Ribs in a picture-perfect cage, tooth fall out. You got your Maradol, you got your Megestrol, you got your Meloril. Ana says Mia is to blame for this fall out. A triangle pelvis, lice and shame and torment. Lessons are only learned by the guilty. La Senza body. Stuck bones. The lessons of our innocence revealed by the lipstick smears on Emily un-vealed. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
I got nothing to say, I got nothing to say, I got nothing to say, so you can sit and wait. I take my Paroxetine, I take my Fluoxetine, I take my Cipramil, my Cipralex and my Sertraline, I take my Paroxetine, my Benzodiazepines, I take my Dopamine, my Meloril, Dihydrocodeine. I put my glass in the face of a generation, I laugh in the face of agenda. I am so fucking bored of thinking. Well now I got nothing to say, I ain’t got nothing to say, now I got nothing to say, safe sex, ha ha ha. And now I got nothing to say, nothing to say. Well I got nothing. Guess these drugs are really dulling me.
Paint a picture of a modern man: A symptomatic anomaly in a pink shirt. Knuckles scraping, split lips lisping. A modern man, a model man. Which asylum breeds his violence? This is a necessary goodbye. The purchase is final. You don’t have the strength to resist arrest. I’m a modern man. And this is the last time I’ll fall for it. Of which society is this enemy? Is it Jeremy or GMTV? The UFC or SCFC? Or the premier league? I’m a modern man. And this is the last time I’ll fall for it.
Time – it’s the distance to death from when you’re feeling fine. The distance to sex from the top of your thigh. It’s a promise’s failure to make the sun shine. It’s a promise I will fail. I need protected sex in a bulletproof vest. Cottonwool nest and filter cigarette. Life: it begins with a beat and it ends with a thin flatline. It bends and it breaks and it plays on this mind of mine. If a promise is a failure to make the sun shine, here’s a promise I will fail. I need protected sex in a bulletproof vest. Cottonwool nest and filter cigarette. A reason to pray when there’s nothing left. That’s the reason getting laid don’t make me feel so fucking good.
It’s difficult to tell who you are anymore. Scratching and clawing the crowd. The oozing sea of grinning faces – your plastic grin the widest. Deathmask lips sticking to gums and rottstench faecal breath. From all the asses you’ve been chewing out, and all the shit that you swallow. Choking on the ghosts that you won’t give up. You’re tripping over bodies of your scapegoats that look like you but they never are you. They’re falling on their swords all around you. There’s nothing or no-one that’d coax from you any scent of the decent thing. No one you’d fall on your own sword for, not even the whores who employ you. No one you’d call on your own soul for, not even the bores that adore you. No more mister seven breath decisions. Hither thither mind, always swaying, always changing. It looks like blood but it never is blood. It’s something else entirely. Red pen leaking in your top shirt pocket Your Harakiri false promise. Binary blind and dollar mind, you number-crunch your women. Who spread their legs like hummingbird wings and convince themselves of their love for you. Lying in the sheets that you verminate. Shark-teeth loud with enamel grind. Thinking of the shadows with the knives in their back and the grease in the palm that they paid you. Slavering corruption every twitch of your mouth, retainer just the benjamins that’re handed to you. Following the paths of your ignorance. Amounting to the total of your future. Wallowing in the pools of incompetence that are paid through the nose at your leisure. No more mister seven breath decisions. Hither thither mind, always swaying, always changing. False to the thought of the moment. Bloated ego. Fool’s habits. Negligence is an extreme thing. Bushido.
Why should I be outnumbered in three or four units’ time? Beer + wine = fine. Absinthe makes my heart fonder. An essence of social stigma. Pylori paranoia is served with liver fried. Dog’s hair dish on the side. To make this mathematic structure fail, Just insert a minus by the drink. Why should I be outdone if the equation I set myself falls on one side? Absinthe makes my heart fonder. An essence of social stigma. Is that your final answer? Is that your final answer? Is that your final answer? Is it? All blood no mary: To make this mathematic structure fail, just insert a minus by the drink. Then you’ll see me suffering. Too many doors are closing. Too many friendships ending. Too many days are fading. Too many debts ascending. Too many lovers leaving. Too many ulcers bleeding. Too many thoughts opposing. Too many doors are closing.
Inflate your ego once again, your cellophane paperchasing. Blood runs sour in veins. Another day and you’ll be crying by my picture. Your little face all tears and tasteful anecdotes all turned to hate. What am I to do but finance you through systematic readings of the mind? Does it embarrass you that I’m your parachute? This chequebook is breaking at the spine. I might as well be ordinary, for reasons I’ve defined. A hotel room, you suck my dick, you’ll make ends meet another way. And though it’s cruel I must admit I have no sympathy at all. You should have made your plans in pencil. Plans are plans and plans they change. Just a burst balloon floating on a lake.
