Broken Hands' debut album has taken the band on an enormous literal and metaphorical journey.
False starts, dead ends, sudden changes of direction - the Canterbury group have been through it all, before finally settling on a visceral, almost space rock sound.
Debut album 'Turbulence' also uses the journey metaphor, swapping imagery of jet engines roaring for searing paranoia and blissed out somnambulism.
Out tomorrow (October 9th, pre-order it HERE) 'Turbulence' is a debut of quite rare and vivid originality, with Broken Hands capturing their live energy in a precise yet infectious manner.
Stream the record below, before finding a fascinating track by track guide penned by singer Dale Norton after the jump.
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‘Spectrum’ was coincidentally the first song that we wrote in this new format and it is also the first track on the album. It actually, in the first line, “There's a jet engine in my head” sums up almost the whole concept, that is why it is most fitting to be at the start. We were influenced by a Hawkwind song, which ended up being a real influence to us for the rest of the record. It was the break through one, it was the one that made sense, it was the one that made the whole album concept actually viable.
‘Meteor’ was the last song we wrote amongst all the songs which were in contention for the record. I think it started from a jam that the boys were joking around with, and I went “Do you know what, this feels quite, I know it is meant to be a bit of good fun, but it feels quite up and it is driving and we haven't got many driving songs at the moment”. I think I had the top line already kicking around and we put it together and it became one of those ones came together the quickest - it was written in about five minutes - literally the length of the song was how long it took to write!
I guess it describes someone who is chasing some sort of amazing experience or some wicked night, or chasing onto something, trying to grab something which is probably unachievable. The meteor itself is the experience, you are in a big Russian jet chasing after it full pelt, and the co-pilot, your best mate is going “Look, you're not going to catch this, just give up, I don't know why you're still trying it is half five in the morning or something silly. Just give up and we will maybe have another go tomorrow”. And that kind of explains, again, the lighter side of the record, the more euphoric or up-side of the record.
‘Should I’ was the first song myself and Jamie, our guitarist ever wrote together. Basically I think I had a section of the song, and J wrote two different parts, one was a top line and one was a guitar part. These events were seven months apart from each other, and I went “J, believe it or not man, you just wrote a really good song there and I don't think you realise you have done it”.It’s the first track that gets across his take of the concept and kind of what we mapped out when we decided to write a record in this vain.
All of the boys have got songs on the record like this, and it is really important for me, that they have got a song on the record which is their take on our theme, which is really good.
‘Impact’ was a song originally written for my sister. She was really upset and it was like the world was going to end around her. She was really young at the time and the song is basically saying, it isn't the end of the world even if at the present moment it feels like it is going to be. Everything about it seemed to fit with everything we were trying to say about other worldly universal happenings - like someone knocking someone when they are feeling bad, is no different to atoms touching or exploding, it just seemed like the big bang theory all in one go.
‘Turbulence’ was the second song we ever wrote in this vein, it was recorded in Rockfield in Wales. We spent about an hour going around hitting loads of different things with drum sticks to try and find out a particular “sweet spot” our producer Tom Dalgety was looking for and in the end we ended up using about four different table tennis tables! There is actually a picture of, I believe it is Hawkwind or Budgie or someone playing on the tables, which is kind of weird. Every click you can hear is a Hawkwind ace, sort of like a table tennis ace.
'747' was a song written quite weirdly before we went to America the first time, and I thought “Well we are in the mode of writing everything to do with flight and take off”, and I thought “Oh god how bad would it be if we were that band that wrote a whole record about taking off and we were also coincidentally the band that died in a plane crash before they even released a record”. So it is kind of exploring those worries and a bit of a satire in that kind of way.
‘Four’ was a track that is written about the time when I came up with the concept. I went to the airport to drop off a load of friends who were going travelling. At the time we didn't really have a real aim, didn't even have a real concept for the record and when we dropped them off it kind of hit home to me that people I knew were either going away on a plane or taking off in one way or another. It is a strange thing when you drop someone of at the airport and you don't get on the plane, I'm sure everyone will experience that at least once in their lives.
The whole concept came up out of that: we literally got back to our house and I sat down with everyone and I said “Look, we should do this, I've heard all of these noises from the runways going off and they sound just like distortion”. If I am not going anywhere then I am going to write a record about wanting to go somewhere or hopefully taking me somewhere, so that is what that is about.
Who Sent You
‘Who Sent You’ is one of the more 'hooky' sort of choruses that we came up with but we were like “is it too sugary”? The demo was quite sugary I guess, and we went in with Dalgety and he just stripped the absolute guts out of it and turned it into some sort of beasty, sub ridden banger. His arrangement works great when we do it live.
It is about when you're stressed out or if you're like coming down and having a real bad paranoia moment you're like “Oh god have I got control here? Who's actually controlling this whole game?”. Then you turn to your friends, as though they are passengers, and go “Jesus, how am I going to work this out, are we going to crash? Is it just me? Am I the one freaking out?”. So once again it is the darker side of the record but with the most sugary top line, in my opinion.
‘Collide’ is a song which was actually started by Tom our bass player and one of the first songs we wrote together. He really took control of it and once again it is an example of his take on the idea. The best thing about having a concept, for us, and the most helpful thing to write as a group of people is that it always tailored peoples musical tastes and what they are into and also their writing styles. Tom has always had a more melodic and calmer feel to his song writing and that was his sort of colour and shade on the record.
You hear at the start of the song, there are all these synths, I think about eight different samples and synths put together and I remember doing the demos for it originally and coming up with quite a lot of the ideas - I went mad! I went from never wanting to touch a synthesizer to spending a solid one month just mucking around and fiddling with all these different things. It completely opened my whole mind up to all of these colours that could be really interesting and really relevant to us.
‘When They Last Landed’ is a bit of a thought provoker I guess. It is the only track that is semi-fictional song that made the record. It is kind of an outside perspective of if you weren't from this planet then you'd be looking down like “What have we done here?” If another society came down and said “Look, we aren't here to take over the planet, we are here to save it because you're absolutely wrecking it”.
I know it sounds like we are chucking quite a lot of peace signs up in the air but it was a great excuse to get a bit over the top and a bit silly with one of the songs. It is a song that, in essence really finishes the record, as in The Doors ‘The End’ which was the first record we bonded over in a way, so I guess it was an ode to the fact we had finally made a record together.
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'Turbulence' will be released on October 9th through SO Recordings - order your copy HERE. Catch Broken Hands at the following shows:
28 Manchester Soup Kitchen (support from Get Inuit)
29 Glasgow The Broadcast (support from Get Inuit)
30 Birmingham The Sunflower Lounge (support from Get Inuit)
1 Bristol Start The Bus (support from Get Inuit)
2 Brighton Green Door Store (support from Get Inuit)
3 London Oslo (support from Haus & Batemen)
7 Leeds Key Club w/ Dinosaur Pile-Up
8 Nottingham Bodega w/ Dinosaur Pile-Up
9 Norwich Waterfront Studio w/ Dinosaur Pile-Up
21 Paris Flèche d'Or w/Swervedriver