Lady Bird’s new EP ‘BRAINWASH MACHINE SETTING’ is out today (Friday, 26th June) via Purple Stains/ JägerMusik. Swinging from enthusiastic punk made to soundtrack messy, rebellious nights, to warnings about war and carbon monoxide poisoning, to a stripped-back tribute to a late friend, it covers a lot of ground across its four tracks. Here, vocalist Don Bird talks us through the entire release, from front to back.
‘BRAINWASH MACHINE SETTING’ (‘BRMS’) is the manifestation of an idea which existed before we had even defined ourselves as Lady Bird. The inspiration came from a picture that I took while travelling in Japan, capturing the USA flag in a washing machine on the streets of Kyoto. A very poignant and symbolic image to stumble upon considering I was on my way to Hiroshima the next morning to see the lasting damage from the two atom bombs which were detonated by America during World War II. The main body of artwork for ‘BRMS’ is a recreation of this image [Scroll down, way down – Ed], but instead with the Union Jack (for a semi-obvious reason perhaps). However, if you’re able to get your hands on one of our limited edition ‘BWMS’ vinyl, you’ll be able to see the original image on the B-side of the record itself!
Alex had this riff sitting with us for a long time, and we tried various approaches to bring it out into a song. During one rehearsal, Joe and Alex wrote the whole thing in less than an hour and just played it on loop until I had got all the bars down… It was beautiful!
It is a short story that tells a detailed journey of an intoxicated night out. Softly quoting lyrics from our first record, the opening bars for ‘Got Lucky’ include… “Social potions have got me tripping,” and of course, as is often the way with familiar stories’ like these, we trip and fall into dialogue with a new friend. “In the midst of a trip” we can see an interpretation of this story reflected in its’ video, which features all our mates in our favourite pub on the Pantiles. Bosh!
Ever more brightly. These lyrics came from a place with my dear wife Tilly in mind, during the early stages of our relationship. And what a pleasure it was to have her feature both in the video and also within the sound design of the record itself!
I love listening to this tune and find myself blown away by Alex’s vocals. Alex and our producer Leigh have a great relationship where they can just create mad sounds and ideas together… This is a great example of that!
I guess ‘WWW.’ (Wicked War of The West) reveals more of the political depth laying dormant within the EP title itself, and brings out those commentaries, but, in a more catchy and poppy way than a lot of our tunes. Course, we like to emulate our favourite sounds, and this has got a Green Day/Blink 182-esque feel to it… And Joe has certainly channelled his inner Travis into this track from front to back!
It’s hard to trust what is going on in the world these days, especially in times like this, where there is a global crisis taking place. However, I feel it really is crucial to trust people, and have faith in their ability to make the right choices. However, this can be difficult, especially when the superpowers that be are those that dropped the atom bomb, and then the chemical weapons in Vietnam, and so on and so forth. But!
This track also touches on the more elusive strands of the western conquest which takes place in the intangible realm of the World Wide Web/Inter-net/Inter-web… A brave new digital world which is in many ways uncharted territory. This release is unintentionally well-timed, as there seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding 5G, rightly or wrongly.
“Aware, for the first time, of the whispering that had haunted all her sleeps” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
By this point in the EP, it is clear that we have chosen the order of the tunes by their depth. An even deeper blue, ‘BEEP BEEP’ is another true story, which covers the narrative of a particular mental breakdown I had back ‘in March 2018’. The funny thing is, that, mental breakdowns seem to be the only constant for people who are stuck in the pattern of mental unwell-ness. At least that’s how it was for me, during a two year period of my life where I was unable to speak due to a psychogenic voice disorder… What’s that I hear you ask!? An elongated struggle which cost all of my energy. (If you are curious, there is a documentary available on The Guardian website, entitled ‘Silent Sam’.)
‘BEEP BEEP’ plays out over the course of an afternoon where I was met with the strikingly similar symptoms between a panic attack, and what I read to be that of carbon monoxide poisoning, thanks Google! The mental breakdown, panic-induced parody of course triggered by the alarm in my flat from the carbon monoxide detector itself, continues through the song.
“… Oh yes, I remember it well, the first sign of a long-term mental health breakdown, good gosh I was quite unwell.
In March 2018 dressed in my favourite Japanese pyjamas that I got for a quid down deplored market (I was also wearing nail varnish)
I hear the sound of an alarm, unfamiliar tonal drone from, the upstairs cupboard
What on earth could that be? Dripping in sweat from cleaning erratically
ever since I rose from that failed sleep, I should have eaten something really, empty I proceed the stairs to discover, the carbon monoxide alarm is BLEEPING…”
And finally, this track takes us all the way into the heart of the matter, with an acoustic arrangement which we wrote together during the winter of our studio build last year.
During the time when Lady Bird first began to form, I attended the funeral of one of Joe’s best friends, who had died tragically from suicide. This chap was an exceptional graffiti artist, and he inspired many different walks of life with his art, he was very popular and loved, and the funeral was like nothing I have ever experienced. ‘Nice DLC’ is the name he used to tag his artwork, and now entitles this song. It emerged very naturally during the period of time that followed the funeral, and it was, without doubt, a direct result of the outstanding love, which also created the fabric of that commemorative occasion.
The wider narrative of this tune nods with respect to all those who have decided to opt-out of this life, including family and friends of mine who I still desperately wish were still here. “It’s too often to be the way, a little often for me to take. I count the numbers on both hands, keep calm and carry on as if it’s all hunky dory.”
Taken from the July issue of Dork. Lady Bird’s ‘Brainwash Machine Setting’ EP is out now.