After the great comeback album Broken early this year the 90’s post grunge boys turned men are not resting their laurels and are back with another album full of futuristic sounding anthems. Wayne AF Carey delves into guitarist James Mountford’s mind and gets him to dissect the songs track by track, whilst giving his own verdict.
Lazarus Is Dead “This is probably as close to where we left off 24 years ago in terms of our signature Kerosene sound. The songs gives a nod to the darker side of the pulp-sci-fi literary scene from the 60’s & 70’s, with the likes of J G Ballard and Ray Bradbury; there is something sinister lurking in those predictions of a dystopian future which is now becoming all too true, and that remains a theme through the album. And then there’s our own 24 year coma as a band, and our resurrection both as individuals and as a musical collective – so this songs puts to bed our breezy 90’s thing and faces up to the dark times we now live in.”
LTW: A great start to the album. Cracker of an opening riff, distorted vocals and a cruncher of a chorus. A nice one to kick in with.
Hope Dies Last “A song that couldn’t be more globally relevant! We have clearly set this planet on a course of extinction, and it is taking today’s youth to stand up and protest at our lack of foresight. Greta Thunberg has become an icon for this movement and her words feature within this track (approved by the Thunberg family!). The time is passed for hope, now is the time for action. You have to wonder though whether it is all too late and we will not be able to reverse the course of events – man’s extinction could well be the best thing for the planet! Musically we wear our influences very clearly on our sleeves throughout this record, and you’ll likely get a sense of our hometown ancestors Joy Division here.”
LTW: Another grunge number piling in with Paul’s vocals giving the song a dark theme and again this crashes in with loads of top noise reminiscent of early Pixies. Belter.
Automaton “This song evolved from the last guitar riff I wrote 24 years ago as the band split, but if we finished it back then it would not have sounded anything like this! Dripping in irony this song came together because of the tech we have at our fingertips. As a band we live in different parts of Europe, so as we write and record in our own home studio set-ups, this music becomes nothing but 0s & 1s sent via cloud servers, with virtually every aspect of the process digitally adjusted. Mr Hancox wrote a bass line that I didn’t see coming a mile off and that turned this tune on its head, Chris gave us a cool disco beat and then I added that heavy slab Tubeway Army style synth over the top giving us something very dynamic. Paul’s lyrics address the rise of artificial intelligence, our reliance on robotics and technology – again a dark future where lines are blurred between organic and mechanic – who knows where this will end – maybe a future where AI is in control and us humans live in routine, repetitive circadian rhythms?”
LTW: Futuristic as fuck, doom laden, another great bassline and a huge chorus once again. Like James says the synth gives it that Numan feel throughout. The closest they’ll get to an upbeat Goth tune.
Songbirds “Well we don’t cheer things up just yet! There are always literary, film and musical references in our work, and here we take some of Sebastian Faulks’ novel Birdsong on board – a story love and loss through the First World War, the horrors of watching your friends, simultaneously brave and scared facing brutal massacre day after day – the astounding ability to show resilience in the face of death because we always hold on to one thing – hope. It will hit you like a train when you need it – for when you search for a new dawn. Very much our version of a power ballad I guess!”
LTW: They get a bit mellow on this one and it’s a beauty, haunting and dark it’s a cross between Nick Cave and The National but in their own rights. A tight knit song that gets you every listen.
Soda Queen “Ok, so we needed to brighten things up now! This is a solid slice of our take on Americana-Alt-Rock-Pop, a bright and breezy trip from coast-to-coast, roof-top down, sun in our hair with the girl of our dreams, the soda queen from the local diner. Very much the pop song of the album following previous tunes like Worthless, So Plain and Spacegirl.”
LTW: Very much what James says here. Alt rock sprinkled with pop and a nod back to what Kerosene were up to back in the nineties. A step out of the darkness for a few minutes of light.
The Body Politik “This started as a very chilled Floyd-esque tune on a family holiday in the Isle of Skye, but changed into a different beast all together once we developed it. We pretty much threw our Kerosene songwriting manual out the window for good here, and took this on a different path altogether – the structure got sliced and diced, guitars became more avant-garde and the whole thing organically became something reminiscent of the early PiL days! Once again another literary reference in here, this time influenced by a bizarre short story from Clive Barker where hands have their own consciousness! (Charlie’s right hand declares himself a Messiah and chops of the left hand – a rebellion ensues!!)”
LTW: I’d describe this as a more early sonic Spiritualized / Spacemen 3 type tune. It’s got that drone but is more upbeat due to the funky bassline and upbeat drums from Chris. Nice.
Recoil “Well we take a lot of crap in modern life and we have to deal with it. Slapped hard in the face, we suffer proverbial whiplash, but we have to dust ourselves down and get back up. This is a real dark horse of a song for me, and comes together musically and production-wise beautifully. Thinking back to recording our first album we recorded and re-recorded, and engineered and mastered and remixed time and time again until we had a very clean (sanitized?) sound. Not on this album – what’s been great here is that some of the parts are not totally perfect, some of them are from first demos, some of them have crackles and pops and fretboard noise – but it’s all genuine and carries the essence of the music within it. Go with the flow of this one, close your eyes and think of Johnny Cash’s performing at San Quentin!”
