Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Some of you may well be aware of my interview of 2007 with the enigmatic Indo-European Pop-Punk band, Unlucky Fried Kitten. Well...fate finds me on the UK shores again and I'm back for another bite at the celery with Andy...in the pub...drinking English beer and whistling at the passers-by. I messaged Andy a few months ago and asked him to prepare for this interview with a his thoughts on The Perfect Pop Song. Not only has he stored up some thoughts on the subject..he has created, for me, what he believes is The Perfect Pop Song. He's coming back from the bar now...and I shall commence with my interrogation. I look forward to seeing his delightful wife, Rio, whom I have missed dearly since she upped sticks to the UK 3 years ago. She'll be here soon, I'm reliably informed. We are in The Cherry Tree, Tonbridge Road, Maidstone.
Andy is resplendent in a crafty t-shirt imprinted with the words "JUST F**CKING GOOGLE IT", which is rather anarchic. (it's ok...I'm taking the piss) Here we go:
TS- So...first of all, Andy, examples of perfect pop-songs please?
AE- Well...there are many. They are not always great songs..some of them are songs that grate. Off the top of my head I'd include...
Be My Baby- The Ronettes
Ticket To Ride- The Beatles
The One I Love- REM
You've Lost That Loving Feeling- The..oh..someone Brothers
Don't You want Me?- The Human League (does anyone like the HUMAN League...snigger..Young Ones joke)
Sugar Sugar- The Archies
I'm A Believer- The Monkees
and anything NOT by The Scissor Sisters.
You also have to have a thought for the perfect English pop-song. In that camp I'd stick...
Senses Working Overtime- XTC
Waterloo Sunset- The Kinks
Ever Fallen In Love- The Buzzcocks
anything else by The Kinks...really.
(Rio walks into the pub...buys a Snakebite and Black...she's decadent! Hello Rio. Kiss kiss.)
TS- You missed My Sharona by The Knack. Surely that's a given?
AE- Oh yeah...goes without saying, baby....but I can't give you a definitive list. We'd be here all day. Oooh..Oliver's Army...by the Costello guy. That rolls with the flow.
TS- So..what makes the perfect pop-song, Andy?
AE- I like to think it needs an optimum conjunction of brevity and passion. Yeah.
Someone once said that it should be something that your average milk-man can whistle...do you have milk-men in the States? Oh..silly me..The Dead Milkmen. Great band.
TS- Yeah..they are
AE- Hey...they wrote a great pop-song..Punk Rock Girl
TS- Why your 'average milk-man'? Why not a very superior milk-man? Or a wack-job milk-man?
AE- lol....I can't believe I actually said lol
(more drinks...more loose change at the bar)
TS- So...Andy...how did you come up with what you feel is the perfect pop-song?
AE- Good question...I done my research.
AE- No, actually. I asked people on the streets and at a few festies...cos I wanted it straight from the horse's gob, so to speak.
TS- Is that an English catchphrase?
AE- Uh..dunno...don't you have horses in America?
TS- lol...I can't believe I said lol
AE- get yer own catchphrase...bitch (he winks)
TS- How were the answers...from the people?
AE- I have in my hand...a piece of paper...it lists the criteria. Remember..these are not necessarily my opinions..this is the feedback from people.
( he unfolds it..and reads aloud)
The Perfect Pop-Song......
*has gotta be catchy
* has gotta have hooks
* has gotta be about love
* has gotta be about un-requited love
* has gotta be not too difficult for the general public to relate to
* needs to showcase the depression/happiness of the listener
* has to burn a melody into your brain
* has to be a song your Mummy would love
* can be played on an acoustic guitar
* has gotta be sung by Kylie
* has to exude honesty
TS- Quite a list?
TS- When I interviewed you...in the MySpace Years...you said you wanted to write a perfect pop-song...which is why we are on this theme. Did you achieve that?
AE- Absolutely........not. It can never be done. The whole point of creativity is that whatever you do it can never be bettered...or worsened, in fact.
As a person..you will never ever reach your aspiration. It doesn't matter who you are. You could be Paul Mc-Fucking-Cartney...but you'll always wake up in the morning knowing that you could do better. That's why people don't give up in music. Old pop-stars never die..they just piss people off by playing their un-welcome shit in pubs and bars near you.
TS- Ha ha
AE- lol...can't believe I said lol again.
TS- Has anyone ever tried to get you sectioned?
AE- Get on with it, Terri...it's a good job I know you're joking
TS- So..where's this ALMOST-perfect pop-song of yours?
AE- It's here..on a silver platter..for your delectation. It's called "I WANT 2B WIV U" and we made it very scientifically...in a lab, in fact.
TS- Tell me more
AE- Did she put up a fight? Sorry..Grease reference.
AE- I can't believe you actually said that.
TS- What was the process to get this almost perfect pop-song?
AE- OK...firstly I used the tried and tested chord structure of C Am F G. It's like playing the Joker in It's A Knockout. I also used my closed circle style of song-writing. It's not particularly clever..but it's effective. I tend to use it a lot anyway. It just wraps up the content at the end of each verse...sometimes at the end of each line. I can't explain..it's like a bouncing ball. You know where it's gonna go. You close that circle and people relate to it.
TS- How does that work?
