Neil: "We started this in New York, in Unique studios, when we worked on four songs: this, 'The view from your balcony', 'It always comes as a surprise' and a song we've never finished, which sounds a bit like Madness and a bit like The Walker Brothers, called 'Yes in a no kind of way'. I'd liked this Spanish record that had used Spanish phrases as a hook, and that had given us the idea to do something in Spanish. So we asked Dainton to go to a bookshop in New York to get a Spanish phrasebook, and started writing this music. It's got very odd chords. Chris programmed the rhythm and did the verse chords."
Chris: "Neil did the chorus chords."
Neil: "If it is a chorus. Dainton came back with the Penguin English-Spanish dictionary and a Berlitz phrasebook, and I flicked through them, looking for phrases, and I thought, here's a good one: 'hay una discoteca por aqui?' It had a good rhythm and it'd work as a chant: 'Is there a discotheque near here?' Then I also found, 'te quiero', 'entiende usted?', 'digame' and 'cuanto tiempe tengo que esperar?' - 'I love you. Do you understand? Tell me. How long must I wait?' I think the 'How long must I wait?' came from the going-to-the-doctor's section. At that point it wasn't going to have any more words. The following April we decided to put words and a melody to the verse. To begin with, it had totally different words and the tune was different. I was trying to make sense out of the whole concept of why it was in a foreign language, and at this point it started being about being lost in a country. Not knowing where you are. Later in the year I changed it again, and the final version is about someone dealing with HIV or Aids. There's a sense of catastrophe. It's saying: how do you deal with something going so wrong? Do you panic? Or do you go out and carry on as normal? Which is what I think most people do. And then it uses the idea of being in a foreign country as a metaphor: suddenly everything that was familiar is unfamiliar. 'I don't speak the language, I can't understand a word.' And in the chorus the person singing goes to the discotheque because he's going out and carrying on as normal. It's quite a grim song, but it sounds very beautiful. The start, a classic Pet Shop Boys start with a sequencer line followed by a minor chord coming in, never changed from the original demo."
Chris: "This is part of the 'Dreaming of the Queen' range of Pet Shop sounds. It's got a very unusual bassline as well, and the drum pattern is very odd."
Neil: "When Chris first did the drum programming I couldn't get a handle on it. I couldn't work it out."
Chris: "It sounds really big, doesn't it?"
Neil: "Well, it is big. There's twenty women called SheBoom playing drums. SheBoom came down from Glasgow, and they looked fantastic. It was dead loud in the studio. We thought we'd discovered a new sound. It's like nothing else. It's all very moody."
Chris: "I think it's very uplifting."
Neil: "Well, it is. It's about survival."
Chris: "This wasn't a single, was it? We're mad."
Neil: "The fans all hate this track."
Chris: "Well, they're wrong."
Neil: "We tried to record a single version of it, because we thought it should be a single. After Bilingual was finished, we went back into the studio. Katie Kissoon came in and sang 'one day we'll be free', because we thought it sounded like a really clubby line. We used that as a hook and did that version and we really liked it but we thought it wasn't a single. That version was never released, though it was the basis of the version we played on the Nightlife tour in 1999. Then we decided to re-record the whole track, and we had some Spanish-speaking backing singers come in and sing the chorus with me - they also shout 'bacalao', which is Spanish for a type of salted cod, believe it or not, but which I was told they shouted in Canarian clubs when they were very excited by house music - and sped up the whole thing and did a
totally different version. We spent ages and ages working on it and then we decided it wasn't a single, so it was just released as a b-side to 'Single-bilingual'."
Chris: "We used a Bobby 'O' type riff. It's like his 'I'm So Hot For You', which itself was heavily lifted from The Human League's 'Don't You Want Me'."
Neil: "We were trying to get more of a chorus. I did this rap, and I took the rhythm from Stretch And Vern's 'I'm Alive' which had just been a hit. Chris ordered me to write a rap in the same rhythm as that, and I dutifully complied."
Chris: "He's a jobbing writer."
Neil: "What I actually say is: 'understand the man who can talk in tongues / and you're ready to speak like a Shakespeare'. It seemed to mean something at the time."
