Neil: "'Home and dry' started off with something Chris wrote."
Chris: "It started off as a riff, and actually the riff carries throughout the whole song. It's our first song, probably, where the verse, chorus and middle bit are all the same, which is quite an achievement. We've never really written a song like this before, so it was quite a shock when we did it. We thought it sounded a bit too much like Fleetwood Mac or something, but I liked the fact that it was a massive departure from anything we'd done before. We were doing something in the studio and I just ended up playing the riff. And then after dinner I thought, 'I'll work on this for a bit' and found a different sound for it. Then I did the bass, which was actually part of the riff. And we loaded up real drum sounds as well rather than electronic dance sounds."
Neil: "Most of it was done after dinner quite quickly. Chris really did the whole musical track and then I just thought of 'home and dry' for some reason and put that down and then I thought of the words and the melodies to the verses and the middle bit and put those down as well. I wrote all the words, though I later changed the middle section - originally I'd just made up words that didn't make sense. It was all done before we finished for the night."
Chris: "Very quick."
Neil: "I was very proud of thinking of four melodies for one chord change, which is something Chris has always wanted me to do."
Chris: "I like that, because once you've learned the chords then it's easy, isn't it? No complicated bits. Just the same thing going round and round and round. It's easy to remember. It keeps the groove going and your brain just gets used to the groove. It's the sort of thing you should really do in dance music but we never do."
Neil: "It's because I'm too showbiz."
Chris: "For the middle bit of this we got out the auto-tune. We were going through a bit of a love affair with the auto-tune on this album, but not in a mega-Cher way. It's not over-egged."
Neil: "I think we used it here because it was low, and the auto-tune sounds good when your voice is low - it gives it a vocoder-y quality."
Chris: "Then Johnny came and added some magnificent guitar to it, much later on. It really kicks up a gear when Johnny's guitar solo comes in at the end."
Neil: "We were very excited when we wrote it. We immediately thought it was really good."
Chris: "I don't sing on it, but I speak the words 'we're going home'. It's a reference to that Beatles song, 'Two Of Us'."
Neil: "They're singing 'we're on our way home' and Paul McCartney goes 'we're going home'."
Chris: "He says it exactly the same as me? I didn't know it was an exact reference."
Neil: "I assumed it was meant to be. Chris said in the studio: 'if you were Paul McCartney you'd say 'we're going home'' and I said, 'why don't you say that?' The lyrics are about someone missing their lover who's away."
Chris: "I thought it was about fear of flying."
Neil: "I'm coming up to that."
Neil: "It's also about fear of flying, that sort of anxiety, knowing that someone's flying across the Atlantic at night. I always think it's a very lonely place to be: flying across the Atlantic at night."
Chris: "It's terrifying if you actually think of it like that, that you're in a little tin box above the..."
Neil: "I always think of it like that when we're doing it: a tin box flying above a stormy sea."
Chris: "It's not natural."
Neil: "So the song has that as well. You're worried about someone's security and you're missing someone. Once I'd defined what the song was about I finished up the words properly, and added 'you're flying long haul tonight'. I've always liked using everyday phrases like 'long haul', putting them in a song. I've no idea why the phrase 'home and dry' occurred to me, to be honest. My mother used to say 'home and dry', I think. When we were kids my father was away a lot and you'd be sort of aware that he was driving back through bad weather from Glasgow or somewhere, and you were aware of a slight worry: driving safely, not speeding, having an accident, all that kind of thing. And it was sort of a relief when he was home. I wonder if there's something like that in the song. I remember once my father flew from London - this was in the Sixties - and it seemed amazing. We all went and met him in Newcastle airport and he flew in this horrible little plane and it was a stormy night and we were sort of scared because he was landing in this storm. Newcastle airport in those days was basically a former RAF base - a few Nissen huts. And I remember the drama of this little plane coming out of the sky in a storm."
