Track By Track: Farrah

Jez talks us through the songs and recordings of the self titled fourth album.

1. Swings And Roundabouts

This was a lot of fun to record. I like songs that remind people that however bad today is, tomorrow may well be better. My favourite part of the recording was Dana’s monster fill at the end. When we mixed it we decided that a Glockespiel was needed on the quiet bit in the song. I ran into the live room and Ben the mixer dropped it in. Last minute? Us?

2. Stereotypes

I guess this song has a nod towards Steve Miller’s Abracadabra. It sounds huge live. We had another song with a big slabby chorus called ‘Dorian Gray’, Dorian lost out to this. I guess it’s a truism that everyone is stereotyped. Farrah are often stereotyped as nerdy 70’s soft rock obsessives who have a penchant for big choruses and lots of backing vocals. Mmm.

3. Scarborough

My favourite lyric on the record. It was called Loughbrough but as Andy rightly pointed out, Scarborough had more of a geographical connection for us as we’re from Yorkshire. I’ve worked in offices and the watercooler gossip always did my head in. It was like school but with suits. When we recorded it we wanted an unusual sound for the solo (I’d already tried a baritone guitar solo but everyone thought it was a bit pants) I ordered a melodica from amazon and we all loved the result.

4. DNA

It’s a love song. Farrah don’t have many positive love songs so this was a nice change. Andrew played double bass on the recording. All that synthy stuff at the beginning is actually guitars going through a loop sampler and mangled a bit.

5. Got The Best Of Me

I absolutely love Michelle’s vocals and lyrics on this tune. She has such a great and distinctive voice we all wanted to hear more of it on this record. The weird noise playing that melody is a Stylophone, unfortunately we didn’t have the budget to hire Rolf Harris to play it. I remember when we recorded it that the outro went on for ages. This is a departure for us. We normally don’t really ‘do’ outros. With Dana pounded the kit though we couldn’t stop. Andrew played the bass on this one. He did a great job.

6. If You Were Mine

Thwarted love is a theme we like in Farrah. When I was at school there was a girl called Katie that I fancied. She went out with this dork. This is what this song is about. Shameless Jeff Lynne touches on the production abound. Andrew was roped in to play cello after cello after cello. He had blisters. I bet they did in ELO too!

7. Missed The Boat

This was the last song to go on the record. We wanted something with a bit of swagger. The story is true. I’ve changed the girl’s name but I guess we all wonder what could have been. When we rehearsed the song we accidentally played a cool chord in the chorus. It makes the song for me. That’s a bit of serendipity. The guitar solo is through a leslie speaker. I played it, Andrew was in charge of changing the speed of the Leslie.

8. Wasting time

I love this song. It makes me think of York’s many pubs and pints of Landlord. It’s a paean to when life was simpler I suppose. For some reason when we listened to the demo we started thinking about Wichita Lineman and wanted to make the song reverby and cinematic.

9. Just Driving

I love Dana’s drumming on this. He absolutely nailed it first take. Michelle was messing around with the tambourine on the verse and we loved it. We all jammed this song in rehearsal. It’s one of my favourites for this reason. It’s great to play live as we get everyone to sing to ‘oh oh oh oh’ backing vocal. The lyric was written because my brother had just given me his old beat up car. Driving though London on a rainy night when the clubs kick out is kind of like the opening scenes from Taxi Driver.

10. Abby’s Going Out

We managed to get our friend Kim Richey to sing on this. She did such a beautiful job. I like the waltz feel of the song. The strings were played by Andrew and our engineer Ben Wood. It was hilarious seeing Andrew play the violin as he had to stand it up like a cello. The words were inspired by the fear of agoraphobia you get when life deals you a bad hand.

11. Sleep Above The Covers

This is my favourite song on the record. I remember it all coming together in the studio with me and Andrew trying lots of different instruments and textures. The Backing vocals were time consuming I remember as everyone ran out of breath on the ‘aaahs’ at different times. The story of the lyric is true. It was inspired by a strange night of going backwards rather than forwards with my ex. Boozy nights are never dull.

12. All I Want Is You

I started writing this song 10 years ago. It had been listened to and considered for each of the previous records but we all agreed it should be on this one. After Dana laid a very Ringo drum part down (we put a tea towel on the snare to damp it) we threw the kitchen sink at it. Lots of friends helped with the gang vocals. Mixing it was a nightmare, we were all pulling our hair out at the end. How can we make 90 tracks all louder than each other! It seemed a fitting way to finish the record.