how everyone in Lonely Hearts columns says looks aren't important but then always want a photograph. The best bit is at the end when I shout 'a fucking photograph'. I was rolling around on the floor listening to this 10 minutes ago, Chad's bit is hilarious. I've never listened to it since we did it and totally forgot about it. A Mansun classic, typical Mansun, Should have been the lead off single...


BEEN HERE BEFORE
I played acoustic guitar in the verse, the second guitar riff that comes in (the loud one), bass guitar and the big rhythm guitar on the bridge under "I'm sure I've been here once before." I think Chad played the other guitar riff. Andie put down the drums in the live room of studio 1 at Olympic. Lyrically this song revolves around self preservation. How you always retreat back to your ingrained character traits when looking for some security. A simple one.


WHEN THE WIND BLOWS
'When the Wind Blows' was going to be part of my cartoon song 'Shotgun', but evolved into its own song. It's about the animated film of the same name. It was going to go with my 'Wacky Races' style theme tune which was the first minute of 'Shotgun'. The recording misses a big dirty guitar on the chorus but I didn't have enough time to fully finish it. The animated film (they're all cartoons to me!) 'When the Wind Blows' was apparently inspired by Simon Le Bon's worst ever lyric "You're about as easy as a nuclear war".
Obviously that is a joke. You didn't?


CAN'T AFFORD TO DIE
Andie, Chad and I played this live. We went back to Parr Street in Liverpool for some time out of London. We recorded this with Mike Hunter. I might have wrote this one back at home in Chester as I remember. I'm on bass, Chad lead, Andie drums with a tambourine on his hi hat which he took off for the choruses, then I overdubbed piano and a chorus rhythm guitar. Chad might have added different inversions of my chorus chords underneath to fatten the chorus up. A trick I often used. I read an article about how expensive it was to die these days, so I thought it would just be better to go into a fucking coma and pay the hospital bills like a hotel than pay for the sodding funeral. A nice jolly little ditty.


CHURCH OF THE DRIVE THRU ELVIS
When I was in Las Vegas I saw 'The Church of the Drive Thru Elvis' wedding chapel which was hilarious. I thought about the idea of having a cult of 'The Church of The Drive Thru Elvis' from the chapel and developed the idea from there, about getting sucked into a cult. I recorded it playing acoustic guitar and singing then overdubbed the mellotron keyboard line and the pad guitar sound and me scraping the guitar strings above the nut in a few places. Andie added the percussion but importantly I added the finger cymbal at 1.14 and a few times after. Very important that! Chad sings the middle 8 and plays the middle 8 arpeggio.
This is the real actual footage of me writing the song in the back of a stretch hummer on the way to 'The Church of The Drive Thru Elvis' wedding chapel in Las Vegas on my way to get married.

I CARE
%;$(£$*%*


KING OF BEAUTY
This song is about someone in a band... but not myself.


BUT THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME
This song is about Mussolini, the Italian dictator who apparently kept the masses in line by making sure the train system ran smoothly, keeping everyone happy. He had a big belly and liked hanging around train stations. (Sorry, couldn't resist that). You can hear right at the end of the song Steve Austin, the bionic man, runs into the control room of the studio and runs briefly past the microphone.
This is the real actual proper authentic recording of me writing the song on a train carriage on the outskirts of Rome in 1944.


CHECK UNDER THE BED
From one of the books floating round at the time from the vinyl sports bag called 'Great Apes' by Will Self, I wasn't reading it, I just used it for the song. The lyric 'Fear looks like laughter' refers to apes grinning when they're scared apparently. I remember the padded cage referring to a monkey getting taken away as I remember.


I DESERVE WHAT I GET
This was me trying to do a Prince stylee track and get away with it, which is virtually impossible if you're white and from Liverpool! I should have sung it a bit rubbisherer. I did it with my LINN drum machine originally, which is how Prince made all his good records, except for 'Sexy MF' and 'Darling Nikki'. Andie played over the Linn Drum machine patterns that run through the track and played some cool hi hats and beats especially at the end. I play all the keyboards and the synth bass line (gimme a break, I had to try it on one track at least!) Chad overdubbed a single note lead line as usual onto the song thru Lovetone 'Big Cheese' pedal. I can't remember who played the zither on the bridges, but it might have been Chad as it backs up his 'Big Cheese' guitar part.