(Literally 25, 2002)
I Get Along
Neil: "'I get along' started the day we went to Newcastle to buy some guitars."
Chris: "Did you hear that? 'Some' guitars. Not just the one."
Neil: "We drove to Newcastle, went to a guitar shop and I bought three guitars - two acoustics, one of which I've been using on stage on tour, and an electric guitar. Because my other electric guitar, the tuning seems funny. I think it needs fixing. So we got the guitars home and I started to play the chords at the beginning of 'I get along' which I thought sounded like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I thought it sounded like 'Under The Bridge' or something like that. I can't really remember what happened then."
Chris: "You did all the verse but you said it needed a chorus, and I said, 'oh, well, it obviously needs a descending chorus - it needs a big Seventies terrace anthem type of thing going on'."
Neil: "This was after dinner as well. We'd had a couple of drinks, actually."
Chris: "It's always good working in the studio after dinner."
Neil: "Always. And Chris put this descending chord change in, and I suddenly thought 'I get along' and I sang it and Chris said, 'yeah, that's great - record it now!' And when I recorded it I sang it differently and he was 'No!'"
Chris: "I was, [outraged] 'that's not what you sang before!'"
Neil: "And I couldn't remember it, but eventually I remembered it the way he liked it and whacked it straight in there. What's quite interesting is that these tracks we recorded when we wrote the songs are actually on the album, so that on 'Home and dry' the chorus is from the first time I sang it. Pretty much, anyway. And 'I get along' is the same. We loved it when we wrote it. It was so catchy."
Chris: "A scarf-waver. Hence you could buy scarves on the Uni tour."
Neil: "Then, having written 'I get along very well, I get along very well without you, very well', or whatever it is, the rest of the words weren't done for a while. I had 'feeling like I'm stuck in a hole, body and soul' -that's when I was being the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. We took an instrumental version of it away with the chorus vocals on it, and I wrote the words. A lot of the songs on the album were inspired by things in newspapers at the time, and this was the time when Peter Mandelson, who was then Northern Ireland secretary, was sacked from the government, or forced to resign, in fact, from the government. And I took the story of that and just turned it into a sort of love song, about the breakdown of a relationship. I always think you have the feeling that the person singing 'I get along...' can't get along without the other person. It's actually exactly like the famous song 'I Get Along Without You Very Well', Hoagy Carmichael, or like the Bob Dylan song 'Most Of The Time'. Which is what one sort of felt about Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair. That's where some of the detail comes from, particularly in the middle section: 'I phoned you up/the calls were all diverted...' There was a thing in the paper saying that Tony Blair couldn't get hold of Peter Mandelson. The second verse, however, quotes the British pop singer Richard Ashcroft. He gave an interview to the NME a couple of years ago and he was talking about his solo album coming out, and these very important album releases - his album, the last Oasis album and Radiohead's Kid A - and he said, 'the big boys are back and we need them'. And I was always struck by the arrogance of this just like we were both struck by the arrogance of Badly Drawn Boy when he won the Mercury Music Prize saying 'good things don't often go to good people'. There's a kind of rock aristocracy thing again nowadays which I don't really like, because it implies a certain complacency, which I think you can see in groups like Oasis, and Richard Ashcroft in fact. And I worked that into the story because the person is singing about someone who has kind of lost touch with reality - that's why it's 'now I know you'd much rather be with rock royalty instead of someone like me'. There's that picture of Stella McCartney and Liv Tyler wearing t-shirts saying 'rock royalty' which is meant to be ironic, but you also know it's not ironic at the same time."
(Literally 25, 2002)
Chris: "It's another song with the same chords all the way through. It's bit of a theme on this album: a chord progression which keeps looping. Apart from, in this song, a fantastic key change in the middle. Just absolutely a work of pure genius, even though I say so myself - you wouldn't even notice it, it's that good. Which then goes straight into a magnificent keyboard guitar solo. I wrote the chords. It was originally a bit of a dance track, and Neil spent quite a bit of time on it trying to get it half-tempo."