AE- Well...I'm not certain it does..but I like it. I just don't like to leave things in isolation at the end of a phrase/line/verse...musically, I mean. Isolated melody tends to sub-consciously piss the listener off...so no(potential) perfect pop-song should employ the lone shoot of a melody flower.
No rogue lupins in my garden, baby.
The song is about un-requited love..a true staple of the perfect pop-song...and one which, tragically, most people can relate to. Having said all this shit, though, Terri, there is one MASSIVE part of this song that I have worked upon. It is the inclusion of ONE word...simply the best word a songwriter can use in a song. Trust me. If you are a songwriter and you are reading this...take it from me...this is the high-performance word to use. That word is "CHANGE"..or a derivative of it. Changed/changing etc.
It is an all-powerful word. I noticed a few years ago that whilst singing a UFK song called Shooting Star...live, I mean, I got such a buzz out of the line "You said to me..sorry but...something CHANGED" It lifted me to a euphoria. It's the best word ever..to enunciate. I've used it in other songs. In this new song it is in the 3rd verse. " I love you...you CHANGED me, you turned me into someone new"
It's a huge compliment, too, to the listener. It feeds on the subject's horrifically fat ego...lol
TS- I can't believe you said lol
AE- It also dawned on me that most of my favourite songs included that word...if not in the title..certainly in the lyric....
* Something Better Change- the Stranglers
* Change- Sparks
* Change Your Mind- Numan and Sharpe
*Change- Tears For Fears
...and the majestic...Changes..by the mighty David Bowie.
The best EVER use of the word in a song was by Dean Friedman in his wonderful song, ARIEL. Lemme set the scene. He's singing about a girl he met...and she's collecting for charity on the streets. He's obviously at a shit stage in his life. The line goes "She was looking for change..and so was I" God...I hope he meant that. I'm sure he did. That song affected me. It's set in New York. First line goes WAY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HUDSON, DEEP IN THE BOSOM OF SUBURBIA. Well..I recently wrote my OWN Kentish version of the song...just so I can say I've written a song with Dean...sort of...lol (another one for luck) My first line goes WAY ON THE SLUDGED-UP SIDE OF THE MEDWAY, DEEP IN THE BREASTPLATE OF TONBRIDGE ROAD. It was a very Morotovian moment for me.
AE- Valentina Morotova...my muse. She was the beautiful Russian Princess in the opera The Church of the Electric Street-Lamp. Allegedly THE most stunning girl in the world. She inspired me...Made In Russia, To Whom It May Concern...just two of my songs about her. Can we talk about Dean Friedman again? Ariel...much as I love my Russian girl.
TS- It's a great song...but people just remember him for Lucky Stars.
AE- Well Well Said The Rocking-Chair springs to mind..and Lydia...yeah
I always thought he was arrogant for not name-checking the girl singer on Lucky Stars...but my biggest aspiration is to write a song with him
AE- Oh yeah...on the strength of Ariel. It also had this little fucking beauty of lyric. "She wore a peasant's blouse with nothing underneath, I said 'Hi' she said 'Yes, I guess I am' I kept that for my Medway version...sod it.
I swear...if that had not been out in '77...with the explosion of punk...it would have been massive. The melody is amazing...but on that note..the best EVER melody in a song comes from a lesser-known Kinks track called Shangrila. The line goes "Here's your reward for working so hard...gone are the lavatories in the back yard" That makes me cry. The second-best melody in a song is from Bike by Pink Floyd. The line goes
"he's getting very old, but he's a good mouse" Fucking classic. Rest in peace, Syd.
TS- Absolutely...any other song-writing tips for the masses?
AE- Yep...bottles of cider...big bottles of cider...pens and bits of paper. Basically...you gotta write in pubs...it works.
Sorry to fuck this interview up, Terri, but can you get hold of Mister Friedman for me?
AE- Don't say it...do it.
TS- What else went into the mix for your almost perfect pop-song?
AE- If i can stick with the word 'change' for a moment....I actually studied the phenom of the word. I felt it had special connotation . With the help of some UFK friends at Warwick University...I found that the sound 'ainge' is the sound that you hear in the womb for the first 9 months of your being. It's the sound of the blood rushing around the mother's stomach...fired at you for 9 months...or, at least for the duration of your sentient existence. That's why it is all-powerful. No shit.
TS- So..is 'strange' as good?
AE- It's good..yes...but not quite as good as 'change' cos it hasn't got the ch-ch aspect....which is the cornerstone of the consonant-switch. Having said that...'strange' is wonderful for it's connotation. People Are Strange by The Doors really shakes me out of my Orgasmatron....so...we'll call it a draw.
TS- Well...we shall hear the song then...your almost perfect pop-song.
AE- Yeah..but..I have to thank Domino N Philodox for arranging and playing guitar on it. We employed a clunky feel to the whole sound cos that also plays to the acceptability of the structure. People don't like songs and arrangements to be too clever. They demand vulnerability.
TS- Andy, you are wise..beyond your beers.
TS- Get your own catchphrase.
Thereby hangs a tale...and we end this interview with a peck on the cheek for my old friend, Rio, and a huge bottle of Metaxa for Andy.
As I make my leave Andy insists that I mention another great pop song YOU'RE SO GREAT by BLUR.
"That one makes me cry, too" he says
On that note....see ya UFK-dians.