Writing from my studio in Berlin. What an odd time we find ourselves in, lives on a weird pause & plans abandoned.
Eupnea (the title of the new Pure Reason Revolution album) means normal unlaboured breathing or quiet breathing. It’s what we’re doing now, breathing without volition, it’s just happening.
When my daughter was born at 32 weeks, weighing just 3 pounds (your average bag of sugar!), she couldn’t breathe properly, her lungs hadn’t yet formed or sprung into action. We were fleetingly in high dependency, before being transferred to intensive care. Here we stayed for a few weeks.
Most of Eupnea’s lyrical content comes from this turbulent time - a real emotional rollercoaster.
I’m a big fan of the lyrical meaning coming from the listeners’ interpretation. With PRR you never get a literal narration of experiences - things get a metaphorical & abstract mangling. That’s my poetic licence, that’s lyric writing. However, I’ll endeavour to give some explanation about the songs: anecdotal, making of or lyrical gist.
Eupnea is a little tribute to my daughter & wife. From the artwork, through the lyrics & music, it’s all tightly connected.
Come and see us on tour in October in Europe. Until then, stay safe & healthy.
This song sets the scene. It begins with the beeps & bleeps of the hospital apparatus monitoring heart, pulse & respiration.
We all have little obsessions, drives to do things that overstep the mark of the “norm” & then we rein ourselves back in. We lose track & then get back to what’s important, reality & the obsessions gone… It’s lifted. This track became a mini obsession.
The chorus, ”it’s you, a child, a lover, you’re dead calm & choir’s so soft tonight”. These are the important things. My wife recovering in hospital, Jessie in the incubator; calm, breathing stable, at rest.
My daughter was so tiny in the incubator - the incubator a little fortress & shield. The airflow going in the nose cannula and cannulas in both hands – so many wires & pipes. She still has little scars in the backs of her hands. “Lay here, sleep tight. Shield up airflow high. It’s written in the scars. And it’s late & cold as your hands let go, my love”. I vividly remember holding her for the first time & all these awkward wires, but such a wonderful experience.
Maelstrom means; state of confused movement or violent turmoil. This song marks the turn of the uncertainty, the turn of the storm as she was steadily breathing & our anxieties lifted.
Ghosts & Typhoons
A nine-minute rollercoaster & surreal odyssey into doom. Pink Floyd tussling with Bring Me The Horizon? I went mental on the drum programming & session drummer, Geoff Dugmore, absolutely smashed it. He did a great job replicating & going beyond what I’d programmed. On some of the rolls he said, “This isn’t possible to do, drummers can’t do this!” However, with cheeky overdubs it was possible. He did a remarkable job & added his incredible groove.
We did Chloe’s vocals for this during a blisteringly hot Berlin summer. Each night she’d cluster all the fans we had in the studio and take them to the rather primitive hotel down the road. The vortex of gusts from all the fans almost levitated her off the bed!
Beyond Our Bodies
I always wanted to do a song in 7/4 & it finally happened with this track. It’s about when our bodies overcome incredible things - disease, ill-health & we come out the other side - we go beyond our bodies & achieve the unimaginable. It highlights the fragility of life. In intensive care we witnessed such wonderful, but also heart-breaking moments, “All that we dreamed, it came to life. God & machine, protect tonight. And next to you another dies. Enough, fearless, we wrote the words”.
Greg Jong (original guitarist from PRR) and I worked on this from scratch in Berlin. Our soul intention was to have fun creating again like we had back at the University of Westminster in 2002. We sat down with no preconceived ideas about song plan or key, but soon enough the chemistry erupted & this track the result. It echoes the hallmarks of early PRR, while pushing new boundaries for us.
The first track I worked on for the album. It came from a guitar idea I always played in soundcheck & then just section after section developed.
This really documents the birth & hospital journey: the ups & downs, the huge highs & lows - the gut wrenching uncertainty of having a child in intensive care & totally helpless to do anything. The worry, followed by the elation of good news, progress, then steps back.
It mentions the “Lisa technique”, a procedure Jessie had to open up her lungs. It’s dynamically all over the place and I wanted the heavy riffs to reflect the strenuous, difficult times, contrasted with the light/gentle passages & more euphoric moments of hope & beauty. This lightand shade juxtaposition is important to accentuate the emotional twists.
Daniel Bergstrand (who mixed the record) almost cried when I presented him with hundreds of tracks to mix! He did a great job with highlighting the dynamics.
“You’re the beating heart and the blood that binds us. From a foetal start, when the lungs were tired. Now in mother’s arms & the harm’s behind us. Now you’re breathing calm & you cling so fired.” I absolutely adore Chloe’s vocal on this. Initially I sang this part, but it’s far more poignant with the female vocal.