10 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“If people hear the record when it comes out, they’ll be listening to it in isolation,” Luke Boerdam tells Apple Music. Released in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the title and themes of Violent Soho’s fifth album have a markedly different meaning from how it was originally intended. “I’ve been thinking about the context, but it definitely, obviously wasn’t planned,” says Boerdam, the Brisbane rock band’s lead singer and songwriter. “You clearly don’t think you’ll be putting out an album in this situation, but now it’s like, ‘Oh my god.’ What might have been a little more lighthearted or more about asking questions has turned into full-on analyzing something that’s really relevant to every single person. It’s almost creepy.”

The four-year break since their last album, Waco, gave Boerdam a chance to rediscover his passion for songwriting. “For other records, we’d start just personal songs about whatever comes to mind,” he says. “Then I gave up on that. I was like, ‘Write anything but anything to do with me.’ But on this record, I actually came back around. It’s not even necessarily about my personal experiences, but having the need to write. I hate the word, but it’s catharsis. This cathartic process of working through emotions, and the relief that comes from doing that. It doesn't mean every lyric is a personal narrative or some story,” he says, as he talks through each of the album's songs, “but it does mean that it was great to find purpose in writing again.”

Sleep Year
“You Am I’s album Hourly Daily starts with an acoustic song, and we thought it’d be so cool to start with something like that. Everyone expects a big explosion, but it’ll start with an acoustic track. But then this song happens and it was like, ‘No f**king way, we have to start the record with this song!’ It's just about being lost in the moment and having no control of how we act in a moment. There are a lot of parts of the record about that—about how much agency and control we actually have. It’s a definitive Soho track—it’s got that soft-to-loud dynamic, it’s got this crunchy thing that happens at the start.”

Vacation Forever
“This was the first one I demoed for the album. I was living with my parents at the time, actually in the same bedroom where I grew up and where I wrote some of the first Soho songs. You look around and wonder, ‘How the f**k did I end up back here?’ I had nothing—literally two bags and my stuff here—and I was literally just describing the suburbia around me, like a baby boomer across the street who's obsessed with his lawn. The line just came out in the moment, but it's so loaded, and it's become more loaded with the whole 'OK boomer' thing that happened. That blew my mind, because I never thought about that context. I literally wrote it because I was stuck in this room and felt trapped with where I was going to go. The song is a bit of escapism—the vacation is forever—and in terms of catharsis, this was where that rings most true.”

Pick It Up Again
“This one was a bit more personal, about moving on and relationships. I thought this wouldn't make the record because it came so early on [in the writing process], and it sounded a bit like our other stuff. I was like, ‘I want to push it further, I want to push the sound further.’ But after playing it at a festival and giving it two years’ rest, it's one of my favorite tracks again. We had an awesome time making it with the producer of the record, Greg Wales, who did some You Am I records—he's from that era of Australian '90s bands that we looked up to. The chorus has that You Am I swing, or at least we're attempting to do a kind of Tim Rogers thing.”

Canada
“I think it's my favorite song on the record: It's relaxed, and I love the riff. I'd always wanted to do a song like that Blur song 'Coffee & TV'—the way it's relaxed, more acoustic, it's got these cool guitar sounds. We always do these big heavy anthemic songs, so it was so much fun to do an acoustic track that's pared down, slowed down. I'd locked myself in a studio for five days to finish the album. The lyrics just came to me and then I couldn't change it. In my head I always try and take a song to a place, and for me that place was Canada. It's kind of like a summer song, but I didn't want to write a summer song—that's something Thirsty Merc would do. So I was like, I'm going to write an anti-summer song where you go on holiday but it's winter. But on a more serious note, I had the idea that if I wanted to escape somewhere if the world was coming to an end, that's where I'd want to go. There's something about feeling safe in Canada.”

Shelf Life
“You get these frustrations and you get angry at things, but you can’t always articulate it—and music is my way of articulating it. ‘Shelf Life’ comes from the idea that everything’s an identity that can be bought or sold. It’s like Instagram is a supermarket for identity and everyone’s just shopping. Not to sound cliché, but social media does change the way we connect with humans. I guess it’s just this frustration with the inability to connect with people in a real way.”

Slow Down Sonic
“So this is a bit like ‘Canada,’ as we’ve never done something like this before. I’m nervous about playing it live—it’s full-on acoustic—but I can't wait. You’re finally starting to see our influences on songs like this, like Built to Spill, with indie tones that we only use sparsely throughout other songs. It's stuff that we've always wanted to do, and I’m stoked this one made the record, and actually works and makes sense here.”

