|Though some of the songs that appeared on|
Fundamental were written back in 2003 (and one of them, “Numb”, was recorded in its near-final version back then), most of the writing and recording took place during 2005. As usual, Literally has Neil’s full diary of its sometimes meandering progress as it took place.
January 17th, 2005.
Beginning work in the Pet Shop Boys’London studio with Pete Gleadall. Wrote basis of a new song called “I’m with stupid”.
Worked on “For every moment”.
Neil: We wrote this song in 2003 and we’ve written three versions of it. We ended up giving it to Alcazar, though they’ve now split up. We were always revising it, never happy with it. We wrote “Luna Park” and “Casanova in Hell” at the same time.
Worked on “Unbelievable scenes
Neil: This was based on an old demo from 1998. Back then we wrote it thinking of it being for Robbie Williams, because even at that point there had been murmurings of us working with him. Anyway, we turned it into a new song which became “Fugitive”.
Continued with “Fugitive” and started to write new song, “Psychological
Continued working on “Psychological”. Gwyneth Paltrow came into the studio. Neil: Our studio is in the same building as Sam Taylor-Wood’s studio. Gwyneth Paltrow came to be photographed and Sam invited us upstairs to have lunch with her.
Started writing new song, “Ring road”.
Finished “Ring road”.
Neil: It’ll probably be a b-side. It’s a sort of rock song, really.
Started writing a new song, “The performance of my life”.
Finished “The performance of my life”. In the evening, went to see A Minute Too Late, Simon McBurney’s Complicite show.
Neil: There was a drinks party afterwards, and then Chris walked across Waterloo Bridge.
Started writing a new song, “I made my excuses and left”, linked to a song Chris sung on his mobile last night.
Neil at home with flu – lay in bed and wrote lyrics for “The performance of my life” and “I’m with stupid”. Chris in Paris for the Dior Homme show.
Neil: He phoned me up at one point from the Georges V and Kate Moss came on the phone and sang “Careless Whisper” to me.
Still had flu – more lyrics for “I’m with stupid” and lyrics for “I made my excuses and left”.
Back in London studio. Added middle eight to “Psychological”.
Vocals on “I’m with stupid”.
Worked on a song called “One way street”.
Turned an idea of Chris’s into “Girls don’t cry
Neil: “One way street” was later turned down by
Chris: Not that they’ll ever hear the end of that.
Finished demo of “Girls don’t cry”. Made it
more electronic-sounding. Vocals on “Fugitive”.
Finished vocals on “Fugitive” and worked on “One way street”.
Worked more on “One way street” then wrote most of a new song, “Integral”. Chris went home to get records because he was DJ-ing.
Worked on “Integral” then put a vocal on “I made my excuses and left”.
Worked on “I made my excuses and left”, making the track more electronic-sounding and writing a new section. Put vocals on “The performance of my life
Went to the NME awards to present the Godlike
Genius award to New Order
Finished “The performance of my life
Made changes to “Integral”, “I made my excuses and left” and “One way street” then wrote a new song, The Resurrectionist
Neil: That’s one of the songs where I gave Chris the lyric and he wrote the tune.
Flew to Naples.
Went into the studio in Naples and meet Luca Baldini. All our gear has arrived. Started working on a new song, “Dirty tricks
Worked on “Dirty tricks
Neil: We worked very slowly here.
Worked on “Dirty tricks”.
Started working on a new song, “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show “. Wrote chorus lyrics then came back from lunch and sang them.
Worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
Wrote the verse lyrics and sang them.
While Luca worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show “, changed some lyrics. Then started a new song called “Indefinite leave to remain
Worked on “Indefinite leave to remain “. A lot of sitting around. Then finished the words and sung vocals.
Worked on “Indefinite leave to remain
Neil: It was fun actually being in Naples.
Finished off “Indefinite leave to remain” – edited the middle bit and changed the bass and drums. Decided that was the end of working with Luca. Neil: That night we met Sondre Lerche – saw his concert at the Theatro Nuevo, and had dinner with him beforehand. Then we took the rest of the week off, went to Pompeii.
Flew back to London from Naples.