Neil: "I thought it sounded cheesy then, to be honest."
Chris: "It was. It was a cheesy dance record."
Neil: "Chris gave up on it, I'm afraid, and went and watched Countdown on the television."
Chris: "I fell asleep watching Countdown. But I think I said 'shove some guitar on it'. My solution to any problems in the studio during this album was 'Neil, play guitar on it'."
Neil: "This was before I bought the new electric guitars, I think, so I got out my electric guitar which I bought when we were doing demos for Behaviour in Glasgow. I was thinking a bit of Lou Reed or something like that, so I just played one take all the way through, guitar little arpeggio things - it's still on the record. Suddenly it sounded really rock and Chris perked up from the sofa. And then a horn line went in. I did it about five times until I got the one that I could hear in my head. Then I had no idea whatsoever for lyrics at all, and Chris flicked through The Sun and said 'birthday boy'. I said, 'Oh, that's a good title'. Because it was Michael Owen's birthday and the headline on the sports pages was 'Birthday Boy'. I think Chris took some other lyrics out of The Sun too, did a bit of a David Bowie cut-up thing."
Chris: "I don't remember."
Neil: "I don't think that lasted very long. I thought of the idea of birthday boy being Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, and that the birthday boy was Stephen Lawrence, the black kid who was killed by racists in South London, or Matthew Shepherd, the gay boy who was killed by homophobes in America - someone who's killed out of hatred and whose killing changes everything, makes people confront their own hatred. And so in that sense they are like Christ dying for our sins. In the lyrics it's meant to be like a TV documentary, so you see 'birthday boy, so afraid, plays the machines in the arcade' - it's like after the event, after he's been murdered, the police track down some CCTV footage of him. 'So afraid, plays the machines in the arcade' is a line I've had for years. I had a song once called 'Little boy lost' which it was from. Then, in the chorus, it's the TV documentary being watched by two people sitting at home talking, and the wife says to the husband, 'Oh baby, do you remember? He's been through all this before...' because there's something familiar about the story. And of course the reason it's familiar is because it's Jesus. And then at the end the boy dying realises what's going to happen and, just like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, prays to God because he doesn't think he has the strength to go through with it, but he knows his fate and he can't do anything about it. In the last verse it draws the direct parallel with the Bible. 'A quick betrayal' - the garden of Gethsemane. 'A speedy trial' - before Pontius Pilate. 'As before, complete denial' - from St Peter. That's why it says 'if you knew his name would you feel the same?' If you knew he was Jesus would you still be killing him? I'm saying that people die for our sins. Stephen Lawrence dies for the sin of racism. Matthew Shepherd dies for the sin of homophobia. And in doing that they make people confront those sins and they help to cleanse the sin away, and they become Christ-like figures. The astonishing thing with Matthew Shepherd is that he was hung on a fence for two days in an absolutely Christ-like pose. It's the most horrifying, moving image. It made a big impact on me, reading about that, and the Stephen Lawrence case made a big impact on everyone in Britain. Right at the very end the song goes into a sample of 'In The Bleak Midwinter', a Christmas carol, because it's like it's happening at Christmas, so we put on sound effects so it sounds like crowds of Christmas shoppers, carols being played in the shops, and in some dark street some boy's just been murdered. I think it's one of the most moving songs we've ever written. It's also the lowest pitched song I've ever sung. It's very low."
Chris: "Is that when you had flu?"
Neil: "I had a bit of a cold so my voice was lower than normal."
Chris: "It's one of those songs as well that starts off quietly and builds and builds and builds and gets louder and then goes quiet and then becomes loud again."