Neil: "We had the idea that this would be a great opening statement for the album - you get this sad song going into this very funny comic satirical song, linked together by the drums. It is all, by the way, recorded as one mastertape. The drums joining the two songs sound fantastic."
Chris: "To me it sounds like the theme from Thunderbirds. Or even Captain Scarlet."
Neil: "I always think it sounds like The Specials. It's a sort of satire on the European community. Once we'd decided that the album was going to be called Bilingual I had the idea of 'single...bilingual'. Originally this song was called 'Latino' and the only lyric I had for it was 'single bilingual', which I just thought was moronically funny. And
then, as ever, there was a lot of rubbish about the European Union in the papers, and we were always traveling and I thought it would be funny just to write a song about the minutiae of business travel. The guy in the song is superficially confident but really is absolutely hopeless. He thinks he is really on the ball and sexy - he's staying in a junior suite and flies business class; he likes all his little perks and everything - but really he's scared. He's pretending that he's a sophisticated ladies man - he's single bilingual! - but he's not really communicating either, and he knows it. In actual fact he's a hopeless, tragic wreck. He's a bit like the person in 'Let's make lot's of money...' who's never going to make any money. He's superficially got all the right things but he's just not getting there. He doesn't understand why, but he's not."
Chris: "He doesn't understand that business class is a rip-off on a short flight. You get no more leg room."
Neil: "Exactly. Chris wrote the music, but I wrote the middle bit. The song had what we wanted in the album - it's going in and out of English and Spanish. Another reason we thought of doing a Latin album was as a reaction against Britpop, and that we like being in Europe - that we are a very international group and like the fact. This song fitted in with that. Also I've always wanted to mention my name in a song, ever since Martin Fry did, in 'The Look Of Love': 'and then my friends just might ask me, they say, "Martin, maybe one day you'll find true love..."' In this you get 'perdoneme me llamo Neil'. It was the album's third single, but when it was released as a single, Everything But the Girl had just released a single called 'Single', so we changed its name to 'Single-Bilingual'. Noel Gallagher commented on this song to Johnny Marr at the Q Awards in 1996. He said, 'That new Pet Shop Boys single is really mad, isn't it?' Which I took to be the highest possible compliment."
Chris: "I don't know if I liked this at the time but I like it now. It's ageing very well."
Neil: "It ends with a reprise of 'hay una discoteca por aqui? ' He could literally be going to a club, but it's also saying that he's a lost and frightened person. Right at the end, you get the chord of the album. We come back to this chord three times. That chord is at the beginning of 'Discoteca', and 'It always comes as a surprise' also starts with it."
Neil: "'Metamorphosis' had been around for ages. It started as an instrumental Chris and I wrote in about 1989 when we were in Scotland writing songs for Behaviour. We gave it to Mark and Trevor, two of the dancers on the Performance tour, and they did a rap on it. It was Trevor's title, 'Metamorphosis', though I wrote the chorus for their version: 'you grow up and experience this / a total metamorphosis'. It was a positive song about not getting into trouble with the police and stuff like that. But then they became the group Ignorants and they didn't like it - they thought it was too uncool. Then we did a version based on that original backing track, and that didn't really work either."
Chris: "It sounded great in the studio but when we took it home it sounded crap."
Neil: "It was too slow. It was irritating - we were stuck with the original tempo. Trevor rapped at twice the speed and, unfortunately, I can't do that. I tried, in the privacy of my own home - at one point I was going to do Trevor's rap - but I eventually realised that I would never be able to do it. We asked Jam & Spoon to work with us on it, but they didn't like the song. We'd been approached to work with K-Klass and so we got them to produce it. They came down to London
from Manchester and spent a week or so doing it. They really did it all - they had their own programmer, keyboard player, engineer. They changed the music of the verse and I worked out how to get from that into the chorus. Sylvia Mason-James sings the chorus, and Chris does a bit at the end of most of the choruses, and at the end of the last verse. I like those bits."
Chris: "I never like my bits. I've got a terrible voice."