Back in our studio. Breakfast with our manager and discussed maybe Trevor Horn producing the new album. Started writing a new song called “Minimal”.
Worked on “Minimal”; finished words and put on the vocals. Went to the ballet.
Finished “Minimal” and started reworking “The
Sodom and Gomorrah Show
Did seven-inch edit of “No time for tears” with
Pete Gleadall then carried on working on “The
Sodom and Gomorrah Show “. Went to the
National Film Theatre where we bumped into
Neil: We were discussing at one point releasing
“No time for tears” as a single.
Put vocals on “The Sodom and Gomorrah
Put vocals on “One way street”.
Put new vocals on “The Resurrectionist”, then Chris reprogrammed “Indefinite leave to remain” and I re-sang the vocals.
Neil: You changed the rhythm track, didn’t you? Chris: Yes, it was fast, originally. We slowed it down.
Changed the lyrics to “The Sodom and
Gomorrah Show” and re-sang them.
Did a demo of a song for Sondre Lerche, “Dancing In The Dusk”. Went to see Rufus Wainwright in concert.
Neil: Sondre Lerche asked us to take this song he’d written on acoustic guitar and make a demo of it so it sounded like Heetwood Mac, so we paused the whole writing of the album to do this. It’s quite good, actually.
Wrote a new song called “China
Neil: Afterwards, rather appropriately, we went in a taxi to Mr Chow’s where we had dinner with Gary Barlow.
Started writing a new song, “After the event”.
Worked on “After the event”.”
Finished writing “After the event” then went to a charity preview of the musical Billy Elliot.
Worked on “After the event”.
Started writing a new song called “The former enfant terrible
Finished “The former enfant terrible
Lunch with our ex-manager Jill.
Worked on a new song called “Twentieth
Worked on “Twentieth Century
Put vocals on “Twentieth Century” then started to rework “After the event”. Neil: “After the event” is one of those songs we keep changing. It’s sort of good and sort of not-good.
May 5th. General election. After voting, we worked on “After the event”.
Chatted to Trevor Horn about the album.
Went to see Kylie Minogue in her Showgirl concert at Earl’s Court.
Start working with Trevor Horn at Sarm West on tracks for the new album. I went to see a performance of Shostakovitch ‘s Seventh Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall.
Neil: At this point we obviously think we’ve got enough songs.
Worked on “Luna Park” with Trevor Horn. Sang new backing vocal idea.
Worked on “Luna Park”.
Worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”
with a drummer called Cliff Hewitt.
Chris: He’d played with Apollo 440.
Neil: Some of it is still there on the track.
At Pete Gleadall ‘s studio, recorded chorus vocals on the track “Throw” by Dan Fresh then went to Sarm where we worked on “Luna Park”.
Worked on “Integral” with Trevor Horn.
Worked on “Integral” and started work on “Casanova in Hell “. Corrected and re-sang lyrics in “Casanova in Hell” and “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”.
Worked with Trevor and Dave Clayton on the
overture for the album.
Neil: That bit was never used.
Met with our manager about the Battleship
Potemkin release and decided to release “No
time for tears” as a single. Played Wolfgang
Tillmans some tracks from the album.
Met Yoko Ono at her hotel in London and dis
cussed performing with her at the Meltdown festival, then went to Sarm. Tessa Niles came in and sang backing vocals on “I’m with stupid”. Worked with the programmer Dave Clayton on the introduction to the album, “The day before yesterday
Edited “Men and maggots” from the Potemkin soundtrack at Pete Gleadall ‘s studio for the album release. Went to Sarm where Trevor was working on “Integral”. When we left Trevor was doing bass on “Luna Park”.
Neil: We actually listened to all of the Battleship Potemkin tracks to decide what we’d edit down, then decided not to edit anything apart from that.
Tim Weidner, the engineer started to do a seven-inch mix of “No time for tears
Worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
Tim finished his mix of “No time for tears” and
we adjusted it slightly.
Went to Metropolis to master “No time for tears” and remaster the Battleship Potemkin album. In the evening, we went to the ballet to see Swan Lake.
Worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
Recording “some Arabic flamenco nonsense vocals” for “The day before tomorrow”, then we went to see Guys And Dolls with Ewan McGregor in it.
