“It’s looking at division in society and people using it as an excuse to do wrong and say wrong”, says Tax The Heat singer and guitarist Alex Veale, talking about the band’s second album Change Your Position. “It’s saying, ‘Look, change your position.’ It’s holding up a mirror to things.”
Below, Alex and drummer Jack Taylor take us through Change Your Position, track by track, revealing what it’s about and how it all came together.
Money In The Bank
Alex: Money In The Bank came out of a jam from an older song.
Jack: We do know how and where it came from. It was one of the first songs we wrote when we formed Tax The Heat: we hadn’t played it for years and don’t play it anymore. Then, for some reason, as we finished we all kind of looked at each other and started this jam which eventually became Money In The Bank. It almost came out as a fully formed thing.
Alex: The first time we played through it, it felt pretty good. Also, it was one of the last ones to end up on the album. It’s all about the riff and the space. Some of the best rock tracks of all time have space to let the riff punch through.
Jack: And the lyrics… a lot of the lyrics on the new record have a particular place they’re coming from, and a social message. But I think they’re up to peoples’ interpretations. However, it definitely comes from a specific place for you Alex, right?
Alex: Yeah! It comes from a definite place, but I think the rough message or story is like an observation of somebody who – on paper – has everything that they could ever need, but they’re just feeling pretty not right.
Change Your Position
Alex: Change Your Position is one of my favourite songs on the album. There’s something about that is very Tax The Heat. It has a quirky riff, it’s a bit odd, it has a strange arrangement to it: it’s not a verse-chorus type of thing, it’s a bit more interesting than that. Also, I think you hear each individual member of the band of doing their thing in that song. Lyrically, the song is very much inspired by troublesome times and conflict. It was written at a time when all of the madness in the world had become even more mad and crazy, and all of those factors (Trump, Brexit etc.) come into it for sure.
Jack: I think it looks more into the social aspect of those political things. It looks into those, but in quite an overarching way, which sums up how we were feeling when we were writing bits of the album.
Playing With Fire
Alex: Playing With Fire was a lot of fun to write. It has some really strange and quirky riffs, and a bizarre middle eight section. And… it’s got a saxophone on it!
Jack: It has our first bit of Tax The Heat sax on that song, and in my opinion features the best chorus that Alex Veale has ever written and sung on record. Again, I think that’s open to interpretation, but that’s my opinion
Alex: Lyrically, I guess people can draw whatever parallels they want from it, and I think you might hear it as a kind of relationship thing. But to me, the hook of the chorus came from seeing divisions in Brexit, and trying to reach somebody, and the way you feel when something is wrong and you wanna change it, and you’re trying to get through to them but you can’t.
Jack: Musically it touches on a bit of new ground for us – maybe a bit of a heavier sound than some people will be expecting – and it’s really fun to play.
All That Medicine
Alex: All That Medicine was the first single, and we feel it’s the root of the album . There were lots of songs floating around before we started demoing, but it was when we landed on All That Medicine that it became clear where we wanted to go with it and what this album was about. It had its own sound to it – it felt new and the riff was really odd and a bit of left of centre – but it still felt like a big tune as well, which is something we’re really into. I like the sound on the guitars as well. I got given a pedal by Dave Murray from Iron Maiden’s roadie. It’s made by a guy called Dr. No, who’s based in the desert in America, and he makes these really bizarre pedals. It’s this octofuzz, and it just made perfect sense on that track.
On The Run
Jack: On The Run… Thelma and Louise. That’s what that is
Alex: I can picture it in my head whenever I hear the track.
Jack: Who’d be Thelma?
Alex: You can be Thelma
Jack: I’ll be Thelma
Alex: I’m happy with Louise, it’s fine. On The Run shows a side of our writing that’s a bit fun; it’s tongue and cheek and it’s just really good fun to play. It was one of the early demos that, when we just played through it, it felt good.
Jack: Yeah. Nothing more to say, really. It’s a rocker.
The Last Time
Jack: Definitely a bit of a different track. We were really keen to work on it a lot to get it on the record ,and it feels really good to hear it in the middle of the album..
Alex: With a lot of press we’ve spoken to, especially in Europe, The Last Time comes up as the favourite track on the album, and I think it could be my favourite song! It is very different for us, and it gives a bit of a different feel at the right time on the album.
