Released earlier this year ‘Urgency In Dead Air’ is the follow up to the band’s previous album ‘Our Love Noire’. Alex Keevill the man behind the noise gave us an interesting and full run down on the tracks of the new album.
A heads up before I start this – ‘Urgency in Dead Air’ is currently only available at www.themicrodance.bandcamp.com with no immediate plans for Spotify.
Before I begin this, I’d like to say that as with every release of ours, I’ve tried to cram everything I find exciting about alternative music under one sun bleached umbrella. But, it’s coherent and hopefully within a few seonds of each song, you’ll know it’s one of my compositions.
1. Kid Got Luck:
Originally titled Elan/Ennuis/Align (a refrain of that can be heard throughout) which is basically the meaning of the song – enthusiasm and apathy aligned to make up my mental state!
This was the sixth song I wrote for the EP that was originally meant to be four. I had an itch to write something bass oriented. There was already a lot of that juicy 80’s inspired bass on the EP, but not a song driven by it. If I recall correctly, the bass for the song was written in one go and pretty much recorded as I wrote it – as with a lot of the EP, I tracked my guitars and bass on my little 2001 digital eight track – a machine that has brought me much joy!
This is a rare beast for me, a sub four minute song that is relentlessly catchy. But as with all of my stuff, I did catchy with an edge. Parts are scathing, parts are singalong. There’s a guitar solo too, which I knew would make it less appealing to the modern ‘three minute song with no standout instrumentation’ crowd – but I grew up with guitar solos and will never stop adding them to my songs, such a powerful way to elevate a composition and take it excitedly from point A to B.
Speaking of which, drummer, engineer and co-producer Nikolaj Bjerre loved the piano in the third quarter of the second chorus so much, we ended up dropping it in as an outro.
I released it as a single with two of our biggest radio songs as b-sides. I thought to myself, for once I’m not going to write and record a strange, esoteric b-side, let’s make this appeal more to the kids. Plus, not everyone is old fashioned like me… Like, what even is a b-side?
Also, my demo is also included as a b-side (from which all of my guitar parts ended up on the final recording). Here you can hear the second guitars in the verse much more prominently – something I may prefer to the final EP version, but they got in the way of the vocals, so we attenuated them greatly and only brought them in for the second halves of the verses.
One of two songs Nikolaj ended up drumming on as well as engineering and co-producing. Parts mapped out in 10 minutes and done in two takes with no comping – what a man!
Described in a review as ‘a scorching blend of The Cure and Nine Inch Nails’
2. Spring Heeled Jack (a Diadem of Dead Stars and the Magic Bullet):
Written when there was no vision of an EP. Originally planned to be a standalone single. A two minute 50 second song which was pretty much a string of earworms, ending after the ‘attack attack like Spring Heeled Jack’ part and titled just Spring Heeled Jack’
As with so many of my songs, this just didn’t sate my desire for something holistically impactful, so the song grew and morphed every time we worked on it until it was seven and a half minutes long.
That’s why I thought the title had to change to something more representative of the size the song ended up being!
Improvised guitar solo which is up there with my favourites, so much so that when we realised that the demos of that whole solo section were 50 cents out of tune, we just ended up using all of my demo parts for that section! Tempo at 120bm for that part – 130 for the rest of the song. By hook or by crook!
Lyrics are among my simplest and most honest I’ve written. Love the reference to Spring Heeled Jack, a dude who in Victorian times would jump over walls with his spring heels and brutally attack people. Obviously, this isn’t about brutality attacking people – it’s about sneaking up on my woes and killing them. Sometimes cheating gets it faster!
Absolute pain in the arse to mix, getting some of my favourite second guitar parts popping out was a nightmare! For example the little arpeggio from 1:29 – 2:19 (one of my favourite bits of guitar on the EP, played beautifully by Gavin Mata Hari) wasn’t audible at all, so I got engineer and Co-producer, Blair Jollands to pull out the rhythm guitar for the first cycle, the bass for the second and bring them both back for the third and fourth… Once you’ve heard something clearly, you can hear it when it’s a bit more buried. Blair did a phenomenal job with this damn near impossible task!
Described in a review as ‘an epic alt rock song with heavy hues of shoegaze and new wave with a perfect three minute dreamscape smack bang in the middle’.
