Raw Data Feel

Raw Data Feel

Everything Everything guitarist Alex Robertshaw thinks that the Manchester-based quartet moves in threes. In the same way that the maximalist pop of their 2015 third album, Get to Heaven, signaled the end of a glorious first phase, their sixth LP, Raw Data Feel, feels like a culmination of everything they’ve explored over their previous two albums. “We’re always gathering what we got right and what we did wrong in previous records whilst also trying to do something new,” he tells Apple Music. “This goes back to some of the experimental stuff we did on the last record and some of the freshness we had on [2017’s] A Fever Dream and even Get to Heaven. We wanted to make a vibrant, fun record. We don’t want to write any more sad songs.” That sense of jubilation runs right through Raw Data Feel, which takes in atmospheric, cut-up electronica, Pet Shop Boys-influenced synth-pop, ambient soft rock, and sing-along indie anthems. Writing at home during the pandemic was a first for a group who usually amass their material at the back of the tour bus, often still buzzing from an exhilarating live show, and frontman Jonathan Higgs suggests the lyrical themes reflect the conditions of its creation. “There’s a lot of songs about being trapped or escaping something,” he says. “Bits of violence here and there, nostalgia of childhood. Every track is a different way of dealing.” Here, Robertshaw and Higgs guide us through each song on Raw Data Feel. “Teletype” Jonathan Higgs: “It sets the tone in a really good way. But it’s not a big ‘here we are!’ kind of song, which is what we often open with. It’s more like, ‘You didn’t expect this from us.’” Alex Robertshaw: “In terms of instrumentation, it’s very fifty-fifty from electronic and the band. And that carries through the whole record. Also, it starts with that cut-up vocal, and then the end of the record also ends with cut-up vocals. There was a thought process of going full circle.” “I Want a Love Like This” JH: “Alex sent me a specific request saying, ‘Can you write a song that uses chords made of four notes’ because he had this special synth that did cool stuff with chords that had four notes in them.” AR: “It was this patch I had for modular stuff, similar to what I did on ‘In Birdsong’ in the last record. You give it mathematical equations and it just makes all these rhythms appear. But I’ve only got the ability to do four notes!” “Bad Friday” JH: “This was based on the rhythm of ‘Body’ by Russ Millions [and Tion Wayne]. It had this percussive beat all the way through that never seemed to drop and never came in, a bit like [2015 single] ‘No Reptiles’ or something. Everything felt like a build, and I thought it was really great how you have this anticipatory feel all the way through. Then I just tried to keep it really light, so just loads of vocals rather than clogging it up with loads of crap, basically. That’s how it traditionally works—the less in a track, the bigger all those things can be.” “Pizza Boy” AR: “For this, Jon had the verse and the pre-chorus bridge, and I had the chorus from elsewhere. It was a proper Frankenstein.” JH: “It’s about enjoying being a consumer or using that to cope, just letting go and going, ‘Yes, I will buy things and, yes, I will watch what everyone watches. Yes, I will lay down and consume.’” “Jennifer” AR: “We were in the studio, and we’d sent all the demos over to Peter, our manager, and he was like, ‘Oh, I absolutely love this one. Do you think it needs a chorus?’” JH: “We thought it had one! Then we’re like, ‘Oh, shit, maybe it needs another one.’ Alex, tell the story of why the hell there’s loads of slide guitar on the record.” AR: “I turned on my lamp late at night and accidentally kicked out the power to all my audio stuff. Trying to fix it, I found a slide. I was working on ‘Jennifer,’ and I started using it. That’s the only reason it’s on the album, really. As soon as you put the slide on it, it just took the song somewhere else completely. It’s interesting how one instrument, one sound, can totally change the way you feel about a piece of music.” “Metroland Is Burning” AR: “It started out almost like something out of a SEGA [Genesis]. I wanted to use this new drum machine, so I wrote this, and the original version sounds like something off Computer World, just straight-up Kraftwerk. Then I sent it to Jon, and it slowly turned into a band thing. I’ve always loved [Arcade Fire’s] The Suburbs—the band sounds so big and there’s loads of elements in it, but it doesn’t sound crowded. It