Literally 16

Throughout the Pet Shop Boys’ career, Neil has always kept a diary just giving basic details of each day’s activities. Up until the end of 1994 he wrote entries into large table diaries; since then he has written into his Passion organizer, and later printed out the results. Literally,

Neil and Chris went through Neil’s diaries from August 1st, 1994 (when they recorded the first demos for their new album) until June 10th 1996 (when they agreed a final album running order). You might think that they just wrote twelve songs, and then recorded them, but it is never that simpleHere is the detailed history of the Pet Shop Boys’ new record, and of the false starts, strange collaborations, odd thoughts, chance meetings and unfinished songs which diverted them along the way.

August 1st, 1994.
New York. Chris and I to Unique studios to start demos. Engineer: Void. New song:
“Discoteca”. Hotel, Brett from Suede called.
Chris: I was already in New York on holiday. I’d been in Los Angeles for the World Cup.
Neil: We decided to do some demos.

Chris: We thought it would be good to work in America again.
Neil: And we decided to work in Unique studios which is where we first worked with Bobby ‘0’, because we used to like working there in 1983. We didn’t work in the same room though. We worked in the programming suite. The song, “Discoteca”, was inspired by a record which went “quell a cue passa qui e? Quel a que passa qui”. That had given us the idea to do something in Spanish like that. So Dainton went out to the bookshop down the road, and he came back with the Penguin English-Spanish phrasebook, and another phrasebook, the Berlitz one. And I flicked through these, looking for Spanish phrases, and I thought, here’s a good one: “Hay una Discoteca por aqui7” That’ll work as a chant. Then in the personal section in the Berlitz phrasebook was the chorus bit – “I love you. Do you understand? Tell me. How long must I wait?” [“Te quiero Entiende usted? Digame. Cuanto tiempe tengo que esperar?”] I think “how long must I waif’ was from the doctor’s. And we did that in one day. Chris programmed the rhythm, which is still the same now. Chris did the verse chords, and I did the chorus, if it is a chorus. At that point it wasn’t going to have any more words. I had sore eyes that day. I went to the New York Ear, Eye and Throat hospital because I had conjunctivitis.
August 2nd.

Unique studios with Chris Demo “The View From Your Balcony”.
Neil: That’s a song we haven’t recorded.
Chris doesn’t like it.
Chris: I can’t remember it very well.
Neil: He thinks it’s a bit Sixties, It isn’t really.
Chris: Was it a bit country and western?
Neil: NO, not remotely country and western. It’s not one from my country and western product range. You’re thinking of “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk”.
Chris: Yeah. You should gave that to Dolly Patron.
Neil: I met Brett from Suede that night. We went to the China Grill.
Chris: I had a cold.
August 3rd.

Unique with Chris. New song, “Yes In A No Kind Of Way
Neil: We never finished that.
Chris: The title sounds like a Walker Brothers title. sings in a deep melodramatic voice] “Yes! In a no kind of way!”
Neil: It sounded like Madness, didn’t it? You kept going “One step beyond!” Never been recorded. It probably will turn up as a B-side because it’s not a bad song actually. I’ve never written the words for it though.

August 4th.
Unique with Chris. Demoed “It Always Comes As A Surprise” Dainton and I back to the New York Ear Eye and Throat hospital Viral conjunctivitis
Neil: “It Always Comes As A Surprise” was a different style then. It sounded more like Phil Collins. I’d written all the words before we did the demo. It’s a love song. It’s quite obvious what it’s about. It’s about the excitement at the start of a love affair, when someone seems magical and different. You’re thinking: how amazing I’m here with you. And it’s two completely different types of people, personality-wise, age-wise, culturally, so it’s a surprising pair of people. I wrote it in about May. It’s autobiographical.
Chris: After that we went back to England.
Neil: We thought we had two good songs. Chris: We thought about the tour and the album at the same time, on this trip. We’d been to the Sound Factory bar the week before. These Latin rhythms and the dancers. That’s when we decided we could do a tour of South America just like the Sound Factory Bar, and also that we wanted the whole album to sound Latin. And we’d decided that we weren’t going to go into a studio for six months and record.
Neil: We’d decided to do it in bits and pieces.

October 23rd.
Stonewall concert,
Neil: We introduced Elton John. We saw Sheboom!, these drummers from Glasgow, and they made a really big impression on us. We immediately, then and there, thought we should do something with them. They started the show doing this rhythm…
Chris: …This really good rhythm. The next thing I remember, we were on tour and we heard this record all across South America with this rhythm, and that gave us more ideas.

April 18th, 1995.
Taxi to Sarn West Pete Gleadall and Bob Kraushaar in Studio 2. Chris arrived from Blackpool Working on possible single version of “Paninaro”.
Neil: In the intervening months we might have been writing bits in our various homes. We went to Naples in March for a holiday. That was good. And we already had was a lot of stuff Chris had written by himself or with Pete Gleadall, and at the beginning of this year Chris made a cassette of what he thought were the best things he’d done there and gave it to me to listen to. There were about nine things – some of them were full songs, and some of them were bits and pieces. We used a few of them. Two of them became “Before”. One of them is “The Survivors”. And we still haven’t done Chris’s dance version of “Climb Every Mountain”. It’s sort of reggae-ish. For the anthems album.

April 19th.
Still working on “Paninaro”.
April 20th.
Finished “Paninaro ’95’,. Did most of the twelve-inch. Edited a seven-inch of “In The Night”.

April 21st.
Sarm West. Finished twelve-inch of “Paninaro” then recorded demo of “The Survivors”.
Neil: It took me ages to write the words over the course of this year.
Chris: That was one of the selection of hacking tracks I’d done for Ian Wright.
Neil: I think I started writing the words on the train. It’s about growing old, and that when you’ve reached a certain age you’ve survived this far, you’re still alive. You know a lot of people who aren’t. A friend of mine committed suicide during this pan of the year, which I was rather depressed about. She’s referred to in the song: “teachers and artists and Saturday girls”. I used to work with her, and The Saturday Girls were a group she was supposed to be in. It’s a sort of feel-bad feel-good song. I think we both thought straightway it would go on the album.

Chris: Yeah. It sounded good, especially when we added those backing vocals.
April 26th.
Sam West Pete and Bob and Chris. Worked on “Get On It” and “Latino”.
Neil: “Latino” turned into “Bilingual”, which would finally be called “Single”. “Get On It” is one we haven’t recorded. It’s a good track. [Sings] “Get on the move”. It’s another Ian Wright one.

Chris: It’s really good, that one.
April 27th.
Sarm West with Chris, Bob and Pete. Worked on “Hope” and “Discoteca”.
Neil: I don’t know what “Hope” is. On the computer you have to give everything a title, and sometimes they never get relabelled. Actually, I do remember what it is. It’s a bit of one of Chris’s Ian Wright demos.
Chris: We never did finish a second Ian Wright single. I don’t know why. Put all the effort into the first one. Didn’t want to do it again. I don’t know, really. I’d rather do a record with Prince Nasseem. I’ve switched. I’ve moved on now. But I don’t know if I’m worthy. Actually I’ve done a track called “Nasseem”, just all drums. It’s very tribal.
Neil: You were going to sample him, weren’t you?
Chris: Yeah. He’s very sampleable. He’s got so many one-liners.
Neil: We transferred the data from New York for “Discoteca” onto Chris’s computer, and we decided to put a verse on it.
April 28th.