Columbine: pizza parlour passtime pantomime. Draw your own conclusions from a hat. Decoy, failed deterrent, splutterbomb discotheque, trenchcoat mafia. Columbine and Absalom: disappointed. First the bond and then the son: disappointed. Columbine: canteen special offer – UXB. Jock and geek, fake/rare/dead harmony. Last bus, held breath, ghost ship agony. Cloaks of popularity. Columbine: car boot gun sale, proxee signee.
More pricks than a secondhand dartboard. You’ve got more faces than Big Ben. You’ve told more lies than I recall. You’ve had more lays than a fucking bed. And more lovers than Giacomo. More cunts than a news stand’s upper shelf. I’ll take my sackcloth and ashes, and meet you and lift up your veil. Lessons are only learned by the guilty. La Senza body. Stuck bones.
Nothing to hide: windows are walls in her eyes. Put into place: puzzles and pieces of pride. Not to my taste, tongue in her mouth for the prize. Little white lies, silences cut with a knife. Defy, rearrange, the burdensome chains. Bullet, make it all better. Deny, rearrange the tiresome games, though they make you feel better. ‘What is it?’ she said, when she got in my face. Vitamin pill full of faith, looking at the gaps in her lines. Inner thoughts on the page, caught up in apples and eyes in a sense, on the stage. You failed the test: unsympathetic and such a mess. You failed to pass the all-important lie detector test. Something to hide: lost in a void deep inside. Put in my place – bed is a space where she lies. Better by far, bought into buying my time. Nothing survives a fire as cold as her ice. Defy, rearrange, the burdensome chains. Bullet, make it all better. Deny, rearrange the tiresome games, though they make you feel better.‘What is it?’ she said, when she got in my face. ‘Ritalin?’ Rattling my cage, stabbing at my veins with a pen that she’s poised on the page. Poisoned by rage, won’t admit she’s accepted her fate. You failed the test: unsympathetic and such a mess. You failed to pass the all-important lie detector test. I don’t want this but I don’t learn. I don’t want a silencer. It’s all in my – It’s all in my fucking head. I know not I – I know not why she knows why. She knows not why. I know she knows that I lie. I know not I – I know not why she knows why. Now spineless and spermless, I’m fine.
Colourblinded eyes. Lips drink shape and shade. Razoredge brushstrokes. Cut deep and clean. Oil-hue-blood. G(u)ilt framed, diminishing perspective. Violent love affair with the unreal. Fuck that ancient bitch. Perfect figure 30 x 20 give or take a beautiful inch or two. Take the blade, or the acid, or the gun. Wipe the smile from her pop(u)lar face. Smear to white canvas your own work of art. Your masterpiece. That never can exist. That never quite ever exists. Limbs pinned like butterflies in bulletproof case. Face pressed to floor. Teeth granite ground. And the screams. And the shouts. And the sirens. And the sirens. Sirens.
Well I was sinking in sin, and I was sipping a gin, and I was starting to think ‘What’s left of me?’ I got my heartache on my sleeve, forget the birds and the bees: I got my macaroni cheese and my laxatives. Mirror, mirror on the wall, it was the ket that fucked it all, and now I’m locked inside the bathroom with a girl I don’t know. I had my cock out when she came into the room. And we were smoking. The rest is just a blur. The less I remember about it, the better. New guitar all the rage, my heart’s a brick in a cage. It’s at that critical stage: what’s left of me? We got the post-wedding-blues, our livers soaking in booze. It was the shots that really made a mess of me. We’re bigging up the biggest apple, gagging down the coldest Snapple, dehydration, rehydration, get some vitamin pills for fucksake. Newyorkism, ulcerism: Leave behind a trail of blood and jism and don’t answer the phone. The less I remember about it, the better.
Someone once told me that songs (and novels, and paintings) are never truly finished – they’re only ever abandoned. With that in mind, there’s no clear line to be drawn between our first two albums because, by the time amanaplanacanalpanama was released in April 2010, we’d already written half of The All-Important Lie Detector Test. In fact, one of the main reasons we were so eager to get the first CD finished is because we wanted to crack on with the new songs we’d begun working on. By mid-2010 we were already playing early versions of songs like Emily Bones, Some Animals are More Equal Than Others, All Blood No Mary, Sapere Aude, and Bulletproof live. These new songs, we felt, were more focused than the previous ones, and they stood out in our set. This time, we were writing specifically for the band, instead of cobbling together different ideas that had been sitting around for years.