RAILINGS
My duet with Howard Devoto and the closing track on 'The Dead Flowers Reject'.
Howard sent me some demos he'd done on a cassette and some sheets of lyrics which arrived at my house in Chester. Chad, Andie and I set about recording them. They were 'Everyone Must Win' which we did around the time of the 'Closed for Business' EP and 'Railings' which we tackled later. Howard wrote the lyrics on both tracks. While 'Everyone Must Win' was recorded by Chad, Andie and I in Liverpool, we recorded 'Railings' in London with Howard. 'Everyone Must Win' was from Howard's lyrics sheets, 'Railings' was a song Howard had written on piano on one of the cassettes.
Chad, Andie and I recorded the backing track to 'Railings' using Howard's chords he'd used on the cassette demo which he played on piano and sang over. Howard came down to the studio to do the vocals and we recorded them with all the studio lights down to get the right atmosphere for the song.
Chad's lead guitar on the chorus and at the end is great and there's a brilliant vocal by Howard. I played acoustic guitar. I don't remember who played piano, probably Chad. I deffo did drum sticks, I nicked this off 'Disgusting' off 'Attack of the Grey Lantern', where I'd done it before.
You'll have to ask Howard what it's about. You'll also have to check out the Magazine gigs coming up if your a fan to see Howard live.


SPASM OF IDENTITY (HIDDEN TRACK)
This was Chad's song. You can see the footage of Chad writing it here. (Here is the band trying to record a version with 2 bass players - Ed). I didn't do anything except sit in a £99 plastic swivel chair from Do-It-All shouting: "Cue the fucking music."

After this fiasco I was sacked as producer coz of the expense of the oil to constantly lubricate the swivel mechanism of my seat coz I used it to slide round the live room.

Chad's ideas like 'Spasm of Identity', 'Witness to a Murder' and 'Face in the Crowd' were difficult to come up with melodies for me as his ideas during the 'Six' sessions were a bit off the wall. I managed it with 'Television' which was the best thing we managed to co-write from one of his melody ideas during the 'Six' sessions. While working on 'Spazm of Identity' he wrote 'The Soundtrack of 42 Bummers' which was his piano bit he came up with on the out of tune piano whilst messing about in the conservatory of Olympic Studios and I captured on a dictaphone and made a record out of it for the next album.

I launched myself like, almost like Steve Austin, a bionic man almost, to capture this improv on a dictaphone I had in my pocket... from sitting in front of a giant SSL J series desk that I used to stroke with my fingers coz I don't understand buttons. EMI had rigged the conservatory with CCTV coz every time they turned up at the studio we'd all be in the back 'playstation room' playing computer games and eating sweets, so they were keeping a beady eye on us as it cost a lot of dosh to hire such salubrious surroundings to play computer games in...

Now I can't make out if this is the actual footage or just a really good reconstruction from the 'new media' department at EMI to convey to the general public that we were, in fact, friends and band mates, but it looks pretty authentic to me, so I dug the CCTV footage of the writing session for "The Soundtrack of Lurve" out from the bowels of EMI specially for this anniversary, as they were keen to participate in such a historic event. I actually broke in to the offices to see if I could get my silver disk for 'Little Cacs' but it had been stolen so I stole this tape as a consolation, and I posted it on Youtube so watch it right now before we get a cease and desist order from Farrah Fawcett Majors.

The footage starts of with me leaping from the SSL desk, of which I have no idea how to operate except the on switch at the plug hole, but I do get confused between red, on and white, off, or is it the other way round, whatever, it doesn't matter as long as the faders go, weeeee, weeee up and down, or is that neve plug sockets? Either way it's out of phase if I walk past it. You can just make out the SSL mixing desk behind the tree to the left at the start of the studio footage. Suddenly, as you can see from the footage I'm in the conservatory at Olympic, I jump over the pile of steaming shit left on the floor by God knows who and make my way into the depths of the conservatory where the piano is, which is played by Leonardo Di Caprio in this movie....no?...piano...made of wood...oh, forget it. You can just make out that I switch my dictaphone on as I jump over the ravine or a creek or the wiring loom coming from under the desk, I'm not sure which as we kept the lights dim in the control room, whatever. Now I'm being played by Lee Majors coz I would have played the part with a tracksuit on with two stripes down the sleeves, not the proper Adidas one and definitely no t-shirt underneath, like the credits where I'm running down the airstrip after I crash my spaceship. That's important to the plot of this writing session, so remember that, I'll come back to that in a bit.

