Behind the Music
These are short stories about each of the songs planned for our new album. We’ll be publishing a story for each song over the next months.
The Flush theme song. The anthem. The song with a chorus lyric straight from the hair-metal 80s. But that’s not really what the song is about. Yes, it is our anthem and battle cry, and yes, it is ironic too, but most of all, it is our tribute to where we come from.
The inspiration for the song is Haaga, the Helsinki suburb the band originates from. Eventually the song turned out to be about the people of Haaga; some who left us too soon, some who kept fighting and made it. The song is about train stations, depression, alcoholism and suicide, AND it is about hope, fight, survival, growing up, parenthood and trying to find happiness. As kids, our happiness was in rock’n roll, cheap beer and Friday nights.
Musically, the song is the closest we can get to The Hold Steady, a fine American rock band with simple and big rock riffs and great stories. Check out e.g. the song Chips Ahoy if you are not familiar with The Hold Steady.
Lasse/October 6th 2019
‘Chemicals & Conversation‘
One of our more unexpected songs. The Flush ballad, perhaps. And the longest song going on the album, as it stands today.
Musically this is based on an old guitar riff thing that was then re-worked to add more dynamics to the song. Originally almost a spoken word song, where the vocal line is slightly more “singy” now. The main idea was always to build it up slowly towards an intense wall-of-noise in the end. Sonic Youth’s ‘Theresa’s Sound-World’ has always been my ultimate wall-of-noise build-up song, and although we’re not quite there with SY, that song is a key reference (Sonic Youth’s ‘Dirty’ is a phenomenal album btw).
More importantly, this is a lyrics song. Almost all our songs are somehow personal, but this gets very close. It should not be hard to decipher what “chemicals and conversation; lithium and listening” refers to. It’s quite straight forward, really. I wrote this song about someone particular and special, about my fears on the subject of mental health, and about how volatile the human mind can be. Often I try to be vague or universal in my lyrics, but with this one I was quite specific and literal. It fits the song better and makes it maybe the most intense song to sing – even if it’s supposedly the ballad.
I can’t wait to see what this turns into in the studio. Do we add keyboards, strings or horns..? Who knows. Maybe just 30 guitar tracks. Or just 2. It’s an important song and a special song, and one that I will put my heart into making it as good as it can be.
Lasse/October 30th 2019
‘In the Gutter‘
Perhaps the most traditional Flush punk song on the album. It’s fast and melodic, but with some rhythmic changes to spice things up. This was first heard on our ‘New Beginnings’ EP.
Funny story: The main guitar riff was originally supposed to be a Tom Morello/RATM like bouncy hard hitting thing, but once I decided to try a chord progression under it, it became this song. We’re tweaking the arrangement a little bit from the version recorded on the EP, but for most parts it’ll be the same song. We have great memories of this song making the crowd go nuts in Goblins Pub in Bratislava.
I think at some point the chorus may have had a ‘Bryan Adams’ working name or something like that. Bad Religion is the greatest band still alive and the greatest punk rock band of all times. They don’t shy away from melodies while still riffing it away at a pretty fast pace. Flush was originally pretty much a Bad Religion rip-off band and it’s great that we still have a few of those kind of songs left in our songbook.
Lyrically this also deals with a Flush classic theme: vices or addictions that take control of you and make you do stupid shit you regret when sober/clear-headed. We’ve all been there – and vomited on the t-shirt – and we keep doing it again and again.
Check out the Bad Religion classic ‘Generator’ here. This brings a tear to my eye, it’s such a fuckin’ great tune…
Lasse/December 27th 2019
Oh boy. Where do I start. I first heard of the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit and their singer/song writer Scott Hutchison a few years ago, and thought they had a bunch of great songs. I found it suprising they weren’t better known than they were. I’ve always had a soft spot for grand Scottish melancholy a la Idlewild, Mogwai and Biffy Clyro, and I could hear the same vibe in Frightened Rabbit. However, there was a deeper, more personal touch to their music, and especially Scott’s lyrics and his soulful voice really got me. He does not have an Americal Idol winner voice; instead he has a genuine, honest voice that cuts right to the heart and soul, and creates the kind of emotions only very few can. Shawn Smith comes to my mind as another singer who had this kind of soul in his voice.
I’ve later learnt that Scott touched a lot of people and he was also well appreciated within the artist community. This is proven e.g. by the quality of work on the 2019 tribute album ‘Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ (note: I wrote and named this specific Flush song before this tribute album was released).