Lying on the Floor
“It’s also about frustration with things moving so quickly—actually, there’s a connection with ‘Slow Down Sonic.’ There’s so much going on and so much information to consume that it’s too hard to handle. I really just want to escape, to a point where I don’t want to turn the TV on, I don’t want my phone on, I just want to be here, be in the moment and lie on the floor.”

Easy
“I was trying to write a song like Shellac and I had this real weird, angular guitar riff that didn't have a normal rhythm, just stabs. I got that one riff out of it and then the chorus happened, and it became this big, giant four-chord chorus that sounds nothing like Shellac. But that's just writing. I remember our old manager Dean [Turner], who passed away, but he was in Magic Dirt. And he'd always say that with Magic Dirt they'd sit down and try to write these heavy, aggressive rock songs that were so powerful they'd flatten a building—but then they'd come out and would find they'd written another three-chord pop song. It just rings so true.”

Pity Jar
“It’s an analogy about how there’s so much going on. You can imagine every opinion and human sentiment thrown out there and turned into branding elements, and you might as well throw them away into a jar. Back in the day, brands would put their tagline on billboards, but they weren’t in our pockets. Now they are, so now a global brand’s tag is right next to a message from a friend saying, ‘I’m really upset, guys, I need help.’ So when you’re going through something, you ask yourself, ‘Is this even valid? Should I be sharing it on Instagram?’”

A-OK
“It was the last song written, but yeah, it became the title and everything. It wrote itself. It’s about how we’re very good at brushing problems under the cupboards, saying everything’s okay, it’s all fine, nothing’s gonna impact me. It’s just so odd that since recording it, bushfires happened, and then we had floods, and now we’ve got a pandemic, enforced lockdowns, and the army’s been mobilized. Now more than ever when I listen back to that song, it’s kind of strange. Those problems are now here, they are facing us directly. It feels nostalgic, as if the song was written at a time when we didn’t have all these problems. To me, it’s the most powerful song on the record, just because of how this record is coming out, how it’s being listened to.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

“If people hear the record when it comes out, they’ll be listening to it in isolation,” Luke Boerdam tells Apple Music. Released in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the title and themes of Violent Soho’s fifth album have a markedly different meaning from how it was originally intended. “I’ve been thinking about the context, but it definitely, obviously wasn’t planned,” says Boerdam, the Brisbane rock band’s lead singer and songwriter. “You clearly don’t think you’ll be putting out an album in this situation, but now it’s like, ‘Oh my god.’ What might have been a little more lighthearted or more about asking questions has turned into full-on analyzing something that’s really relevant to every single person. It’s almost creepy.”

The four-year break since their last album, Waco, gave Boerdam a chance to rediscover his passion for songwriting. “For other records, we’d start just personal songs about whatever comes to mind,” he says. “Then I gave up on that. I was like, ‘Write anything but anything to do with me.’ But on this record, I actually came back around. It’s not even necessarily about my personal experiences, but having the need to write. I hate the word, but it’s catharsis. This cathartic process of working through emotions, and the relief that comes from doing that. It doesn't mean every lyric is a personal narrative or some story,” he says, as he talks through each of the album's songs, “but it does mean that it was great to find purpose in writing again.”

Sleep Year
“You Am I’s album Hourly Daily starts with an acoustic song, and we thought it’d be so cool to start with something like that. Everyone expects a big explosion, but it’ll start with an acoustic track. But then this song happens and it was like, ‘No f**king way, we have to start the record with this song!’ It's just about being lost in the moment and having no control of how we act in a moment. There are a lot of parts of the record about that—about how much agency and control we actually have. It’s a definitive Soho track—it’s got that soft-to-loud dynamic, it’s got this crunchy thing that happens at the start.”

Vacation Forever
“This was the first one I demoed for the album. I was living with my parents at the time, actually in the same bedroom where I grew up and where I wrote some of the first Soho songs. You look around and wonder, ‘How the f**k did I end up back here?’ I had nothing—literally two bags and my stuff here—and I was literally just describing the suburbia around me, like a baby boomer across the street who's obsessed with his lawn. The line just came out in the moment, but it's so loaded, and it's become more loaded with the whole 'OK boomer' thing that happened. That blew my mind, because I never thought about that context. I literally wrote it because I was stuck in this room and felt trapped with where I was going to go. The song is a bit of escapism—the vacation is forever—and in terms of catharsis, this was where that rings most true.”