Now EMI have superimposed Lee Majors head digitally onto my body coz I cant train my hair to go to the side properly, it just goes straight down coz it's so straight without hair wax or a demi wave, so the make up girl came in and spat into her hand and pushed my fringe across to the side then cut my hair into the shape of a 'flick' while it hung straight down, so as you can see in the footage it looks like the real thing.
Andie is on bongos but his second kick drum is a little ahead of the beat and we hired a full 32 piece orchestra to do the strings which Chad wrote and scored.

It's probably best to get 2 windows open in your browser at this point so you can actually see this classic Mansun track being composed by Chad with me producing him whilst you can actually read this actual transcript of us working harmoniously together.

Now as you'll see from the footage it's difficult to produce someone else in a band from within a band so I had to tread very, very carefully here as he wasn't prepared to be in Steve's backing band as you can see, although he was the only sasquatch who wanted it that way. Talking of treading carefully, from the studio footage you can see as I scan round the conservatory at Olympic Studios I see Chad's footprint in the conservatory floor, Andie does his drum solo, which is a bit prog rock, and the second bongo hit, if you listen really carefully is slightly ahead of the beat, but that's coz my bionic eye is just over calibrated and overthinks everything which didn't need do be, but it was the 'Six' sessions for fuck sake, so we allowed bongo solos, anyway we just kept the master tapes from the dictaphone recording of this song and used it for the next album you see, 'Little Britain'.

From the footage you can see as I dodge the plants the studio buys and leave everywhere round the studio in case Elton John turns up. Now I don't actually run this fast in real life, it's just I speeded the tapes up when mastering it on to Youtube as I can't run as fast as Steve Austin in real life and he'd beat me fair and square as it was every man for himself. (The flares were acceptable as we were still ripping off the Stone Roses you see in the year 4BS (Before Strokes), and I got the shirt from the vintage clothes shop in Chester where I buy all my Steve Austin stuff.

It's only at this point do I even attempt to use my bionic eye as I'm listening to see if the magic melody is in there and you can see my bionic pupil dilate as I realise we're onto something with this little piano riff stolen from 'Clocks' by Coldplay, you can just make out the crosshair over my pupil where I'm carefully listening for the sasquatch's magic melody. (N.B The sasquatch can easily be confused with the yeti out of Dr Who in 1968 with Patrick Troughton and not the Tom Baker version from Witness to a Murder Pt II featuring David Walliams and Matt Lucas, but you have to be very discerning to know the difference between a sasquatch and a yeti as the only real difference is they have different feet. Ozzy Osbourne has his own sasquatch which he uses in sasquatch throwing competitions).

Now coz I was overthinking everything, which I did, but with the best of intentions may I add, I noticed at about 1 min 17 secs into the track Chad's peddling too hard on the footpedal so you can just about make out I use a quantec room simulator patched in parallel with an analogue delay coz we weren't using pro tools. It happens at 1.26 into the song, that's the sound I always make when beating people running in a fairly straight line as you can see. Now at 1.36 Chad presses the Fb minor deceased chord way too hard and I get pissed off, but I'm ovethinking things and quite rightly he gets a bit pissed off so we took a break from writing this song at 1.49 into the second bongo solo and went for lunch at Tootsies round the corner.

As the studio footage shows after we take a break after lunch I start working on the top line melody. I start busking some lyrics and I'm planning ahead here so I start working out some love lyrics for the 'Little Britain' album (who the fuck would use Tom Baker for a voice over, it's got to be a joke, right?) I start throwing some lyrics into the mix about "understanding a woman" and stuff and "not wanting to hurt a woman" pretty much the lyrical direction I went in for 'Little Britain'. Chad, playing himself during this writing session footage starts to knock a few ideas around the studio, bouncing them off the producer, you can see this creative process unfolding around 2.25 into the song, where he's bouncing some ideas off me, he did this quite regularly. I try my spring delay on the track at about 2.28 as were bouncing ideas of each other here as you can see, Steve Austin's a bit perplexed as he thinks this is a mutual process, but he goes along with the sasquatch's ideas anyway.

