My last post was about my band at uni, Space Monkey Three, and how we acquired our name. For today’s post I thought I’d continue that theme…
In the last week of uni, around June 2001, we eventually got around to recording a bunch of our songs at the local studio, the Lancaster Music Co-Op. We’d already recorded most practices onto tape just for listening back, but decided we should have a proper record of our work.
It was a bit chaotic on the day as Jim’s guitar had been playing up recently – then it decided to stop working… So he was rushing around trying to borrow a bass from a friend and me and David were trying to get hold of him to see what was going on. Anyway, we got it all sorted and got set up in the studio. The word ‘studio’ might conjure up big, wide open spaces with space for artistic freedom, large glass-fronted fridges filled with multiple beverages, panoramic windows between the control room and the studio… Well, sorry, but here ya go:
While I have recorded in a nicer studio (like the one described above), the Lancaster Music Co-Op wasn’t it. However, that’s not to put the Co-Op down in any way! It’s a not-for-profit group run by, and for, musicians in the local area – they’ve also been going nearly 30 years so it really can’t be that bad, can it? It was also cheap, friendly and very professionally run.
We recorded 8 songs in total and then David went off to take his drums home while I started recording the vocals and Jim sat there staring at me, playing air-bass. Probably. I honestly don’t remember actually! One of the songs, “I Do Not Want To Be A Laboratory Technician”, was a slightly less serious one sung to the tune of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, only 15 times faster. When David returned to do his backing vocals, which were only in the chorus for that song, he burst out laughing. It was actually the first time he had heard the lyrics properly and he hadn’t realised how silly it was. I think the line that tickled him most was one of the job suggestions of “grow a bum and lay some bricks” – like I said, it wasn’t the most serious of songs!
In the end we called it “Is This The Best They Could Do?” – we thought it was quite fitting. So, without further a do, here’s a bit of info about each song we recorded that day as well as a link to the mp3 file so you can here it in full.
Don’t Push It
This is a song about a love-hate relationship – wanting to escape the problems but also just wanting to get things fixed. It’s also about wanting to be accepted for who you are. It’s actually has quite a deep set of lyrics now I come to look into them again! The small music break after the 2nd chorus was completely by accident. One time when we were practising David thought we’d reached the end and stopped playing while I carried on. Then he did a couple of ‘blats’ to come back in when he realised. We loved how that sounded so we kept it in.
Means To An End
Jim wrote the lyrics for this one, so hopefully he can correct me on the background story if I get any of it wrong! We both worked on the music and structure in the cellar of 77 Balmoral Road in Lancaster. And the chord progression for the chorus are a direct rip off of “Single Dumb Brunette” by Cephas… Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, maybe. The song itself is about about being overwhelmed by someone’s presence, and just feeling so hated because they were stopping you getting anything done; they were so controlling. The kicker being the last verse – it turned out Jim was addicted to TV and not getting any work done!
Bit Of A Complex
Another one of mine. I wrote this after having a really great weekend away with the Christian Union – everyone was really friendly and chatty all weekend. I made a load of new friends and it really spurred me on. That was until we returned and it was as though I never existed. I was just another face in the crowd, no one important. After I wrote it and looked back at the lyrics, part of me wondered if I was being a bit petty about the whole thing and I couldn’t decide if I was being too harsh or not. That’s what led to the title of the song – it wasn’t a question, it was a statement, I knew I had a bit of a complex about the whole situation. But it felt good to write it and get it out and it stopped being an issue to be honest! Musically it’s quite a fast, driving punk-rock song with a lot of palm-muting for good measure.
This was another of Jim’s songs. He wrote this in first year at uni (1998-1999) as I remember jamming in his room in Furness College working on the music. I’m not even sure if we’d started the band by this point… The song is about struggling but not being a quitter – instead relying on help from God. It’s actually a really short song, so the verses are repeated and there’s a relatively lengthy musical breakdown partway through. It still only just reached 2min 31s though! It has a killer bassline and some pretty fast vocals. This was, and still is, one of my favourite songs to play – if only because I knew David hated playing it near the end of a set because of the speed of it!
I Think I’m A Sandman
The ultimate mash up of 80s pop hit “I Think We’re Alone Now” and 90s metal classic “Enter Sandman”. We also mashed together “Space Cowboy” with “Walking On Sunshine” but that never got recorded properly. Fun story though, we could never remember the words so it became:
Some people call me the space monkey
Some people call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice (whit whoo)
Some people say that I’m a puff…
So, yeah. Probably the worst mash up you’ll here but I think this defines how serious we were as a band!
Questions Not Answers
This is definately a break up song! But written from the side of the person who knows they’ve messed up one too many times. It was or slowest song but one I loved singing because I was just starting to be more aggressive in my vocal style.
I wrote this back in 1995 which is pretty much a lifetime ago. It was, I think, the first song I ever wrote. It’s a simple, fairly cheesy, worship song. We punked it up and added a bit of a heavier fill to it too.
I Do Not Want To Be A Laboratory Technician
Ha! This song tickles me every time. I wrote it during a boring, complex lecture about protein structure with Professor Ian Nieduszynski – a ridiculously clever man, with a ridiculous name and a ridiculous habit of adding an ‘ah’ at the end of each sentence: “…which then forms the protein-ah”, “…which of course proves evolution-ah”. I ripped off the tune from “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (the Me First and The Gimme Gimmes version) and wrote a song about not wanting to be a lab-tech. It was a silly song that went through a list of all the jobs I could do instead:
Don’t want to be a lab-tech, clear up mess;
It’s not my ideal job injecting mice in their heads.
I could work for the BBC or drive a van from A to B,
Could try my hand at butchery.
I could teach your kids to count, play in a metal band – really shout;
Sit in a road and be a roundabout.
I could work at Morrisons, join the Air Force – drop NAPALM bombs;
Be a cleaner and hoover rooms.
Inland Revenue, tax collect, or be a doctor, talk about sex;Grow a bum and lay some bricks.
Could do accounts and use my brain, or be a voluntary vampire slayer;
Or I could be a football player.
I could be a duck farmer, work at the zoo and feed llamas;
Or lecture like Nieduszynski-ah!
There you have it, that’s what I did during my uni years. I am actually quite proud of it – warts and all. So feel free to download the songs and add them to your playlist. David (“Dave The Nut”) went on to play for the world-famous The Toy Dolls – I like to think we were his platform to stardom. The bugger has never said thanks to me though… 😉
So, I is for “Is This The Best They Could Do” – quite frankly, no, it wasn’t!