Worked on album introduction with Trevor and
Worked on “Luna Park”. Put backing vocals on
it. After dinner worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
In Pete Gleadall ‘s studio worked on our mix of “Walking On Thin Ice” for Yoko Ono’s Meltdown Show then went to Sarm. Tessa Niles did backing vocals on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
I presented the BP Portrait Prize at the National
Worked on “Luna Park”, putting back Chris’s
original bassline. I played acoustic guitar on it.
After dinner, worked on “The Sodom and
Gomorrah Show “focussing on the bass.
An orchestral session at Angel studios, Islington,
for “Integral” “Luna Park” and “Casanova in
Neil: As covered in Literally.
At Sarm, Trevor had Phil Palmer playing acoustic guitars on “Luna Park”. Went to Music Bank and rehearsed with Yoko Ono.
Neil: As also reported in the last issue of Literally.
Decided to not go into the studio and let Trevor
Horn get on with it.
Sang harmonies on “Casanova in Hell
Put new parts on “The Sodom and Gomorrah
Chatted to Trevor about producing more tracks. Then we decided to take a break and let Trevor vibe out on the tracks.
Neil: This is where we decided to make the whole album with Trevor.
Fred Applegate, an American actor who’s in The Producers, came in and did the spoken introduction to “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show “. Then we went to a rehearsal for Live 8.
Live 8 rehearsal.
Flew to Moscow.
Meeting with promoter Walked around Moscow.
Neil: We were going to rehearse there, but we
didn’t in the end.
Performed at the Live 8 concert in Red Square.
Flew from Moscow to Paris.
Dior Homme show. Jason Shears there with David Furnish. Hedi Slimane’s birthday party, which Pete Docherty was at. We saw The Paddingtons play and ended up chatting to them in their tour bus.
Back to London.
Woke up to the news that there’d been blasts on the tube.
Worked on “Minimal” and listened through “Psychological “, then worked on “Indefinite leave to remain
Worked on “Indefinite leave to remain
Press day for Battleship Potemkin, then went to
see The Paddingtons play in a pub at King’s
Worked on “Indefinite leave to remain”; sang two new vocal parts.
Worked on “Indefinite leave to remain” then started to work on “Twentieth Century”; sung some new vocals on it.
A new keyboard player Pete Murray, came in and played on “Indefinite leave to remain” and “Twentieth Century
A harp player and singer Lucinda Barry, played harp on “Minimal”, “Luna Park”, “The Sodam and Gomorrah Show” and “Casanova in Hell and then sang ad-libs at the end of “Luna Park “. Pete Murray worked more on “Twentieth Century
Failed bombings on the tube. Worked on “Indefinite leave to remain” and re-sang some vocals. Pete Murray played keyboards on the end of “Psychological”.
Worked on “Indefinite leave to remain “. In the evening saw the play Telstar, by Nick Moran, about Joe Meek.
German interview for Battleship Potemkin at EML Phil Palmer played acoustic guitar on various tracks.
Worked on “Minimal”. Trevor got Phil Palmer
to play guitar on it, and sped up the track. Worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” making the new rock feel work better Meeting about the Newcastle Potemkin concert next May A drummer called Virgil Howe came in and played on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”.
Worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
Neil: Then we went on holiday for all of August.
Went to Frankfurt for the start of the Battleship
Potemkin tour in Germany.
Flew from Hamburg to London.
Back in Sarm West. Worked on “Psychological” and edited the end. Two musicians arrived from Los Angeles – Earl Harvin, who played drums, and Jamie Muhoberac, who played keyboards. Neil: They were there for two weeks, pretty much, playing on tracks on the album. They’ve played a lot on Seal’s records but they also play with Air as well, and, I think, Beck.
Talked to Trevor about producing “I made my excuses and left”. Jamie played on “Psychological” and “Luna Park”. Earl and Trevor played on “Luna Park” and “I made my excuses and left”.
Neil: Until this point we’d thought that “I made my excuses and left” would be produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto, but he never seemed to quite come through.