I’m not going into what happened to Scott (you should also read about his life and his work), but I will say that for the last 18 months or so I have listened to Frightened Rabbit more than any other artist. And I listen to lots of music. The idea of writing this song about him, but reflecting on my own childhood and my recurring dark thoughts of ‘I wonder how will people react if I’m gone?’, came pretty naturally. The song begins with a quote from one of Scott’s most famous lines from the song ‘Head Rolls Off‘ (2008) (full chorus):
‘When it’s all gone, something carries on
And it’s not morbid at all
Just when natures had enough of you
When my blood stops, someone else’s will not
When my head rolls off, someone else’s will turn
And while I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth’
You can’t really put it more beautifully than that. Writing about suicide isn’t a new theme for Flush but with this song specifically I wanted to bring in the element of hope. We all have at least a tiny impact on our surroundings, somehow, and that makes it all meaningful.
Oh, the music. It’s fast, melodic and simple. So… punk rock? Well, the chord progression and the vocal melody in the verse are actually not that simple. There are key changes and shit, even before the solo modulation, and it is one of my more ambitious songs melodically. It’s really just a fast pop song. Like… let me think… oh, I know, Bad Religion!
Check out Frightened Rabbit if you don’t know Scott’s music. Good ones to start with are:
- The Woodpile (this is genuinely a 100% perfect pop song)
- Backyard Skulls (currently my favorite FR song)
- Head Rolls Off (see above)
- My Backwards Walk (Look, it does not get more real than this. It does not.)
The two albums to start your FR journey with are ‘The Midnight Organ Fight‘ from 2008 and ‘Pedestrian Verse‘ from 2013. Find them on your favorite music service.
And look after each other. We all need someone sometimes.
Lasse/December 27th 2019
‘New World Order (Hooray)’
A political statement without an actual statement or opinion – because the system today is fucked. People are selected into position of power without adequate skills, and this is enabled by a machinery of corporate power and capitalistic media. Or something. Very few take the time to actually learn about political opinions and values. A vote in a democracy should first and foremost be about values. Do I value my society, my fellow humans, my planet? Or am I letting myself be lied to by some SOB driven by the hunger for power and/or greed? Am I mislead by who shouts the loudest and has the simplest explanation to complex problems?
But I don’t have the solution. This is why I am the sarcastic cynic who points out the flaws on the right and on the left. This is why I pick on the sorry ass white male sitting in their basement hating women and pretty much all minorities. I can’t say for definite that the women make better leaders, because we don’t have enough conclusive evidence, but it’s goddamn time we tried it. It cannot get worse than this shit going on today.
Oh yes, this is a punk song in classic British fashion. It is moderately angry. In a polite way.
Lasse/December 30th 2019
‘Surreal Experiment in the Age of Post-Intellect’
Yeah, with this one we’re just going for the longest title in the Flush songbook. And the weirdest funky-jazz-swing thing we’e ever done.
Lyrically another perspective on the world today. As the title says, I’m not sure if this is the real life or if it’s just fantasy (Freddie was great btw). We seem to have lost our minds, or, alternatively, we are just living an experiment controlled by some weird sadist. Who else would do shit like lock up kids in cages and separate from their parents, and sink ships carrying helpless families, all while spreading so much misinformation that we cannot keep track of what is real anymore?
Musically this was originally intended to be a Doors-like swingy and gloomy jazz fusion, but I think our playing is too tight for that style. It has become a little more funky and groovy now, but it’s still weird – on our standards. It’s a fun one to play and sing, because it really engages you. It has wild mood swings and strange melodies, and some straight forward hard rock.
I have high hopes on this one. I reckon the weirdos among ya’ll will like it.
Lasse/January 7th 2020
This one has a bit of everything. Fast riffing, melody, hard riffing and some weird key changes. I think it’ll be one of the more popular songs.
The riffs are results of a few different iterations. We once even had an instrumental song and ‘Break Me’ kind of originates from that one. Very few know, but ‘Tiny Changes’ has its roots in that instrumental one too. Just in the last week’s we worked on the guitar arrangements of this one and Janne has added some tasty guitar leads to the verses. Never previously have we ventured into this level of key changes back and forth within one song, but still keeping it pretty straight forward grungy punk.
Lyrically it’s a very personal song that I won’t get into explaining. The lyrics will be there and that’s it. It’s all there. Break me. Hope you like it.
Lasse/January 14th 2020
A classic guitar riff based Flush song with a long instrumental outro. The outro is actually pretty long but we like it and will keep it. It is technically the most difficult song for the guitars to get right so time will tell if we actually nail it well enough to publish it.
