Thursday, December 20, 2018

Track-by-track: Birds in Row - We Already Lost the World

French hardcore band Birds in Row guide us through their second album "We Already Lost the World" with a track-by-track commentary.

#1 - We count so we don’t have to listen 

It came from an old riff we never used cause at the time we couldn’t find a good way to compose a song out of it. When it took it back, years after we stopped working on it, it came fresh and took no time to develop. We kinda struggled on one part, after this cold-wavy / post-punk part in the middle. It was hard to find way to get out there and it took us a demo session to find the solution. 

The heaviness of some of the riffs really gave a soundtrack to some discussions we had on issues such as the migrant « crisis ». Some of us had a very important conversation about it with a friend of ours called Vincent Hejduk, who work with social entrepreneurs and ended up making a documentary about all the positive impacts and solutions found in that « crisis ». In this discussion, we found analog situations between the status of those war fleeing people, and the one we give to unemployed persons, or other population the system wants put down. And it always works the same way: one uses numbers to reduce people to statistics, rather than tell individual and human stories, to induce a virtual threat to our comfort. It’s easier to convince people that they are in dangers, by dehumanizing some. It was hard to find a migrant’s testimony on TV. No one gave them an opportunity to speak. Medias and governments spoke for them, and avoid us to listen.

#2 - Love is political

This was the first song we composed for the new album. The first intro+riff came from an old rehearsal recording. We reworked it obviously. It was an easy song to work through, sometimes you just compose something in a few hours without struggling too much. Then, we worked on the lyrics and like always they came buy themselves, from the feeling the music gave us. 

It was close to the election days, and the tension was everywhere. Everyone wants « his » party to win. Everyone claim they are more politically involved, always putting some dishonor on non-votants considering they were too lazy to be involved. So, it made us feel as people’s view on politics was sometimes very narrow. For us, political acts start with how you treat the people around you. Everything is made to divide us - competition is in every aspect of our society - so building social bridges is a daily political act. 

#3 - We vs us

This is a special song in a way. It took us a while to work on the progression we built. We had this first couple riffs that sounded always country. It came up to us that the very catchy side of it should be stopped at a certain point, and turned into something more intense. But just throwing a violent part after that mellow start didn’t feel right, so we started building something more progressive. We took some time to work on nuances a lot. And in a way it represents this album very well. There are mellow mid-tempo riffs and aggressive melodies and an epic end. 

Once the music was written, the words started flowing on it, and it took us some time to realize that it talked about holding on together. Doing things by passion with a group of people involves a lot of good times, fun, rewarding moments; but also exhaustion, boundaries pushing efforts, ego wrecking moments,… and it’s harder for some sometimes. When you’re in a band for example, or any other group, it’s sometimes tough to keep everyone in the pack, or have the same level of hope and passion in the project you’re in. And when you hold on tight but your friends kinda give up, you need to find the words, the helpful hands, to take them back up on their feet and remind them what you do is right. At a certain point, you realize your worst enemy is yourself, as an individual and as a group. So this is where you need to work first, on finding the motivation and spreading it to your fellows.

#4 - Remember us better than we are

This song was almost fully composed at once, on guitar. Then it felt very easy to get everyone involved in their own way. Bits been changed to the first part (the fastest one), but not too much. We were working on it and couldn’t find a following idea to the last we had. We took a break. And some went out of the rehearsal room and some others started playing the last riff we added to the structure. And just for fun we started imitating The Police using that riff on a reggae beat. When the third one of us entered the room without knowing it was a joke he actually loved it and started playing along. We decided to just break the aggressiveness of the whole song by putting this out-of-the-blue revisited The Police part. Thanx Sting. 

It was harder to write lyrics for that one. Sometimes the music doesn’t speak much for itself. There was a topic we wanted to talk about on the album, related to the competition we all put between each other. Social medias are a very good example of how we judge each other’s lives, look, ideas, … without necessarily proposing anything new. And it puts everyone in a situation where you feel less interesting, capable, good looking, talented than the people you see the lives of on your Instagram feed. So we try to build a better mirror by creating a character on our pages, just so it reflects a good image of us to ourselves. And all the time we spend building those fake images of ourselves, we don’t use in producing something else. So it really just is a narcissistic and destructive behavior that pushes us to hate our identity, glorify others, and put a constant competition between us and people we know nothing of.

#5 - I don’t dance

It was the second song we composed when we started working on the record. And it’s been our favorite for while. There’s something that resonates intensely in us with that song. Everytime we would play it, we would end up with a big smile like we had accomplished something together that we were all very happy with. We tried to work hard on the structure, and find a way to overstep the intensity of the first parts. When we found the last part it was just perfect. So epic, it reminded us of band we love, like Envy. It is an intense and hard song to play. And it took us a while to master it. 