Sarm with Chris, Pete and Bob. Worked on “Discoteca” and “Bilingual 7′.
Neil: I think “Latino” turned into “Bilingual” at that point. That was the day we pretty much wrote all the music for “Bilingual”. I didn’t have the words for ages, I just had “Single, Bilingual”, which I just thought was moronically funny.
May 1st
At home writing lyrics.
Neil: I don’t know what for.

May 3rd.
Chris and I to the Strongroom. Late because the desk was being mended. Worked on “Discoteca” and “Bilingual”.
Neil: At this point, we had a demo studio that we’d hired in the Strongroom, a studio in East London, and we stand going there to write. By this time the two songs were continuous.

May 4th.
The Strongroom with Pete GleadalL
“Discoteca”, and Chris and I worked on new guitar-sounding song.
Neil: I put the guide vocals on “Discoteca”. I had totally different words, and the tune was different. I was trying to make sense out of the whole concept of it, why it was in a foreign language. At this point it started about being lost in a country. Not knowing where you are. Someone comes up to you and says “hay una discoteca por aqui?”. And I changed the whole concept of the song later in the year. The “new guitar-sounding song” is “Up Against It”.

Chris: I thought you said we worked on a new guitar sound! That sounds more Brian Eno than us, doesn’t it?
Neil: It always did sound guitar to me, that song, even though it didn’t have any guitars in it at all. Chris wrote the whole music for that. Chris: I wrote it at home, earlier in the year.
May 9th.
Chris in Paris for Arsenal game. I did a demo of a song called “For ALL Of Us”.
Neil: It’s a ballad. The son of song you’d probably give to someone else really. A very sad song, about love going wrong. [Laughs] About the pain and cruelty of life. It’s too personal to play to anyone.
Chris: We were playing Parma in the final of the Cup Winner’s Cup. I knew we were going to lose. It just didn’t feel right. I got Eurostar over very exciting.
May 10th.
Strongroom with Pete OleadalL Chris still in Paris. Start demo of “You Only Tell Me You Love Me 1*’hen You re Drunk”.

May 16th.
Strongroom with Chris and Pete, working on “Moonlight” and “How Lucky I Am Neil: “Moonlight” became “Delusions Of Grandeur”. It’s called “Moonlight” because it’s based on the chord change of the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. “How Lucky I Am” was one of Chris’s home demos. It sounds a bit like “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan.
Chris: Oh yeah.
Neil: That’s in the musical file – songs that might go in the musical.
May 17th.
Strongroom with Chris and Pete Gleadall, Worked on “Moonlight”.

May 18th.
Chris and I for meeting with Howard Greenhlgh re “Paninaro” video, then for Japanese noodles. Chris went home; I went to the Strongroom to work on “Hit And Miss”.
Neil: That’s a song I started writing on tour.
May 23rd.
Chris and I to the Strongroom, worked with Pete Gleadall on “Hit And Miss” then “Love Your Enemy”.
Neil: That’s a good track, “Love Your Enemy”.
Chris: Oh, it is good.
Neil: It sounds a bit like Massive Attack. It’s got this really nice string bit. Its one of those tracks that’s got such a nice string bit and such a loose feel that you don’t want to do anything with it to spoil it.
May 24th.
Strongroom, working on “Love Your Enemy”

and guitar on “Hit And Miss.
Neil: Some of the things we do at the Strongroom with Pete Gleadall end up on the finished record. You can tell if something’s like that, because in the final credits Pete Gleadall gets an engineering credit.
May 3Oth.
Strongroom with Pete Gleadall, worked on new song “Se A Vida S” until 6pm.
Neil: That’s a long day. [Laughs] When you get there at twelve, you immediately go out and have lunch, then you sit around for a while, then it’s time to go home really, isn’t it? The idea for the song came from an album by Olodum that I bought in Sao Paulo. I was listening through for drum sounds, for samples and to try to work out what they did. I was thinking: how do you do Brazilian music? And there was this song called “Estrada Da Paixao” and I liked the bit where it went “Se A Vide” so I started to do a cover version of it. Chris was in Blackpool, so I was faffing around, really. I quite often go in on my own, especially if I’m doing vocals. I prefer it if Chris isn’t there when I’m doing vocals, because sometimes he laughs at me.
June 1st.
Strongroom with Pete Gleadall, working on “Se A Vide t” and “Love Your Enemy”. Put words on chorus of “Up Against It”.

June 5th
Sarn West with Chris Porter and Pete Gleadalt, starting to record “The Survivors ‘~. Chris Cameron on keyboards.
Neil: This was the day we actually started recording the album. Using Chris Porter was a very casual decision.
Chris: It was because of “back For Good” Neil: And also because he was hanging around Sarm West. When we were in there doing “Paninaro” he was always sitting around in front of the television downstairs because he was working on George Michael’s album. George Michael was writing songs so there was nothing for Chris Porter to do. Then Chris Porter decided to leave George Michael’s album, and as we liked “Back For Good” so much, we decided to get him to work on “The Survivors”. Maybe it reminded us of that. Chris: I just really liked the song of “Back For Good”. I’d never really thought about how it was produced. It just seemed inevitable that we’d work with him, just because of the Pete Gleadall connection – Pete Gleadall always works with him. He just seemed like one of those producers that takes what you’ve got and makes it better.
Neil: I think we quite liked the idea that he’d bring in some musicians – that basically we’d give him the demo and they would make the record. That’s normally how a record producer works, really. And we thought “The Survivors” was that kind of song – that we’d really done a very finished demo which could have been mixed and made into the master, but we thought it could go a bit further. So he really carried on doing that.
June 6th.

Sarm West Greg Bone came into to play guitar on “The Survivors”.
June 7th.
At home.
Neil: I always like that: meanwhile, the record is being made.
June 8th.
Sarm West, doing backing and Lead vocals for “The Survivors”.
Neil: I went to the opera in the evening, so I wasn’t there that long.
June 9th.
Katie Kissoon came in to sing on “The Survivors”.
June 12th.
Chris and I shopping and lunch on Bond Street. Then to Sarm, to start work on “It Always Comes As A Surprise’s with Chris Porter
Chris: “Shopping and lunch on Bond Street”. That’s how to make a record.
Neil: This was in our intense Nicole’s-for -lunch phase when we used to go about twice a week to Nicole’s in Bond street for lunch.
Chris: Then turn up at Sarm with loads of shopping bags and slag off the recording. Neil: For “It Always Comes As A Surprise &’ Chris Porter said, “well, if you want your album to be Latin, why don’t we try this with a Latin rhythm?” We said, “Oh, that’s a good idea”. Because, us having decided that the album’s going to be Latin, we then just don’t apply it to anything. I don’t know why. The Latin thing was a pretty hazy notion anyway. It was just a starting point for the album. Also, VERY was so traditionally pop, although it didn’t seem like that when we were making it, so we thought if this time you had those samba drums as a basis it would give you a completely different rhythmic base.
June 13th

