Following 2016's Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair debut, Shvpes have just released their explosive second album Greater Than. Exploring the human psyche, mental anguish and inner torment, it's a record bubbling with bile and vitriol for circumstances you can't necessarily control.
Here, frontman Griffin Dickinson shares the stories behind every song on Shvpes' new album Greater Than.
"Undertones is an exploration of the proverb ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’. It’s about not flying off the handle; biding your time and dealing with all the shit people can throw at you, until you’re ready to take action on your terms. For me, this meant allowing someone to walk all over me, so I could build the legal case I needed to. In the end, I was much better off."
"Calloused Hands was the first song we wrote together after coming back from our first European tour. We’d been out for six weeks, experiencing something we’d always dreamed of… As soon as we got back, as with most tours, reality hits and you’re sucked back into the ‘real world’ that pressures you to go and get a ‘real job’ i.e. doing something you probably don’t care about, for some narcissistic company that equally doesn’t care about you. This song was all about reminding myself why I don’t want to be a part of that. With lyrics like ‘capitalise; cannibalise’ and ‘paralysed by your next fix’ it’s exploring the futility of the paper chase."
"Afterlife is a non-fictional account of an incident that occurred while we were writing our first record. A friend of the band was stabbed multiple times and this song is about the panic that ensued; driving round every hospital in the city, trying to find them before we assumed the inevitable."
"Someone Else is a brutally honest moment, captured inside the mind of someone who’s just been cheated on. It delves into how dark your thoughts can get when that happens to you. It’s a real view of real thoughts, rather than what you think they should be. It’s not pretty, it’s angry, ruthless and sickening, like the moment of madness that ensues when you’re trying to cope with something like that."
Two Wrongs, No Rights
"Two Wrongs, No Rights is the empathetic counterpart to Someone Else. It’s about trying to imagine what was going through this person’s head when they did it; seeing it from their perspective. It’s got a very jovial air to it, with the sleazy jazz beat and relaxed delivery. It works in juxtaposition to the maniacal pain and anger of Someone Else, compared to the laid back, hedonistic, ‘bit of fun’ in this track."
"Rain was never intended to be called Rain. It was unsurprisingly, a working title based off the weather at the time… When the track was sent to Matt Heafy for the guest feature, we decided to keep the name as a homage to Trivium’s influence on the band. Lyrically, this song’s about living with an invisible illness, like anxiety. You could appear absolutely fine on the outside, but be having a meltdown internally and no one around you would ever know. It talks about the desire to just be grounded and in the moment, without experiencing past, present and future all at the same time."
"War is about going to war with yourself over things in your past. That seemingly endless cycle of beating yourself up over things you may have done 'wrong'. With lyrics like 'a voice to push them all away' it focuses on that desire to know what thoughts are healthy, what’s progressive and what is your mental health just trying to kick the shit out of you."
"Renegades was a song inspired initially by the uprising in Ukraine in 2014. I’d seen it on TV at the time, but delved deeper into it after watching various documentaries. Although not specifically about that moment, it’s about the bravery of ordinary, unarmed civilians who stand up for their own future. It’s going on all round the world: Venezuela, Egypt and potentially in Brazil. There is a documentary called Winter On Fire that riled me up so much it made me want to write a song about it."
"Hey Brother is about learning to live with your anxiety and knowing that even when you’re feeling good, it’s probably going to come back. There’s no hiding from it. With lyrics like 'Hey there brother where’d you go, how you been? I thought we went our separate ways or at least I pretend,' it addresses something that’s quite a dark subject for me, with a bit of a lighter mood – like a mate you can’t get rid of. It’s bit of a running theme on this record; addressing serious topics with a smile."
"I’m Stuck came around very organically. The lyrics were written in about two hours on a drive from London to Birmingham and was a very ‘in the moment’ type thing. The guitar loop was recorded by Youssef, and we were never able to recreate it, so what you hear on this record is the first and only time it was ever recorded. This song was completely written in about two and a half hours, and gave us the confidence to try out new sounds throughout the record. Simply put, it’s about being stuck with feelings you can’t seem to kick and what that can do to you."
Note To Cell
"Note To Cell was the very first song we wrote for this album, about a month after we released our debut. I wanted something that was a bit more laid back and quite far removed from the very intense nature of our first record. There was a lot of thinking done in order to write this song; so much so that at times I felt like I had thought myself into a box. Every time I’d try to think harder and figure out a way to make it work, I’d just get stuck. I’d been working on it for two weeks, written seven sides of A4 and confirmed five lines. So I chose to write the song about overthinking/ analysing things. It’s explained in the metaphor of a man stuck in a prison, trying to escape. With lyrics like 'I am not my mind, so my thoughts will not define, any part or piece of poetic justice, this time I’ve done my time,' it’s about taking charge of your mind and knowing your thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t define you."
"Counterfeit was all about the leftover rage that I couldn’t fit into Undertones. It’s a pretty straight forward ‘fuck you’ to my ex business partner. The lyrics don’t need a great deal more explanation than that."
Shvpes' new album Greater Than is out now.