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TEAM OF JUST ONE – behind the songs

Everything you might (or might not) want to know about the songs on Anecdata album, Team of Just One.

Stream it on Spotify, Apple Music , YouTube Music, Tidal and everywhere else. Or download it from Bandcamp and get two bonus tracks – ‘Xertz’ and ‘Note to Self’.

AMMUNITION

This was the very last song written for the album – literally one Saturday morning in late February 2022, days after the Russians invaded Ukraine. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had just delivered the immortal line, ‘I need ammunition, not a ride’ and a song had to be written.

I woke up early with the opening drumbeat in my head, and got to work while the kids were occupied by their devices and my partner was having a sleep-in. The opening riff came very quickly – in my head it sounded like Devo, but once it was cranked up it turned into something quite reminiscent of the Manics’ Holy Bible era – a bit of ‘4st 7lb I guess? It really came together with the addition of the Moog synth.

The Manics influence is obviously more obvious in the middle eight, basically name-checking their melancholic hit with a similarly aggressive lyric ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’.

When it came to mixing, I moved away from the drier sound of the rest of the album and layered on a bit of reverb and turned the distortion up on the vocals to give it more of a murky vibe. Seems to have worked.

Added a few extra guitar parts later in the week, including the solo – a rare solo! – and realised not only did it have to go on the album, it had to open it.

We Can Be Wrong Every Day

You know how there’s a lot of people with a high media profile who don’t do anything good with it? They just act like dicks and every single fucking thing they give reckons on is idiotic and wrong, but constantly fail upwards? That’s what this song is about.

This wasn’t gonna make the album – couldn’t get the mix right – until I basically cranked up the fuzz and added the bell-like Moog following the vocal melody in the moodier verses. The song began as just the chorus and the ‘every day we are wrong’ line, and the rest came in early February.

What else to say but it’s a banger that starts at full-tiltĀ  – one-chord all the way, like all the best punk songs – and doesn’t let up until the dying synth in the final seconds.

Team of Just One

This began life in August 2021 (demo) just after the Delta variant arrived in New Zealand and we went back into another lockdown to stamp it out. Auckland, where I live, bore the brunt of NZ’s successful zero-COVID strategy and as much as I appreciate how well it worked previously, it was perfectly natural to be a little bit pissed off.

But instead of directing that anger at the experts as some fuckwits did, I turned it on the real reasons we were back in this situation – the failure of other countries and individuals to do the goddamn minimum to prevent variants from emerging and making it harder to beat the virus.

The Prime Minister used the phrase ‘Team of 5 Million’ to get everyone on-side in defeating COVID in the early days, but a small, loud minority didn’t get the message – hence the phrase, ‘Team of Just One’. While it was a shoe-in for the album, it wasn’t until January I realised it would also give it its name – basically once I realised I too am a Team of Just One – musically so. Don’t lump me in with the COVIDiots – I’m triple-vaxxed!

Anyway. This song’s not all anger and spitting and bile – it also has a line about toddler poo and black humour about ordering gravestones and learning Greek.

Rent-Free

A simple power-pop tune that despite its simplicity I struggled to mix until I hit upon the idea to go all-in with the faint ’60s vibe it had and hard pan some of the instruments, Beatles-style. Suddenly it opened right up and I realised it was probably, purely melodically, the best tune on the record.

Pretty easy to figure out it’s about insomnia and the kinds of thoughts that cause and perpetuate it – from the mundane (‘every stupid song’) to the serious. Written from experience.

Not really sure what more to say about it, it pretty much speaks for itself. Don’t really remember anything specific about writing it – probably played the guitar part and programmed the bass just minutes after coming up with it! Couldn’t even tell you a single chord off the top of my head.

Voices for Freedumb

NZ’s biggest, best-funded and most idiotic anti-vaccination group is called Voices for Freedom. In my job last year I reported on much of their nonsense, and even managed to kickstart the deregistration of a wacky ‘doctor’ who worked with them to spread lies and conspiracy theories. They picked up the much-deserved nickname ‘Voices for Freedumb’ along the way, which is where the title of this song comes from.