Sarm West: working on “Surprise” with Chris, Pete Gleadall and Chris Porter. To Angel studios to record strings on “The Survivors”,
Chris Cameron conducting.
Neil: Two studios that day.
June 14th.
Sarm West. Guitarist and percussionist play on “Surprise”. Taxi to Versace shop for Elton John Versace party.
Neil: The percussionist, Robin Jones, is the father of Mirelle, one of the dancers on the Discovery tour. And it was quite a good party. Chris: I didn’t go.
June 15th.
Sarm West. Meeting with Howard and Megan re “Paninaro” video. Vocals on “Surprise”.
June 19th.
Taxi to Sarm West. Working on “Surprise Left at three.
Neil: “Left at three! [laughs] Actually that’s because Chris Porter records on digital hard disc and spends a lot of time flying things around and playing around with things. It’s quite frankly a bit boring sitting there watching him.
June 20th.
Sarm West, working on “Surprise”.
June 21st.

Sarm West. Pineapple studios to audition guy called Oscar for “Paninaro” video.
June 23rd.
Video shoot for “Paninaro”. Home at two in the morning.
June 24th.
Chris and I flew to New York on Virgin.
Chris: Didn’t like Virgin. Though the head massage was a good idea, but not very well done..
Neil: Did you have one? I don’t remember that. [Think Brian Eno has one in his diary.
June 26th.
New York. Chris and I to Bass Hit Studios. Danny Tenaglia there. Keyboard player PeterDaou. Started work on a new song, “Before
Chris: I always think it’s good to record in America, because I like the way they record things. I like the sounds you get, and the musicians that are available. You get something that you wouldn’t necessarily produce yourself. Danny Tenaglia was a friend’s suggestion, and we liked the idea because he’s musical.
Neil: It was part of the same philosophy as the year before being in Unique studios. When we were in Unique studios we felt like we were almost part of the New York dance scene, and we wanted to work with a New York house producer. We were going to work with Frankie Knuckles, who we’d worked with before, and a couple of days before we were going to go to New York and the whole thing was booked, Frankie Knuckles manager phoned up and said he had to do a party in San Francisco or LA and so he couldn’t do it that week. So we thought, let’s work with some other New York house person. We did also discussed working with Junior Vasquez, but we liked the idea that Danny Tenaglia was an up and coming person, whereas Junior Vasquez was the king of the scene.

Chris: Danny told us that morning that when we first went to Miami we went into a club and he was DJing. It was a really good club but we were getting hassled. We only stayed about ten minutes. So we actually go back a long way with Danny Tenaglia, funnily enough.
Neil: It was the same with Junior Vasquez.
Chris: He said I’ve met you ages ago as well.
Neil: He used to work with Shep Pettibone. Anyway, we went there without a song which I always find slightly terrifying and Chris always likes.
Chris: It is a good idea though.
Neil: It is a good idea.
Chris: Because if you take your own poxy song along you don’t get anything fresh.

Neil: Having said that, we took in some of your cassettes and out two bits of the song together.
Chris: It was still like working from scratch.
Neil: Then suddenly I thought of “before Originally it just went [laughs] “before before before before”. Then I got “you find your love before” and Chris said, “oh, I really like that”.
Chris: This was one of those things that just sounded good from day one, I always thought. It just sounded ace. We played the chords. Danny Tenaglia had done lots of drum programming before we arrived in New York.
Neil: He had a whole recorded nine minutes of loops which sounded great.
Chris: Then he put on a brilliant bass part.
Neil: So I went back to the hotel and wrote a lot of the words for it, the same day. In New York you tend to work quickly – you don’t piss around. In the song I’m talking to someone about someone else. It’s saying “if you wait long enough…” it’s the same message as “Love Comes Quickly” but from a slightly different point of view, really. When
you’re feeling down about love, when you’re in a difficult situation, suddenly things can straighten out. Suddenly the right person comes into your life. The middle bits -“there’s a story of a man who loved too much” – are different. They’re about, I think, 0. J. Simpson because that was on telly the whole time.

June 27th
Chris and I went to Bergdorf Goodman for lunch, then to Bass Hit.
Neil: Danny Tenaglia couldn’t get his head around starting work at midday. He normally DJs all night and goes to bed at seven in the morning and gets up at four in the afternoon. We didn’t mind starting later as long as we finished at our normal time of about nine o’clock. Hence we had a very good working relationship; we weren’t in the studio that much. That day backing vocalists came in to sing on “Before”. They were a hoot. That was when “Before” became the hook.
June 28th.

To Axis studios, above Studio 54. Vocals.
Chris: It was good there. That’s where C&C Music Factory used to record. Francis Kervorkian was there, mixing Erasure.
Neil: That night we went to the Sound Factory bar for a party.
Chris: Not my idea of a party. It was a load of DJs standing around.
Neil: Gossiping about being DJs. Anyway, we met “Little” Louis Vega, and then Danny drove up around the Village.
June 29th.
Chris and I to Kaplan’s Delicatessen for lunch. Then to Bass Hit. Started new track, “The Boy Who Couldn’t Keep His Clothes On”.
Neil: We used to go to Kaplan’s when we were recording with Bobby ‘0’.
Chris: It’s good, actually. Great pastrami sandwiches and things like that. We couldn’t find it at first.
Neil: All New York looks the bloody same. It’s quite near Bloomingdale’s, but further over than you think. We sat around for hours in the studio. Something went wrong.
Chris: They erased some of the vocal.
Neil: Then we started “The Boy Who Couldn’t Keep His Clothes On”. The song, again, comes from one of Chris’s cassettes. It’s just about someone dancing without their shin on in a club. It’s about someone I know who can’t keep their clothes on. If it’s hot, especially. Though now he doesn’t do it anymore – he says it’s corny. That night we got the overnight flight back to London. Waited an hour at Heathrow for luggage.
July 10th.
My 41st birthday. BIG studio. Started work on “Se A Vida S” with Chris Porter and Pete Gleadall Barbeque in back garden.
July 11th.
BJG working on “Se H Vida P”

July 12th.
BIG, “Se A Vide P”. Brass players. Mark Farrow in to discuss Alternative artwork
July 13th.
BJG, “Se A Vide S”, vocals.
July 14th.
Chris and I to Nicole ‘S for lunch Then shopping. Then to BJG. Chris Porter mixing “Se A Vida A”. Then to Face 15th Anniversary party. Then to Browns.

