Space Church – ‘Songs To Punch Nerds To’ | Track by Track

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Songs To Punch Nerds To is out now.

Obviously, you’d expect a band called Space Church and with a logo based on the General Electric one to be very much tongue in cheek. You’d be right. These British noise rock/alternative rock chaps also take things seriously on occasion. Which is the way it should be. Life is both hilarious and depressing, right?

We sat down with the band and they took us on an adventure. Literally, the topics of their songs range from how Cuba Gooding Jr is awesome to regretable life choices involving young woman, cocaine and house parties to The Temptation of St. Anthony. It was a fucking trip. Enjoy.

Songs To Punch Needs To is just a fiver on Bandcamp.

1. Chlorine

So this one sprung from Dan’s bassline, really urgent and powerful! We write all our songs together usually starting with a riff. We jam it and figure it out until we are happy with it. It’s not the fastest way to write a song, but It is the best for us.

Quite often we talk about things during practice, and they seep into the subject, this was very much the case for Chlorine. Ok, so we had this friend who went to a house party and did some cocaine with this young woman. He lamented this particular lifestyle choice and its effect on the near middle aged body. He said it was pretty fucking rough and he could smell the chlorine in tap water for about a week. You know, ‘ha ha’, funny story. I wanted to follow it through to an absurd conclusion. What if it were a research scientist that had put the cocaine through a spectrometer and went on to aggressively challenge the drug dealer with the results? I also have to admit to a love of things like the Elements song by Tom Lehrer in both songs there is a nice little break to catch your breath and do erudite quips.

In this way, the song is a kind of thought experiment about this scenario. The song ends with a speed metal coda and Dan gabbing about how great everything and everyone is. Totally appropriate to the theme.

Originally I wanted to call the song ‘C17H21NO4 ~ CL17’ (cocaine negation chlorine) it still shows this title on the CD text. It’s also worth noting that the album art is the spectrogram for chlorine so there is a kind of unity of theme and purpose. You can probably tell at this point why we called the album ‘Song to Punch Nerds To’

2. Ships

I love, what I have heard called, ‘boat rock’. It is a kind of nautically themed math/punk and post-rock (no relation to Yacht Rock). These bands like June of 44, Shipping News and Hoover have been a real influence on me. I had wanted to start a song with a slightly off-kilter guitar line in a similar style. I think it sort of echoes a sea chanty, and being a particular kind of work song, the rhythm always seemed less absolutely balanced. I wanted that ‘heave-ho’ swing to the way song moved.

This song goes down well when we play it live. Maybe because it’s in standard tuning. But most probably because I am not singing.

Lyrically I drew a lot from a book by Flaubert; The Temptation of St Anthony. The book is every bit a strange as the paintings on the subject. I pretty much guarantee you that you have seen the Hieronymus Bosh painting. It gets used on things like Black Sabbath’s Greatest Hits. I saw the painting in person when I was visiting Lisbon. It’s interesting to think of how someone in the 15th century would have viewed all this imagery. The imagery is bizarre and disturbing, I am not going to talk to it much as interpretation would probably reveal more about the reader than the text. In this way it could be more comparable to Tarot cards and other things within mysticism (see Jodan later). It’s a total switch from the scientific language of the first song. ‘Wrong footing’ the listeners expectation is part of the fun of making music for me.

The song switches over to a (sort of) stoner dirge riff that reminded me of Oil Seed Rape. So I sneaked in a reference.

3. Snowballs

This started with the drums and bass and we sort of got locked into this stabbing riff. Pat called it when he said it sounded a bit like the Burt Bacharach song ‘Little Red Book’, fuck me!

The lyrics are directly inspired by the film Defending Your Life. The central idea of the film is that meaning of life is to overcome fear. That or get locked into a kind of eternal recurrence. Sort of ‘Nietzsche-light’ if you like. If you watch the film you figure out that It’s practically a 1 for 1 ‘lift’ in terms of subject and themes. There is a key scene where Albert Brooks character makes a passionate defence of his avoidance of snowmobiles being based on hate and not fear. Hate for many many reasons and the capper being: “Pardon the expression Your Honour, but your balls vibrate”. So.. Snowballs!

When we play this song live we start by singing the opening lines to ‘Something’s Coming’ from West Side Story. The intention is as sarcastic and as grim as, well, West Side Story is, if you think about it. Being that the thing that came was death.

Now, the whole album was recorded in a very honest manner. No overdubs or digital skull duggery. We wanted it to be a very honest recording. All but this incredibly overproduced coda that fades out at the end of this song. Really just to fuck with some of the conventions of punk. I hate fade outs, they always feel like a cheat. You’re listening to James Brown (There was a time) or some classic Motown single and it sounds like the party is just getting started and then FADE OUT Arghhhh! Just listen Anyway.. Dan is playing the Banjo, Pat is playing the Sitar and I’m playing trumpet here. I can assure you that no party was missed.

4. Working in the Glue Factory (For $5 a Day) / Miami

Haha yea, Pat’s drums came first here. Dan and I responded with this messed up blues riff that is way too loud and fun to play.