Neil: "It was very difficult thinking of all the words for this, and also thinking of the voice to do it in. Me rapping is a difficult issue in a way, because you always think of rapping in an American accent. I couldn't think of what to write the lyrics about if it was called 'Metamorphosis', and then I wrote the first two lines - 'please allow me to try and explain / I'm living proof that man can change' - and I suddenly thought, 'oh, it can be about coming out - about not wanting to be gay and then being gay and all the rest of it'. And that's what it is. It's pretty much autobiographical. I like 'the long term suppression of an adolescent urge'. There's a quotation from the Beatles in it: 'somebody spoke and I went into a dream'. I thought it was good to say these things in a form of music which is considered rather macho. The thing about a rap song which I had never realised, which has given me a lot of respect for people who rap, is that they eat up an incredible amount of words."
Chris: "Maybe this came a bit too soon on the album, but it's good."
Neil: "Hidden in this album there's a New York dance album as well: 'Metamorphosis', 'Before', 'Saturday night forever', 'Electricity'."
Neil: "We had finished the album, more or less, and we were at Sarm West with Bob Krausaar in March 1996, and we did this track in a couple of days. It was one of those things where we were doing something else and Chris wanted to do a new track because he was bored. The conversation at the beginning was on the television in the studio."
Chris: "We flicked through what was on telly just then. If you flick through all the television channels you will always get a good sample."
Neil: "There's always some great line that seems very profound. In my notebook I had the idea for a song about electricity with the 'power to be' line."
Chris: "Another rap."
Neil: "It's almost a rap album."
Chris: "It's a bit Madonna doing 'Erotica' and 'Justify My Love'."
Neil: "I love the line: 'it's the greatest show with the best effects / since Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes'. In the Seventies I always loved, by Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes - whose name, unfortunately, was misspelled in the original Bilingual booklet but has been corrected here - their record 'Get Dancin''. It ended with Disco Tex saying 'my chiffon is wet, my chiffon is wet'. This lyric is a monologue by a drag queen. She's talking to a boy in a bar after she's done her show in which she lip-syncs to a tape recorder with a couple of dancers: 'I take them on the road with my reel-to-reels / I'm an artist, honey - you know how that feels'. She's on this tour, playing gay clubs around America. And I think she is an artist. I've no idea why I wrote it."
Chris: "It's very atmospheric."
Neil: "The organ sound on this is so sleazy. It's very funky for the Pet Shop Boys."
Chris: "Yes. I don't know how we did it."
Neil: "We decided to break all of our rules."
Chris: "Oh yeah. We weren't allowed to do anything we normally do. So we started off with it being slow."
Neil: "It's 96 beats per minute, I think."
Chris: "Whereas we'd normally do it over 120. And then we decided to only use sounds we wouldn't normally use. You just had to think of what you would do...and then not do it."
Neil: "We lost interest in that after a while, but that's how we started it."
Chris: "I wasn't allowed to have a string pad, but then I decided to put one in anyway. It's a bit influenced by the 2-Pac record, 'California Love'."
Neil: "On the '...electricity' line I think I sound like David Bowie. My voice sounds like it does on this track, very thick, because I had a very bad cold and I could sing a different way."
Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is)
Neil: "I bought an album by the group Olodum in São Paulo in December 1994 when we were on tour, and I was flicking through the tracks in the studio, listening through to drum sounds for samples, and I liked the bit of this song, 'Estrada Da Paixao' where it went 'Se a vida é', so I started to do my own version of it. And I didn't really understand the chorus so I changed it. I phoned up a Spanish friend and asked him, 'What does "Se a vida é" mean?' - of course the song was actually Portuguese, because it's from Brazil - and he said, 'Something like "that's the way life is".' And I said, 'That's great!' and slammed the phone down and starting singing 'that's the way life is'. Then he phoned back half an hour later and said, 'It doesn't really mean that - it means sort of "if life is"; it's not a proper sentence.' And I said, 'It's too late now - I like "that's the way life is".' No one speaks Portuguese anyway. Apart from in Brazil. And Portugal. But then I
changed it right at the end, in the second part of the chorus. 'Come on, essa vida é', and that does mean 'that's the way life is' in Portuguese. At the time I was never really that happy with the words, because they are so simple, but I think they're sweet now. It's sort of saying: get over it - come outside and see the sunshine. Everyone thinks it's a gay song because it uses the word 'closet', but it wasn't meant to be. Though I think people were quite surprised at the time because
this has such a normal, sweet, could-have-been-written-by-a-pop-star lyric. Although it does spark the debate: is life more simple when you're young? I think it is."