Chris: There was a good DJ at the Face party, who no one was listening to.
July 18th
BIG. Started work on “Up Against ft,,.
July 19th.
BIG. “Up Against ft,,.
July 20th.
BIG. Johnny Marr in to play guitar on “Up Against ft”.
Neil: Then Johnny Marr had this idea for the backing vocals at the end of the song: “really coming up against it – oooh hooh hooh”. He said, “if you were being really Quinsy Jones you’d do something like this”. [said, “let’s do that then”. We sang them together. I’d written the words for “Up Against It” when I demoed it. The title comes from the title of the screenplay Joe Orton wrote for the Beatles which was never used. I thought: I need a four-syllable phrase to fit the melody. And then [looked at the bookcase in my sitting room, and there was Up Against ft. The song was originally called “I Will Love You” – that was Chris’s title. Having decided on “Up Against It” as the tide, I’d also been reading a book about London after the Second World War, and the lyrics are sort of about postwar Britain.

 It’s about how people thought at the end of the Second World War they were going to build a new Jerusalem, and how in every era that you can remember everyone’s being told to tighten their belts and all the rest of it They were doing that in the 40s, in the 60s, in the 70s, in the 80s, and they’re obviously still doing it now. You’ve always marching there but you never actually getting anywhere, are you? It always seems like you’ve got an economic crisis on, and that sort of optimism disappears. The song is absolutely saying: what a swizz. Everything in it is quite logical – just in case you think it is a load of old bollocks, as I sometimes do myself. The first verse – “such a cold winter” refers to the legendarily cold winter of 1947 I 48. “Printer” and “winter?’ that’s very Sting, isn’t it? The “so deep in quicklime” bit was because, when I was writing the song, they dug up the bones of the Tzar and his family in the woods in Russia. It’s just saying, communism was shit, wasn’t it? Because that was the start of communism. The song is just saying, politics is shit.
July 21st
BJG. Vocals on “Up Against h”, then we did mix of “Confidential ” for Tina Turner with the melody played on the piano.

Neil: Tina Turner had accepted “Confidential” but she thought the melody was complicated and she wanted it played on the piano.
July 23rd.
To Spain for a holiday for a week, first to Santiago de Composted.
Neil: That’s the first verse of “To Step Aside”. They have this weird thing where all these pilgrims walks 120 miles and they have these sticks, and they all come into the square in Santiago de Composted singing because it’s the end of their journey.
August 2nd.
Top Of The Pops for “Paninaro”. Damon was there. Shaun Ryder. Bez. Met Corona.
Neil: That’s a good entry: “met Corona”. It was a classic Dainton-brings-Corona-over.
August 3rd. Went to house.
Neil: We decided to rent a house in the country, because Chris had sold his house in the country, and the Strongroom was too cramped, and we wanted somewhere where we could write and record in a more relaxed way. We looked at a loads of house and chose just west of London, near Henley, because Sarm have a studio near there called Hook End. That’s where Morrissey always records. We put our studio in an outbuilding of the Henley house. We still wanted to write some new songs, and do some of the basic recording and programming work there. We took a bit of a break while the studio was being wired up.

August 9th.
Pete Gleadall and Carl finish wiring up the studio. Chris and I start working with Pete Gleadall on the new version of “In The Night” for The Clothes Show.
Neil: Carl’s our sort of roadie. We redid “In The Night” because The Clothes Show asked us for a remix.
Chris: Is that the first thing we did in the house? It turned out rather well, that. In fact it turned into a bit of an opus, didn’t It?
Neil: As you pointed out, it has symphonic form. It’s in three movements.
Chris: They played it on Radio One in its entirety just before The Clothes Show started again.
NNeil: Really? How amazing. Actually, Radio One do play a lot of our records. One always forgets that, kind of winging about everything. In fact our records are on the radio all the bloody time. Last week I went out into the garden to see what the workmen were doing, and as I walked out into the garden -and they were new workmen who I hadn’t met before – the opening chords of “West End Girls” came on the radio. It was really funny. I nearly went into it. If Chris had been there we could have done the video for them.

August 10th. Henley. Finished “In The Night”.
August 15th.
Henley. Start a new song called “Shame”.
Neil: I wonder whose title that was. [Chris laughs.] That becomes “To Step Aside”. Anything to say about that, Chris?
Chris: It’s got a good chord change in it.
NNeil: It’s based on something you’d written at home on your little keyboard. To get the title, again I needed a four-syllable title, and so I again looked through the books in my sitting room. And I again came across a book with a four-syllable title: To Step Aside, short stories by Noel Coward. A friend said to me the other day that he was on the tube and there was a man opposite him reading Can You Forgive Her? by Trollop. [Laughs] Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.

August 16th. Henley. Worked all day on new song “How I Learned To Hate Rock ‘n ‘Roll”.
Neil: Chris’s brother, Tim, was here. You were loitering around the pool and we were piecing together this song, bit by bit.
August 17th.
Henley. Worked all day on new song, “C Major
Neil: “C Major” turned into “Red Letter Day”. We were trying to write something anthem.
Chris: And we were into this thing of the baseline not being the root note of the chord, which we learned off Danny Tenaglia.
NNeil: Apparently that’s the basic starting point for any bass player, someone told me. It took us ten years to discover that. Also – as part of our range of “take the chord change of a famous piece of classical music and put it to a 4/4 beat and see what it sounds like” – the starting point of this was The Song Of Joy by Beethoven, wasn’t it?

Chris: It’s the same chords, virtually, as “Go West”. Only at the start. Neil: And the bass notes make them different. It was a real struggle that day. We both sat there endlessly trying to write melodies for it.
August 22nd.
Henley. Worked on new disco track, “Gorgeous”.
Neil: That becomes “Saturday Night Forever”. It was called “Gorgeous” because there’s a line in it: “if you see someone gorgeous then you think…”
August 23rd.
Henley. Worked on “Gorgeous” and “The Truck-driver And His Mate” and “How I [Learned To Hate Rock ‘N’ Roll”. Put vocals on the demos of them.
September 3rd.
In Budapest visiting Dave Rimmer
Neil: That’s verse two of “To Step Aside”. Out of the window you could see all the people queuing in a very orderly way for all the buses. Verse two is about a bus queue.
September 12th.
Henley. Working on “To Step Aside” with Pete Gleadall.
SSeptember 13th.

Henley. Working on “To Step Aside” with Pete Gleadalt September 14th.
Henley. Working on “Delusions Of Grandeur”.
September 19th.
BJG. Chris Porter and Pete Gleadall there. Tina Turner came with Roger Davies. Did guide vocal for “Confidential”.
September 20th.
BJG. Working on “Confidential”.
September 21st.
BJG. Working on “Confidential”.
September 22nd.
BJG. Tina Turner came with Roger Davies to do vocal.
Neil: She always comes with her manager.
SSeptember 24th.

At home writing lyrics for “Metamorphosis”. Neil: “Metamorphosis” started out as a track we did with Mark and Trevor [dancers I rappers on the Performance tour; who later became Ignorant]. After the second tour we decided we were going to make a record with them, and we had this backing track we’d written when we were in Scotland writing songs for Behavior That’s how long this song goes back. We had Sylvia come in and sing the chorus bit, and Mark and Trevor write raps for the verses. It was Trevor’s title, “Metamorphosis”. Then. They didn’t like it and it never got issued.
CChris: A shame, really, because it was the best version.

