Excitement has been building for a new release from &U&I for a number of years now, with levels reaching fever pitch following their storming performances at last year’s 2000trees and ArcTanGent Festivals.
With the past few years seeing a notable decline in the number of live &U&I appearances and with it being four years on from the release of the phenomenal ‘Light Bearer’ album, there were slight concerns over the future of the band.
Thankfully, their loyal fanbase were able to breathe a sigh of relief late last year, with the news that &U&I were back in the studio. In an interview conducted late November in the back of drummer Wiz’ car, the trio revealed plans to release ‘Merci’ – A four-track EP, acting as a way of thanks for the support they’ve received since their formation.
With today marking the release of the terrific Merci, front man Thom Peckett put together this exclusive track by track for Birthday Cake For Breakfast:
The Wooden Box
This song, along with ‘The Conqueror’, was written about 4 years ago and was intended to be released as a double A-side. This didn’t end up happening, so when we decided we were going to get back into the writing mood, these were our starting points. We had always liked them and thought it would be a bit of shame if we just left them at the wayside. We reworked them and went through bits that we were in agreement did and didn’t work.
The Wooden Box was written about the end of end of a relationship. It might seem a little “emo”, but I try to not be so ‘heart on sleeve’ when writing about things like relationships and stuff. I suppose if you really get into it, it’s quite easy to pick out some of the references. The break down section in this was written with the express intention of trying to create a bit of a vocal wall of sound when playing the song live, however this proved to be really difficult – to negotiate playing guitar, singing and orchestrating the necessary pedals to make it happen.
This song was so much fun to write. It’s the first of two (the other being ‘The Artist’) that we really felt like we were getting back into writing music that we loved. I suppose you could say we hit a bit of a creative wall all those years ago and that might be why things tailed off and slowed down like they did.
The Stamp was essentially the three of us getting back into a room and jamming some ideas and loving the outcome.
Lyrically, it’s a bit of a mish-mash of ideas. I have a little book that I jot down ideas in and I also use the Notes app on the iPhone. It’s really handy because I tend to write the stuff I like the most when I’m a bit drunk, so to turf through your phone and find something you jotted down from September 2010 which fits with this new song is kind of exciting. The line ‘The closest thing to a hero, that I have seen in my whole life. But who do I kid though? You’re the coolest mic swinger alive‘ is another one out of my phone from when I was drunk and I got to meet Cedric from Antemasque and The Mars Volta. We’d just watched them play and our friend Chris was working for them and said ‘Come meet the guys.’ I’d never really thought of myself as being a huge fan boy of musicians, but suddenly I was face to face with someone who I realised I’d looked up to, musically at least, my entire life, and I just lost my shit! Afterwards, when I was taking in the fact that I’d just met my hero, I wrote that line in my iPhone and found it a few months later.
This song had the music written from years ago. It just didn’t have any vocal or melody ideas attached so all the vocals and lyrics were, again, ideas out of my little book/app that seemed to fit. Jamie (Ward, of Maybeshewill, who recorded the EP) was awesome with this one as he really helped with melodies and the way the words ran along with the music. I was really happy with the final vocal outcome of it.
When we wrote this song, my guitar line is a repeat of 3 that goes over Wiz and Rich’s pattern of 4. I remember thinking ‘This riff is a piece of piss to play and it sounds awesome!’ It was only when I came to try and sing and play the parts together did I realise it was really difficult, as the words follow the pattern in 4! It took me a lot of practicing to get this nailed.
We were all set to record with Jamie but thought we better have just one last practice to sort out tempos and tighten up and stuff. At that practice, we wrote this song in like 15 minutes and were like ‘WOAH! We’ve gotta get this on the EP as well!’ We called Jamie and said ‘Do you reckon we can squeeze one more song into the session and he said ‘I’m sure we can make it work.’
Lyrically, it’s probably pretty obvious, but it’s about the first proper date I went on with my now wife. Contrary to what I said about not really being very ‘heart on sleeve’, this song is the complete opposite. I was really worried about it coming across as being a bit lame and stuff but eventually I thought ‘Fuck it! It sounds really cool and I like it!’ and truth be told, it’s probably one of my favourite songs to play live now. I get to do some really fun stuff with my vocal loops on this one and I know the other guys like it because when we played it at 2000 Trees this year, it was about 20 BPM faster than the record, which is normally a good sign.