LTW: One of the stand out tracks to me. Paul Taylor comes across all Richard Hawley on this. Dark as fuck with a proper bluesy surf rock feel. The dynamics on this are fuckin’ ace and they show their experience throughout. A lot of bands nowadays would kill to write a tune like this.
Good Cop, Bad Cop “We all have two sides to our personality – often at conflict – and I’m sure we all reflect on ourselves from time to time and regret some of our words, our actions and our pasts. The first cinema date I had with my (now) wife was Bad Lieutenant starring Harvey Keitel (how she didn’t see the writing on the wall I have no idea!), so if you want to know how bad a bad cop can be check that film out – maybe redemption will come to us all. I had fun adding guitar lines in here, and for some reason I kept thinking back to the groovy 60’s style sounds from Hammer Horror movies and even the original Randall & Hopkirk TV series!”
LTW: Kicks off all psychedelic just to blag you, then Paul shows off his Manc drawl without the whine of Liam and a soul sister backing. Another lovely song with a gothic dark feel, all echoes and haunting vibes going on here. They are the masters of the chorus. This will be fuckin’ top live, believe me.
Evil In My Eye “This is what happens when you let Mr Hancox out of tagesklinik! Or maybe it was because he went intotagesklinik!? This is a rollicking blend of 1980’s “hair metal” and our post-punk heroes Fugazi, galloping along with a bag full of rock cliches! It would’ve been fun to make a video for this (not going to happen) with a truckload of spandex and pyrotechnics. Paul’s lyrics once again take on the oppression we face within our modern lives, as we unwittingly succumb to the slavemasters of the ‘Establishment’.”
LTW: When I first heard this I thought of Muse. And you will to until the bassline kicks in and Paul does his attempt at rapping. It fuckin’ works. Hair Metal? Fuck off James. The only bit that comes close is the small cock rock guitar solo. Loads going on here. Could have stretched 3 songs out of this one, Great songwriting. Its even got a 70’s funk thing going on! Another stand out for me.
They Shoot Horses “Yep, we read a lot of books and we watch a lot of films! From Horace McCoy back in 1935, this is a great story of insane depression-era dance marathons that people subscribed to, in a hope of scraping out of the gutter (check out the 1969 film too). Musically we had some fun here, a real nod to some of our 1980’s goth influences, this could’ve easily been an early Sisters Of Mercy tune. Check out the attention to detail on the drum sounds we used in here, we may have to credit Dr Avalanche for that snare!”
LTW: Another tune that recalls early Pixies. Dark as fuck, loud, distorted lo-fi lyrics and a great riff throughout. The drumming that kicks off the bridge is stunning.
Social Butterfly “There are two important sides to this song – firstly its two fingers up to the political establishment in the UK – and the monumental mess surrounding the whole ‘Brexit’ saga. It’s not pro-leave and it’s not pro-remain – that is a destructive devisive tactic used to create political unrest that can be capitalised on by our unscrupulous ‘leaders’. And secondly this is the first wholly ‘new’ Kerosene song written after 24 years of dormancy – none of us expected that we’d talk to each other again, let alone write and record music, so this has a special place in our hearts in our resurrection. Cautiously released earlier in the year (as per the original Brexit date) under the guise of Def Robot vs Kerosene this song underpins a musical freedom we now feel without the shackles of a record label.”
LTW: To be truthful I dismissed this song when I heard the rough demos. I fuckin’ apologise. John Robb will love that bassline. Shit hot stuff. The closest they’ll get to The Damned but with a bit of a Rocky Horror shit going on. Something you’d expect to hear from LTW favourites Cabbage. Great stuff.
Rock Bottom “Well we thought we’d end the album on a bitter-sweet note. We’ve all suffered loss, pain, heartache, despair and severe lows in our lives – so let’s face it full on and raise a glass to that reality – but keep an eye on the light at the end of the tunnel – the person (or people) who give us hope, who give us love, who share our dreams, who let us cry on their shoulder, who allow us to share the most personal of intimacies. There is only one way to go when we hit rock bottom!
LTW: A cracking end to the album. Heartfelt as fuck, beautiful, touching, a torch song to people who get through bad times and find a way out of that hole we have all fell in at one point in our lives.
All in all a brilliant album by a band who were promising in a scene I was involved in yet never hit it big like they should due to the arrival of lad rock and Britpop exploding at the time. I’ve already mentioned the scene in Manchester in the early Nineties, a la Solar Race and my own small band, on the scene but under a cloud of music heads wanting something to replace Madchester and turning into a lad rock indie monster. Not a bad thing, however in my opinion bands like Kerosene and the underground stuff which was happening at the time should never have been ignored….
They are back in a new climate now where music heads want something different and challenging. Kerosene are a breath of fresh air. Def Robot are experimenting like fuck and their work ethic is amazing. And it’s all DIY. Who the fuck wants safe?? No one I know anyway….