Now the footage suddenly cuts back to EMI world headquarters where the board are watching this writing session from the boardroom where they aren't happy with the lyrics so they intervene as they've been monitoring the album unfold. Everyone was always fucking siding with the sasquatch, the bastards. They never saw Steve Austin's point of view as the sasquatch totally had Steve Austin fooled, so Steve Austin goes along with it and ditches his creative principles, just for the one album and as you can see, I totally crash and burn, and from about 3.10 it all goes downhill and I'm pretty much spent as a creative force, don't bother listening to the rest of this song, it's just fucking repetitive, although Andie's hi hat work gets really good, Chad's on the orchestra and I'm on the spring delay. Chads guitar work suffers at about 4.35 into this song as he picks a much too heavy plectrum. I try to reason with him but I can't concentrate coz Andie just keeps going and fucking going on the hi hats then at about 5.50 he starts a drum solo, so in retaliation I think: "Right if you're doing your solo I'm gonna play the guitar solo from 'Kiss' by Steve Austin's hero and mentor, The Artist Formally Known as Prince." You can hear me retaliate to Andie's drum solo at 6.02 into the song with the solo from 'Kiss' and Chad samples the strings for the intro for 'Attack of the Grey Album' LP coz he's looking for his flute which he finds by 6.15 into the song.
That's how we did 'Soundtrack 4 2 Lovers' and that's pretty much how we did most of our tracks really, no really, that's exactly how we worked together, ask anyone who knows the band, but there were some tracks that were hard to work on too. I think Stove was operating the video camera.

I can't remember who Marlene was, I think she might have been shagging Robert Plant on the stairwell.

Oh shit!! I'm really sorry about this. That was the wrong Youtube link. Here's the correct one. I remember now, I didn't have anything to do with that track, I forgot. Just re-read it watching the new footage.


Compile your 'THE DEAD FLOWERS REJECT' album in that order.


Andie Rathbone is writing / has written (delete as appropriate) a book

Andie posted on the Facebook Group "Mansun's Only Love Song" today with an extract from his upcoming book.....

From my upcoming book, and sticking to the theme of 'Revenge pop' we've all heard about. I'll share it with you. 

When I was 21, I was seeing a girl called Gill, we'd been together about a year and a half and it was lovely, You know, normal and stuff, But then.....

I got invited to her 'Works Do' where she worked at North West Security in City Road. All was going swimmingly until she started holding hands across the table and looking into the eye's of a guy she worked with called Kevin. He looked like he possessed the ironing skills from the staff of royalty., He probably bathed in Bubble bath and wore 'Denim' aftershave. The night wore on, with Gill, my Girl friend, playing footsies with him and holding both of our hands and actually kissing him in front of me at one point.

We went home and she explained she was just playing etc, just making me a little bit jealous and he's just a really good friend and work colleague, and she is with me.. Three days later, she rang me to ask if I'd meet her at 'Harkers' in Chester for an after work drink.

I can't wait to read more of this! The rest of the extract can be found on Facebook...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Addendum

It strikes me that in reading the recent interviews with Paul, it is just great that he feels able to engage with the devotees once again and talk about the past 15+ years. You really do get a feeling from his tales of the disintegration of Mansun, his loss of love for making music, self doubt and subsequent rediscovery of writing that he has gone through more of his share of stress. I for one wish the guy all the luck in the world, and if he wants to share more of the music he creates with us then great, if not, I hope he just stays fulfilled and happy.

And another great interview with Paul on the RW/FF Blog

Check it out! Link here.


Louder than War


John Robb's website "Louder than War" has been at it again and come up trumps with a cracking new interview with Paul. Martin Leay who did a Q&A with the Mansun / Paul Draper Facebook page members not so long back has been to visit Paul at the Kitchen, Paul's studio. The pair talk about Paul's involvement with The Anchoress (Catherine Davies / Catherine AD), Paul's rediscovery of his love of music, the future for Mansun and Paul's lost solo album. Intriguingly, Martin teases us fans by saying he's seen the folder on Paul's hard disk that contains the lost solo album and with it, its name....

Here is the link to Part 1 of the interview "Being Paul Draper". Part 2 will be out next week.