We've just released our second album, it's called Wolf's Law. It's a record that enjoys a breadth of themes and colour that are symptomatic of being conceived on the road. We're a band that has barely left the touring circuit since our formation, so it's very natural that the seeds of songs find themselves being planted in hotel rooms, bus lounges and the backstages of venues across the globe. This records talks about friendship, love, grief, it ponders change, it celebrates the life of Wangari Matthai, pays homage to family members that we've lost and earnestly clings to a moment of sublimity that it accepts is fleeting. It's diverse, but it chronicles a moment in time, charters the abundance of thoughts, inspirations and ideas that you get from an ever-changing landscape.
One of the tracks from the album sessions, A Minute's Silence, is a consequence of what I was reading on the road. A good book is a much enjoyed refuge for me on tour; I read a lot and what I've been reading often seeps into the songs that I write. In this instance though, the connection was much more glaring, less inadvertent, this novel made me want to write a song.
If we put the story aside for a moment, it was the craft of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections that at first heightened my affinity for his work. It's a very descriptive book, but it's beautifully subtle too. I felt straight away like this was a book that would separate the skim readers from the invested, and I found that very alluring, especially because the writing is accessible. There's no fluff, there's no forced intellectualism, and you don't feel like Jonathan Franzen is fighting for his metaphors, in the same way, that good music sounds simple even with the strangest of structures or time signatures. That craft of being able to say a lot without horrid elaboration.
I write a lot about family, the failings, joys and nuances of that unique unit.
The Corrections revolves around the Lamberts, a troubled Midwestern family as it traces their past, their relationships with each other and the problems of each individual family member. The parents, Enid and Alfred are old, they're frustrated by the onset of time, by each other, a sense of anxiety and regret hangs in the air as they realise their inescapable combined fate.
I'm drawn to it because a version of these same characters live on a track off our first album, I Don't Want To See You Like This, a song that I wrote about my ageing grandparents, and the family's quest to try and reinvigorate them vicariously. This fight against lethargy and depression is a theme that runs deep on our new record too. In A Minutes Silence, a brief gesture of mourning has turned into something far more morose, a death like sentence in itself engulfing everything. But there's a call to arms, to forgive and to forget, a desire to want to be saved.
By the end of The Corrections each character has been through an experience that changes their condition. Alfred refuses to eat and dies, the only thing he can control with the onset of dementia and Enid recovers some freedom, and agrees that "something has to change". The human mistake and the human ability or inability to learn from experience is shown in all its forms. It's an epic tale, far more intricate and reaching than a four minute song, but the insight and the inspiration share the same grains. Thank you Mr Franzen for opening a door on modern life, on a scene that rings a chord and moving me to write my own brief soundtrack to it.