The chorus really came to live after some production and arrangement tweaks (stop-start, harmonies, guitar arrangements) and we also tweaked the structure a little bit to make it a little more streamlined. Lyrically this is another personal song with pretty explicit lyrics. Sometimes the time is right for ‘stuff’ to happen, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we fuck up and are overwhelmed with regret, but if we don’t deal with that regret, it can consume us. And that’s not a good way to live your life.
This is one of the older songs going on the album and it’s got some proper guitar playing on it. Better come out good…
Lasse/January 14th 2020
‘Two-Minute Punk Song’
We had a version of this that was almost exactly 2 minutes long. The current one is a little longer.
Anyhow… this song is really special for a few reasons, which I shall explain now.
This is the only song that gets co-write credits. The main riff is an Eero-riff (yes, we have a bass player who writes mean riffs). I can’t remember how many variations and iterations we had of a song around the riff, but this is the one that stuck. The ending is, on our standards, weird as fuck, and we kinda like it.
The lyrical inspiration for this song was a boozy night in Bratislava after we played a gig at the legendary Goblin’s Pub in town. It’s a surreal story based on random ideas a group of drunk people came up with – so don’t worry if the lyrics don’t make sense. They’re not supposed to. However, I do think the two opening lines are among the best lyric lines I have ever written.
Further, the song is special because it kicks some serious ass. It’s basically straight forward hard punk rock but with a weirdo twist in both lyrics and the ending. If you don’t like this one, you’re not weird enough!
Lasse/January 14th 2020
One of the older tunes and a heavily riff-based banger. I had the verse chord progression in the works for a really long time because I really liked it and it is quite unique. I felt it has to work somewhere. Then the main chorus riff appeared from somewhere (hell?) and that was it. In the pre-prod phase we made a significant change to this one by making it start with a chorus. The intro now slams the listener into the face and it fuckin’ works.
Lyrically this is a song about opportunities, especially missed ones. It’s too easy to say that you should always ignore your fears and just jump on every opportunity. Fears keep us alive. We have learnt through pain, mental and physical, and it’s too simplistic to read an Instagram aphorism and just seize all opportunities without fearing the consequences. Fear of consequences is what has kept mankind alive (now whether this is a good thing at all is another topic, which I am not going into now) and it’s silly to think our intuition can just be switched off. ‘Ships’ is about this dilemma, in a slightly sarcastic tone (that is how I roll).
Lasse/February 1st 2020
Right now my favorite song. It’s also an old one but with brand new lyrics. I am pretty proud of the text. It turned out quite nice and is about something/someone I feel strongly about. You’re going to have to work it out yourself, but let’s just say that it may or may not have Stranger Things references.
It is a very simple song. Verse, chorus, verse, double chorus, and that’s it. Again based on a tight guitar riff and still maybe the best chorus – or one of the best choruses – I have ever written. I think it would make even Bob Mould and Grant Hart jealous. Learn your Hüsker Dü, kids!
Lasse/February 1st 2020
‘When the Band Begins to Play’
The song formerly known as ‘Present Tense’, not that it matters to most of you. This could be the hit song. It’s melodic, for sure. Maybe the most easy-melodic song on the album.
The leading melody has been around for a long time. It was originally used in a very different song that had very weird times and stuff, but that song didn’t quite last. I still felt this melodic line was too good to leave, so it was rescued in this new format. This song gets the highest scores within the band so it definitely is a band-favourite.
With the name change, the lyrics obviously changed too. We had some internal debate about it, but the earlier lyrics were not the best. Rhythmically and phrasing wise they worked, but the meaning was just a little too bland. ‘We should hurry now, I want to be there when the band begins to play’, the opening line, obviously refers to making it to a live gig of some kind. This scenario inspired me to write about how important I find music to help blocking out bad thoughts. I partially also wrote this song to and about my son, who I hope, in his adult life, is able to find ways to be happy. I can’t make him a happy person, but I can hopefully help him learn ways to find happiness either within or from external factors. So yeah, this is an important song and I have no regrets of re-writing and renaming the song. I hope people will like it for the melodies as well as the words.
Lasse/March 15th 2020
Our live favourite. A fairly old song that hasn’t changed much. Anyone who has seen us live will recognize this song. A simple riff-based rocker, with the flush signature bridge outro.
I think I may have written the riff on the bass guitar. At least I played it on the bass for quite some time. It really hasn’t changed much over time. I guess if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
Lyrically this is one of the substance abuse songs. As I’ve said before, I write a lot about my angst and emotions, about the surrounding world, and about substances. This is def the latter. But obviously all of those things are connected. We don’t really have super happy songs… I think. Maybe that should be the album title, ‘Super Happy Songs’?
Lasse/March 15th 2020