Neil: If you listen to their version, you can’t understand the words. Chris: It doesn’t really matter, does it?
Neil: Then, on their lamentably unreleased album, the first track’s called “Metamorphosis”, but it’s nothing musically to do with this. I wrote the words for the chorus of the original version – “you grow up and experience this a total metamorphosis” – and they wrote words which led towards that. It’s a positive song, about not getting into trouble with the police and stuff like that. We thought about doing a version ourselves on the last album. It took me ages to decide what I was going to write about. I decided I was going to write a song about being gay. It took me ages and ages over a period of years to write the lyric. I had the first lines – “please allow me to try and explain I’m living proof that man can change” – and then it occurred to me it should be about being gay: about not wanting to be gay, and then being gay, and all the rest of it. So it is completely autobiographical and more or less true. The thing about a rap song which I never released, which has given me a lot of respect for people who do raps, is that they eat up an incredible amount of words. You talk very fast, and you have to write a lot of words.
SSeptember 25th.

Sarm West. Pete Schwier and Pete Gleadalt Working on “Metamorphosis”. September 26th.
Working on “Metamorphosis”. Chris Porter came and dropped off a rape of “Confidential”.
Neil: At this point we were trying to do a version of “Metamorphosis” using the original backing track and Sylvia’s original vocal, with me rapping. We finished the whole thing this week.
September 27th.
Sarm West. “Metamorphosis.”
September 28th.
Sarm West. I did rap on “Metamorphosis
September 29th.
Sarm West. Working on “Metamorphosis”.
Neil: We went out for dinner round the comer then we came back and Chris did some rapping on the track.
Chris: I just did the odd line over you, like those rap records do.
Neil: And you also say the bit at the end of the chorus: “it’s all about change – it’s a metamorphosis”.
September 30th.
TTari to Sarm West. Finished off mix of “Metamorphosis.”

Neil: A Saturday! We hardly ever work on weekends. Chris: We weren’t happy with that version of “Metamorphosis” when we’d finished it. It sounded great in the studio, but when we took it home it sound crap.
Neil: It sounded really crap. I don’t know why. It was irritating. It was too slow. We were stuck with the original tempo.
Chris: I loved the tempo of it. I love the Mark and Trevor version. Still like it.
Neil: The problem is, Trevor rapped at twice the speed. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. At one point I was going to do Trevor’s rap, but I eventually released, trying to do it in the privacy of my own home, that I would never be able to do it.
October 9th.
Henley. Chris and I drove to Hook End studio. Chris Porter and Pete Gleadall worked on “Up Against It”.
October 10th.
Hook End. Working on “Up Against It” with Chris Porter and Pete Gleadall. Finished the mix.
October 11th.
HHook End. Working on “The Survivors”.

Neil: We had another go at “The Survivors” for some reason. Just changing the drum track. October 12th.
Hook End. Still working on “The Survivors”.
October 13th.
Hook End. Finished mix of “The Survivors”.
Neil: We haven’t used that mix.
October 15th.
At home writing new lyrics for “Discoteca” and “Bdingual”.
NNeil: This is when I released that I should change this literal approach for “Discoteca”. I suddenly had the idea that it would be about communication, and about how difficult it is for people to understand each other, and how difficult it is to understand yourself when you’re in a deep emotional situation sometimes. I took what had been the second verse of it – “I don’t speak the language, I don’t understand the words” – and I made those the first line. I thought that was a strong line. And rather than make it a description of something that has happened, I made it general. The point of the song is contained in the lines: “I’m going out and carrying on as normal”. What do you do when something terrible happens to you? What are you meant to do? You carry on as normal really. That’s exactly the point.

 I’m going out and carrying on as normal i.e. you go out clubbing to try and forget, to try and ignore what’s happening around you. So the narrator is saying “hay una Discoteca por aqui?’ to the people around him. Then in “Bilingual” the narrator is a very glib Euro-businessman. Another reason we thought of doing the album Latin was as a reaction against Britpop, and that we like being part of Europe, and that we are a very international group and we like that fact. In “Bilingual” the narrator is a glib Eurocrat who flies business class and likes all his privileges. He’s trying to pick up chicks at meet ‘n’ greets. He’s pretending that he’s a sophisticated ladies man – he’s single bilingual! But he’s not relay communicating, either, and he knows it. In actual fact he’s a hopeless, tragic wreck. He’s a bit like the person in “Let’s Make Lots Of Money…” whose never going to make any money. He’s superficially got all the right things but he’s

just not getting there. He doesn’t understand why, but he knows he’s not. Chris: He doesn’t understand that business class is a rip off on a short flight. You get no more leg room.
Neil: Exactly. The song ends with a reprise of “hay una Discoteca por aqui?” He could literally be going to a club after his scenario, but also it’s saying that he is a lost and frightened person.
October 16th.
Hook End. Worked all day on “Discoteca ‘7 “Bilingual”.
October 17th.
Hook End. Worked on “Discoteca” then on “The Truck-driver And His Mate “. Tony Wadsworth and Murray from Parlophone arrived to hear some tracks and for dinner Neil: ‘The Truck-driver And His Mate is one of those songs that was started in a fanfare of enthusiasm that by day three had faded, really.
OOctober 18th.

Hook End. Drummers from Sheboom! arrive from Glasgow and played on “Discoteca” and “Se A Vida A”. Neil: There’s about seventy drummers in Sheboom! but we only had about twenty. They’re great. They make their own samba drums themselves. They did it all in about four hours. Afterwards I said, “would anyone like a cup of tea or anything?” and they said, “do you think we could have beer, do you think?” They drank two crates of Budweiser… Chris: …From the bottle…
Neil: And went back to Glasgow.
October 19th.
HHook End. I did vocals on “Bilingual”.

October 20th. Hook End. Chris arrived. We worked on “Discoteca” and “Bilingual”.! did vocals on “Discoteca”. Then we drove back to London.
October 23rd.
Hook End. Bob Kraushaur Carried on working on “Discoteca”. More vocals.

OOctober 24th.

Hook End. Working on “The Truck-driver And His Mate”. Neil: We all went to the pub. Do you remember? You said, “we never go to the pub anymore, do we?”
Chris: Yeah.
Neil: So we went to a local pub.
October 25th.
Hook End. Continue working on “Truck-driver”. Chris and I drove into Reading.
October 26th.
Hook End. Worked on “How I Learned To Hate Rock n ‘Roll’. Bob Kraushaar started mixing “Discoteca” and “Bilingual”.
October 27th.
Hook End. Bob still mixing “Discoteca”.
October 30th.
Hook End. Finish mixing “Discoteca ‘7 “Bilingual”. Chris in London? Started working on “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk”.
Chris: You can tell when I’ve (Disappeared. It’s always the way. I’m safely on the way back to London…
NNeil: And I’m recording a country song.