Jamie played on “I’m with stupid” and
“Indefinite leave to remain
Neil: We had two studios on the go by this point.
Jamie played on “Twentieth Century” all day
while we worked on “Integral”. Earl Harvin put
Simmons drums on “Indefinite leave to remain
Earl played marimbas on “Minimal” and put
Simmons drums on it. Jamie worked on
“Integral” on keyboard sounds.
Technical stuff being done. Jamie finished work on “Integral”. Meeting with Nick Ingman about string arrangements for “I made my excuses and left” and “Psychological”. Earl played vibes on “Psychological”.
Neil: The vibes are still very noticeable in the choruses.
A lot of sitting around. I sang “sun, sex, sin, death and destruction” 40 times for choir backing vocals in a falsetto voice.
Neil: Guess what that was like.
I went with Trevor to Anne Dudley’s house and discussed orchestral arrangements of “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” and “Indefinite leave to remain
In Sarm. Not much happening.
Robbie Williams phoned. Listened through to Nick Ingman ‘s orchestral demos of “Psychological” and “Minimal”.
Neil: Nowadays when people do a string arrangement, they play them on a keyboard so you can hear them.
Talked to Nick Ingman about orchestral arrangements.
In Sarm. Not much happening.
Neil: In the evening I did watch the Bob Dylan
documentary, No Direction Home.
Recorded orchestra at Angel studios for “I made
my excuses and left”, “Minimal”, “Introduction” and “Psychological Neil: The instrumental that would end up being called “God willing”, and which was “The day before yesterday”~ is now called “Introduction”.
Worked on “Twentieth Century”, simplifying the middle bit.
Neil: That’s where we made it just all acoustic guitars. Stripped it down.
Worked more on “Twentieth Century
Chris’s birthday party.
Put item on website.
Neil: I had been told at Chris’s birthday party about the two teenage boys who were executed for being gay in Iran – I put an item about it on our website and phoned up Pete Tatchell about it. Fundamental is dedicated to them: Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni.
Recorded strings at Angel studios for “The
Sodom and Gomorrah Show” and “Indefinite
leave to remain” with Anne Dudley conducting.
Recorded brass parts on both songs.
Mixing. Work on mix of “Luna Park” and add more spoken vocals to the end of “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”. Changed the beginning of “Indefinite leave to remain” to just brass.
Tim mixing “Luna Park”~ Rob Orton mixing “Minimal “. In the evening, went to see a concert by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto.
Neil: We met Ryuichi Sakamoto at the aftershow party and he said he was sorry he hadn’t been able to do “I made my excuses and left” but he’d been doing this tour.
Tim mixing “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”. Meeting with manager Played him “Luna Park”.
Neil: When we played it, we thought the mix wasn’t right. You could tell he wasn’t knocked out by it.
Interview with Radio One about John Peel. Mixing.
Neil: Chris and I have to hang around the studio when they’re mixing. That day we got bored so we went to see Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist which we didn’t think was that good.
Rob finished the mix of “Minimal”. In the
evening we went to see a play called Flanders
Mare, starring Keith Allen.
Mixing. In the evening, we went to see a new
production of Hair.
Neil: Which we didn’t like.
Rob mixing “Indefinite leave to remain “. Tim still working on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show “. We worked more on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” with Trevo, putting a high string line and other stuff on it. Went to the Turner Prize preview. After we went, Trevor sang some new harmonies on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”.
Meeting about touring with our agents and managers. Worked on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” mix with Tim. I copied Trevor’s new harmonies and took his voice out.
Worked more on “Luna Park”.
Neil: This is when we decided to strip it down
and make it more electronic. We had a day in
Trevor’s little back room, working on that.
We went to Diane Arbus exhibit at the V&A and then went to Sarm. Another engineei Taz Mattar did a mix of “Luna Park” which we made some changes to.
Taz still mixing “Luna Park”; we made further changes. Rob mixing “I’m with stupid”.
Rob finished “I’m with stupid” and started “Twentieth Century “. Taz finished “Luna Park”. Neil: That mix, in the end, wasn’t used, although it was quite a good mix.
Taz working on “Psychological” mix – two
young girls come in to sing on it.
