I’ve started writing (which, since I use computers, also means “recording”) the second Red State Soundsystem album, which will probably either be called SPQR or The Big Darkness or possibly Senatus Populus Que Red State Soundsystem. (Probably not, though. But maybe.)
As a songwriter, one of the biggest problems I have is getting over my abject horror of being pretentious. My inner Colin Meloy is constantly getting the shit kicked out of him by my inner Iggy Pop. “But I want to write songs about Ada Lovelace!” says Colin. “Shut the fuck up and write some ROCK AND ROLL, YOU FUCKIN’ PUSSY!” says Iggy, and gives him a Glasgow kiss. So I always end up somewhere in between — as my buddy Alex points out, I mainly write midtempo gloomy shit.
It’s scary, though, to go for the grandiose stuff, because you run the risk of just looking like an asshole. (Freak-folk people, I’m so looking at you right now.) But the response to the first album has been pretty good, critically if not necessarily financially. So I’m feeling a bit encouraged to let my more baroque tendencies take hold.
And so we have a bunch of new songs: “SPQR”, which is a Pogues/Gogol Bordello sort of track about a bastard of a Roman soldier; “Entropy” which is a sneering electro track sung from the perspective of Lucifer (“Where were you when the world was made? I was still drunk from the night before”); “702” which is about living in Las Vegas and how tourists all suck the big fat hairy sweaty cock; you get the picture. I’ve even got one song I’m playing around with that deals with a star-crossed love affair from the point of view of the man’s dog. And I’m orbiting the idea of the Ada Lovelace song, because I love her.
I’m also going to be including final versions of a few songs I’ve been kicking around the Net for a long time: “After The Ice Age”, “Invisible” and “Country Dress” will almost certainly be on the album, as will “The Big Darkness”, which I’ve tried in a couple of permutations but never actually released. After this, I don’t have any more old songs at all; future albums will all be new stuff.
(If it seems like I’m recycling, well, consider this: most of the songs from most bands’ first couple of albums are made up of songs they’ve written long before. I just threw stuff out on the Net rather than waiting to collect it. And as Elvis Costello once said, you’ve got twenty-five years to write your first album and six months to write the follow-up.)
Musically, it’s probably going to be even more eclectic and all over the place than Ghosts In A Burning City. I’m not interested in making an album of songs that sound alike; I’m interested in writing whatever the fuck I feel like writing, and in this case that’s electronic and country and world beat and chamber music all mixed up. If that turns you off — if you like the comfort of knowing that all the tracks on the record are gonna sound like the Big Hit Single (except the inevitable One Slow Song), may I suggest you pick up the new Interpol album?
We’re considering setting up a Kickstarter project to help fund the recording. We need some new gear for this one; a good microphone preamp and a new recording interface for starters, an upgrade to Ableton Live 8, other refinements. In return, we’re thinking about offering Kickstarters access to a private making-of blog, some sort of video diary, and free copies of the album and other stuff (b-sides, remixes, etc.) when it comes out. We’d basically like to do this one in public, and get some money for it.
We may still release the Indie Rock Is Easy EP I’ve mentioned on Twitter, though we’ll probably just drop it for free on the Red State website. If we do, that will include a cover of the Big Friendly Corporation’s “LOL” and a secret song that I can’t talk about except that it’s going to have a special guest vocalist and it will make Kieron Gillen giggle.
So know you know as much as I do.