Once we had a good practice recording of it, we started working on the lyrics. Just like « Love is political », we wrote it during the election days. We were particularly stroke with how the political game was showing its true face. How it doesn’t work for the common good, but to push ideas under the name of a challenger, down the throats of millions. There was no debates to talk real topics, it was all just a competition of who was right and who lied the most. Just like all elections, but for some reasons it really stroke particularly on that one. And the people who decided not to be part of this, by not voting or by blank voting, were so ostracized and forbidden to speak. No one wanted to see abstentionism as an act of repulsion of the whole system; it was easier to convince everyone it was just a bunch of uninterested people. 
The whole idea of the lyrics aren’t to tell people to vote or not. This is a very delicate question, and it should remain personal we believe. But it talks about how in this kind of situation, when everyone fight around crumbs, saying that the problem may not be the details but the whole system, is not welcome and ridiculed. We believe taking a step further back to have a more global view on what’s going on could help a lot.

#6 - 15-38

This is the most poppy song we’ve ever written ahah. It came from a bunch of riffs we played on a post-black metal beat kind of, that we decided to take out of this mood and place it on a lazier one. Some of us listened to some bands such as Chelsea Wolfe and True Widows at the time, and this very slow, doomy/lazy vibe was inspiring. the music got written in one night. Very easily. And we were kind of like « well it could be a cool X-Factor song, maybe it’s too much we’ll see ». But we kept playing it at rehearsals and started feeling comfortable with it being so different. We thought people would probably bash us for that, but that it was more interesting to put in the middle of an aggressive record, than another aggressive song. 

Lyrics got written in a train. One of us was travelling, seated in an empty coach. Some dude entered the wagon, his phone on his ear, shouting at his colleagues and friends for some reasons. He looked like a total dick. Super condescending and passive aggressive. And some ideas started to arrive. Why was that person like that ? What made him be a prick ? So, while the train was still going, the one of us who was witnessing this started to think about the potential conversation he could have with that person, the questions he could ask him. Its brain started running and running into this imaginary scenario when suddenly the guy turned around and looked at him with a face saying « I don’t care if you hate me or love me, we are both losers here ». And it turned into this idea that we are all losers indeed, we can’t really have a total control on our lives because the way everything works around us is alienating. So though we can always lose more (we don’t live in an obvious dictatorship…) it sometimes doesn’t feel like it. And you’ve got nothing left to lose, it also means you have everything left to build. We already lost the world, but it only takes the whole of us to take it back. The coach number was #15 and this virtual philosopher was on the seat #38.

#7 - Triste Sire

Punk rock. Straight to the point. Two chords. No fucks given. It got written last, we finished it the day before the recording session. Once it was recorded, we wanted to trim a part but didn’t do it in the end, and it’s now a fun part to play on stage, so all hail to the gods of laziness. 

The song being brutal, we felt like brutal lyrics would make sense. We wanted the record to be a way to gather people, so it was kind of contradictory with anti-social lyrics. But we liked the idea of having a very brutal, anti-social speech that ends up agreeing on its own faults in the last lines. It’s not always clear for everyone but it is what it is. These are feelings we all have, we believe. Exhaustion, lack of understandings with people around us, … and it pushes us away from each other but it takes just a bit of honesty to realize the problem doesn’t come from the people but from ourselves and how selfish we tend to be. The title means « Sad Sir » in an old french way. It’s meant to be a bit ironic, kinda like « poor fellow ».

#8 - Morning

It was probably the hardest one to compose. We wanted it to be a bit challenging. So we put a lot of effort in small details. Some of us weren’t happy with it until the day we recorded it. It’s hard to appreciate a song you worked on for countless hours. It can sometimes feel unnatural. Plus, it was hard to play in the beginning so it never felt right. The structure of it being a bit all over the place, it was hard to get inspiration. And it made us feel like this phase of confusion you’re in when you just wake up and you have to rush out of your house. Everything seems brutal. Noises, people presence, cold/heat. This feeling is pretty much a constant feeling for some of us. And it’s probably the song that has the most out of topic lyrics. It doesn’t really have a gathering message, but is just pure feelings. 

#9 - Fossils

The first part of this song was already written before any practice. So it went smoothly. It was just restructured to make it more efficient. We wanted to find a more brutal part to cut with this very melodic/epic beginning. And we all had something in mind that should sound like Portal: violent, constant and boomy blast beat. Somehow we ended up stopping it by a more ambient/shoegazy riff that we decided to keep playing, fading it out dynamically. 

The words came but themselves and started shaping a song about inspiration, and how it is hard to find inspiring people, mainly in politics. It takes researches to find someone that you can actually look up onto. So it feels like a lot of inspirations are dead sometimes, turned into fossils. And the last part of the song, ending up on « the sea runs dry, we lose hope » refers to how our generation doesn’t have a vision of the future, no society project, just a lot of concerns on our present (such as global warming for example). It’s hard look forward to what is going to happen and we need everyone to be inspired and inspiring, to build hope and give our future back.

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