Neil: One still sings on the end of the track.
Went to our studio and wrote a song with Robbie
Back to Sarm. Tim mixing “I made my excuses and left”. Rob finished “Twentieth Century”. We adjusted the mix slightly and made some suggestions to make the “I made my excuses and left” mix more climactic at the end.
Had a flu jab. Worked in our studio on the
demo of the track we’d done with Robbie
Rob mixing “Psychological”, Tim mixing “Casanova in Hell”. We worked with Trevor on “God willing “, now the title of the introduction. I suggested an album running order In the evening, we had a drink with Bananarama.
Listening through to my running order with
Trevo, then we all changed it. Suggested
changes in mixes.
Tim remixing “Casanova in Hell” – we went
back to the original demo drums in the verses.
More vocals on “God willing
Tim finished mix of “Casanova in Hell”. Chris heard “God willing” vocals and we decided to dump them.
Neil: This was a sort of spoken thing on “God willing”. We decided that it was pretentious, although Trevor actually quite liked it.
Went to the National Army Museum for the launch of a book, Last Post. We were in the same room as the only surviving veterans of World War I. Afterwards, went to Sarm and listened to new mix of “Integral” and “God willing”, which Trevor had put the spoken vocals back on. Neil: Two of the people at the book launch were 105 and 109 years old.
Coffee with Sam Taylor-Wood and Patrick Cox re the stag night for Elton and David. Rob finishing the final mix of “Luna Park” and started new mix of “Integral”, making it more electronic. Worked more on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”; changed the introduction with a heartbeat.
Neil: We had a great faff – we walked up to the Electric restaurant on Portobello Road to record the ambience for the start of “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” because we had the idea that we wanted you to walk into the club and hear it. I don’t think we used it in the end.
Worked more on “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show” and “Integral”.
Neil: We recorded me walking on Basing Street into Sarm at the beginning of “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”. That is still there – that click is the door of Sarm West.
Went to Manchester to see Little Britain.
Worked more on “God willing “. Both Chris and I spoke the lyrics, then rejected them. Sang the second line of “Numb” again to make it sound more English. Had a playback of the whole album in Studio 2 – Chris, Trevor and I – and decided what we wanted to change.
Meeting about the stag night. In the evening went to Koko in Camden to see Madonna launch her album. After we went to the Groucho club with Bernard Sumner Neil: Bernard, mysteriously, was at the launch. He had a slightly better ticket than us.
Playback of the album for our management
and various friends, including Dainton, Pete
Gleadall, Janet Street-Porter and Mark
Parlophone have a playback of the album at the Electric on Portobello road.
Neil: The album now is officially finished. Nothing else musical is going to happen on
Start work on a remix of “Sorry” by
Madonna at our own studio.
Neil: We do that for the next three days.
Meeting at EM!. Turner Prize dinner
Remixing “Sorry” at Sarm West with Goetz Botzenhardt engineering while Trevor did a seven-inch mix of “Minimal”.
Neil: “Sorry” took three days at Sarm. The mix of “Minimal” didn’t work out.
Went to Paris.
Meeting with Dave Dorrell and EM! France and played them tracks from the album. Train to Cologne.
Played tracks to the German EM! staff then
flew back from Dusseldoif Told by phone that
Madonna loves our remix.
Meeting at Radio 2 about doing a concert with
the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2006. Lynne
Easton ‘s funeral.
Rehearsal for stag night.
Elton John’s and David Furnish’s partnership party.
To Sarm West for a seven-inch edit of “The
Sodom and Gomorrah Show
Neil: Then it was Christmas.
Only minor adjustments were made in 2006. At the end of 2005, the album’s running order was set as follows – “God willing”, “Minimal”, “The Sodom and Gomorrah Show”, “I’m with Stupid”, “Psychological”, “I made my excuses and left”. “Integral”, “Numb”~ “Luna Park”~ “Casanova in Hell”~ “Twentieth Century” and “Indefinite leave to remain” – and the earliest promotional copies were in this order. (At this point, the album’s first single was also scheduled to be “Minimal”.) In early 2006, the running order was changed to its final version, some transitions were edited accordingly, and the album was finished.