just sounds big and punchy. From a production standpoint, it’s really hard to do that without it turning into a black hole.” JH: “It’s a song about being a destructive youth, a fantasy about destroying things.” “Leviathan” AR: “I wrote this last year. I lived with my in-laws, and my mother-in-law passed away, so it was dealing with that, really. I spoke about it with Jon, and he wrote the lyrics with all that in mind.” JH: “It’s like a conversation between mother and child where it’s not really clear who’s who or what’s what, but it’s got lots of saying goodbye and emotion wrapped up in it.” “Shark Week” JH: “A lot of the demos that I make sound quite like this, where I’ll have a very heavy hip-hop beat and then, sooner or later, they get translated into an indie band and never quite sound the same. But this one went from me to Alex, and he kept all the subs in and everything. It’s got this amazing drum sound that I’m so glad survived the process, and a fake trumpet sound. All of it’s still there. It didn’t really change a huge amount.” “Cut UP!” JH: “This one very nearly didn’t make it on the record. I can’t remember why we weren’t that keen, but at the last minute we were like, ‘Come on, let’s give it a go.’” AR: “It just suddenly became this totally over-the-top, very fun song.” JH: “We swallowed our pride, I think. We were like, ‘Oh, I don’t know—is this just cheesy?’ Then we were like, ‘You know what? It’s actually just good, and we shouldn’t be afraid of it. It makes us feel quite good and that’s not bad.’” “HEX” JH: “This was a dancehall-y thing I was working on. I knew the bassline was good as soon as I got it, but then I didn’t really know how to get the band involved. It was meant to be much more pop, but something happened in the process, and it came out really brutalist and wild. I matched the lyrics to suit that a bit more, and it almost turned into a prayer or a ritual that was really dark.” AR: “I wanted it to feel like proper dancehall, getting smashed out of some massive speakers at a carnival, slightly distorted and blown out and you can’t really work out what’s going on, just trying to make it as high-energy as possible.” “My Computer” JH: “This is another really fun one, but we did have some debates about whether to use it or not. Then we just thought, ‘Yes, we will, we’ll use everything.’ I was going for a Michael Jackson-meets-Kraftwerk thing. The original demo was really Wacko Jacko. With the harmony, there was loads of chat about whether it was too cheesy. Again, it was about letting go of those feelings, like, ‘What’s the problem if it is enjoyable?’” “Kevin’s Car” AR: “This is a weird one. It’s got country guitars on it and stuff. It’s very strange for us. It was one of the ones that came together in the studio. There was a lot of, ‘How are we going to make this work?’ I had to cut up the drums and do a lot of it afterwards in post-production because the middle-eight hadn’t been written. My plan was just, basically, to finish all the tracks, and this one probably had the most time on it. I think this and ‘Jennifer’ have got a similar energy.” “Born Under a Meteor” AR: “I had a few hours free because I dropped my kid at nursery and I just thought, ‘I’m going to write a song in a few hours,’ and I wrote this. I didn’t think much of it. Then Jeremy [Pritchard, bass] was really into it, and we kept working on it. It’s got a bit of a ’60s beat to it. It’s good to have a few songs on a record that sound like quite classic songwriting. We always try to have a few of those where it just feels like this song is more of a journey rather than aggressive segments put together. It makes for a much more colorful record.” “Software Greatman” JH: “This was originally a Mock Turtles/The La’s-style jangly guitar tune that I wrote and sent over to Alex. That didn’t fly, I guess. It was one of these ones I gave to Alex, and then he just worked on it for more hours than there are in the day for weeks on end, and it turned into this.” AR: “I liked the melody, so I kept persevering with it. Then the latter end of the song was made up of a different piece of music that I already had—a loop I had going on the modular synth. I shoehorned it into the intro, then we used it for the second half of the whole tune. I deleted the fourth chord with the vocal on top of it—that’s why the whole of the latter half, Jon is totally cut up in quite a weird way. I was listening to ‘Angel Echoes’ by Four Tet and thinking of the feeling that gives me.”

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