Bright Green Field

Bright Green Field

The intense process of making a debut album can have enduring effects on a band. Some are less expected than others. “It made my clothes smell for weeks afterwards,” Squid’s drummer/singer Ollie Judge tells Apple Music. During the British summer heatwave of 2020, the UK five-piece—Judge and multi-instrumentalists Louis Borlase, Arthur Leadbetter, Laurie Nankivell and Anton Pearson—decamped to producer Dan Carey’s London studio for three weeks. There, Carey served them the Swiss melted-cheese dish raclette, hence the stench, and also helped the band expand the punk-funk foundations of their early singles into a capricious, questing set that draws on industrial, jazz, alt-rock, electronic, field recordings and a Renaissance-era wind instrument called the rackett. The songs regularly reflect on disquieting aspects of modern life—“2010” alone examines greed, gentrification and the mental-health effects of working in a slaughterhouse—but it’s also an album underpinned by the kindness of others. Before Carey hosted them in a COVID-safe environment at his home studio, the band navigated the restrictions of lockdown with the help of people living near Judge’s parents in Chippenham in south-west England. A next-door neighbour, who happens to be Foals’ guitar tech, lent them equipment, while a local pub owner opened up his barn as a writing and rehearsal space. “It was really nice, so many people helping each other out,“ says Borlase. “There’s maybe elements within the music, on a textural level, of how we wished that feel of human generosity was around a bit more in the long term.” Here, Borlase, Judge and Pearson guide us through the record, track by track. “Resolution Square” Anton Pearson: “It’s a ring of guitar amps facing the ceiling, playing samples. On the ceiling was a microphone on a cord that swung around like a pendulum. So you get that dizzying effect of motion. It’s a bit like a red shift effect, the pitch changing as the microphone moves. We used samples of church bells and sounds from nature. It felt like a really nice thing to start with, kind of waking up.” Ollie Judge: “It sounds like cars whizzing by on the flyover, but it’s all made out of sounds from nature. So it’s playing to that push and pull between rural and urban spaces.” “G.S.K.” OJ: “I started writing the lyrics when I was on a Megabus from Bristol to London. I was reading Concrete Island by J. G. Ballard, and that is set underneath that same flyover that you go on from Bristol to London [the Chiswick Flyover]. I decided to explore the dystopic nature of Britain, I guess. It’s a real tone-setter, quite industrial and a bit unlike the sound world that we’ve explored before. Lots of clanging.” “Narrator” OJ: “It’s almost like a medley of everything we’ve done before: It’s got the punk-funk kind of stuff, and then newer industrial kind of sounds, and a foray into electronic sounds.” Louis Borlase: “It’s actually one of the freest ones when it comes to performing it. The big build-up that takes you through to the very end of the song is massively about texture in space, therefore it’s also massively about communication. That takes us back to the early days of playing in the Verdict [jazz venue] together, in Brighton, where we used to have very freeform music. It was very much about just establishing a tonality and a harmony and potentially a rhythm, and just kind of riding with it.” “Boy Racers” OJ: “It’s a song of two halves. The familiar, almost straightforward pop song, and then it ends in a medieval synth solo.” LB: “We had started working on it quite crudely, ready to start performing it on tour, in March 2020, just before lockdown. In lockdown, we started sending each other files and letting it develop via the internet. Just at the point where everything stops rhythmically and everything gets thrown up into the air—and enter said rackett solo—it’s the perfect depiction of when we were able to start seeing each other again. That whole rhythmic element stopped, and we left the focus to be what it means to have something that’s very free.” “Paddling” OJ: “The big, gooey pop centrepiece of the album. There’s a video of us playing it live from quite a few years ago, and it’s changed so much. We added quite a bit of nuance.” AP: “It was a combined effort between the three of us, lyrically. It started off about coming-of-age themes and how that related to readings about The Wind in the Willows and Mole—about things feeling scary when they’re new sometimes. That kind of naivety can trip you up. Then also about the whole theme of the book, about greed and consumerism, and learning to enjoy simple things. That book says such a beautiful thing about joy and how to get enjoyment out of life.” “Documentary Filmmaker” OJ: “It was quite Steve Reich-inspired, even to the point where when I played my girlfriend the album for the first time she said, ‘Oh, I thought that was Steve Reich. That was really nice.’” LB: “It started in a bedroom jam at Arthur’s family house. We had quite a lazy summer afternoon, no pressure in writing, and that’s preserved its way through to what it is on the album.” AP: “Sometimes we set out with ideas like that and they move into the more full-band setting. We felt was really important to keep this one in that kind of stripped-back nature.” “2010” OJ: “I think it’s a real shift towards future Squid music. It’s more like an alternative rock song than a post-punk band. It’s definitely a turning point: Our music has been known to be quite anecdotal and humorous in places, but this is quite mature. It doesn’t have a tongue-in-cheek moment.” LB: “Lyrically, it’s tackling some themes which are quite distressing and expose some of the problematic aspects of society. Trying to make that work, you’re owing a lot to the people involved, people that are affected by these issues, and you don’t want to make something that doesn’t feel truly thought about.” “The Flyover” AP: “It moulds really nicely into ‘Peel St.’ after it, which is quite fun—that slow morphing from something quite calm into something quite stressful. Arthur sent some questions out to friends of the band to answer, recorded on their phones. He multi-tracked them so there’s only ever like three people talking at one time. It’s just such a hypnotic and beautiful thing to listen to. Lots of different people talking about their lives and their perspectives.” “Peel St.” AP: “That’s the first thing we came up with when we met up in Chippenham, after having been separate for so long. It was this wave of excitement and joy. I don’t know why, when we’re all so happy, something like that comes out. That rhythmic pattern grew from those first few days, because it was really emotional.” LB: “It was joyful, but when we were all in that barn on the first day, I don’t think any of us were quite right. We called it ‘Aggro’ before we named it ‘Peel St.’, because we would feel pretty unsettled playing it. It was a workout mentally and physically.” “Global Groove” OJ: “I got loads of inspiration from a retrospective on Nam June Paik—who’s like the godfather of TV art, or video installations—at the Tate. It’s a lot about growing up with the 24-hour news cycle and how unhealthy it is to be bombarded with mostly bad news—but then sometimes a nice story about an animal [gets added] on the end of the news broadcast. Growing up with various atrocities going on around you, and how the 24-hour news cycle must desensitise you to large-scale wars and death.” “Pamphlets” LB: “It’s probably the second oldest track on the album. The three of us were staying at Ollie’s parents’ house a couple of summers ago and it was the first time we bought a whiteboard. We now write music using a whiteboard, we draw stuff up, try and keep it visual. It also makes us feel quite efficient. ‘Pamphlets’ became an important part of our set, particularly finishing a set, because it’s quite a long blow-out ending. But when we brought it back to Chippenham last year, it had changed so much, because it had had so much time to have so many audiences responding to it in different ways. It’s very live music.”

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