Album '5.5' - The Songs Described by DMH - 1st Nov 2006

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Mark: ran this news piece yesterday using quotes from this info, here's the complete run down of how the songs are currently shaping up! Check back tomorrow for a video update with studio clips from select tracks. First off, these are only one persons views on these tracks, everyone dissects songs in different ways and will find different things in them. These briefs are also based on the current state of the songs which are still developing in the studio. All of these songs will not make the album, some will inevitably be dropped but hopefully all will be used and released in other formats. We plan to record more completely new tracks again in December. So do not take this info as final track listing / running order for the album because it's not. That said here's some words that might give an insight as to how things are shaping up.... track by track.

Tim and Claudius in the NY studio

1. Girl Who Can't Be Owned (current working title)

This song has a soaring vocal in which Tim really pushes his voice all the way. It starts of with just vocals and a lone guitar before the band really slams in and it's pretty rocking in a similar way to a Foo's track. The verse melody has something Dylan-esque to it which is kinda cool too. We initially thought it was just a cool rocking riff but once Tim nailed the vocals on the demo we knew it was a contender. Lyrically about becoming obsessed by someone who's out of reach. This ones currently being thought off as a potential album opener... looking forward to playing this live.

2. Suicide Girls (current title)

Tim has had the basic idea for this song kicking around for sometime. We first demoed it way back during sound-checks on the last Meltdown tour. We've already re-recorded this as it was the first song we did when we started in September. The first version was good but we felt that after Claudius got involved we could definitely better it. We're glad we did because it's turned out so much better already. This song is more in the vein of earlier classic Ash. It's got a super catchy pop chorus but with big slamming guitars and some falsetto singing in places. Don't worry it doesn't sound like The Darkness! think more Beach Boys... There's a guitar solo that's takes a bow to Girl from Mars and a soaring outro. In the second verse we drop a synth line that I think is super cool, we might develop this into other parts of the song. Tim's currently thinking about changing some lyrics, so wether or not that happens the title may change too. Nathan from Snow Patrol loved it when he heard it.

3. Shadows

This is our A&R guys favorite at the moment. It's a slower number with a bit of a retro-vibe. The bass line is a bit Motown in the verses and it got pretty heavy lyrics about the effects of breaking up. Theirs a really great solo in this song that again has a distinct Motown feel. The drum patterns in the verses could be from a Velvet Underground song and this could turn out to have a lot of commercial potential.

4. Roulette

This is one of the two new ones we played live recently. The guitar work uses lots of arpeggios which makes it sound like the Police in the verses, then it slams in once the chorus hits and there's big punchy stabs that should get a live pit bouncing. Again I think fans of 1977 will be into this song. It's pop but also got some pretty punk sounding guitars without sounding super heavy. We haven't got round to them yet but we think they'll be some synth action going on in the verses at least.

5. Princess Six

Ok, this track is a tough one to describe. It's quite sectional. There's quite a dancy bass line in the verses which is something we haven't really done before and Tim's 12-string has a really distinct sound that's quite a feature. The chorus is really in two parts. First it picks up rocking out for a while before turning into a pounding Envy style stomp. The solo section isn't really a solo more as a musical part. The chorus is again very melodic as well as rocking like early Ash. Tim's vocals focus on denied love in an almost fairy-tale storytelling narration. One of the first songs we arranged together as a 3-piece and one we think could well be a hit on the dance floors.

6. Polaris

This one is definitely a potential single. It's previous working title was Piano Song as Tim wrote the main hook line on a piano at U2's villa in the south of France. The original dictaphone recording is also used in the intro of the track. There's a underlining U2 vibe to the overall song so if it's a hit then thank you Mr. President of the World for the inspiration and your regular hospitality! Lyrically is about being torn apart by a relationship failing. There's a middle section that's got military style drumming which builds up to a big final chorus. We've still to put strings on this track but it has the potential to fill stadiums. Fingers crossed the gods will be on our side...

7. Dark And Stormy

This songs quite different for us, the basic track is quite sparse, it's all live and has quite a laid back chilled out feel, as does the vocal which really makes the song. It's really quite hard to describe, the vocals are talking about falling for someone, knowing you've been there before and been burned but going along with it, knowing (as you do when you're a bit older) that nothings for certain... this turned out better than we originally thought and therefore is an album contender. The music has a kind of repressed feel to it, think humid summer thunderstorms... take that for whatever you want.

8. You Can't Have It All

When Tim first played the basic idea for this I thought it was totally weird, but it's probably now my favorite song on the whole album. The guitar has almost an Eastern European / Russian vibe to the repeating lead parts, the verse has a super groove going on that has a really cool distorted bass line. The arrangement is pretty far removed from what we're usually up to. The chorus completely drops down to just a quiet guitar and lone vocal, repeating the title line along a very catchy melody. The middle section of the song has a really intense instrumental section, super drumming by our mini-Grohl and then it stays pretty full on, like a mash of Nirvana when they did pop and Weezer in their Blue album era. The chorus has such a hook and I think it's a sure bet to be a fan and live favorite too. It took a few days to get it initially but it's one of our best yet.