Jack: Absolutely, it was really nice to be able to kind of get into that groove. There’s a nice groove to it.
Alex: The interesting thing with doing a song like that is that those ideas came predominately from me, and when you’ve got a song like that that’s not an “in-your-face rocker” it’s a lot harder to try and sell it to the guys in the band. Every time we tried jamming it at rehearsal and somebody might be like, “you know what? I’m not sure about that.” I was challenged every time, and I think that’s a good thing, because it makes you question how much you like an idea. But with that song I felt really strongly that there was something really good going on… so it kind of just changed so much in the best way that it could from those early demos and yeah, it’s great. I love it!
Jack: I think with this – as with any of these the tracks on the new record – we’ve got a lot to be thankful for to our producer Evanson. I think that’s definitely where the sounds play a big part, and it just feels really nice to listen to that track. I think he’s done a really great job of pulling all the sounds together and just making it feel like you can be in the room with us, but also making it feel big as well. I think we owe him a lot, and for that for this track in particular.
Taking The Hit
Alex: Taking The Hit is the most up-tempo track on the album. It came, like Money In The Bank, from a split-second jam, when we were doing a TV show and we were just getting checking levels and that riff just kind of happened. It was a real simple song to write.
Jack: It’s the heavy hitter, and it’s got that driving rhythm that really pushes it through after the slower, groovier track that’s come before. It just felt right.
Alex: My Headspace has a feel to it! I can’t wait to play that one live. I think that pulls on the kind of punky element of what we do.
Jack: Yeah it’s great fun to play, and it’s fast and rocking and kind of heavy for us.
Alex: And again, the lyrics are kind of a little bit tongue-in-cheek, even though the subject matter might be a little bit heavier: thinking about your own headspace, and where you’re at, and wanting to get away and get out. But it’s delivered in a sweet box. It’s a bit fun.
We Are Consumers
Alex: We Are Consumers changed a lot in the studio. We had the riff and the chorus kept changing, the hooks were there and the middle-eight was “kind of” there. Evanson did so much with us – and changed it so much – that, at the end of it, it felt like the same kind of song, just 10 times better!
Jack: We just built up this thing and I really love the backing vocals in the chorus. It just adds an element to that chorus, and brings it up to make it sound nice and big! I think it’s another slightly different energy to add in to the record.
Alex: It has that running kind of social of commentary side to it, as well: you believe in what you’re fed, you’re not questioning it, that kind of thing…
Cut Your Chains
Alex: Cut Your Chains is good fun. It came from just being in the zone in the rehearsal room, and having a couple of riffs and just playing it out and getting a feel for it… and within an hour you’ve got a song! It was really easy and fun and I think you get that listening to it. It’s got a fun side to it.
Jack: There’s two musical things that I’d mention. There is a bit of a different sound in there in terms of JP’s guitar tone. I just love the guitar tone that he ended up with. Also, I think it’s a really strong one for the bass part as well, Antonio’s bass part, especially in the mid-eight.
Alex: In 100 years they’ll do a deluxe edition with the one-hour jam! One night we were out and a friend of ours was going through quite a few things – going through some big changes – and the song is really about how he was handling that side of stuff. When he was talking to me it felt like it should be a song!
The Symphony Has Begun
Alex: This was an amalgamation of two songs. I don’t think either of them worked very well together, but there was something about the two parts, and in the studio we tried some different things. Because the verse had a definite blues shuffle to it, the chorus had this massive big epic melodic side, and we kind of made that a bit more shuffle-y and a bit blues-y and the verse a little less blues-y and it kind of met in the middle. There’s a section of the song, just before the drop-down, that Jack and I actually jammed before we were even in a band. At the time I had like seven songs, and I was like “Jack do you wanna play on it? And we worked together.”
Jack: It just fits in perfectly, and I think we both thought about it and turned up with the same idea of trying that out. It’s kinda cool because it’s such an old idea for us, and it’s all kind of slotted together nicely.
Alex: Quite dark lyrically as well and it, it’s a good end to the album.
Jack: We all knew it was going to be the last track. When we were listening through them, it just felt like the right way to sign off the album.
Change Your Position is out now.