(Literally 25, 2002)
Neil: "I'd started to write a song on piano called 'London' and I'd thought of 'we were in London, let's break the law'. And then I wrote the words of the verse. I 'd had this idea, because of a friend of ours from Russia, of writing a song about two people deserting from the Russian army and coming to London. They're sort of good-natured, and they do just a little bit of crime every now and then when they need the money. I'm fascinated by how London is full of Russians, sometimes doing jobs other people won't do. That verse was alright, but it was a bit longwinded. Then, when we went to Berlin to work with Chris Zippel to record 'Positive role model' and another song called 'Somebody else's business', Chris Zippel wanted to write a song with us, which we weren't actually that keen on doing. Then he played this bit of a track he'd written and it was really really nice. I forged that with 'London', made that the verse and put it with my bridge and chorus. We had to change the key to make it all fit together, so that the Chris Zippel bit changes into the me bit on the 'so we could see what we trained to fight...' And I did this little melody over Chris Zippel's track. Anyway, I wasn't really very happy doing it, for some reason, and Chris wasn't very happy - Chris actually left the studio."
Chris: "I went to see a fantastic film instead."
Neil: "But when we came back the following afternoon Chris Zippel had worked on this track a lot and it sounded really good. We were very impressed. He'd put my vocal through a load of effects which are still on there. I think there wasn't a middle bit at that point, and I put it in on the second day, then we carried on working on 'Positive role model'. Chris Zippel carried on working on it afterwards; that's why it's the most electronic-sounding song on the album."
Chris: "It's still got guitar on it."
Neil: "It's got a friend of Chris Zippel's playing guitar on it. The lyric is from the point of view of the Russians once they're back in Russia and then in the chorus - again it's like a film, because it's a flashback - it goes back to when they were in London: 'let's do it, let's break the law'. And he says 'tell it like is' - they're not taking any bullshit. Then in the middle of the song he does tell it like it is. Originally it was 'my father died in Afghanistan', referring to when the Russians fought in Afghanistan in the Eighties, but I changed it late on to 'fought', because you obviously gather that his father's died. It's just saying that conditions for his mother are really crap and his prospects aren't great in Russia and he wants to enjoy himself. Russians can travel now which they didn't used to be able to, and they really take the opportunity. The song also satirises the British attitude to foreigners: 'looking for hard work or credit card fraud - what do you expect from us? We come from abroad', that satirises the British attitude to foreigners: 'coming here, taking our jobs'. There's a tendency for British people to think of all Russians as Russian mafia."
(Literally 25, 2002)
Neil: "'E-mail' started off as a song I wrote at my house in the North. I sort of fiddled around with this for months on the piano and one day I thought of 'send me an e-mail that says I love you'. I quite like the idea of writing a love song about e-mail."
Chris: "Is it about anyone specific?"
Neil: "Possibly. But, as you know, I don't talk about my private life. I brought the song into the studio right at the beginning of this album, and actually I didn't think it was that good, to be honest, but I liked the chord change. Then we decided to do it in a sort of hip hop style. I should point out that at the beginning of this album the Pet Shop Boys' idea was not to make a rock album, it was to make a hip hop album. So Chris put down this sort of hip hop rhythm track and then Chris wrote the middle bit, and suddenly it started to sound quite good. People have commented, which didn't occur to me until ages afterwards, that it starts with the same chord change as 'West End girls'."
Chris: "It doesn't though, does it?"
Neil: "It's actually a little bit different, but I can see it has a similar effect. That's because we made an introduction out of part of the chorus. The words came quite easily. The lyric is about being unsure of someone's feelings for you."
Chris: "Isn't it 'waiting by the telephone' for the Internet era?"
Neil: "It is. You know the classic 'there she sits all alone, waiting for a ring on the telephone' kind of love song? It's a contemporary version of that, waiting for, when you do your e-mail, the beloved name to crop up. We recorded my old iMac connecting to the Internet."
Chris: "That was good fun."
Neil: "That was a major faff."
Chris: "It involved carrying Neil's iMac from his watchtower or whatever he calls it..."