Chris: "I disagree entirely."
Neil: "I know you do."
Chris: "Life's a lot simpler when you're older. It just is. As simple as that. You can deal with the complications easier. What might have been a complication when you were younger, when you're older no longer becomes a complication. Everyone knows that adolescence is the most traumatic time of your life, because it's difficult.
Neil: "The song is saying that you see things in very black-and-white terms when you're young."
Chris: "Well, you should have said that then."
Neil: "I love this song, always have done. I like the way my voice sounds in it. Chris Porter did a very good job on this, fiddled around with it forever. Even after the album was cut, we went back into the studio to add some more percussion, and re-cut the album with it on."
It Always Comes As A Surprise
Neil: "This was originally a Phil Collins-style ballad, and Chris Porter very sensibly said, 'Aren't you trying to do this album in a sort of Latin style - why don't you do it in a Latin style?' And we thought: 'Why don't we do that?' It starts off with a sample from Astrud Gilberto's 'Corcovado', then a berimbau comes in. I've always loved the sound of this Brazilian instrument."
Chris: "We put Astrud Gilberto backwards, which we thought would hide that it's her, but the fact is that she sounds the same backwards as she does forwards."
Neil: "We paid to use it. It comes back later in the song. When the rhythm kicks in, it always reminds me of 'La Vie En Rose' by Grace Jones. The guitar on this song was played on a keyboard, as well as two guitarists having a go at it. What you hear on the record is a mix of all three. After the middle bit, which goes down chromatically, you get a cool sax solo. It's so like Stan Getz. 'Cocktail jazz', as a Rolling Stone critic would call it. There's loads of bottom end."
Chris: "I don't know why we don't have lots of bottom end all the time."
Neil: "It's a very straightforward love song, saying what it says: you fancy someone so much you're surprised you've ended up with them. You can't believe they wouldn't rather be with someone else. It was inspired by the relationship I was in at the time. I wanted this to be the first single off the album but Chris wouldn't have it. We could never work
out a good edit of it, anyway."
A Red Letter Day
Chris: "I don't like the style of this. The production lets this song down. I think the song's better than the record. It's a bit clippety-cloppity."
Neil: "I like it. It's got a funny quality, though, particularly when the out-of-tune choir come in, although I'd always liked that Russian choir sound. By then, we'd got the idea the album was kind of global - the Latin thing, New York - and so, almost just to make the concept broader, I went to Moscow and recorded a Russian choir, The Choral Academy Of Moscow. The conductor, Victor Popov, was the only one that wore headphones at the recording session and the rest, about forty of them, just sang. I was tearing what remains of my hair out. The recording session was at the State Broadcasting
House. The BBC were there and they asked one of the kids if they enjoyed singing pop music and they said, 'No, it's just a job.' 'Do you know the Pet Shop Boys?' 'No.' 'Do you like the song?' 'No.' I thought, 'well, thanks a lot'. Victor Popov said, at the end, 'work is work.'"
Chris: "I was in Las Vegas for the Frank Bruno fight."
Neil: "The song started off as Beethoven's 'Song Of Joy'. We thought that, as 'Go West' is nicked from Pachelbel's Canon, why don't we go through classical music, take the chord change of a famous piece of classical music, put it to a 4/4 beat and see what it sounds like? So we did this to 'Song Of Joy' and another song, 'Delusions of grandeur' to 'Moonlight Sonata'. We really just used the classical pieces as a starting point. This was originally called 'In C major', a big optimistic song in C major. We were trying to write something anthemic. It went 'in C major...', where it now goes 'all I want...' It was a real struggle, that first day. We both sat there endlessly trying to write melodies for it."
