MICHAEL WESTON KING
talks about "A New Kind Of Loneliness"
(Floating World Records / Poptown Records)
It seems a long time ago now since we recorded these songs, as the album was actually completed in Spring 2006. We then spent the next 9 months talking to numerous labels about releasing it. The majority of the album was recorded at Big Mushroom studios (owned by the band The Charlatans), in the Cheshire town of Middlewich, about half an hour south of Manchester. We also did some recording in former Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marrs home studio, and at one of my favourite places, Bryn Derwen Studios in N.Wales (where I also recorded "A Decent Man" and "Happiness", the last ever album with The Good Sons).
I gathered together the same players with whom I recorded "A Decent Man", but also added Matt Howden on violin. I produced this album, (having learnt a lot from working with Jackie on "A Decent Man"), and was ably assisted by Jim Spencer who engineered the abum and contributed significantly in a co-production role. Jim has worked with some fine bands over the past few years, a lot from Manchester ( New Order, The Charlatans, Johnny Marr), and also the likes of Primal Scream, and that suited me, as I wanted to get further away from the whole Americana/ Alt. Country thing, and to some extent, the roots / singer-songwriter thing. I wanted to make a great melodic, well produced, pop record that had plenty of gravitas in the songs but sounded really good. I had had enough of mumbling Americans writing songs without melody, and I also had enough of lo-fi, "unplugged" records made for 50 dollars and artists gloryfiying in the fact they were recorded so cheaply.....and most of them bloody sound like they were made for $50. No, I wanted ANKOL to have real production value, and sound like a "posh" record.
HERE'S THE PLAN
Every now and then as a professional musician, you have a moment where you just wonder why on earth you are doing this job. Why are you trying so hard to make something happen, battling against so many things and, at times, feeling like you are getting nowhere. Then just when you are at your lowest ebb, you play a great show, or write a new song that you are really happy with, or your new album gets a great review, or someone writes and says how much your music means to them......and suddenly, all the heart ache, and hardship (both financially and mentally) disappear and you remember why you are a musician. I wrote verses to the song when I was having one of those negative moments, one of those, "what the fuck am I doing, lets quit the awful business and go and do something else" moments, but the chorus is all about the joys.
THE LAST HURRAH
Written early one morning in a band room above a venue called The Sub Rosa in Dortmund. I was looking out the window, and across the street was a block of flats. On the corner, about 50 metres away from the entrance to the flats was a food stand selling tea, coffee, pretzels etc. As I watched, a very frail old man came out of the flats, and agonizingly slowly, he made his way to the drinks stand. It took him at least 15 minutes to shuffle the 50 metres. He then bought his coffee and walked back home, again taking what seemed like an age to get there. I was transfixed, and although it is only the first verse that relates directly to the old man of Dortmund, the song just seemed to flow on from that first image, and my imagination took me on the rest of the journey, written from the view of someone on their deathbed, saying goodbye to everyone....those they loved, and those they hated, but missing the one person who really mattered to them.
It is very clear what this song is all about, a song that deals with the situation of children and their father after a divorce? The child spends most time with their mother and only sees the father at the weekends. I have first hand experience of this situation, and it is a very painful one. The song is written from the point of view of the father, and I wanted to try and convey how the father feels when he has to hand his child/children back to their mother and then not see them again for a week or 2. Having been through it for 7 years, I am well positioned to write such a song. I also sent the song to the UK organization "Fathers For Justice", a campaign set up here to help fathers have better access to their children after divorce or separation. In the UK the law is very much on the side of the mother, sometimes with good reason, but a lot of the time, fathers don't get to see their kids at all, which is very damaging to both the man and the children. You may recall "Fathers For Justice" had a series of high profile publicity campaigns (dressing as super heroes and climbing up Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, invading the Houses of Parliament etc.), to try and bring their situation to the public, and the government's attention. Thankfully, in the end , it worked and the law has been changed. I hear the story of the "Fathers For Justice" campaign is being made into a film, and I hope that this song will be used in some way.
