Five years on with Album five dropping forty days from now, Friday, 27th September 2013 was a special day. Before the shenanigans of the evening unfolded Sally and myself were at Victoria Hospital discovering the sex of our first child, a little girl would be arriving just five months later and what a girl she is!
Similarly, the Senton child we delivered that day really put us on the map… well, some maps, like those folded up ones you leave in your glove compartment ruled obsolete by satellites perhaps. We descended on the ‘new’ Tache, a baron wasteland to live music at the time and a shell of its endearing and sticky former self. I twisted arms like a Japanese wrestler to secure the venue and the night was confirmed.
‘Chapter’ was our first label release, with Manchester Indie label legeng Stu Taylor bringing us into the STP family. Friends, family and followers descended from all corners, some making 12 hour round-trips. Local punk heroes Dischord opened, followed by recently disbanded metal maestros CSOD. Safe to say, our good friends, between them, warmed the stage in fine fashion. We then blasted out the entire album with ‘SB’ chants, beers and cheers ringing throughout. It was truly special.
With tonnes of favourable reviews and endless radio the album became a launch pad for us. We’d actually recorded it in 2012 and sat on it for several months to align with STPs release schedule. As the ‘Chapter’ was releasing we were busy working on ‘Phantom High’, the follow-up EP of similar success. ‘Chapter Zero’ formed in a very organic way, half jam room and half direct from my acoustic. The songs followed a theme, similar to Gambit with its ‘Life is a game’ and Mass Vendetta’s conspiracies. The theme was ‘Stories & Time’ – how over time every story has been told, maybe time is a circle which goes round and around, a flat circle in which we live and die and live the same stories again and again. The book-end tracks of the album cover this explicitly, in between familiar stories are referenced as the cycle continues.
“Read me a story that I’ve not heard, read it right down to the last word”
Separated into three acts (the third being a fret-melting solo from Gibbons, who truly ascended to master on this record), this one fully describes the theme. The accompanying video depicts a faceless monk searching for a new story which he frantically tries to capture in binary. Running out of ink he substitutes for blood, dying before completion, resurrected at the end as the cycle renews. Symbolic of everything CZ, this is packed with circles and spins as time continues its bend.
Nothing Quite Like This
“Set the table, light the room, the wolves are in and we’ll howl at the moon”
The story of the brotherhood, the wolf pack. The story of the SB, a band of brothers, suffering and succeeding together – there is nothing like being in a band, a gang or close-knit group. Our anthem and set-closer to this day.
Heading For The Guillotine
“Now it’s done, losing my head was fun”
A story of reckless abandon and self-destruction. A self-referential phase before the responsibility of parenthood arrived. My last blowout, drink and smoke-filled nights, waking up with little recollection. Fun, but dangerous and in some ways cleansing. We’ve all been through it.
“They see us coming again, we are the next in line”
Almost a prelude to the following full album, So Cavalier is how those with power conspire to keep it, one generation to the next. Those without remain cavalier to the control, blissfully unaware or willingly ignorant. The ageless tale of the strong overpowering the weak in a game rigged from the start.
“Round and around just like a tornado”
Everyone knows a couple like this, maybe they have even experienced such a relationship themselves. A tumultuous, sometimes abusive, connection built on fights and make-ups. Sometimes the physical attraction and sex is the only fibre which binds it (as the second verse makes clear). It goes round and around like… a circle, a zero – until one has enough or tragedy occurs. Still opens many of our live sets.
No Rest For The Rockin’
“When the day is done they go down like the sun, my work ain’t over, the night is young”
For rockers like us our jobs are essential to fund our musical habits. At the end of the working day the majority retire home for food, TV and sleep, with the occasional exercise or hobby for the more motivated. For me it was out of work at 6pm – rehearsal room at 7pm, home at 11pm. Added to online band-work, video shooting/editing, merch/poster designs and all the other peripheral rock band activities. It was round (and around) the clock. There’s no rest for the rocking, especially when week night and weekend gigs fall, it’s a real dedication. If you don’t love it – take some rest.
“These days will come and go, we make the most, just make the most, reaping what we sow”
A song for the crestfallen and downtrodden. A mysterious book I once read called the Kyballion suggests everything in the universe breathes – the inhale can be considered the good times, moods and general positive – the exhale the antithesis. We all experience bad times, sometime for sustained periods, but eventual we inhale. This is a call to ride the lows as the highs will soon follow.
“Please take me home, take me don’t break me, turn me to stone, I won’t be an effigy”
The story of the young male seeking a partner, frozen in his tracks by the all-too attractive, seemingly unattainable female. Set to a rehash of the Greek myth, the Gorgon of the gaze, creator of the maze makes the mating process a complex one. She seeks only the most desirable and appropriate partner and so she should. Every time this young ‘Perseus’ sees her she turns him to stone (makes him hard), yet he persists, begging her to take him home where he promises to be real (not an effigy). A lynch-pin of our live set still.
“Some of us recognised a force but most of from sense were divorced, without the slightest touch of remorse she is the darkest horse”
A last-minute addition, as I am renowned for, leaving the guys little time to learn. Mason and myself laid out the structure as he recorded the drums and then the guitar boys went wild on a blank canvas such is the heartbeat bass and bass-drum combo. The song is full of symbolic reference, it’s about trust, suspicion (or lack thereof) and the dark influences of the mind which drive us to act. Sometimes those we suspect least deliver the most damning outcomes. Personified in a young woman, damaged by bad relationships, abandonment and a toxic family life. She reaches her breaking point burning it all to the ground. Sometimes our invisible limits get pushed too far. Likely to be in our live set until death do the Bombs part. Some kindly tell me this is one of the best rock songs ever written – that’s a grand canyon sized stretch but the sentiment has me grinning every time. I love that people love this as it finally opened the door to welcome a new style of song writing, subsequently inviting through the likes of Black Chariot, Red Shield and now Outsiders.
Acid & Alkaline
“We just play this game that we never lose, carry on and on, light each other’s fuse, you are my flame that will never change”
Possibly the weakest song on the album, certainly from a vocal perspective, valiant nonetheless. Another relationship story, this time of commitment and marriage. The story of me and my wife, who are able to neutralise each other when required. When one struggles the other fixes when one is angry (acidic) the other is there to cool down (alkaline). There’s plenty of self-reference alluding to old songs (Rogue Style and Nightbreed) which define my character as the more ‘acidic’ and flamboyant in the relationship. For the majority of time we live in perfect equilibrium and harmony. A true partnership, I’m a lucky soul.
“This path does not begin it will not end, a cycle we travel by the bend”
Yeah, remember me saying time might be a circle (a zero), told you there was a concept (this is probably new to my bandmates too, although they are unlikely to read this). My first poem turned song and to shatter any mystery – ‘The Rider’ is ‘Time’. Our mounted ‘Chronos’ rides on and on through the cosmos in a circular motion. The song never really ends, the Rider just gallops off into the ether, us mere mortals no longer able to hear his vibrations. We always attempt to sign off our albums with something heavy and meaningful. When the Earth and humanity is gone, time will ride on… or round… or will it?
So there it is – five years after the fact to this very day. Probably our most loved record amongst supporters of the band. Expertly produced by dear friend Ronnie and artistically styled by Dean Reilly (note the Egyptian glyph, Greek font and Roman numerals – three empires to rise and fall cyclically, beware the West). This one set a bar for us which I feel we have surpassed and gradually raised, hopefully ‘Outsiders’ will be the one to lift it higher – you be the judge come the fifth of November (remember, remember). Thanks for reading.