November 1st Hook End. 1.1 Belle came to play guitar on “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk”.
November 2nd.
Hook kid. Working on “Drunk”
November 14th.
Sarm West. Danny Tenaglia arrived from New York with a keyboard player from Miami named Eddie, started working on “Saturday Night Forever. Chris Porter in Studio 3, remixing “Se A Vida t” to include the Sheboom! drums. Chris and I left early for the launch party of the Noel Coward biography by my friend Patrick (Philip Hoard.
November 15th.
Sarm West. Chris Porter finished mix of “Se A Vida P”.
Neil: George Michael was in the studio then, doing his album. He’d heard “It Always Comes As A Surprise” and he kept telling us how much he liked it. He’d come up and say, “Can I just hear that track?”
November 16th.
SSarm West. Working on “Saturday Night Forever

Neil: I was thinking of it as the sort of song that Robbie Williams would sing in Take That. I wrote the words so quickly I can’t even remember what I was thinking. It’s about: isn’t it great going to a disco on Saturday night? It’s about picking someone in a club. The twist on it is, it has a cynicism about it, whereas a song like “I Want A Lover is slightly more aggressive. Eddie from Miami thought the chord change was brilliant, because it’s incredibly complicated, and the chords don’t naturally fit together. It’s a classic thing where we wrote separate parts of a song and shoved them all together. In the Eighties we were always fascinated by the way Stock Aitken Waterman songs would go into the choruses. Sometimes they would just go up a half step, like we did in “Being Boring”; that was an imitation of Stock Aitken Waterman, that. It always fascinated us how you could just go from one thing into another, and it just ‘sounds natural sometimes. ?Saturday Night Forever” is a very circular song. It just keeps going round and round. It could go on forever, really.

It just goes from one thing to the next and back again, and each time it’s a bit of a surprise when it does it. When we did it I thought “oh, we’ll have to write proper words for that”, and Chris said, “no, it’s great – it just goes forever forever “
November 17th. Sam: West. Last day on “Saturday Night Forever”. Meeting with Radio One producer about recording a show to be broadcast on Christmas Eve.
November l8th.
Went to see David Bowie at Wembley Arena. Backstage, afterwards, met David Bowie, Noes Gallagher, his girlfriend, Meg, Polystyrene. Then I went to the Royal Albert Hall for the Black And White ball Danny Tenaglia was playing. Chris and Dainton were there.
Neil: Good night, that.
NNovember 20th.

BJG. Chris Porter.! Didn’t go. November 21st.
BJG. Working with Chris Porter and Pete Gleadall on “To Step Aside”.
NNeil: ‘To Step Aside” was totally programmed and worked o~ in Henley. It started off as something Chris wrote, then in Henley I worked on it when Chris wasn’t there one day and put the ethnic samples on it. It’s from some sample disc. I had the idea of the Santiago de Compestela thing and I wanted it to sound like pilgrims singing, so we got a sample of gypsies singing. I had the title first) so I had to rationalize the tide into meaning something. The idea I thought of was trying to draw a parallel between my life and the lives of working people in Europe, in peasant societies or proletarian societies. So you’ve got Spain and post-communist Hungary. And also the idea of people having faith in things. It’s really about faith, this song. It took me ages to write the first Venn, and quite frankly I’m still not happy with it. It’s the idea that these pilgrims have walked 120 miles and it means they’ve attained eternal salvation, but then there’s pathetic Neil looking out the hotel window, thinking how good it must be to have that kind of certainty.

How one doesn’t have it, really. When I talk about “If I decide to step aside” I mean from the relationship I’m in, and also from the Pet Shop Boys themselves, and also from my way of life. If I was to give up the whole strain of being in pop music, how would I deal with it? Could you actually become a person like that, with a simple faith in one thing? Then the second verse is in Budapest: “for market forces to provide I what history’s so far denied”. It’s sort of linked in with “Red Letter Day”. Everyone really only wants the same things. They just want comfort, security, education. It doesn’t seem that much to ask, but it seems impossible to get it. They didn’t get it under communism, and now they’re waiting patiently for market forces to provide it.

Then I’m endlessly comparing it to what I’ll decide to do. Then the song moves totally into the personal, and it gets very romantic. The reason I’d step aside? Because I don’t want to be changed any more by the experiences I’ve been going through. I sometimes think I’d rather give up the competition of the whole thing, and live quietly somewhere. Live a simple life. Not try to be clever. I think about it all the time. But I don’t want to do it either. I like the way that ‘to Step Aside” is followed on the album by “Saturday Night Forever”. It asks a very difficult question – are you going to step aside? – and then you go out and carry on as normal.
November 21st.
BJG. Working with Chris Porter and Pete Gleadall on “To Step Aside”.
November 22nd.
BJG studios. Did vocal for “To Step Aside”. Chris and I went to the Coliseum to see Turandot.
NNeil: It was directed by David Alden’s twin brother, and Heather Carson did the lighting, and we sat next to David Fielding.

November 23rd. BJG. Chris Porter Mixing “To Step Aside”.
November 24th.
BJG. To hear finished mix of “To Step
Aside”. Chris and I to Donmar Warehouse to see The Rupert Street Lonely Heart’s Club by Jonathan Harvey.
Neil: It was good, but not as good as some of his other plays.
November 27th.
BBJG. K-Klass.

Neil: We’d decided to work with K-Klass on “Metamorphosis”. They were always very keen to work with us, and we’d met them in Australia on the tour and we’d liked them. We actually had asked Jam & Spoon to do “Metamorphosis” because we loved that mix they did of “Young Offender” and they did a very good mix of “Yesterday, When I Was Mad” as well, and we thought we’d try and do Metamorphosis” in a very them kind of way. But they didn’t like the song so they didn’t do it. November 28th.
BJG. K-Klass.
November 29th.
BJG. K-Klass. Sylvia came in and sang the vocals again.
November 30th.
BJG. K-Klass.
Neil: At this point we’re getting there, and we’re thinking of releasing the album in April. That was the plan for a long time. But the American deal taking so long slows that down.
DDecember 1st.
BJG. K-Klass. Chris and I to the Royal Albert Hall to see PJ & Duncan. We met them afterwards, with Sean MacGuire, Boyzone, Deuce, Let loose etc.
December 4th. BJG. K-Klass.
DDecember 5th.

BJG. K-Klass. David Bowie phoned up re remix. Neil: It was dead funny when David Bowie phoned Up. I was at home. I was told he was going to phone in five minutes, so I got a friend to answer when it rung so that they could speak to David Bowie. Then I went in to see K-Klass mixing “Metamorphosis”. With K-Klass the way it kind of worked is that they really did it all. They had their own programmer, keyboard player, engineer. I just edited their ideas really. They changed the music of the verse and I worked out how to get from that into the chorus.
December 6th.
BJG. Bob Kraushaan K-Klass finished mix of “Metamorphosis”; Pete Gleadall and Bob Kraushaar started to mix “The Truck- driver And His Mate”.
December 7th.
BJG. Heard Bob Kraushaar’s finished mix of “The Truck-driver”. Worked on “Hit And Miss”. I did the vocals again and a few overdubs.
Neil: “Hit And Miss” was never for the album. Chris never liked the song so it was condemned to the B-side.
DDecember 8th.