MY HEART STOPPED TODAY
I was on tour in the UK with Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen around the time I was making the album. I played them the song and asked if they would come and sing and play on it. It was written as a simple country / folk song and I wanted mandolin, banjo and lots of harmonies on it, and Chris and Herb are masters of that. The song really suited their style, and in turn, their contribution really enhanced this little song about being very much in love with someone, but every now and then, you feel like you dont want to be with them anymore.
THIS MAN CAN BREAK SO EASILY
Written at Christmas, just after the news of the terrible tsunami had come in. Like many, I watched horrified as the scenes of devastation where played out across our TV screens. It really put into perspective the weakness of man against nature, and also, on a smaller scale, the insignificance of what is, increasingly, an "over the top" build up to celebrating Christmas, and the pressure we put ourselves under to have a "wonderful time". In part that is the essence of this song, but also there is very much a part of me as "the man who can break so easily".
The thing that is "Lost" in this song is too personal to write about specifically but, on a general level, I hope the sense of loss comes across to the listener, and they can relate it to something , or someone, that has been lost to them. I love Jackie Leven's very imaginative backing vocals, his "backing breathing" on this, and of course, we did intentionally pay homage to "Knockin' On Heavens Door" in the intro.
ONLY SEVEN DAYS
Co-written with Swedish songwriter Lotte Brondum, during a weeks retreat on the Danish island of Samso. We were put together and had to write something within an hour even though we had never met. It was strange to write in such a way, but we came up with this song very quickly, based on the fact we were only in this one place for a week. The song became a kind of "theme tune" for the week, as there was a stunning array of butterflies which appeared in the garden of the house everyday. Where we were all staying was called The Samso Rock Hotel but it was called the Butterfly House for the rest of the week. I later ammended the lyrics a little when I came to record it for the album.
ROSENKRANTZ AND KRISTIANS GATE (I'M DEAD)
The title is a play on words from the Tom Stoppard play "Rosenkrantz and Gildenstern are Dead", but it has nothing to do with Hamlet or the play. Written in a beautiful hotel room at the swanky Bristol Hotel in Oslo, (the hotel is located on the corner of Rosenkrantz and Kristians Gate), after a gig which had promised much but had been something of a disappointment. I was staying in a wonderful place but feeling very low and let down, and missing some female comfort!
LET THE WAVES BREAK AROUND YOUR FACE
A 90% made up story, with a small element of personal truth in it somewhere, though I, nor any former partners, have gone so far as to attempt drowning one another! Hats off to Mike Cosgrave who plays some scintillating "Jerry Lee Lewis" like piano, and some wonderfully authentic cajun accordion. The boy is far too talented to work with a mere mortal such as I.
FROM OUT OF THE BLUE
I wrote this 3 years ago, also on the Danish island of Samso, with the Danish songwriter Michael Hamilton. The song is based on the true story of the murder of a young girl in a small Danish town. The girl had been straggled by a washing line and the murder was unsolved for a number of months. One day, the mother of the man , who turned out to be the murderer, discovered her washing line was missing, and she realised her son, a 35 year old man, still living at home, and something of a recluse, had committed the crime. Bravely, she told the police, and basically sent her son to jail. The conclusion of the song has both sets of parents meeting for a meal, and both sets of parents trying to comfort the other over the loss of their children, albeit lost in different ways.
When we sat down to write it , we deliberately tried to write the song in the style of Ron Sexsmith, a writer that both Michael and I really admire. I have known Ron for a few years, as we have toured together 2 or 3 times, so I just sent it him. He liked it, and added a very nice harmony.
ALONE AGAIN NATURALLY
A very misunderstood song, one that is lost to many people due to the fact that is was written by "a twat in a flat cap" ...to quote Pete Wylie. Lyrically, it is a masterpiece, some of the most poignant words I have even seen in a song. Given the subject matter, I wanted to treat is more like a funeral dirge, rather than the jaunty way Gilbert performed it originally. I love pump organ and Mike Cosgrave's playing here is just perfect.
IT WILL END IN TEARS
A very heavy song, muscially and lyrically. It starts off as a regular break up song with the man, left behind, feeling sorry for himself and wondering why the girl has gone, but by the end, we know exactly why she has gone, and he has only 2 things to blame........himself and his drinking. My wife Lou does an amazing vocal solo in the middle of this song which is one of the highlights of the album for me, and also perfectly conveys the sense of a departed woman.