Chris: "We were into this thing of the bassline not being the root note of the chord, which we learned from Danny Tenaglia."
Neil: "Apparently that's the basic starting point for any bass player, someone told me. It took us ten years to discover that. This is actually a very unusual track. It's sort of Eurodisco but it actually has really weird chords - you think it's just a descending chord change but it's not. I always imagine an RAF unit marching to it. It took me ages to think of 'red letter day' and write the words. In his speech when he presented us with an Ivor Novello award Elton John said that it was one of his favourite songs. He said he'd recently felt like giving it all up and he put this record on coming out of the shower and changed his mind. It has one of my favourite lines: 'but for all of those who don't fit it / who follow their instincts and are told they sin / this is a prayer for a different way'. I originally had a more explicit, sort of gay rights bit, but I took it out. It's about waiting for someone to tell you they love you. Possessions are meaningless, love is everything, and everyone in the world has the same aspirations - it doesn't really matter who they are, everyone
wants love, to have some excitement in their life, to have a sense of security at the same time as to be loved...and it's very difficult to achieve. It quotes the Bible: 'What on earth does it profit a man?' Eventually, when I tried to sing it, we realised that the key was wrong, so we redid the whole thing and it stopped being in C major. Somewhere along the way we looked up why 'red letter days' were called red letter days."
Chris: "Isn't it literally a red letter that used to be sent for a special occasion? You get a red letter for being invited, or something."
Neil: "When we were in Hong Kong in 1989 I had written this other piece of music called 'Black sun', and when we were making the album I put it at the beginning of 'A red letter day'. The She Boom drums are slowed down so that they sound threatening. I hadn't intended the choir to sing on it but when I got to Moscow I found out that the tape they'd been working off had this introduction on so they started singing this bit too. Then when we were working with the three singers on 'Before', one of them sang like an opera singer for this. And we put sleigh bells going past - I kind of imagined sleighs going through Red Square. Anyway, having faffed about with this for forever, we decided the introduction was too pretentious so we took it off the album version, though you still get the sleigh bells at the end. The following year we decided to work
with Motiv 8, who'd done the fabulous single 'Oooh Aaah Just A Little Bit' for Gina G, and they reworked 'A red letter day' for the single. They made the bassline follow the chords, and put in a really good sequence towards the end."
Chris: "We made the worst video of our career for it."
Neil: "The single version we released didn't have the long introduction on it, but it was always still on the mastertape of all the versions, and on the b-side of 'A red letter day' we did release the original full album version, which was called the 'Moscow Mix'. But the other version here [on the bonus disc of reissued Bilingual] is the complete Motiv 8 single mix with the long introduction at its beginning, which has never been released before."
Up Against It
Neil: "Chris wrote the music for this. He called his demo 'Indie'."
Chris: "The title doesn't necessarily relate to the song."
Neil: "Well, that was why we asked Johnny Marr to play on it. We thought it should have guitars because Chris pictured it to be a jangly kind of guitar thing. On the demo he played the melody on a guitar sample. There's still a guitar solo played by Chris on the keyboard. This was always a very easy track. I'd written the words when it was demoed. The title comes from the title of the screenplay Joe Orton wrote for The Beatles which was never used. I needed a four-syllable phrase to fit the melody, and I looked at the bookcase in my sitting room and there was Up Against It. Having decided upon that title, I'd also been reading a book about London after the Second World War, and the lyrics are sort of about post-war Britain. It's about how people thought that they were going to build a new Jerusalem, and how in every era everyone's being told to tighten their belts. They were doing that in the Forties, in the Sixties, in the Seventies, in the Eighties, and they were still doing it when I wrote this. You're always marching but you're never actually getting anywhere. It always seems like there's an economic crisis on, and that optimism disappears, and the song is saying: what a swizz. The first verse - 'such a cold winter' - refers to the legendarily cold winter of 1947/48. Rhyming 'Pinter' and 'winter' is very Sting, isn't it? The 'so deep in quicklime' part was triggered by the fact that, as I was writing the song, they dug up the bones of the Tsar and his family in Russia. It's just saying that communism was rubbish. The whole song is just saying that
politics is rubbish."