BJG. Bob Kraushaar. Heard finished mix of “Hit And Miss”. December 11th.
Mayfair studios. Started work on remix of “Hello Spaceboy” for David Bowie. Chris and!, Bob Kraushaar, Pete Gleadall.
December 12th.
Mayfair studios. David Bowie came in and redid the vocals.
NNeil: That’s when I phoned him up and said I’d cut up the lyrics for a second verse. And thetas when he said, “it sounds like I’d better come in”.

December 13th.
Mayfair studios. Bob Kraushaar: We put together all the vocals for “Hello Spaceboy”. December 14th.
Mayfair studios. Finish recording “Hello Spaceboy”. Bob Kraushaar mixing it
December 15th.
Mayfair studio. Finished mix. Did a very quick twelve-inch mix.
Neil: The twelve-inch wasn’t released in this country but it’s available on the Virgin America CD single. Its an extended version of the seven-inch. It’s quite good.
December 19th.
Radio One. Merry Pet Shop Boys show.
January 21st, 1996.
“Se A Vida t” video in Orlando.
FFebruary 6th.

Roundhouse studios. Tina Turner and Roger Davies. Tina Turner re-sang the first line of “Confidential”. Chris Porter started to do remix.
Chris: Tina played us tracks off her album. We were all grooving along in the studio to them. Neil: Chris and I went for lunch and then went to see Mark Farrow about the “Before” sleeve.
February 7th.
Roundhouse studios. Working on “Red Letter Day”.
Neil: I had the words now. It quotes the Bible, I’m afraid: “what on earth does it profit a man?” What’s the point of having material wealth if you haven’t got love? An old idea. It’s about waiting for someone to tell you they love you.
February 8th.
Roundhouse studios. Still working on “Red Letter Day”. Then to the Groucho Club. Met Jeff Koons.
Neil: I think I agreed that he’d do a video for us.
February 9th.
Roundhouse studios. Met Chris for lunch at Nicole ‘5, then to Bridge Riley exhibition on Cork Street, then to Gucci Taxi to studio. “Red Letter Day”.
February 10th.
MMet Chris and Dainton in the Groucho Club. Drinks with Patsy Kensit, Liam Gallagher, Robbie Williams. Then to Alastair Little, then we went back

