The group’s more expansive sixth, and their only LP on a major label
BLAKE: This is the last one that we did with Creation before they folded. We were in the process of making it and Alan came down and said they were going to be winding up the label. But he told us to finish the record: “Somebody will be taking over the catalogue and they can decide to either take over the record or you can take it with you” – so we were grateful for that. But it turned out Sony did pick up the album and released that.
LOVE: Recording at Rockfield was always magical in a way – it had less of the opulence of The Manor, but it was more bohemian and rustic. The owner, Kingsley Ward, was in a band who had worked with Joe Meek, so he had all these stories about him. I’ve only ever written one song on bass, “I Need Direction”, on Howdy. Instead of using chords, it uses the single notes of the bass and you can almost stumble on chords you’d never thought of before.
MACDONALD: It wasn’t easy for me when I left the band and then Bandwagonesque happened. I wanted to finish my degree and I didn’t know how things were going to go – but it was slightly tough to see everything become so exciting for them. But we stayed pals, so when they needed a drummer again in 2000 [after Paul Quinn left], they asked me to play with them.
BLAKE: In the early ’90s, Jad Fair would find himself in Glasgow every few months and he would always stay at our house, and we became really good friends. So we recorded an album with him [2002’s Words Of Wisdom And Hope]. Every song was improvised with a basic structure, it was all recorded in a couple of days. And then we’d say, “Jad, do you have a lyric that could go with that?” And he’d look through his book and say, “Oh, yes I do!” And he’d put it down in one take. That’s an album that we all like a lot.
Tracked in Chicago, Man-Made found the band downbeat and in “suspended animation”
BLAKE: We were looking to do something a bit different with this record. We liked John McEntire as a guy, he was really into recording and equipment, and we liked the look of his studio in Chicago. So we thought, ‘Let’s go to Chicago, just take our guitars, not even our amplifiers, and spend a month there.’ It’s a great city.
McGINLEY: It was really cold and we were saying, “We love this,” and John was like, “Are you kidding? It’s terrible…” Songs usually start with me messing about on a guitar. For everyone, it can be hard to see just how the song is going to work, but you have to trust that whoever is the songwriter can see how it’s supposed to work, whereas you might not be getting the full picture.
LOVE: Music for us is a natural expression, but when you’ve got to put syllables and melodies into rational couplets of rhymes it becomes more complex. Ever since Bandwagonesque or Thirteen, lyrics seem to halt our momentum, they seem to add another year to things. Chicago was great fun. But this is a strange record, almost a stepping stone. I felt like we were in suspended animation or something.
MACDONALD: After a while, I think everybody starts thinking about their mortality a bit, so that’s gonna creep into songs, like “Cells”. The band probably reveal more in their lyrics than in their conversation – when you hear them start singing, it’s then that you realise what they’re really thinking about.