9. End Of The World

For those who haven't already heard it, I'd go to Mystery Recordings and you'll be able to hear an early home recording of this that Tim posted online some time ago. Since then we've completely re-worked the whole song, there's now a huge Bonham-esque kit sound. We could have stayed with a low-fi vibe and the verses remain acoustic but the choruses are BIG. It's an anthemic song with apocalyptic lyrics. We think it's cool to have that contrast, an anthem of disillusionment. There's quite a mash of styles, instruments and samples going on which gives it a kinda Flaming Lips or Beck feel but we also wanted those choruses to soar so the amps got cranked. You just gotta love the line, "That's the catch, It's such a beautiful confusion..."

10. Blacklisted (current working title)

This is the only track we didn't demo before we started recording, it was only written once we'd already got going. Tim had left a rough MP3 on our studio computer as he had just recorded a basic idea the night before while he was doing vocals on one of the other demo's. I was in earlier the next day, fired up the studio, saw it and being nosey listened to it. It was super rough had no lyrics, just mumbling but the melody and chords were there screaming out "record me, you must record me!". We spent a few days working out what direction to take it in. The basic chords are really pop and it could have been very easy to take it into a Transvision Vamp cheese arena so we thought about it and tried out different ideas. The key was stripping down the verses and getting really dark guitar and drum sounds, we referenced Suicide for the vibe. The chorus is a big rocker like Weezer's Beverly Hills but with cooler chords and the melody is again super catchy. It's got a great middle 8 that should please fans of our rock-out stuff. Lyrically Tim metaphors a Galaxy collapsing in silence to the drama of someone's world falling apart around them. There's gonna be a lot of cool BV's going on this on and our A&R guy says it sounds like Pixies which can't be a bad thing really.

11. Shattered Glass

Shattered Glass started of as a really simple little acoustic idea, once we started to rehearse it became apparent it needed to stretch it's wings. The song is currently over 5 mins which is long by our standards so it's seems like a bit of an epic. It is slightly indulgent and could perhaps be labeled nu-prog! but we decided it was a good song to show off on, so why not. It's quite dark and heavy in tone but it also has a weirdly anthemic chorus, not dissimilar to a song like projects. As a concept song it's supposed to resemble a dream or nightmare, a kind of Alice in Wonderland trip were it goes off in tangents before returning to previous sections. There's a cool hypnotic drum pattern and an in your face guitar solo to rival Vampire Love's. It's an ambitious song that not everyone may get, but we love it and are really proud of how it's turned out.

12. Saskia

As mentioned in a previous blog post we tried to give this song an Eastern Bloc vibe. The drum sounds are tighter, smaller and processed. The guitar is thinner and the bass is clean and smooth. It's a mid tempo number with lots of cold synthetic strings and pads. The vocals are going to sound quite processed and maybe even a bit Joy Division but that's maybe a red herring as the melodies don't sound anything like them. It's actually really hard to describe, it's got lots of different influences going on but it's still basically a melancholic Tim Wheeler composition using different studio production techniques.

13. What Is The Meaning? (not decided on the question mark yet...)

This is the other of the two songs we've played live recently. It's a pretty straight-up fast punk rock track with personal and dramatic vocals. Tim sings in a state of confusion asking for answers to what is going on in his life, it's kinds autobiographical . It's got the most complex bass line I've ever had to learn as there's a lot of notes and they're coming pretty fast. The middle 8 has a kinda Gang Of Four vibe, other than that it's quite straight forward, Ash rocking out but in a slightly different way to as we have in the past.

14. In Hell

Ahh, the enigma that is In Hell... this started out as one simple guitar line that Tim wanted to get mega-experimental with. He messed around with loads of keyboards, loops and samples and got different idea's going on in his head, because we weren't getting it in the beginning. Anyway we took a completely different approach to recording this. We waited until night when our building is empty opened the studio door and mic-ed up the vast corridors to get a huge drum sound. Rick then went and played for a few hours to a click, we recorded it all and then that was edited down taking the best beats and built a structure. Then it was time for me to work out different bass riffs that fitted with the guitar loop and lay them down on top of the drums. Tim is still to tackle the guitars on this but it's currently nearly 8 minutes long. We may edit it down more but I think it could work as a good final track on the album. It's the most experimental thing we've tried since Tinsel Town and could well end up sounding even crazier. There's sections of vocals but this is far from a conventional verse / chorus / verse song. LOTS of samples to come for this one... about a far removed from 'public perception' Ash as you can get.

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