Chris: They went to see some concert at Brixton. The Prodigy?
Neil: No. Someone funkier. I think it was Black Grape. brFebruary 12th.
Roundhouse studios. Edited “Ha/b Spaceboy “for Brit. awards. Carried on working on “Red Letter Day”. Changed the key. Did new guide vocal
Neil: We did the whole thing, and I tried to sing it, and I said, “sorry, the key’s wrong, we II have to change the whole thing”. So we redid the whole thing. That’s when it stopped being in C major. That evening we went to Chris’s flat where we watched a video of the TV programed about Upside Down. It’s classic.
February 13th.
Roundhouse studios. Worked on “Red Letter Day”. Vocals.
February 14th.
Taxi to Roundhouse. Mixing “Before”.
February l5ih.
Roundhouse studios. Mixing “Before”.
February 16th.
Roundhouse studios. Mixing “Before”..
Neil: I spent three days with Bob Kraushaar mixing “Before”. Chris didn’t like the mix. Chris: [laughs] How many days? Three days!
Neil: It’s a good mix, actually, Chris.
Chris: It’s a terrible mix. I thought Neil had attempted to change it into something that it wasn’t and never was going to be. Into a more strident, more typically sounding Pet’ Shop Boys record, with more of an arrangement.
Neil: I was trying to do that. [Laughs]
Chris: I just didn’t like it. I wasn’t the only one. No one liked it.
Neil: No one else heard it.
Chris: Was it just me? Well, I just didn’t like it. And there was nothing, l didn’t like about the Danny Tenaglia one.
Neil: I like the Jocy Negro one. I think the seven-inch mix is too linear. Nothing else happens after it starts. I still think that. But months later I realize that what I should have done is to literally put the lines that I like on the Joey Negro mix over the Danny Tenaglia mix.
February 19th.
Brit. Awards with David Bowie.
February 21st.
Ant & Dec show.
February 27th.
“Before” video shoot with Howard Greenhaigh.
February 28th.
Top Of The Pops with David Bowie.
Neil: Tina Turner was there too.
February 29th.
Taxi to Sarm West. Barbara Tucker, Karen Bernod, Ca role Sylvan sing on “Red Letter Day”.
Neil: I did the lead ‘vocal yet again.
March 1st.
Corrected the double track vocal on “Red Letter Day “C Bob Kraushdar sorted out the slave multi-track for Moscow.
Neil: If you want to record vocals, what you do is do a mix onto two tracks of a twenty-four track tape, so that you have twenty-two tracks left.
March 4th.
Sarm West Bob Kraushqar remixed “Up
Against It”.
Neil: We weren’t totally happy of the mix
Chris Porter did of “Up Against It”, so we decided to have another go.
March 5th.
Sarm West. Bob Kraushaar remixed “Up
Against It”.
March 6th.
Sarm West Bob Kraushaar remixed “To Step Aside “t George Michael was there. He played us some tracks from his album.
March 7th.
Sarm West Bob Kraushaar finished mix of “To Step Aside”.
Neil: Now we think the album is finished apart from “Red Letter Day”. We were going to have eleven tracks at this point.
March 11th.
Go to Moscow. Chris has gone to LICIS Vegas, via Los Angeles.
Chris: I went to the Frank Bruno fight, and I’d never been to Las Vegas because I’d never seen it. Having seen it, I know I don’t need to go back. I was going mad by the end. You just couldn’t escape the noise and the sound of the money coming down. You couldn’t even go for a quiet drink because there wasn’t a bar that wasn’t in a casino. In the end it became nightmlarish.
Neil: I flew to Moscow with Bob Kraushaar, and we were met by this guy called Alex from EMI Poland who’s from Russia. The week before I went there was a big story in the paper about two western businessmen being shot in the foyer of their hotel in St Petersburg, so I decided I had to have a bodyguard. Malcolm Hill from EMI was there with Jane, a presenter from The 0-Zone, and Siobhan, the producer from The 0-Zone. We went for a walk in Red Square, and we went to a restaurant called Silver Age which was a restaurant when the Tsars were there, and there were all these gangsters sitting round. They have this thing where they auction a flower, a rose, and as they’ve all got so much money they say “twenty dollars!”, “thirty dollars!”, and soon, bidding some ridiculous amount just to prove how much money they’ve got. It’s really pathetic.
Chris: They’re sad, aren’t they? There were a load of them in our hotel in Cyprus, years ago. Dainton was there, and he intimidated them so much that they quieted down. [Laughs] They’ve got a lot to learn if they want to be westerners.
March 12th.
Bob Kraushaar and I went down Arbat Street. Monument Park. Recording session with the Moscow Choral Academy for “Red Letter Day”.
Neil: Arbat street used to be the bohemian area, but actually there’s nothing to do. Really depressing. The Monument Park is where they’ve put all the old statues. The funny thing is that they haven’t just put the old Stalinists there, like they would do in some places, they’ve also got Shostokovitch and Saicharov, who are the heroes of dissidence. It’s weird. The moral is rather mixed. The recording session was at the State Broadcasting House. The choir were quite young, about 18 to 30. There were about forty of them. The 0-Zone asked a couple of them if they liked pop music, and they went “no”. Do you know the Pet Shop Boys? “No.” Do you like the song? “No.” At the end of the session Victor Popov the conductor, who’s a major classical conductor I think, said “work is work”. The BBC were there, and you had the engineer translating to the conductor what we wanted the choir to do. There was a score, and we had the guy who had arranged the score, who was Russian but who lives near Heathrow airport. It was all a bit unnerving. Nonetheless we got it done. At this stage the song had a bit at the beginning which we didn’t end up using.
March 13th.
Moscow. To NK newspaper for interview.
Neil: It was amazing, this place. They had bullet holes in the wall. When they had the White House blockade they’d been in the thick of it, and had soldiers shooting at them. There’s a picture of one journalist who used to work for the newspaper. He’d been investigating corruption in the armed forces and he was told there were secret documents at the station. He went and picked up this briefcase, and when he opened it in the office it blew up and killed him.
March 14th.
Came back from Moscow.
March 18th.
Sarm West. Working on “Red Letter Day” with Bob and Pete.
March 19th.
Sarm West. “Red Letter Day”.
March 20th.
Sarm West. Finish “Red Letter Day”. Bob starts to mix it. Chris and I got to see Transporting.
Neil: It was good, wasn’t it?
Chris: Yeah.
March 21st.
Chris and I went to Sarm. Finished mix of “Red Letter Day”. Met Russ Meyer
March 25th.
Finish mix of “Red Letter Day”.
March 26th.
In Sarm West. Decide to start a new track.
Neil: This became “Electricity”. What we decided to do was to break all of our rules. Do you remember?
Chris: Oh yeah. We weren’t allowed to do anything we normally do. So we started off with it being slow.
Neil: It’s 96 beats per minute, isn’t it?
Chris: Yeah. Whereas we’d normally do it over 120. And we decided to only use sounds we wouldn’t normally use. You just had to think what you would do [laughs] and then not do it.
Neil: You weren’t allowed to have a string pad. Anyway, after a while we lost interest in all that, I think, but that was how we started it.
Chris: I decided to put a string pad in anyway. Also, in Los Angeles I’d kept hearing the 2-PAC record, “California Love”, and there were quite a few good records like that, so it’s a bit influenced by all them.
Neil: I had some words in my Passion organizer. When we were in Jamaica in January 1 had a dream one night that we were making a record with David Bowie, and when I woke up I remembered the song we had written in the dream. It was called “Friendly Fire”, and I could remember it really well, and in Jamaica I wrote words for this song that I’d dreamt, and I put some of them into this. Things like, “I’m an artist, honey…” The song is an interview with a drag queen.
Chris: We were, “right, we need a sample on this,” and we just flicked through what was on telly just then, and there was this film and there were two really good bits: “get out of here and take this cake with you!”
Neil: “What are you doing here in San Francisco?”
Chris: And “What does it all mean? Actually, if you just flick through all the television channels you will always get a good sample.
Neil: There’s always some great line that seems very profound.
Chris: And sometimes just by flicking from one channel to the next you get an interest thing happening…
Neil: A dialogue.
Chris: . ..And you think, ooh, that works really well together.
Neil: Anyway, I wrote these words as an answer to “what are you doing here in San Francisco?”, and make it about a drag queen. And I’d had this idea at a separate time – “the greatest show with the best effects / since Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes” so I put the two lyric ideas together.
March 27th.
Sarm West. Did vocals on “Electricity”.
Neil: I had a really bad cold. I couldn’t really sing, so I sang quietly and my voice had a funny texture to it. The chorus bits I sang about eight times and we put them together, this sinus-y chorus. Then we mixed it. It was all done in two days and it sounded great, so we decided to put it on the album.
March 28th.
Bob Kraushaar mixed “How I Learned To Hate Rock ‘n ‘Roll”.
March 29th.
Sarm West. Did two different running orders for the album.
Neil: One was more commercial, starting with “Before” and “Se A Vida E”‘, the other one started with “Discoteca”. That day I also corrected the rap on “Electricity”, and made a couple of changes to it. And that was actually the album finished at that point, in theory.
April 11th
Sam West Working on “Red Letter Day”.
Neil: For some reason we were never quite happy with “Red Letter Day” so I went in t( do a different mix of it, but I couldn’t make work. Then we released there was nothing wrong with the original. Sometimes you have to go through that – you have to get a comparison – to realize there’s nothing wrong. At the same time I did a different album running order, and we decided to call the album That’s The Way Life Is.
April 17th.
Album cut at Metropolis studios with lan Cooper.
Neil: At that point we thought the whole album was finished. We had reference CDs made.
April 24th.
Meeting at Mark Farrow ‘S office about the album cover
May 8th.
Sarm West. More backing vocals on ‘Discoteca”. Robin Jones added extra percussion.
Neil: The percussion had no top end on it at all, and I thought it needed something like that. Also I was thinking, when you have samba drums, they don’t just play the drums, you have people clattering things, and shaking things.
May l0th.
Added new mix of “Discoteca” to the album. Result the album.
June 3rd
Extra percussion on “Se A Vida P”.
NNeil: We used a loop of Robin Jones’ percussion and added it to Se A Vida E”. We had three mixes of ‘The Survivors” at this point – one from BJG, one from Hook End and one from Sarm West. I got Chris Porter to dig out the first one, and then I spoke to Chris and he said that he’d always liked the first one anyway, so we changed the mix. Around this time we also decided to change the album title to Bilingual, which is what it had been called originally.

June 10th Result the album at Metropolis with the new mix of “Se A Vida E” and the old mix of “The Survivors”.
Neil: In the meantime we’d spoken to Craig Kalman at Atlantic in America. He thought that we should have more dance tracks near the start, so I’d done a rough running order like that which Chris had heard. Then Chris phoned up that morning and he said he’d done a totally different running order.
Chris: The only reason I did that is because I knew how to program my CD player so I thought I’d have a go.
NNeil: What logic did you use?

Chris: Basically, it’s intuitive – what I thought would be good after each song. At the beginning, after the whole Discoteca business (“Discoteca” I “Single”) I thought it would be quite good to go into the disco, and the most disco sounding one was “Metamorphosis”. It gets easier, because every time you put a track down you’ve got less to choose from. Then I listened to it, and it sounded quite good. Then [listened to it again, in case I was wrong – I didn’t dare say anything to anyone before that. I might shame myself. Open laughter. NNeil: Chris, really.

Chris: It seemed like quite a radical thing to do.Neil: When I heard it I thought it was interesting, so I cut that version, and the previous one. [Liked the way in Chris’s version “Red Letter Day” was in the middle of the album; rather than it being a grand finale it kind of re-kick-started the album halfway through. I thought it sounded great. So that’s the one we decided to use.

Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 1996: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 1996 Issue 16