Chris: "The bassline's doing a Latin rhythm bit."
Neil: "Johnny Marr came up with the idea for the backing vocals at the end: 'coming up against it now, really coming up against it oooh whooo whooo'. He said, 'If you were being Quincy Jones you'd do something like this.' I said, 'Let's do that, then,' and we sang them together."
Chris: "We were still doing Sharon Redd breakdowns. No handclaps though."
Neil: "It's got a very good end."
Chris: "Well done, Chris Porter. That's the sort of thing only a proper producer would do."
Neil: "It's a very sad song, this. 'One might be forgiven for thinking it's a life on the run'. When Q reviewed this album it said that this song was as nauseating as a Tom Hanks acceptance speech. I don't think it is. I think that's someone finding sincerity difficult to take from the Pet Shop Boys. The music for this was on one of Chris's Ian Wright demos."
Chris: "I just did some tracks when I was working with Ian Wright and then he and I chose the track which was obviously the one for him, which became 'Do The Right Thing'."
Neil: "Chris gave me a cassette of what he thought were the best things he'd done that hadn't been used. It took me ages to write the words over the course of 1995. I think I started writing them on a train. It's sort of a feel-bad, feel-good song. It's about growing old, and that, when you've reached a certain age, you've survived this far. You're still alive. A friend of mine committed suicide early that year, which I was rather depressed about. She's referred to in the
song, where I sing 'teachers and artists and Saturday girls'. I used to work with her, and The Saturday Girls were a group she was supposed to be in. 'Don't drop bombs', which we recorded with Liza Minnelli on Results, was originally an idea for a song for The Saturday Girls."
Chris: "It's quite anthemic-sounding, 'The survivors'."
Neil: "It was the first song we recorded with Chris Porter. I think we'd both thought as soon as we'd done the demo that it would be on the album."
Chris: "Especially when we added those backing vocals."
Neil: "We remixed it late in 1995 and changed the drum track, but just before Bilingual was released we went back to the first mix we'd done, which said he'd always preferred. I've never felt totally happy about the sound of the rhythm
track. It's a bit muddy. But I like the question and answer, call and response thing. It's also great to have the words 'twinsets and pearls' in a song. In the final chorus, at 3.37, you can hear me sing 'race' twice. It's a mistake, but we left it in."
Chris: "I love this. There's nothing extraneous on it. There's no unnecessary musical things happening."
Neil: "We set out to make it for America. This is the song described by Atlantic records, our American label at the time, as a 'straight out of the box smash'. It wasn't a hit there."
Chris: "I love Neil's vocal style on this."
Neil: "It's very smooth. I sing like a girl."
Chris: "Maybe you should sing like a girl more often."
Neil: "It sounds like no other record we've made. It's a very gorgeous, loving record. We wanted to work with Danny Tenaglia whom Tom Stephan had recommended to us. We didn't really know Danny's work. We were going to work with David Morales in New York, and David Morales's agent cancelled two days before we were going. The studio was booked. And Tom said, 'You should be working with Danny Tenaglia anyway', so we phoned him up and he, now to my astonishment, just dropped everything. Danny was a hip in-crowd thing at that point, but he wasn't the world's most famous DJ. Now, of course, it would be a big event."
Chris: "And we discovered that Danny, unlike most DJs, can bloody play the keyboards. Imagine our surprise. He did a great production job on this. When he put the bassline on I thought 'wow', because he didn't make the bassline follow the root note of the chords."
Neil: "We did it there in the studio."
Chris: "We deliberately didn't arrive with anything."
Neil: "It was based on two bits of songs Chris had written on his Ian Wright tape that he put together, very reluctantly."
Chris: "I'm always reluctant. It's two different songs being shoved into one. It's a waste."
Neil: "Danny had programmed some drums, and we put these bits in, and then in the studio I started singing the 'before' thing and Chris said, 'Go and sing that immediately', because it's good to sing immediately because you get the nuances. I forget nuances terribly easily. I went back to the hotel and wrote all the words, and I sang it the next day.
