Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I'm pissing myself off.
I'm pissing myself off because it's proving very hard to shake this desire to re-invent the wheel with every single track we do. To create neat tricks and special effects. Making a film that consists entirely of stunts, 90 minutes of 'em, bam bam bam bam bam bam. Writing a book full of clever puns but nothing much else. Painting a portrait where the eyes literally - and annoyingly - fall out of the frame and follow you around the room.

It's hard to remind yourself that the fripperies and novelties aren't at the heart of what you're doing. When the three of us first had a conversation on this subject a few years back we came up with a phrase: "Everything's already been done... except the washing up." It was a sort of resolution not to get distracted by unfounded and egotistical notions about our own artistic greatness. But this wasn't helped by Mister Brian Fucking Eno, ohhhhh no. A year or so after making this decision, we got 'into' his Oblique Strategies cards (briefly, this is a deck of cards designed to be drawn at random in order to short-circuit some of the conventions of your creative process. They are clues or instructions, depending on how you want to interpret them, and proved very useful to us in situations where we had to work to tight deadlines.) We were horrified to discover that one of the cards contained the instruction: "Do the washing up."

I don't want to do the washing up, dammit. You do it.

What next, an instruction that reads "Gild the Lilly?"

I suppose he might always have meant to literally do the washing up.
...nah. Brian Eno? Do the washing up? He probably has a big polyphonic dishwasher. Bono gave it to him. Along with that digital egg whisk.

Working on the lyrics has been great. I've been taking a central phrase from each song, scrawling it at the top of a page, flicking between pages, scribbling things out in random places beneath the principle line. Different pens, different degrees of legibility. It looks like staggeringly pretentious graffitti. See this on the back of a toilet cubicle door, you'd run screaming from the pub. You'd scramble into the street, throwing yourself onto your knees in the middle of the road as traffic swerved around you, horns blaring. You'd lift your face to the sky, and yell "THEY'RE COMING! THEY'RE COMING TO GET US ALL! IT'S NOT ART, IT'S WANK!!!....... AND IT'S........ MUTATING!"

Yeah yeah, it looks bad, but it's fun and it sifts the wheat from the chaff. You've got to go through these larval stages, crawling around on yer belly, munching at the undergrowth. You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Neil is fond of paraphrasing this as "You can't make an omelette without being a cunt."


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