I wrote and recorded most of the record during lockdown; so I’m not entirely sure what state I was in. It gave me a sense of focus and I called on some great musical allies new and old to contribute and assist with recording.
Whereabouts were you in terms of getting on, the label, the songwriting, the relationships within the band and everything else?
I wanted to make this record with friends so we were all getting on very well, plus it was made, to a degree, remotely; obviously, you have creative differences but by and large the making of the album was straightforward. I’d written most of the songs and given the guys templates and notes to work off of.
What were you aiming for with the record? Was it difficult to write, or easy? What were the times like that influenced you, and what artists were you listening to and trying to emulate, if any?
I didn’t intend for it but the record came out almost conceptual; a year in the life of Holloway Road, London…I tried to let go with the writing and let the creative process come easily. I had a schedule I stuck to in terms of writing daily and they led to droughts and floods of good ideas at different times…I was listening to a lot of older pop and rock music, Roxy Music, Alan Parsons Project, Talk Talk, but also contemporary bands and artists like TVAM, Alex Cameron, Cobra Man, W.H Lung and Big Black Delta. All alongside healthy doses of alt-rock like Faith No More and Nine Inch Nails.
What were the major difficulties with the record – time, money, equipment, production?
As an independent artist money is always an issue, time is a commodity so I used that to create the sounds and textures I was looking for. I had a palette I developed and so I tried to carry that across the record despite the tonal and stylistic shifts.
Anything that was going on in the world (or your world) was a factor at the time.
I was experiencing some definite difficulties in my personal life and that became somewhat of an unofficial theme of the record. In some senses, it charts the lifespan of a relationship quite accurately…Social commentary is always a thing for me too so that obviously also fed into my lyrics and some of the atmosphere on the record too.
Track By Track
From the opening track to the final track on the album, can you give us some insight into each song? The ideas, lyrics, inspiration, stories, memories and anything else you want to say. How it feels now, or how you feel now about it. The equipment you used, anything at all you remember about the recording process, and whether or not it turned out like you imagined.
Honestly, the Comeback was originally intended for someone else. I wrote the song for a dear friend of mine recovering from addiction. When he was unable to use the song I decided to finish it and release it as the lead track on the album. It’s an anthem for anyone taking control back of their lives.
If Holloway Nights covers the life cycle of a relationship then The Bitter End was my way of starting at the end. It was written a number of years ago unlike most of the record but I’d not had other tracks it sat as well with. It felt perfect as a statement of intent for this body of work. I wanted to create a high energy post punk styled song with a lot of rock and roll energy. I really think this hit the mark.
My housemate explained to me one night the modern phenomenon of Softbois. Some of the source content I found made me laugh so much I started writing the lyrics to a very intense industrial track I’d been writing. The music on this piece was very influenced by NiN and Faith No More, I think it can be heard in some of the transitions. The lyrics are tongue in cheek but were a lot of fun to write…
I wrote this song after a brief interaction with a clearly unhinged individual… Well meaning and warm hearted the lyrics to this piece are clear and direct. It’s about those feelings we get when someone sparks a fire in us…I was obsessed with Springsteen’s record ‘Tunnel of Love’ and Bleachers Chinatown record at this point and I reckon it’s in the track clearly.
I think this tracks a sleeper, I almost made it a single…I wanted to combine the sonics of 90s video games like Monkey Island with the lyricism of some pretty massive contemporary influences. I think folks can work it out…It’s about struggling to fit in, being in a new city and finding your way…I’m particularly proud of the unusual middle section, I wanted that to sound like the last train out of Berlin.
This song is pure observation, I wrote it after a Pink Floyd and Physical Graffiti binge whilst watching gangs of youths out of the studio window, it was a circus. But I feel the song summarized the feeling of tension I felt on the streets of summer during balmy summer nights in a locked down London, it felt like the perfect title track for this record.
This is another song I almost made a single, maybe this one and Bad Girl will get some heavy pushes post record release. It’s the most honest vocal I’ve ever tracked, no real singing…After receiving a lecture in the street from an industry ‘expert’ I came home and recorded this song totally freestyle. I didn’t write the lyrics or anything, just adlib and then I went back on and fixed anything that was total nonsense or where the wheels fell off. The bassline is tremendous and was written by my friend Alicia Light as a homage to the Baxter Dury track Miami…The album has a wall of sound mostly but I wanted this song to have more space and bounce.
Should Have Known Better
This song was an ode to dating those who are only interested in how you look, or better how you make them look. I think we know when people aren’t right for us but we go on anyway and this song centres on that theme. It also contains my only guitar solo on the record but one I kept as it just seemed to fit. It was influenced by a Queen song I love called – It’s a Hard Life. I am more or less an amateur Queen biographer.
In the Name
Ahhhh this was an unusual song…I was listening to Peter Murphy’s Ninth a lot at this point and I really wanted to push the envelope with certain parts of this arrangement. This song is very moody and the opening verse was more or less a confessional to my girlfriend at the time. It’s all power chords and bluster, the spoken word sections felt very conclusive to the wider themes of the record and I think the track serves as a fitting epitaph to some past relationships and friendships which I’d moved on from. The song ends euphorically and to me that symbolized the potential for a positive future.
Normally when I finish a record I can’t listen to it for months, but now this is done it feels like a real artistic waypoint for me. Holloway Nights represented me realizing the creation of an album which was exactly what I wanted to do at a point in time and I did it on my own. In a world of genres and sub-genres, I don’t know where it sits but I’m immensely proud of the record. I’m biased but I think in an age where it’s not cool to try and sound epic or anthemic, or to have a guitar solo it’s refreshing to hear something doing the opposite with a proverbial fuck you to trends. I’m excited to see where life goes next.
Check out the album track Codename: Softboi, below:
Read our interview with Davies here
Purchase the album here