Chris: "Belvedere. I bet not many people know Neil's got a belvedere. Actually, it's more an ivory tower than a belvedere. He goes and sits in it..."
Neil: "...looks out the window."
Chris: "Firing e-mails around the world."
Neil: "Anyway, someone said the other day that they couldn't believe we'd used that sound: 'who uses that kind of connection to the Internet nowadays?' I've got a brand new 64 now and it still makes that kind of noise."
Chris: "They're talking ASDL. Pathetic."
Neil: "Anyway, we put it on the start. Originally we had the Apple: 'dah-ding!'"
Chris: "Do you think when the album gets re-released in the future we should use the latest connection noise? We'll keep on updating the connection noise."
Neil: "I like that noise."
(Literally 25, 2002)
The Samurai In Autumn
Chris: "Maybe we'll call it 'The samurai in fall' in America."
Neil: "Chris started it. We'd decided to have some instrumentals and Chris wrote this piece of music."
Chris: "There's a setting on the Yamaha keyboard that does these sort of sounds, the arpeggiator sounds. I used that."
Neil: "I'd had this title in my notebook. When we were on the Nightlife tour, in a German newspaper there was a picture of Chris and I in our wigs and everything, and the headline was translated for us and it said 'the samurai in autumn'. And I thought it was a very beautiful phrase. I think it was in Munich because I was walking around Munich in the rain one day, thinking about this, and I thought of this line: 'it's not as easy as it was or as difficult as it could be for the samurai in autumn'. The samurai in autumn are me and Chris. I was summing up Chris's and my professional status and career at that time: 'It's not as easy as it was or as difficult as it could be for the samurai in autumn'. I had other words as well, but I couldn't work out what I was saying, to be honest. I had this corny 'don't cry, samurai, bye bye' Beatley thing which I discarded."
Chris: "Like 'Too Shy'?"
Neil: "A bit like that. Then I set the one line to the music and I thought we should have Japanese sound so we got a sample of a koto."
Chris: "I wasn't that keen for this to be on the album. It was too dancey. But everybody felt we needed a break in the album."
Neil: "I felt that there's a lot of lyrics on this album and it's quite nice to have a very wistful electronic kind of thing."
Chris: "I didn't want people to think we were trying to make a trance track because it isn't supposed to be that.
Neil: "Another thing I've heard about this album is that 'Neil and Johnny Marr just didn't let Chris in the studio', and it's really funny because I'm the one that wanted electronic tracks on and Chris is the one who didn't."
(Literally 25, 2002)
Love Is A Catastrophe
Neil: "I actually said this line to someone on the telephone when I was feeling that love indeed was a catastrophe. Sometimes it can be a painful experience, being in love with someone."
Chris: "Only sometimes?"
Neil: "If it's not working out, which it wasn't in this instance. And this friend of mine said, 'oh, you should write a song called that'. I said, 'that sounds a bit melodramatic, don't you think?' That part of my brain that's always writing a song had already thought: 'interesting title'. But I'd thought it was too over the top. Then we were in the studio and Chris wrote this music."
Chris: "I wanted to write a song in 6/8 time, something like an REM 'Everybody Hurts' kind of thing. So it's in 6/8, with this broken chord type of thing, and it's another song with the same chords going round and round and round, just getting louder and louder and more intense and more dramatic, until it dives again and there's different chords, and then it all comes back in and climaxes. More and more parts are added all the time, and it gets louder and louder and more intense. It's got a great solo as well, a David Bowie kind of solo."
Neil: "Mick Ronson, I think."
Chris: "It sounds like a guitar but it isn't. I'd just about finished the whole backing track and it coincided with Neil having written all the lyrics."
Neil: "We did this whole track in one day. I sat in the corner of the studio writing the lyrics, having decided it was called 'Love is a catastrophe', and Chris started playing this thing and I thought, 'Oh crikey, I can see this'. It was in November, a weak sun hanging low, high wind through the trees - the trees outside the studio were making a right racket. It was a very bleak day up there. I think we both think there's an influence of the geography where my house is on the album. I think Chris might think this even more than me."
