Now that the intial stuff about the format of the EP’s out of the way, we can get onto the songs. Part of the reason that Swings is the first song on the EP is that – lyrically at least – it’s the song that comes closest to what I imagined the band to be when I first suggested it to Craig.
From the start, I wanted Lonesome Monsters to be an optimistic band, something joyful and celebratory. Not a mindless party band, singing songs where to ‘have a good time’ sounds like some deadly threat (enjoy this or else), where any attempt at seriousness, any attempt to engage with the wider world is shunned with a kind of blank terror. But rather the kind of band who recognise that this world is – in so many ways – a pretty horrific place to live, built on exploitation and suffering. That in such a world hope, and potential, and health and happiness are particularly important, particularly worth nurturing.
Basically I wanted to create a band that would embody This Heat’s Health and Efficiency:
And lyrically at least, Swings is the closest we’ve come to that goal. It’s about creativity and inspiration, about that moment when you’re surrounded by art and artists (and there are so many of us out there, whether recognised or not) and you’re buzzing on it, and you can just feel the potential humming in the air. And all you have to do is just reach out and grab a current, let it take you where it will.
It’s about reading that book that suggests possibilities you’d never considered, hearing that song that lights up the world in bright neon colours… It’s about art, and potential. It’s about being in that moment of inspiration and just joyfully flailing about in it.
Fittingly, the inspiration for the song was the magazine Coilhouse. If you’ve never got your hands on a physical copy, you really should; the website’s good, but it’s nothing compared to the actual magazine, which has some of the most gorgeous design I’ve ever seen. Issue 4 is really something else. Which of course it should be; their motto is ‘inform inspire infect’.
Having talked so much about Lonesome Monsters being conceived as a joyful, optimistic band though, it does feel like the world has changed now. The whole reason that it felt important to me for such a band to exist was that for the longest time it had felt like there wasn’t anything to be optimistic about. Britain had endured a long succession of right-wing governments, and any genuine opposition to the neo-liberal consensus had been long since crushed. Even when there was serious opposition to the government’s plans (the Iraq war), when half the country took to the streets to protest, it made no difference whatsoever.
That’s not the case anymore. In their desperation to return the country to the Victorian wonderland of their fevered dreams, the Tories have given birth to an opposition. It’s too early to guess how this is all going to play out, but with the student protests here and the wave of revolts across the Middle East, it’s clear that finally, the Left has started to claw back a sliver of hope for the future.
So it seems to me that my original conception of Lonesome Monsters trying to inspire hope and optimism is largely irrelevant now. This isn’t the time to be finding happiness in whatever small way we can; this is the time to get angry, to demand the future we’re being denied. Because there’s a chance we might get it.
(disclaimer: I’ve no idea whether we can actually articulate that, or how things are going change when more people join the band, or even if Craig agrees in any way at all)