Pick It Up Again
“This one was a bit more personal, about moving on and relationships. I thought this wouldn't make the record because it came so early on [in the writing process], and it sounded a bit like our other stuff. I was like, ‘I want to push it further, I want to push the sound further.’ But after playing it at a festival and giving it two years’ rest, it's one of my favorite tracks again. We had an awesome time making it with the producer of the record, Greg Wales, who did some You Am I records—he's from that era of Australian '90s bands that we looked up to. The chorus has that You Am I swing, or at least we're attempting to do a kind of Tim Rogers thing.”

Canada
“I think it's my favorite song on the record: It's relaxed, and I love the riff. I'd always wanted to do a song like that Blur song 'Coffee & TV'—the way it's relaxed, more acoustic, it's got these cool guitar sounds. We always do these big heavy anthemic songs, so it was so much fun to do an acoustic track that's pared down, slowed down. I'd locked myself in a studio for five days to finish the album. The lyrics just came to me and then I couldn't change it. In my head I always try and take a song to a place, and for me that place was Canada. It's kind of like a summer song, but I didn't want to write a summer song—that's something Thirsty Merc would do. So I was like, I'm going to write an anti-summer song where you go on holiday but it's winter. But on a more serious note, I had the idea that if I wanted to escape somewhere if the world was coming to an end, that's where I'd want to go. There's something about feeling safe in Canada.”

Shelf Life
“You get these frustrations and you get angry at things, but you can’t always articulate it—and music is my way of articulating it. ‘Shelf Life’ comes from the idea that everything’s an identity that can be bought or sold. It’s like Instagram is a supermarket for identity and everyone’s just shopping. Not to sound cliché, but social media does change the way we connect with humans. I guess it’s just this frustration with the inability to connect with people in a real way.”

Slow Down Sonic
“So this is a bit like ‘Canada,’ as we’ve never done something like this before. I’m nervous about playing it live—it’s full-on acoustic—but I can't wait. You’re finally starting to see our influences on songs like this, like Built to Spill, with indie tones that we only use sparsely throughout other songs. It's stuff that we've always wanted to do, and I’m stoked this one made the record, and actually works and makes sense here.”

Lying on the Floor
“It’s also about frustration with things moving so quickly—actually, there’s a connection with ‘Slow Down Sonic.’ There’s so much going on and so much information to consume that it’s too hard to handle. I really just want to escape, to a point where I don’t want to turn the TV on, I don’t want my phone on, I just want to be here, be in the moment and lie on the floor.”

Easy
“I was trying to write a song like Shellac and I had this real weird, angular guitar riff that didn't have a normal rhythm, just stabs. I got that one riff out of it and then the chorus happened, and it became this big, giant four-chord chorus that sounds nothing like Shellac. But that's just writing. I remember our old manager Dean [Turner], who passed away, but he was in Magic Dirt. And he'd always say that with Magic Dirt they'd sit down and try to write these heavy, aggressive rock songs that were so powerful they'd flatten a building—but then they'd come out and would find they'd written another three-chord pop song. It just rings so true.”

Pity Jar
“It’s an analogy about how there’s so much going on. You can imagine every opinion and human sentiment thrown out there and turned into branding elements, and you might as well throw them away into a jar. Back in the day, brands would put their tagline on billboards, but they weren’t in our pockets. Now they are, so now a global brand’s tag is right next to a message from a friend saying, ‘I’m really upset, guys, I need help.’ So when you’re going through something, you ask yourself, ‘Is this even valid? Should I be sharing it on Instagram?’”

A-OK
“It was the last song written, but yeah, it became the title and everything. It wrote itself. It’s about how we’re very good at brushing problems under the cupboards, saying everything’s okay, it’s all fine, nothing’s gonna impact me. It’s just so odd that since recording it, bushfires happened, and then we had floods, and now we’ve got a pandemic, enforced lockdowns, and the army’s been mobilized. Now more than ever when I listen back to that song, it’s kind of strange. Those problems are now here, they are facing us directly. It feels nostalgic, as if the song was written at a time when we didn’t have all these problems. To me, it’s the most powerful song on the record, just because of how this record is coming out, how it’s being listened to.”

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