Chris: "Definitely. I don't think we'd have made this album in London at all. We were very remote, it's on the edge of the moors, the weather's more extreme, you're more isolated and you're contemplative. I think all that comes across in the music."
Neil: "It does. It has that kind of bleak romanticism of the landscape."
Chris: "I remember with 'The samurai in autumn', you can turn the volume right up in Neil's studio, and to hear that sort of blasting out across this bleak barren countryside..."
Neil: "Actually there's no barren countryside right by my house. It's all green fields."
Chris: "Well, just round the corner. You could hear it through the wind and it has a romantic quality to it.
Neil: "Anyway, I know the lyrics to 'Love is a catastrophe' were finished by teatime because my sister came in with some cups of tea..."
Chris: "We have afternoon tea every day there. It's fantastic, actually. Egg sandwiches, a cup of tea and, sometimes, homemade flapjack. If you're lucky."
Neil: "I'd gone over to the belvedere to type up the lyrics and print them out, and they were on the desk in the studio, and I tried to turn them the other way round so Susan wouldn't see them, and she picked them and read them and looked somewhat shocked by them. Anyway, then I did the vocal, which is still the vocal on the record. I might have corrected a couple of bits but it's pretty much unchanged. There's sometimes a power the first time you sing something, I think, because you feel it so strongly. And I guess I was working out the melody at the same time. The lyric just describes the pain of it all, the pain of unrequited love. How you wish it had never happened. How did you come to get into this? We, of course, return to this on the last track on the album. It's a bit melodramatic - sometimes I think Shirley Bassey should sing it - but I think the music is very, very powerful. At the end we distorted the vocal to give it that punky quality. It's very very personal, but so is 'E-mail', so is 'You choose' and so is 'Home and dry'. There's quite a few personal songs and there have been before. 'Liberation' was a personal song; 'Love comes quickly' was a personal song... 'Discoteca'... 'The survivors'... 'Footsteps'. But this is so bleakly personal, and the combination of the personal quality of the lyrics and the style of the music makes it unlike anything we've done before. It was quite an exciting thing, doing this track. Just like 'Birthday boy', but even more so. It felt very powerful and just like nothing we'd ever done before. Some people thought 'Love is a catastrophe' should end the album, and we considered it, but I think the trajectory of the album we wanted was to go through the pain and then to come out of it and end on a more philosophical note."
(Literally 25, 2002)
Neil: "This song was originally called 'Home', but as the album was going to be called Home at one point we changed it to 'Here'. Also we already had 'Home and dry'. 'Here' sounds very personal but in fact it was originally written for Closer to Heaven. At the same time as we were writing songs for the album at the beginning of 2001 we were also still writing songs for the musical. At exactly the same time as we wrote 'Love is a catastrophe' we also wrote the song 'My night', for instance, and at the same time as we wrote 'E-mail' we wrote 'It's just my little tribute to Caligula, darling!' So it's funny that people think we went rock. In fact we were writing for two different projects at the same time in different musical styles, and I guess that probably had an impact on the music we were doing for the album, to make it a contrast with the music we were doing for the musical. But this song is a mixture of both styles. In Closer to Heaven we knew that the second half of the show was quite bleak and we wanted to have a moment where you pointed out the good side of the club and the clubbing and how all these misfits fitted in there, and they fitted in there because it was their home. Jonathan wrote this scene where Straight Dave was going to go back to Ireland after Mile End Lee died, and Vic, the manager of the club, starts to sing this song, and then Billie Trix comes in and sings the second verse, and they're persuading him to stay, and he realises that they're almost like quasi-parental figures, and we always had the impression that in Ireland he maybe doesn't have these figures and this security. And they're pointing out that actually he has a home - they're really supportive and they love him and they don't want him to go and they'll do anything for him and they'll help him get on, they know he wants to be a musician and they'll really help him. That's what this song is saying. It's a very simple song."
