TRACK BY TRACK: The LaFontaines – Common Problem
Known for their take on some of life’s biggest issues and their memorable blend of musical and vocal styles, there’s plenty to delve into when listening to the new The LaFontaines’ album, Common Problem. Following on from our review of the record (which you can check out HERE) we sat down with Kerr and Darren to find out more in our exclusive track by track.
Kerr: I wrote the lyrics to this with the clear intention that it would be the first track on the album – the mission statement for the record if you will. Trump was now in office, and article 50 had just been invoked for us to fuck off from Europe. At the time I had been listening to quite a lot of Run The Jewels, and I think with everything that was going on it showed me that it was sound to get politically charged on a record, as long as it was coming from a genuine place.
Darren: This is probably my favourite song we have ever done, really happy how it turned out. I made the beat after a friend had let me hear this new All Saints song which inspired the main chorus synth riff which I then combined with the chopped vocal part at the start which I had from an older idea. The whole instrumental came together in about 30 mins and I knew straight away that it was going to be something special.
Kerr: I’d say this is probably the most left field from ‘our sound’ as we’ve ever went, and this was maybe the most challenging song for me to write. Not for any emotional reasons or shit like that, but mainly because the music was so light. Everything just sounded too happy, and I think I originally found it hard to keep it from going full Will Smith. In the end I tried to just juxtaposition everything. I actually think that’s how I write in general. If I’m happy I tend to right pretty angry aggressive stuff, and on the flip side when I’m pissed off I can be more hopeful.
Darren: Similar to Too Late this came about really quickly but was never intended to be used as a track for us as initially it didn’t have any guitar or live drums, it was all programmed, but after everyone heard it was clear we had to make it work for the album. Annoyingly my hard drive with the original session for this corrupted before we tracked it and I had to spend a good while trying to recreate the original sounds, this isn’t the first time this has happened and I now back up everything.
Kerr: I was driving home from Edinburgh about 2AM last December, listening to DLZ by TV On The Radio. Apparently I was swerving all over the road (if you listen to the tune, you’ll maybe know why. It just feels like you should be doing big swooping turns in your car to that song… no?) because I was pulled over by the traffic polis. Anyway, after getting a slap on the wrists I jumped back in my car to find I had an email from Daz with a new demo, ‘ROW’ it was titled. I fired it on, and it instantly gave me the same sort of feeling that Wolf Like Me did. It’s the overall energy of the song. The drum beat on the toms and the driving bass line throughout. I came up with the rhythm and parts of the lyric before I got home. That demo became Hang Fire.
Kerr: I’m pretty interested to see how this song goes down when the album comes out. Being honest for me, it’s the song I like least on the record. That’s not to say it’s a bad tune, I just don’t gravitate towards it if I go to listen to the album. But some people whose opinions I really respect seem to be right into it, so who knows? The chorus is big.
Darren: We had 2 weekend long writing sessions at a remote studio overlooking Loch Fyne at the beginning of last year. While we did work pretty hard both weekends this is the only track to show from it and probably serves as a reminder that in 2017 its much easier to make music on your computer. John came out with the chorus riff, melody and words pretty much in a oner and it didn’t take long to structure and finish. Joe our producer added the chorus vocal chops in the verse, which really bring it to life.
Darren: We started writing this song in a log cabin somewhere near Devon on a few days off from tour in the summer of 2015. It was the first song we wrote for this album, it took ages to finish and has been through many different versions. The name, melodies and rhythm are inspired from a trip to Morocco that we all took to film the music video for our track ‘King’
What Do I know
Darren: Song 2 by Blur is one of my favourite songs and this is sort of my version of that. I had tried loads of times to do something similar and failed and then one day it just clicked. We really struggled to write a chorus vocal for this and went down to Manchester to record it without one. Luckily Jamie came up with something on the spot, which we were able to work into what you hear now
Kerr: This song is probably the most true to life lyric on the record, in terms of a real life situation. It’s about something I’m currently involved in and have absolutely no control over. In the song, not only do John and I give different perspectives on the situation, but also we actually switch roles in terms of who delivers the verse and who jumps on the chorus. I imagine there will be many different takes on what we’re actually talking about, but once you know its pretty fuckin’ haunting.
Release The Hounds
Kerr: This tune is just sheer aggression. It’s one of my favourite songs to play live, and has became a pivotal point in our live set. There is something like 7 different alternative verses for this. In the end it was actually our producer Joe who picked what one he liked best and I just went with that. I had wrote a fuckin’ amazing line about Easy Jet that was too clever for any my mob to pick up, so that never made it in sadly.
Darren: Myself and Kerr sat down one day to try and make a song inspired by ‘Fade’ – Kanye West but it never worked out, all of our attempts didn’t really work or just sounded like must lesser versions of the original song, but towards the end of the session we remembered an outro we created for the closing track of our first album ‘Pull Me Back’ which was only played live once. We opened up the session and this was exactly what we had been trying to do all day. It was originally only about a minute and a half long but on tracking it for the album our producer Joe created the whole second half and it was clear this should be the album closer.