There is this Killdozer album: God Hears the Pleas of the Innocent. It’s practically a perfect work of art for me. I really loved how it channels these ‘prole’ voices to confront the listener. For me, this song, it was very much an attempt to sing a song in that same mode.

It was fun to have a character to build it like a skit. But we had reached an impasse with the subject. So where do you go? Of course, the answer is Yacht Rock. This is one of those things that can only happen when you are trying to make each other laugh. Dan pulls this bassline out and I started singing ‘Miami 1980’ to mock his change to an upbeat tone. But you know, it worked, so you need lyrics about cocaine (a sort of recurring theme for some reason) a guitar solo with too much delay and lots of ‘woo-woos’ which Dan can do better than anyone I know.

It was kind of a stretch to do this shift in a song. I always liked broken-backed narratives, they are the stuff of dreams (literally). You get it in a film like Vertigo when the girl jumps off the church, the mood of the film completely changes leaving a giant black hole in the second act. It sort of feels like dreams, because in dreams your back at school doing a math test and then you’re driving a speedboat for no reason.

5. The Opposite of Clever

This started with Dan’s bassline. It had this ‘gathering storm quality’. It’s one of those riffs that sounded a bit advanced for me. So he showed me it and I remarked: ‘Ahh, it’s not that clever’, meaning that it was easy to play. Pat remarked ‘nah! in fact, it’s the opposite of clever’. Its trajectory seemed clear and it had to Japanese levels of noise and attack.

Check out Yona Kit if you haven’t before. I listen to a lot of this, I am sure it was an influence on me.

The subject of the lyrics is kind of interesting: There was this story about a Japanese ‘AV Idol’ that had gone missing, and reported dead, in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake/tsunami. I understand that in Taiwan (where she is beyond popular) the population practically went into national mourning.

I wanted to write this Haiku by an imaginary poet Laurette. Tasked with capturing and summing up that collective sense of loss for a nation when a beloved porn star dies by tsunami.

Fortunately, the AV Actress was alive and had just been lost in the news blackout for few a days. So such a poem is not needed.

6. (Don’t Let) Cuba In

This is a song about the Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. Fantastic actor and very much undervalued in the film industry the last 10 years of so. I was worried that we had lost him to dumb straight to DVD movies but American Crime Story was a real change up. It’s very much a pro Cuba song and how his mettle was tested.

Someone said this is the strangest song on the album because it doesn’t change. That made me laugh because I remember Dan saying.. ‘You know what would freak everyone out.. if we played the same thing again’.

7. Jodan

This song was on our first EP and we went entirely happy with the recording. But you want to get an EP out so you have something to show and get a few gigs.

Subject matter wise a lot is drawn from the Temptation of St Anthony again. There is a lot of imagery that is expressive, protean and impossible to pin down (which is why I found it interesting). I had used the inverted Queen of Cups as the cover art for this song. I felt this was totemic of the themes in the song, and those problems of interpretation. A friend asked ‘Did you get the idea from Live & Let Die’ (the Bond movie). Now I can only think of Roger Moore explaining the meaning of the Inverted Queen of Cups.

There are some very conscious ‘tips of the hat’ to the music Rodan and Jason Nobel, you can probably figure that out by the name of the song.

8. The Banjo Song.

The Banjo Song started with a YouTube film (I urge you to check it out). Like most people, these days, I have given up on television and now consume entertainment online, based on my own narrow range of interests. I subscribed to the Fretboard journal channel because they had a video of Bill Frisell (one of my guitar heroes) talking through his pedal board. However, this other video came up and really caught me off guard. Bill Evans was talking about the history of the banjo and he was imbuing the Victorian banjo with so much romance and portent. “The banjo was known then as it is today, as the instrument of love”. It was fantastically funny and charming at the same time. Something like a character in a Chris Guest movie might say. I was totally charmed by this video and this particular idea of the banjo as a catalyst for Victorian covert romance.

The greatest novel (that I know of) on the subject of Victorian covert romance is Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence. I love the narrator’s voice in it, so erudite and ornate in that victorian way. But like a friend revealing the codes of this time and place. If you have ever seen Scorsese’s adaptation you will understand why it is essential to keep the Wharton narrator as voice over.

Anyway, I imagined, what if you were to swap out the yellow roses (of the story) for the banjo. To write a noise rock song on this subject and in the style of Edith Wharton just seemed one of those things I really wanted to do.

I started this one off with the wishy-washy guitar line that flourishes around the words. It needed to be rooted and Dan just nails it with a bassline that shows all this restraint and then bursts loose in the coup de grace. Pat’s drums are so expressive and attuned to the vocals.. sort of reminds me of ‘Behind Blue Eyes‘ in a way. (but I’m not sure if Pat is a Who fan). This all took about year to figure out the best way to balance this song finesse the lyrics I was very happy in the end.

Ok, so I guess you have figured out why I will never introduce a song live by saying ‘This song is about..’

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