As it turned out, the condemned building we recorded amanaplanacanalpanama in (which we’d begun referring to affectionately as The Riff Factory) took a turn for the worse just as we were about to start pulling together songs for the second album. There was a blizzard and part of the roof collapsed under the weight of snow that was sitting on it, so we had to quickly collect all our stuff and relocate. Tom was working in IT for pottery firm at the time, and they had some space available upstairs at the back of their warehouse. It was a much bigger room than we were used to playing in and the drum sound was absolutely immense. So we transported all our stuff there, and set up our studio.
But there was one problem: whereas on the first album we all lived in Stoke-on-Trent (and Tom and I lived together in the same house) we now lived not only in different houses but in different cities. Tom (AKA Withnail) was still in Stoke in the house he and I had shared, but Matt was in Sheffield, and I’d moved into a flat in Manchester. We were no longer able to meet up and jam after work, or whenever we felt the urge. Instead, we had to organise ‘band weekends’ that were much more about getting fucked up than they were about recording.
It usually went like this: we’d meet at the studio on a Friday night, jam a bit, and then go to Asda and buy a couple of litre bottles of gin and some fizzy orange and tonic, and some snacks, and about 40 stubby beers, and take it back to Tom’s house. Through the night, we’d mess about with songs in the little studio upstairs and work our way through the booze, with our creative ideas (and the execution of those creative ideas) becoming more and more outlandish as the ullage in the gin bottle grew larger. Then we’d watch some TV (Sell Me the Answer, The Kyle Files, and Kenny Vs Spenny being three of our favourites) and invariably feel the need to crash out, with Matt and I usually sleeping together in my bed in my former bedroom. On Saturdays we’d eventually feel compos enough go back to the studio in the early afternoon, but within a few hours we’d be itching to get back to Tom’s house and to the strong liquor we’d stashed there. On Sundays we’d sometimes go back to the studio again before Matt headed to Sheffield and I got the train to Manchester. Throughout the week, we’d email ideas (and insults) to each other as the songs took shape.
One important step up on the lyrics to this album was this process of collaboration over email. On the first album Matt and I shared lyric duties but we never wrote a song together. Each lyric was written either by me or by him. On this album we worked together on a number of songs, which is something I’d always wanted to try, because it’s what Nick and Richey did in Manic Street Preachers. Emily Bones, Violet Magnetique, Some Animals, Sapere Aude, and Bulletproof are mine and Stendhal Sweetheart and The Lost Ideology of Feudal Japan are Matt’s. All the others – All blood No Mary, Swansong [Epic], Columbine&Absalom, E942, and Dirty Shirley we wrote together.
It was summer 2012 and the album was very nearly done when the overlying concept – a sort of postmodernist lament on the Jeremy Kyle generation – became apparent to us. We didn’t really plan it, but it was no longer just a collection of songs: it had a theme. The Kyle-themed title was Matt’s idea – I’d unwisely suggested either The Gin Diary or an ill-advised quotation taken from Bottom Live 3: Hooligan’s Island. When the time came to put it out, we made a new website to coincide with the release, and people were invited to take a mock lie detector test in order to unlock hidden content. We also started to think more carefully about stuff like artwork. Instead of trawling the internet for a picture that we liked and then begging the artist for permission to use it, which we’d done previously, we asked Tom’s girlfriend Gwen (photographer extraordinaire and proprietor of Gwen Woods Imaging) to do some bespoke shots for us. (That’s my arm on the album cover – but while it looks like my left hand, it’s actually a mirror image of my right. We had to flip it to accommodate the fold in the booklet.)
The All-Important Lie Detector Test came out on 3rd December 2012. I remember sitting in my flat in Manchester waiting for it to be available on iTunes as midnight struck. All of us were really proud of it at the time, and it still feels like a step up from the first batch of songs we put out. Every time I hear it, I’m reminded of the good times we had while we were working on it. Perhaps The Gin Diary would have been a more appropriate title after all.
This is one of the first songs we wrote for the album. The lyrics were written in two parts: I started off in the bar of East Midlands airport while I waited to catch a plane to Dublin, then finished them a few weeks later while I was dog-sitting for a friend and the dog kept me up until 5 in the morning. Like so many things with this band, the title was another happy accident: we were listening to a song called Easily Done by a local band we were gigging with, and I misread the title on the computer screen, and thought it said Emily Bones. When we realised that the title was in fact available, we decided to make it our own.
We wanted another song like SSRI, and this one started life with the working title SSRI2. We took the name for the finished version from a fictional brand of lipstick referred to in a novel by a writer I’d met in Manchester. The lyrics ‘I’ve got nothing to say, I’ve got nothing to say, I’ve got nothing to say, so you can sit and wait’ were never supposed to be kept – they were just there as a placeholder while we were working on it. But we grew to like them, and they stuck.
