Story Behind The Song by Andy Cairns (Aug 12th, 2003)
Early 1990. Myself and Fyfe had been rehearsing in a spare room in his dad’s house in Larne, East Antrim, Northern Ireland. He used to play his kit with brushes and I’d play my guitar through a practise amp so as not to annoy the neighbours.
Songs would usually start with a guitar riff or drum pattern and we’d take it from there. The lyrics we’d discuss between us and could be influenced by any number of things we were both interested in. For this track we’d both been listening to Belgian new beat, especially an album New Beat—Take 1, a compilation that Fyfe had bought me. The beats on these records tended to be hypnotic and driven and the melody and synth lines, more often than not would have a trance-like ‘eastern’ feel to them.
Fyfe came up with a pattern which was like something the Erotic Dissidents would have used especially on the track Move Your Ass. To complement it I played a trancey drone riff that was part Loop/Spacemen 3, part early Metallica and part acid house. We added the ‘trick stops’ as we went along and decided to throw people’s heads a bit with a piece of dischord in the middle.
The music was finished and I remember at the time playing the track over and over instrumentally and totally losing myself in it as the thing was so damn hypnotic and with Fyfe’s unusual groove. I could have happily closed my eyes and played it all day.
At home I worked on a vocal melody that would sit in with the piece as opposed to sit on top of it. Next time I went back to Fyfe’s he had a piece of newspaper containing an article about a very young boy who had shot somebody. When the cops arrived they saw that he was wearing a t-shirt with the words “No one knows the trouble I’ve seen” written on the front of it. That was our first line. We decided to try and get into the head of the kid and take it from there. Within a couple of hours we had the verses.
Playing it through in his spare room with my eyes closed the line “Hate, freedom” just blurted out and became the chorus. I had absolutely no idea where this came from and still don’t. Still, it sounded cool and added more of a punky edge to the song which felt right as we were very into hardcore bands at the time.
At this early stage of the band we were intrigued by the dynamic of Hüsker Dü and how the drummer and guitarist took it in turns to take a lead vocal each. We started doing this with our songs. On Meat Abstract it felt natural for Fyfe to take the verse and me the chorus. Next step, we rehearsed with Michael and he added his ‘trademark’ percussive rumble giving the tune lots of ass-shaking bottom end.
Looking through the Guardian newspaper several days later in work I came across an article in the arts section on the work of the British avant-garde artist, Helen Chadwick. She used pieces of meat in her artwork and one of the sections was titled Meat Abstract. This fitted the song perfectly somehow. Our flesh can be changed and broken through life.
We got round to recording the track at Homestead Studios and during the sessions we took time out to watch the movie Blade Runner. We’d recently been listening a lot to Ministry and toying with the idea of using samples especially in some of the aforementioned ‘trick stops’. When we heard the line “Wake up… time to die!” we looked at each other in unison and smiled. The sound at the start of the track is Fyfe gulping a can of beer in the vocal booth and the low vocals underneath the end of the track are him mumbling in a low voice.
I love this track so much to this day. Even now when we play it I can still lose myself big time when the track approaches the first ‘drone’ section. I’ve never been completely comfortable singing Fyfe’s verse parts as it kind of feels like I’m taking a little bit of history away somehow, but it would be a shame if we never played it as it’s such a special song to us. It was, after all, our first single.
Read the story behind the next song on this album.
Wake up... time to die!
No one knows the trouble I've seen
No one knows my mind
Don't think about it, you won't feel bad
You can't touch me now
When I grow up
Wanna be, gonna be like me
You'll be dyin', I'll be smilin'
Just you wait and see
Hate, freedom (Motherfucker)