Feet For Hands
Jonathan: The title came from the lyric “let’s get up off the floor / and use our feet for hands”, which is simply a reference to evolution. I always throw some reference to evolution into pretty much everything. But the song is really about that policeman who was shot by Raul Moat and was blinded. And it’s just a re-imagining of what he must have gone through. I read this huge interview with him and he was saying how he couldn’t remember the faces of his family. They were featureless as an orange to him. And I thought that was so stunningly poignant. It was poetic but at the same time incredibly un-poetic and devastating. It was a terrible thing to have happened. It just completely ruined his life. Some of the lyrics are quotes from the interview. He said he kept seeing the moment, seeing Raul Moat appearing in his mirror and that’s his last memory and he kept seeing it all the time.
Alex: The ‘feet for hands’ element is about trying to adjust to a sudden change, adapting.
Jonathan: But at the end of it, it gets more positive. Saying: “don’t remember this part, just remember the good times we had together”.
Jonathan: It sort of reads like a diatribe, it’s a rant really, isn’t it. It’s a kind of attack on the X Factor world, really. It starts off talking about how you can be false and play the sob story and you can get what you want. Well done, now you’re singing cover versions. But then it goes through the hangers-on and the yes men. It’s a reaction against the darker side of the business we’re in, what we’ve seen since becoming a band.
Jeremy: Not that we’re really that exposed to it. I mean, we see it on telly…
Michael: There is a sense of how much do you actually engage in all the fluff of the showbiz side of things…
Jonathan: And we don’t really do that very often.
Michael: It’s not because we hate it, we do go to awards and things like that…
Alex: You’re interested in it and, at the same time, you’re confused by it. All these things… you want to see them but you don’t necessarily want to be part of them.
Jeremy: And that was one of the first lead vocals that Jon did that David went: “yeah, we got that”. It’s a really good vocal, I love the vocal. It was one of the first ones we did and it really set the bar. There’s no let-up in it.
Jonathan: It’s supposed to sound like “this is wrong AND this is wrong AND this is wrong. And ANOTHER thing!”. And then there’s a pause in the middle where there is imagery of the mob. They’ve got the billionaire and they’ve killed him. The mob mentality appears at several points on the album.
Michael: On a few songs there’s a bit of a sense of distrust and also discomfort with our own collusion with it. As Westerners, as British people, as musicians – a band signed to a major label.
Jeremy: This is probably going to be the hardest of the songs to translate to playing live.
Jonathan: So we’re not gonna bother . No, but it’s kind of a vignette in the middle of the album.
Alex: But we’re going to play everything. One major improvement is that Jon is not stuck behind a keyboard anymore.
Jeremy: We’ve decided to swallow a bit of pride and get a guy in who can effectively do all the stuff live that previously put that physical barrier between Jon and the audience. Which means that communication is a lot easier. But as for the song itself, we had the title of the album before we wrote the song.
Jonathan: It’s actually the latter half of an older song we had. It wasn’t quite up to scratch for the record and it made the whole thing a bit too long.
Jeremy: When we first drew up the album tracklist ‘_ARC_’ was not on it but sonically it is a kind of a plateau in the middle of the record. It actually makes the album a slightly easier listen.
Jonathan: We also like the fact that it matches OK Computer in that it has an almost instrumental track half-way through . I like that, anyway.
Jeremy: We’ve been right around the houses with this song. It is probably the poppiest of all the album tracks, or at least the chorus is.
Alex: We were listening to that Cars song…
Jonathan: …’Who’s Gonna Drive You Home’.
Alex: Yeah, ‘Drive’, and we just loved the feeling of that track and wanted to play on that, and that’s kind of where we ended up with the chorus for ‘Armourland’. We weren’t going for a big pop chorus or anything but just liked the sound of that record.
Jonathan: It’s based on something we jokily wrote during Man Alive and the melody just wouldn’t leave us in the two years that elapsed.
Jeremy: It had this sadness, which we loved. And we used to sing it to each other with jokey, puerile lyrics all the time but the tune has this melancholy to it. We didn’t want it to be sugary. We wanted it to have that Cars essence to it, a sad sheen.
Jonathan: I wanted the general lyrics to counter-act the chorus and to be very unromantic. And, yet, it is a love song.
The House Is Dust
Jonathan: It’s a family breakup/divorce sort of song. A conversation between partners: you take the family, I’ll take the car. It’s got flippancy to it but with a suicide overtone. And then, a bit like ‘Undrowned’, it starts losing it a bit. Going on about: isn’t there anything more than this? Feeling pretty dejected.
Jonathan: There’s a couple of songs that end with me turning my own preachiness on myself. Saying, actually I don’t make any changes either. I’m sorry I’m so shit. On ‘Radiant’ I say: “you can make a difference so easy but you don’t”. And then at the end I say: “I can make a difference so easy but I don’t”.
Jeremy: ‘Radiant’ works really well live. And actually so does ‘The Peaks’. They were both conceived in that environment, really. While we were touring with Snow Patrol, they were big-room tunes and we seemed to play them every night and they came across well. We were arranging them on the fly during those gigs.
Alex: They can afford to breathe in that environment.
Jeremy: ‘The Peaks’ was finessed on the road. We’re not really a band that jams during the soundcheck and writes things on the road but we used that time to work on it a little more. In terms of the arrangement, it was set in stone before we went on the road.
Jonathan: It’s a recurring theme in the album. Speak up. What’s up with you? Talk about it. Tell people if you’re struggling. Don’t try to hide it. What are you wrestling with?
Alex: We’ve got a different live version for ‘Don’t Try’ now with a long extended crescendo…
Jeremy: …Rather than the slightly ‘push-you-out-to-sea’ fade. We would never have had the laid-backness to do that fade-out on Man Alive.
Alex: There’s something a bit unpleasant about a band trying to do a long fade-out live… .
Michael: Play the fade!
Alex: But we don’t have the balls to do it.
Michael: It’s probably my favourite track on the album. It’s got that joyfulness about it.
Jonathan: It’s a chink of light at the end of a pretty dark album.
Arc will be released on 14 January through RCA and can be pre-ordered here.