Breaking The Song - Mainstream


First single from the forthcoming ‘Mass Vendetta’ album is doing the rounds, topping charts and receiving extremely solid feedback from all quarters – time to break another song.


The song came out of a late 2014 jam session when Damien presented the riff in it's infancy. Johnny remarked it sounded too much like ‘Tornado’ so adjusted it to give that bouncing blues-rock flow. I chipped in with the verses, slowing up the riff to allow room for vocal melody. Damien dissected an unused older song he’d written, bringing back a chorus we’d unanimously liked.

We jammed it through and I threw down the melody line (singing gibberish at the time but the melody stuck) and we reached the breakdown and stopped. Damien already had the idea which made the final song, then went about ransacking that unused song further by re-introducing the guitar-line for the build-up. Scotty pretty much nailed it from the off and, in my opinion, made this song what it is with a phenomenal drum performance and memorable intro. All of this happened in the space of fifteen minutes, seriously. When the creative juices flow the formation occurs rapidly.

This is one where the lyrics came before the song. I’d penned them during a break at work on the day of the jam session. Not entirely finished in structure, due to not knowing what the music would be, I’d set about writing with a clear theme – the mainstream media controlling the minds of the masses. The concept being how people are lulled into a coma-state, putting them to sleep, ignorant of the truth or any alternative narratives beyond the one they are presented with.

Thinking along the lines of a lullaby I turned to two nursery rhyme/lullabies I’d recently been singing to my own young baby – ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ and ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’. The lyrics to those lullabies fit perfectly with my concept – life being ‘but a dream’ and rowing ‘gently down the stream’ (which was obviously modified to main-stream). It fit together in an instant, some songs do, especially when you set out with a strong and focussed concept.

I did some further research into the lullabies and found that ‘rock a bye baby’ had quite a history. Originally written in the 18th century (potentially older) there are several version of the lyrics, some referring to a nobleman father and mother queen(which I used for the song). Set to the tune of the folk song Lilliburlelo there is a popular belief that the lyrics refer to political events prior to the ‘glorious revolution’. I love the way that a seemingly innocent lullaby could have previously held these connotations and potentially still contains the allegory (e.g. when the wind blows referring to the ‘protestant wind’ which saved England from the Spanish Armada).
Concept laid out, appropriate lines absorbed – now to blend it with my direct message to the listener. I would be singing as the Mainstream media to the listener, who is being told to go to sleep and follow my instructions.


Rock-a-bye baby thy cradle is green, father is a nobleman, mother is a queen
Go to sleep life is but a dream, row your boat gently down the mainstream

The opening line (taken from the London version of the nursery rhyme in 1805) refers to a ‘green’ cradle in terms of a greenhorn, a novice unaware of the mass mind-control. Patronising and speaking down to the listener, treating them as a baby. The instruction - go to sleep and sail through life following the mainstream narrative.

Rock-a-bye baby on the tree-top, when the flames flow the cradle will rock
Tree will burn down, cradle will fall, down burns baby, forest and all

On top of the tree and feeling content, beware when the heat gets turned up (growing problems of the world closing in) as the pedestal may shake. Eventually the tree will burn down along with everything around you. A warning.

Merrily, Merrily ride along
Merrily, Merrily like nothing’s wrong


Rock-a-bye baby please don’t cry, close your mind tight listen to the lullaby
Hush baby in your rocking chair, moving back and forth oblivious to the nightmare

As someone begins to awaken, heeding the warning of the previous verse, the instruction is to stop crying, close themselves off to the real world and listen to the lullaby. Be quiet and sit in your rocking chair, moving back and forth (going nowhere) with no comprehension of the evil going on around them.

Merrily, Merrily ride along
Merrily, Merrily like nothing’s wrong
Life is but a dream sailing down the mainstream


The artwork was an idea I had quite early on. A pyramid of televisions, set out like a tetractys, each containing a single-word message/instruction from the mainstream media. The bottom row containing: laugh, cry, buy, sleep. The second: Love, Fear, Hate. The third: Live, Die. The top containing the SB inverted Jesuit logo. The way they are lined-up puts them into associated rows – Live, Love, Laugh. Die, Hate, Sleep. The diagonals linking too. The central television is ‘Fear’ which is the predominant instruction of the media. The concept is quite simple – you are being told how to live. How to emote. How to act and you are not even realising it.

I drafted up my own little interpretation before our main man Dean Reilly produced the iconic image we have sprayed all over the current merchandise.


A song which came out of the ether and pretty much pieced itself together. It fits thematically with the new album perfectly. Musically, it’s another deviation from our traditional fast-flowing rock/punk style, but as ever we pretty much let the songs write themselves and don’t restrict the band with generic convention.
From a personal standpoint I love the message and feel it’s conveyed pretty well with very few lyrics, succinct and poignant the order of the day. From an overall song perspective I think it’s the weakest song on the new record and was not my choice for the lead single. However, it’s not to say I dislike it, I just think we’ve got some real strong stuff coming on ‘Mass Vendetta’ and sitting on this material is so difficult. I just want people to hear it, love it, hate it, feel indifferent – but hear it and decide. Hopefully it won’t be long. In the meantime, quit rowing that boat and expose yourself to some alternative narratives, the one we’re fed tastes like shit and I’ve never bought it – you needn’t either.

(Single available on iTunes, Spotify and all digital outlets. Phsyical CD with B-sides available in the SB Store)

Leave a comment