Tom had gone on holiday, and Matt and I stayed over at the house for a few days. We dragged a double mattress downstairs and just lay about in the living room eating takeaways and watching Skins on DVD. At one point we nipped up the road to a pub quiz, came home drunk, and wrote the music to this song in the early hours of the morning before ordering a curry and passing out. It had a different chorus which we later replaced – some lyrical refrain about a razorblade in an apple. We recorded a live demo of it when Tom returned and ended up using some parts of that demo in the album version.
This one gave Tom and Matt the opportunity to take the piss out of me for showboating on guitar and, as a result, the guitar solo became longer and more outrageous every time we played it. It was great fun to play live but we couldn’t capture it properly in the studio, so we decided to record it live in the practice room, albeit with (slightly) toned-down fretwankery. The live version that appears on the album was done the day after my 27th birthday party. Matt had invited us over to his house and cooked enchiladas, but he was so hungover the following day that we almost had to cancel the session. His bespoke hangover cure of Strawberry Yazoo and Tomato Snaps prevailed, though, and we recorded the song later that afternoon.
Tom had a full demo of this song that he’d recorded at home, and, like A Savant and You are the Leper, Webber before it, it just needed some lyrics. Cue the penmanship of Matt, who also sings the track on the album. We recorded it in the summer of 2011 and only ever played it live once, but it’s a really unusual one that reminds me in style of some of the stuff from the first album.
I’ve got no idea what was going through our minds when we came up with the music to this, but it was at the time one of our shortest yet most complex songs. We first played it live as an instrumental in August 2010. The lyrics were a joint effort and took us quite a few attempts to get right. Back then, one of my drinks of choice was a Bloody Mary, but occasionally (and always reluctantly) I’d have just tomato juice with no vodka, which I’d refer to as ‘all blood, no Mary’.
Someone had left an acoustic guitar in the office I worked in, and I ended up writing this while I should have been working. Tom and I recorded a demo of it at home soon afterwards, and we weren’t sure whether it should be a CreepJoint song or not. Tom said, ‘It needs a riff on the end!’ and then went downstairs to get a drink. While he was gone, I started messing about and ended up playing the heavy part that closes the song, and as I was doing so I heard Tom shout, ‘Yes!’ from the kitchen, which I took to be a sign of his approval. The title was taken from a short story by a writer I know, who explained to me that it translates as ‘dare to be wise’. He later published that story, but he’d changed the title to something else, so I asked if I could pinch Sapere Aude for the song, and he kindly acquiesced.
Matt and I had both read the book Columbine by Dave Cullen, and were inspired to write a song about it. When we came to record it, there was still no second verse, so Matt wrote eight lines and brought them to the studio, and I picked the four I thought were most interesting. They fit the song perfectly and we never changed a word. There was an ongoing joke in the band that Matt was never able to remember the bass line to the middle-eight section in this song, or the bass line to the breakdown part in Sapere Aude.
This was originally an introduction to Emily Bones, and it was going to open the album. But then we decided that the album should start more abruptly, and so we joined E942 onto Swansong instead. Luckily, it fit that song seamlessly, which is another example of a happy accident. We called it E942 as a nod towards Nos from the first album. Nos is Nitrous Oxide, and E942 is the E-number that gives that compound its saccharine flavour.
We’d been messing around with this for ages, and it’s one of those songs that just seemed to grow of its own volition. It’s absolutely full of lyrics, and Matt and me were still writing them and swapping lines the day it was recorded in summer 2012. Before going to the studio, I drove round in my car with an instrumental version on repeat and tried to learn how to sing it. Some of the really menacing screams at the end were taken from the guide vocal, and the awesome saxophone solo was performed (with the help of a few beers) by a very good friend of ours. Later, he joined us onstage for a live version. It’s one of the very last songs we worked on for the album, and we thought it sounded enormous. It definitely set the benchmark for later tracks like Bleeding Heart Commentary and Overture.
Matt wrote this one on acoustic guitar, and when the three of us first listened to it together, it was so perfect that we couldn’t think of anything to change about it. When we recorded it, Tom used the bass pedalboard to add the eerie samples in the second verse – I remember we were using Radiohead’s Exit Music (For a Film) as a reference point. I’m still miffed that these lyrics aren’t mine – it’s one of my favourite tracks from the album.
In May 2011, Matt and I were in New York, and on our final night in the city we found ourselves in our favourite bar in Greenwich Village whose ‘shot of the day’ on that occasion happened to be called a ‘Dirty Shirley’. This song – inspired by our trip – was written really quickly, and we learned and recorded it within few hours at the studio in summer 2012. The vocal harmonies were added at home later that night. The sample at the start is ripped from my mobile phone: it was recorded while we were in that bar in NYC. You can hear Matt ordering a round (four beers and two White Russians) while My Drug Buddy by the Lemonheads plays on the jukebox in the background.