The opening line is pretty graphic, but too funny/dumb/true not to use. They dropped millions of flyers into people’s letterboxes full of easily debunkable garbage about masks and vaccines – with the help of a university biologist and arguably the country’s top vaccine expert, I spent many, many hours tearing it all down.

It’s not really even clear if they believe the shit they say, being grifters in the essential oil pyramid scheme business.

How Close We Came to the End

Last year I wrote a bunch of Weezer-ish tunes with tempo changes, and this was probably the best of them. It’s about somehow still being alive after living through the ’80s (climbing trees, Cold War, bicycles, chicken pox parties), the ’90s (ditto, plus $4 bottles of wine) and now the pandemic. The song is similar to another I’ve written called ‘The Gatekeeper’ which is a couple of years older but not quite finished yet – this one got in first, I guess.

The recording is suitably rough – unlike most of the other songs on the album, the guitar was recorded live with a real amp and microphone, rather than done in the computer (2022, huh). It’s basically the demo with a new vocal track and a better mix.

Brainworms

I think this record probably has best collection of opening lines I’ve ever done, in this case, ‘Chuck ’em into the lake, dunk ’em in the volcano’. Yep, it’s another song about anti-vaxxers and fake news peddlers. Big theme of this album, obviously.

Otherwise it’s another heavy power-pop song with fuzz guitars and a few synths.

Enough

This one was gonna be on Bunkerland but didn’t quite fit – it was a bit poppy, where that record went more for the riffs. That’s why it sounds a bit different to the rest of the tunes – it’s literally a two-year-old recording, but hopefully mixed with a bit more skill!

On the surface it’s about a weird phenomenon where for a long time it seemed whenever I came into money, a bill would appear to take it away; and whenever I was short, I’d somehow get a windfall to cover it. Yes, exactly like the Seinfeld episode. The song takes a darker, more critical turn about halfway through – when the autoharp comes in, an instrument known for signalling darker, more critical turns?

The Beatles

Much like Simpsons did it’, in music it’s often hard to find things the Beatles didn’t do. I’m not even sure the Beatles didn’t write a song about how the Beatles had first access to all the cool ideas… if they didn’t, good. Now there is one. This one.

Like most of the songs on ‘Team of Just One’, I wrote the words to this tune in February – and when you write that many songs in just a few weeks, you start to run out of things to write about… Anyway. It’s a nice little Weezer-style powerpop tune about ripping off the Beatles.

When the album didn’t appear on Spotify at the scheduled hour on the dot, I briefly wondered if I was in trouble with Apple Records or something.

You Deserve It, Nazi

Where ‘Brainworms’ urged people to be chucked into lakes and volcanoes, this one opens with a call for Nazis to ‘get in the ocean, get in the sea’.

The base track was recorded in early 2021, with the vocals and some of the guitars replaced in Jan/Feb 2022. Couldn’t replace the guitar solo because I have no idea how I played it – so what you’re hearing here is literally the one-take version from the demo, with some additional mixing to fit it into the tighter, heavier final version.

Honestly not really sure how the film ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ ended up getting namechecked. We watched it in film school more than 20 years ago – our lecturer put it on, failing to mention it was feature-length – and somehow in the search for five-syllable words that rhymed with Nazi, it popped into my head. That’s literally the explanation…

History of Nothing

Another one written in February 2022. About once a year I try to write a ‘Siamese Dream’ song, and this was this year’s one… with synths! It’s basically about how everything sucks, and always has – it only appears to be sucking more now because we’re presently living in it.

That’s about it. Yeah, the guitars are meant to be Billy Corgan. The drums, Jimmy Chamberlin. I’m not hiding this, lol. I do think the outro with the weird chord changes and droning synths makes up for it though.

Living Man

The final track almost didn’t make the cut – but after positive response from a few people who heard the demo, it got promoted… to last. Better than nothing!

It’s another grumpy, fast power-pop grunge/synth tune. The lyrics were inspired by the recent protests in Wellington against vaccines/mandates/masks/common sense/reality, and one wild document in particular which my friend and documentary filmmaker David Farrier wrote about here. Seriously, I can’t do its insanity justice outside of a stupid song.

 

 

 

 
Kosh Records 2021