UNDO is out on 24th February.
UNDO is a rather apt name for this emo/post-hardcore group from Glasgow. A lot of their material seems to reflect on past experiences and things that people generally regret and want to change. However, ultimately their music endorses the idea that one must learn from the things they’ve made a mess of and continue to move forward.
Musically, their style is a hodge podge of many others. A melting pot if you will. The obvious touchstones would be the melodic/post hardcore scenes of Washington, DC and San Diego, but there’s also nods to the 80’s/90’s indie of the UK in the band’s sense of melody and to early post punk in the angularity of the riffs.
Those with a keen ear will hear influences ranging from Drive Like Jehu to Gang of Four. However, UNDO are much more than an oppurtinity to play ‘spot the influence’ as their vigour, dynamic awareness, and melodic sensibility elevate them above the copycat realm.
We spoke to the group about each track on their self-titled debut album and discovered their love for Big Muff fuzz pedals, the dynamic of using the discordant and melodic, and utilising tape delay.
1. Hollow Hands
One of the oldest tracks on the album and one that’s been a constant staple in the set for a few years now. I remember feeling like we had really settled as a new band after our bass player Fraser joining and trying to get the sound back together again. We released this on a split 7″ with our pals Jutland Songs back in May and put a video for it via Ally at Wraith Media. There’s lots of Big Muff Fuzz going on with the lead in the recording too, never enough maybe? I was listening to a lot of the Philadelphia band Nothing at the time who we managed to play with last year.
Lyrically, it’s about never being able to hold onto any great feelings about anything(emo huh?) and generally continuing in a cycle that you feel isn’t changing anything for the better greatly and you have no idea what you’re looking for.
2. Paint Me
In my opinion, the greatest achievement on the album. We spent a lot of time crafting how everything would play off each other in this song. The combo of myself and Alan’s guitar and also how Fraser’s bass drives the songs changes so smoothly. We always know we have a super solid grounding with Joe’s drums which allows us to experiment with different layers on top. Like I love to soak this song in chorus and delay and always try to give it a kinda Cure/Psychedelic Furs feeling.
Unlike a lot of other stuff on the album, it’s written relative positively from a lyrical standpoint. The chorus words ‘your fate, your way’ is just really about accepting all the horrible shit and getting on with everything that you love. Its also about as positive a romantic song as I’m ever gonna write. It’s also getting a music video and is the lead single from the record.
3. No Sense To Call
I think this was the first song we wrote for the record. I love Fraser’s bass line. One of my favourite moments of recording the record was when I recorded the verse guitar line for this and Joe lost his shit. I like to think me and Alan surprise him a lot haha. Its one of the first tracks when we use two lead vocals, Fraser actually being able to sing comes through and puts all my punk moaning to shame.
I love the way the guitars combine on this track too, very clean and with lots of clarity in parts. The lyrics are about never being able to communicate ideas, with yourself and with others. It’s not the cheeriest. I like to think it remains hopeful though.
The bulk of ‘Scarlet’ was written by Alan in one of his hidden bedroom jams that we hardly ever get to hear. I think Alan has multiple records written in his house that he just keeps to himself and they all sound like next level Sonic Youth. This got recorded a lot faster than we had it originally (Joe likes that) but I much prefer it at this pace.
This is my mum’s favourite which is all that matters so Alan should be proud of that. It has a slightly more chilled feel instrumentally than some of the others, for us anyway. A lot of the lyrics relate to fire and brimstone ha ha. Its roughly about struggling to deal with your own mind and how it plays tricks on you. Another super positive spin from the Undo vault.
5. For You
Our first successful attempt at a quieter song. It has a very reserved feel for the most part, clean simple guitars and a more laid back vocal approach. I really enjoyed recording these vocals with Paul (Mcinally, 45 a side studios) he didn’t have to correct my out of key screaming or shouting, I found it much easier to sing down low. The ending brings in a bit of noise, heavier vocal but for the most part it’s chilled.
I wrote it about perfection or the idea of it and how maybe it can never be achieved completely in my own mind anyway. There’s lots of questioning mortality etc in the words too. Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows as usual.
This song probably didn’t come out the way we intended in terms of how much attack there is in it. It’s a bit more of an onslaught than it probably needs haha. I remember being up really late in the studio through the night adding more and more noise to it with guitars.
I think in my head, it has kind of a post punk vibe to it in the verses. Lots of Wire and The National influences.
I like the way it changes between discordant and melodic. We also got Fraser to sing most of the chorus (see previous vocal post).
It’s a very angry song, feeling like you’re completely invisible and no path you can take in your life will change that. Feeling like you should maybe get that boring job that makes you miserable just so you look less weird to your peers. Something I’ll always avoid.
Listen out for Joe’s screaming rant at the end, we drank a lot in the studio and sometimes he just likes opening up ha ha. We recorded multiple vocals together for the outro and he just kinda lost his shit. He’s some boy.
7. Reach For The Wire
One of the tracks we wrote quite last minute but one we play a lot live because it’s so much fun. There’s a lot of Zen Arcade era Husker Du influence in this track and it almost wavers into pop punk at points.
The vocal approach probably came out a little more forceful than I intended, It’s kind of just a big ‘Fuck you’ to all the shit that makes me feel insecure about where I’m at in my life. That probably makes me sound really juvenile but in this song I really don’t care. Do what you want to screw everyone else etc etc.
I love the guitar hook in the pre chorus bits too, the ending was never something I thought we would record but you get like twenty seconds of Undo as a hardcore band and as i say it’s a hell of a fun one to have in our set.
I was listening to a lot of the new Ceremony record when we started coming up with ideas for this one. It’s probably about as brooding as we have sounded. The release only really comes near the end, everything stays pretty creepy and dark.
We had ideas of doing a kinda horror film video for it but it hasn’t transpired as of Ayet. There’s lots of tape delay in the guitar towards the end and the drum pace never lets up. Lyrically it’s just me to try and convey as many horrible images as I can. I have a feeling of always holding everything in and never being able to open up.
9. The Living
Ahhhhh ‘The Living’. This was another late bloomer and one we never really managed to quite grasp what we wanted to do with it. I love Alan’s guitar hook in the verses, I think this song sounds a lot better in the album recording than it does when we try and pull it off live.
I think it has a lot of Title Fight influence in it.
It was originally called ‘Negative Space’ until I remembered that’s a METZ song.
The song is basically about humanity and how it’s completely fucked forever and how no one, for various reasons, will ever really care. We don’t put this in the set too often but I’m keen to see how people perceive it.
A firm live favourite with the small batch of people who come to our shows. It takes a lot of influence from bands like Drive Like Jehu, METZ, Unwound. A perfect ending for the record I think, it’s a relentless attack of guitars, noise, feedback and rage. As the song progresses, melody creeps in before the final face melt.
The lyrics to ‘Murder’ are about being pushed down and forced to live a certain way. Feeling isolated, powerless but not defeated.
Find UNDO on Facebook.