It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Declan McKenna, but our Dec hasn’t spent the last few years coasting on the success of his excellent debut album ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ instead he’s been hard at work cooking up his much anticipated follow up and been thinking about some big issues as heard on his brand new banger ‘British Bombs’. Tackling war and the hidden dubious undercurrent of British arms deals, Declan delivers his fiercest track yet as a tantalising pre-album call to action. We spoke to him down the line from a Nashville recording studio to get the lowdown on his next move.
Hey Declan! So, you’ve been away for ages. Tell us what you’ve been up to?
It hasn’t felt as long as it’s been. I guess it’s been over two years now since the last record. It’s gone really quickly, especially this last year working on the album. I don’t know where time is going. It’s all systems go right now, and we’re looking forward to getting stuff out there with ‘British Bombs’. It feels really new and like a step in the right direction.
How did ‘British Bombs’ come about? It feels like quite a statement.
The song came was partially inspired by a conversation I had with my friend. A really smart, well-read guy. He was talking to me and saying, “Our country has been at war the whole time we’ve been alive.” I was like, “Really?” He was like, “There’s not been a time in our lives when England has not been at war. Modern war is different, and we’re not faced with the consequences.” That planted the seed, really. When you think about it, it’s very much true, and it’s something we’re aware of in some way. It still doesn’t feel real. It feels wrong.
It’s such a big thing, the distance between where we are in England to where war is happening to which we’re contributing. I didn’t want them to be separate things because I think in the modern world everything is connected. It’s important to link things together and attach responsibility.
Do you feel like it’s a good time to release the track right now? With a new, massively dubious prime minister as well as being on the precipice of Brexit disaster?
It’s important to be open to discussion and learn more about how our country is run. The Brexit thing has been going on for so long, and it’s causing ambivalence as it’s super disengaging and I’m super bored with it. It’s just the same shit over and over again, and I just don’t know if it really mattered so much that they’d spend so much time deliberating over it. It’s a frustrating time. I didn’t want to write about Brexit. I don’t even know what we can contribute to that anymore.
Did it energise you to be taking on such a big subject, you sound really fired up on the track?
I wanted to take a modern approach to quite an old school British thing. I wanted to make something quintessentially British. The protest song is part of the British tradition, and when we’ve done it, we’ve usually been pretty good at it. I wanted to have a modern pop take on it. It was really fresh for me and was a good fit with what I was making.
Does the song point the way towards what you’re doing on the album?
The album that I made is actually fairly vague in its definitions and meaning. Releasing ‘British Bombs’ before anything I know is going to be on the album feels like it’s setting a tone so in the future when I start releasing more tunes, that statement is still there.
How’s the album recording going? Is there any gossip you can give us?
There’s probably tons of gossip! The process has been going on for ages, but I pretty much had the album written before the start of this year. There have been one or two tunes that have come about since, but if you asked me at the start of the year if I was ready to record an album, I would’ve said yes. We’ve just been waiting for the right time to do what I want to do. I’m out in Nashville recording. It’s amazing; we’re having the best time. I’ve got the whole band here with me as well. That’s the big difference from the first record that I have the full live band. It’s all about energy. It’s a different record, and I’ve definitely tried to progress. It feels like a natural progression. It’s a little bit away from what I’d define as indie. It’s a little bit insane.
Should we expect anything this year?
As I’ve learnt from this recording process, anything can happen. It might happen in two months; it might happen in eight months. It’s a bit up in the air, but I think there will definitely be songs from the album before the end of the year for sure.
Finally, we always have to ask the important questions at Dork so, do you still have the moustache and is it remaining for album two?
I do have a moustache at the minute! I don’t know what it is about being in southern America, but I love it, and something about it makes me not want to shave. It’s part of who I am. I’m here for all the smoke that comes from having a moustache on your face after not having a moustache on my face for so long.
Words: Martyn Young