Chris: "It's a very simple arrangement as well. It's quite electronic but to me it's not an electronic song. It's a bit more gospel, really."
Neil: "Chris wrote the track and I did the melody and the words."
Chris: "It's got elements of the soundtrack to Scarface, I think. It's a bit Giorgio Moroder. It's got a very simple early house rhythm as well, so it's got a slightly anthemic quality. There's a dichotomy between the arrangement of the song and the song."
Neil: "In the end, the second half of the show we felt was too long, and it didn't quite work, this song. Though when we do the New York production I would actually quite like to try putting it back in and making it work, because people criticised Closer to Heaven for moralising about clubbing and all the rest of it, which wasn't really our intention. And I think it needs a warm moment. In the original demo it segued from a reprise of 'Something special' which Straight Dave sings, into 'we all have a dream of a place we belong...' When it got cut out of the show Chris said, 'oh good, we can put it on our album in that case.' It was all recorded in our studio, quite quickly. I put a load of backing vocals on. I've always loved the Simon and Garfunkel song called 'The Only Living Boy In New York' and it has backing vocals a bit like this, all these tracked 'aaah's and 'oooh's. I wasn't sure whether it fitted on this album."
Chris: "Lyrically it really does."
Neil: "I agree. Musically I thought maybe it was a bit too electronic."
Chris: "I love the line 'we all make mistakes in our lives from time to time'. It's great, that."
(Literally 25, 2002)
The Night I Fell In Love
Neil: "This started with two things. Right at the beginning of working on the album in our studio I suggested we went through a load of old demos that we had. It's always a starting point - see if you've got anything lurking around. And years ago Chris and I were going to write a musical based on the Graham Greene novel Brighton Rock, and we actually wrote a couple of things for it. It was originally called 'How happy I am'. At the beginning of Brighton Rock there's a character called Kolly Kibber who's wanted by gangsters, and he's working for a newspaper and if you recognise him you come up to him and say, 'you are Kolly Kibber and I claim five pounds'. This woman meets him for a drink; Kolly Kibber's worried, and he goes off to the loo and she never sees him again, and she discovers he's been killed."
Chris: "It's such a good book, Brighton Rock."
Neil: "So she's saying to Kolly Kibber, 'you look worried, mate', and he's going 'how happy I am' - 'How happy I am, I used to think that I was, an unhappy man...' - and is going on about why he's happy, and it's ironic because he's not happy. And then there's a pause and he goes to the loo and she starts to sing 'how happy I am' and then there's a shot - the shot's still in 'The night I fell in love', just before the middle section - and that's where Kolly Kibber gets shot. We dug the demo out, which was on a cassette, and we couldn't find the programming for it so we sampled the start off the cassette we made in 1993 and used that all the way through the song, the tune being played on a funny French horn-y kind of sound on a keyboard Chris used to have."
Chris: "It was done on a little Roland Sound Canvas which broke. It was great. It had helicopter noises and gun shots on it, which we used."
Neil: "A lot of the songs on this album are about things happening at this moment in time. There was a big controversy about Eminem being homophobic and Elton John playing with him at the Grammys, and Eminem's defence of the homophobic lyrics on his albums has always been that he's not speaking as himself, he's speaking as a character, and he's representing homophobia in America I thought it would be quite interesting to take that method and just to imagine a scene where a boy meets a famous rap star backstage at his concert and is surprised to discover he's gay and ends up sleeping with him. Just to present rap in this homosexual context. I mean, there obviously are gay rap stars. I was thinking of the boy as the schoolboy in Queer As Folk, someone like that, going to see a concert at Manchester Arena or somewhere like that, and he ends up backstage because he's cute, and he gets off with the rap star. I liked it because it's a provocative idea. I think if rap's going to be provocative that you can be provocative back about it. I like the cheeky idea of presenting an Eminem-type rap star as being gay. I think if Eminem thinks he can put himself in a homophobic context which doesn't represent him I'm just putting him in a homosexual context; I'm using his method. Eminem is saying 'supposing I was homophobic I would say things like this'; I'm saying 'supposing he was gay he might do things like this'. It's just two sides of the same method. I don't imagine Eminem will ever hear it, to be honest."