The vocal sounded great and then the engineer wiped the third verse by mistake. I think the three girls' vocals on it are lovely. At first Danny didn't like it where they go 'before...before...before', but we realised it was the hook of the record. It's the same message as 'Love comes quickly', really, but from a slightly different point of view. When you're feeling down about love, when you're in a difficult situation, suddenly things can straighten out. Suddenly the right person comes into your life. The middle bits - 'there's a story of a man who loved too much' - are slightly different. I think they're about O. J. Simpson because that was on the telly the whole time then."
Chris: "This was just one of those things that sounded good from day one."
Neil: "I don't know why it wasn't a bigger hit. It was a hit in England but it did nothing in Europe. It's great when someone who you expect to do some big white record does some gorgeous smooth black record. I think it may be too linear. Quite quickly, you've heard everything. My ear expects, on the second verse, something else to happen. We tried to remix it in London but it didn't sound right - what we added sounded too different from what we'd recorded in New York - so we didn't use it."
Chris: "I have to say that people are wrong sometimes. The trouble is, we've set ourselves up as releasing big records, so if we do something different people are always going to be disappointed."
To Step Aside
Neil: "Chris wrote the music a while before. His demo was called 'Shame'."
Chris: "This song sounds like the music for a holiday programme."
Neil: "That's what George Michael said."
Chris: "Some of it also sounds like New Order to me. The bassline is from a keyboard that you only buy for that bass sound."
Neil: "We struggled a bit with this, and then we applied the Spanish idea to it and found the sample of Spanish gypsies. I wanted it to sound like pilgrims singing. In the first verse you have me comparing my life with the pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela. These pilgrims have walked 120 miles and it means they've achieved eternal salvation, and then there's pathetic Neil looking out of the hotel window thinking about how good it must be to have that kind of faith. The second verse is set in Budapest - these were both real trips I'd just taken. It was 1996 and in post-communist Hungary there were still people who looked like they had really shit lives, and it was five years since communism had ended. They're still waiting 'for market forces to provide / what history's so far denied'. Everyone really only wants the same things - comfort, security, education. It doesn't seem that much to ask. But it seems impossible to get it. And I'm sitting in a big international hotel drinking a glass of white wine and looking at them. There's a certain amount of guilt, I suppose, about that. And then, in the song, I'm comparing these things with what I'll decide to do, whether I should step aside because I don't want to be changed anymore by the experiences I've been going through. It's partly about me and the relationship I was in. The end bit is the important bit: 'Will I always need you? / Would you want me to?' In other words, it's all very nice now, but it's not going to last. Or will it? There was also some sort of notion in the song about stepping aside from the Pet Shop Boys, or from pop music. Just thinking about what it does to you, being famous and being in a pop group. Do you grow away from your roots completely? I'm not convinced that you do, but it's thinking about that, saying: maybe wouldn't it
be a good thing to step aside? I sometimes think I'd rather give up the competition of the whole thing and live quietly somewhere. Live a simple life. Not try to be clever. I think about it all the time. But I don't want to do it, either."
Saturday Night Forever
Neil: "I like the way that 'To step aside' is followed on the album by this. It asks a very difficult question - are you going to step aside? - and then you go out and carry on as normal. We wrote this at Rocky Lane. I started singing 'forever forever' and it sounded really disco but I couldn't think of anything else so Chris said, 'Why don't you just go "Saturday night, Saturday night"?' It's a real disco thing to do. With the 'forever forever' bit, I thought, 'oh, I'll have to write proper words for that', but Chris said, 'No, it's great - it just goes "forever forever".'"
Chris: "It's a bit cheesy-sounding. It's the brass-line that makes it sound cheesy."
Neil: "Danny had this mad keyboard player who came over to England with him to do this. We recorded this at Sarm West and then Danny took it to New York and mixed it. We very nearly shoved it into our musical. I like the brass line. It's very Stock Aitken Waterman. Kylie could have done that. I can also imagine Robbie Williams singing it in his Take That incarnation. The words are completely nothing. I wrote them so quickly I can't even remember what I was thinking. It's
about picking someone up in a club. It's a very circular song. It just keeps going round and round. It could on forever, really."