3. From Satan With Love:
This is definitely not a black metal song!
Listening to a lot of black metal, I realised that Satan isn’t an evil corporeal being, he’s actually a metaphysical ideology, a belief system that doesn’t promote evil, but focuses on a person’s independent power.
A simple song (at least for me!) with four verses and four choruses – umheard of; although each of those choruses and verses are very different.
The song ends up saying that with love, you don’t need someone else’s dogma, hence ‘see, she’s given me back, relieve me of the lure of my trap, so fuck satan!’
Piano outro was something I’d written, recorded and forgotten about, listening through my hundreds of demos, I found it and thought to myself ‘this would be great somewhere on the EP!’
My spoken vocals at the end were recorded on the aforementioned eight track in a field. It has a condenser mic (which picks up sounds from every direction) so you can hear birds tweeting.
At the end, I kept in Bridget Walsh saying ‘wow, that’s fucking beautiful’ after her take.
Described in a review as ‘equally fearsome and sublimely beautiful’
4. I am the Motherf***er (Hate Mail).
The most angry, hateful song I’ve ever written – all dedicated to one tiny little man:
‘You are a motherfucker’ (negative) ‘I am the Motherfucker’ (positive’. Lyrically, no metaphors, no poetry, just bombast!
Still, musically quite complex and interspersed with beautiful moments.
I think I straddled the line of heavy alt rock and full on heavy metal with this one.
I can’t think of how many drum references I gave to the flawless Frankie Siragusa (who also did a wonderful job of engineering and co-producting ‘New Waves of Hope’) for this song, but it must’ve been something like one for every two seconds!
Described in a review as ‘predominantly utterly fearsome but with heavenly dreamy interludes – awe inspiring’
5. Baby Ghost:
An out and out love song. Originally intended as the EP closer, but I think that opuses should finish with something unequivocally soft and this one turned out a bit more intense than when I first wrote it. All recording done on my eight track at home, with a little de-essing in pro tools.
Described in a review as ‘pushing the boundaries of what a love song can achieve’.
6. Moxie Moxie – Neon Pink on Black.
Another one that started out as a short song, then I was listening to ‘At Last the Night’ by Amusement Parks on Fire’ and thought to myself that that intro worked so well with that song. I had no intention of blatantly ripping it off, I just wanted to do something with the same purpose. Then I improvised the little solo over the top.
Then I thought ‘well this needs a middle eight’ so I took a part I wrote decades ago and transposed it from D to Bm to C9 to Am (at least one of my many variations of Am).
Then I thought, ‘fuck it, it’s now seven minutes, let’s stick a guitar solo in there’. Like all of the guitar solos on the EP, I took the stereo mix home and did it over the top on my eight track.
Aaaaand then, the outro – all recorded at home (besides drums). I couldn’t even tell you what chords I’m playing – totally ad libbed. In my mind, the outro is about as beautiful as I’m capable of doing.
Original solo guitar at the end, reversed and delayed in pro tools before I overdubbed another one.
Song ended up being over nine minutes long… Just how I like it!
The only song for which we didn’t drop Bridget Walsh’s vocals into the final stereo mix – i.e., they were tracked way before we mixed. I kind of wish we’d dome that with all of them – she is incredible.
Described in a review as ‘a slab of multi genre majesty – for the alt rockers, shoegazers, new wavers, dream poppers, there’s something in here for all of you’
7. Bad luck in Slumberland (I’ve Got So Much Love to Give but I’m too Tired).
I was exhausted, mentally and physically, the EP had taken 10 months when it should have taken two weeks.
One lyric said it all – the song title.
The most elegaic on the album and one that I’m more than delighted with as the perfect closer.
Massive props to everyone who helped my vision a reality. You are all beyond amazing
*in alphabetical order*
Alex Keevill – vocals, guitars, bass, synth, piano, lapsteel guitars, drums.
Blair Jollands – engineering, co-production.
Bridget Walsh – vocals.
Frankie Siragusa – drums
Gavin Mata Hari – guitars.
Nikolaj Bjerre – drums, engineering, co-production.
Check out the album opening track Kid Got Luck, below:
Read our interview with Keevill here