With a cheeky swagger and a wry refrain, Home Counties are a band with something to say. We asked them to run us through the inspiration behind their second EP – out now via Alcopop Records. And they did. So here you go.
Back To The 70s
‘Back To The 70s’ was one of the first songs to come out of us first writing for Home Counties. The original version was written very quickly while we were on tour and was a lot more guitar-driven and ‘rocky’. We dropped it pretty quick, but over the first lockdown, we looked at it again, bringing in all the new synth elements we were getting into. The chorus vocal line/lyrics have remained the same since its inception, but we really struggled to find something to fit the verses. Sort of as a joke, we tried Barn reading out some ridiculously wordy ramblings about economic policy over the verses, and it just stuck.
The lyrics were inspired largely by criticisms that came up a lot in the era of Corbynism. It’s poking fun at the arguments that he would drag Britain into the dark ages with what were pretty normal Keynesian economic policies. It’s not intended as some ringing endorsement of the 1970s – it’s more a questioning of the narrative that we were saved by Thatcherism, and everything’s great now.
The Home Counties
The song ‘The Home Counties’ is set in a small town somewhere in the South of England and centres around a generic married couple and their daily existence. It is about mundanity, claustrophobia and suspicion of everything outside of the semi-detached. The characters are placeless and nondescript, emblematic of the uniformity of middle-class people across the commuter belt.
‘Ad Gammon’ was a late addition to the EP. The song had been kicking around for a while, and we thought of it more as a joke than a serious Home Counties song. It’s about a visit to the town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire a few years ago when we were on tour. There is a kebab shop there that (sadly no longer) gave the option to ‘Add Gammon’ to any item on the menu, which we were wildly fascinated by. Barn successively just ordered ‘One Add Gammon, please’. The town has this annual tradition of a no-rules football match between two sides of the town, which we were lucky enough to spectate. There was a profound anti-South sentiment to the whole thing. There was a bizarre moment at kickoff where the guy throwing the ball in shouted at a drone in the sky, ‘we don’t need your drones, we police ourselves!’, which made it into the song as a lyric.
When the whole EP came together, we found that ‘Ad Gammon’ actually made a lot of sense musically and lyrically in the context of ideas of middle England and village mentality. I wanted something not wholly focusing on South East England, so the song provided a nice contrasting angle while in keeping with the same themes.
The song is based on a book by historian Alain Corbin, Village of Cannibals, which is about the murder of a nobleman in late-nineteenth-century France. Based on rumours, the whole village was whipped up into a frenzy and ended up brutally torturing and murdering the nobleman. The lyrics focus on the contrast between the positivity of place-based collectivism, the meaning it can bring, and the often tragic consequences of it. It’s a really messed up story and contrasts what is probably one of our most gentle and melodic songs.
Home Counties’ new EP ‘In A Middle English Town’ is out now.