Brontosaurus Chorus - You've Created a Monster: Track By Track
Bill Cummings 30/03/2009
Vying for the crown of best dinosaur related name with Dinosaur Pile Up are North London indie pop 8 piece Brontosaurus Chorus. There's been a lot of talk of a Twee/C86 revival on GIITTV of late Brontosaurus Chorus' mini album 'You've Created a Monster' takes the twee template and infuses it with a melodic bite: from the bubblegum boy/girl pop vocals, to the multi instrumentation (accordion, violin, synths, brass, bells), chunky riffing, and insatiable rhythms: it depicts a band having fun, eschewing the lines between an acts like Bearsuit, The B52s and Los Campesinos! Whilst there's a touch of Britpop about Bronto's life affirming vocals (supplied by Jodie Lowther and Matthew Curtis) that joust with joyful brass and strings: adding an abundance of wistfulness and romance to their sonic palette as they put it 'we've got no faith in the future only in ourselves'.
We caught up with three key members of the band for a Track by track guide through their debut mini album 'You've Created A Monster'
Album Track by Track by:
Matthew Curtis (guitar, vocals)
Jodie Lowther (vocals, keyboards)
Dom Green (bass)
On the 1st of May 2008 two significant things happened to me, firstly my company went into administration and I faced redundancy at any moment and secondly I went into a recording studio with Dom, Tom and our faithful sound engineer Joe Hawley to begin work on what would become 'You've Created A Monster'.
It felt like it took absolutely ages to get this finished but in reality 8 months to record, mix, master and publish an album. It seemed the Sunday recording sessions in my living room would never come to an end and once they did the task of compiling all the takes seemed near impossible. Because Dom and I mixed the album I've listened to it hundreds of times but I am still not sick of it. I am immensely proud of this album, the fact that it is completely DIY and that I think it sounds great considering we spent very little money on the recording process. Now I'm looking forward to doing another one!
Love is The Path to Self Destruction
I have always loved it when bands name their albums after a line in one of the songs, although I'm not really sure whether the lyrics or the album title came first. The song was written over 2 years ago as a deliberate attempt at an album and live set opener. Around the same time I asked our friend Di to come up with the cover: a panda painting a dinosaur, for some reason. The cover - painted on canvas and currently residing at my parents' house - was finished over a year before we even recorded a single note of the album.
The great thing about being in Brontosaurus Chorus is that when you bring a piece of music to the band and distribute it amongst 8 people after a few weeks of everyone going away and playing around with their parts it sounds totally different to how it was originally meant to! I remember when Dom first played me LITP and it had this beautiful light and airy guitar intro… which I hastily butchered and replaced with the simple dark notes which open the album and the majority of our live shows!
One of the reviews we got slated this song for building up darkly at the beginning and then going into a massive pop chorus, like that's a bad thing. That the point of the song. And pretty much the point of the band.
The bells are actually my Wife's and they were just hanging in the doorway of my living room when Dom suggested we record them to “make it sound like a proper album” and so it came that the bells started and finished the album.
The bells are a deliberate nod to the chimes at the beginning of Disintegration…
Now We're Making Out
One of the first songs we ever played live. I still don't really know what it's about to this day!
I wrote this song before Brontosaurus Chorus existed. I swore I'd never be in a serious band again after some traumatic experiences in the past, but once I had this song, I decided I had better find some people to play it with! I wanted to write something with a long instrumental section, melodic bass and a pop chorus - like What Do You Want From Me by Monaco! It's from that Nirvana school of “music comes first, lyrics are secondary” - eg the words are total nonsense but hopefully the tune is pretty enough for you not to notice!
Making out is actually the first song Jodie, Dom and I played together and I'm really proud of how its grown and evolved over the last couple of years. There is a great drum fill near the end of this track that Tom played by accident because he had only been in the band for two weeks when we dragged him into the studio but it actually turned out great! When Dom and I were mixing this track I was incredibly hung-over and fell asleep on my sofa only to wake up two hours later and find that Dom still had the drums from the reggae section on a loop and was dancing around my house to them.
A song about escapism and dreaming. It's also about that notion of people who promise you big fantastic adventures you know you'll never actually experience, it's all just talk.
I think this is one of the strongest songs on the album in terms of songwriting. Again its one of those songs that started out as quite a slow and mellow little ditty and turned into one of our fastest songs. This was actually the first song I mixed for the album and it all sort of fitted together very naturally and has a really strong string part and I thought I could just apply what I did in this track to the other tracks… turns out I was wrong!
Still one of my favourite songs to play live - I am very proud of the bassline and often have dreams involving playing it!
This song is about burning all things of sentimental value. It's not as miserable as it initially sounds though. It's more about the idea of letting go of nostalgic baggage to make way for new experience.
I remember when we were in the studio laying this down for the first time and I kept playing the guitar parts in the wrong order, getting them down in the studio turned out to be nightmare but it turned out ok. Jodie's vocal is really important to this song as it starts out much quieter than all of our others but she's a great singer so it all worked out well. There was an extra keyboard part in this song but I didn't like it so I took it out and hoped no one would notice…
Steph did a great job with the accordion on this, especially considering hers is pretty rubbish and has at least 1 key missing.
I think this was about the 3rd or 4th time we had attempted to record David Bowie as its one of our oldest songs but we never seemed to be able to get it right until Tom (drums) joined the band. Some of the early recordings of this song are pretty terrible but I think we totally nailed it this time.
Is not about David Bowie! I just sat down one day and wrote lots of really random things, and that's the end product. It ended up being about dreams, escapism, multiple personalities and astral travel to name but a few things. The song had no title for ages, but I think it was the mention of Starmen that caused someone in the band to come up with the title David Bowie, which I liked in a nonsensical way. It could easily be about him though.
This is a probably the most trumpet-led song - El did a blinding job with it. We've devised a video for it involving Mr Solo chasing us around London dressed as Alladin Sane, which I really hope we get to make one day.
This is the only song that I wrote that made it on the album. I originally wrote this track for my side project, Typewriter but I thought the keyboard part sounded really Pulp-esque and sent it to Dom to see what he though. Turns out he loved it and we've closed pretty much every set with this song since we started playing it live. Unlike the other songs on the album I don't think I quite managed to capture the full scale of this song on the recording. It's a lot more epic than the other tracks on the album and it was much harder to mix. The funny thing is I actually forgot to leave the keyboard part in when it was finished but no one seems to have noticed thus far!
This was originally a song I wrote for my old band Angels Fight The City and we actually put it on an EP we did in 2004. It was a song we did at early BC gigs when we had a drum machine and I never thought it would make the album. We just recorded drums and bass for it because we had time at the end of the initial studio session but Matt insisted we include it and I'm glad we did now.
We've been playing The Plot since we first formed the band but it never seemed to settle in to our live set as naturally of the other songs. Personally I love this song because I get to play some epic guitar at the end. This is probably the most 'studio' of all the tracks on the record. I mixed the whole album with the intention of capturing our live sound but after a few rum and cokes one afternoon Dom and I just kept piling up the wall of sound!
There's some more accordion on there, baritone guitar, and the synth sound off “nothing but a G-thang” by Dr. Dre! There's also some amazing violin playing by Shalini at the end.
I really like how this song changes pace, it starts being really light and airy to being really massive towards the end.
You've Created A Monster Mini album is out now on PopArt London.