Chris: "He won't have heard of us. He didn't even know Elton was gay."
Neil: "I like Eminem's records. I think he's brilliant."
Chris: "I've got his doll on the mantelpiece - that's how much I like Eminem."
Neil: "Pop Idols and the rest of it are sort of irrelevant in a way because you have someone like Eminem making the most astonishing records, and I actually quite admire the sort of ghastly things he says, because I do think it represents America. I buy into that and I believe it. I like the extremeness of it. And he says all these outrageous things but he's also a cute pop star. That's one of the things that makes it work."
Chris: "He's a comic genius."
Neil: "I put a little sting in the tail of the lyrics which wasn't originally in there, about 'already late for school'. Originally it ended 'that was quite alright, 'cause I'd had such an incredible night by then...' but I thought that was weak. And a kid of that age would say it was 'cool'."
(Literally 25, 2002)
Neil: "'You choose' was written as a lyric when I was on holiday. I was listening to some jazz music, sitting on this terrace in an Italian hotel. think the music was by Bill Evans. It was very beautiful and wistful. So I imagined this having a sort of jazz tune, but I didn't have a tune. A bit like 'Nine out of ten' in the musical, I wrote the lyric and one day I gave it to Chris and went for a run, and when I came back Chris was writing this tune Setting it to music. It's composing, realty. Then I put guitar on it. I'd always like the Velvet Underground's third album and the tune Chris wrote reminded me of that - 'Jesus', 'Candy Says', delicate songs like that - and I wanted that kind of sound for it. I put the glockenspiel on because 'Sunday Morning' by the Velvet Underground's got a glockenspiel on. The melody is actually played on a guitar sample, as it is on 'The night I fell in love'. I like the fact that it has a slightly loose rock feel. Then when Johnny came in and he replaced my guitar, and came up with a little melody thing."
Chris: "Did he?"
Neil: "I like the fact that it has a proper last chord at the end so the albums on this drum roll and then..."
Chris: "Ends on a major chord. So there's hope. It's not all doom and gloom in the world of the Pets. Not quite."
Neil: "The idea behind the lyric was just thinking that, rather than 'love comes quickly whatever you do, you can't stop falling' you can actually stop yourself. At some point you make a decision, and there's a bit where you jump over the cliff and you don't know what's going to happen. You go into freefall. But you chose to do it. Chris thinks it's when you get older, and maybe he's right, because I wrote 'Love comes quickly' when I was much younger."
Chris: "I was thinking more about it, and I think that you can choose not to fall in love but I think that you can't choose to fall in love. I think you can stop yourself, but I don't think you can make yourself fall in love with somebody."
Neil: "No. I'm saying the same as you. The song is saying that you choose to go past the point of no return. And that you can't blame anyone else for it - it's your decision. So the main point of the song is the bit where it says: 'he didn't decide to fall in love, you did'."
Chris: "Actually I'm not sure if you can totally choose not to fall in love. I think sometimes you're just, 'oh my God, I am in love'. It happened. You didn't even have a chance to stop and think."
Neil: "Anyway, it's obviously an interesting philosophical debate. I was thinking about it because of love having been a catastrophe. It was me trying to rationalise my feelings. Writing a song certainly helps. It's a healing thing, and certainly helps you put everything into perspective. Now, when I listen to 'Love is a catastrophe', I think, 'Oh God, remember then?' and I feel a distance from it. It's a very good process. It helps you to get it out of your system."
(Literally 25, 2002)