Brisbane psych-pop outfit These Guy released their new album, These Guy House, on Friday. Premiered by us on Thursday, the album was conceived, written, recorded and mixed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and shut down. As such the album has taken on something of a ‘cabin fever song cycle’ feel.
To help us, and you the listener, better understand the new record the band’s principal songwriter and founder Joe Saxby is here to walk us through the album track by track.
This was the first song I wrote for the album. It was really easy to write, which is always a good sign. I think Elton John once said that writing a song should only take you twenty minutes. And that was pretty much the vibe with this one.
The words are a bit more abstract and non-specific than usual for me. It all became centred around the “Summer Blanket” by accident. I keep a list of potential song titles on my phone, and I had ‘Summer Blankness’ written on there. But, I must’ve just forgotten that last morpheme. Which is to say that something I’ve always felt in summer is this feeling of summer blankness. Just that feeling when summer has been going on forever, by about mid-January, and everyone’s still away on holiday and nothing’s really happening. It used to get me a bit down, but I think this song is about getting a bit more comfortable with the feeling and appreciating it for what it is. Sometimes in life you’ve just got to accept what’s going on around you.
I made this gothic-sounding chord progression and decided that I wanted to make my version of a spooky horror movie, in song format. I got a lot of inspo from the cemetery that I live next door to now. The song is basically all about a really uptight, stressed-out sort of a guy who’s going stir-crazy at home. He keeps hearing weird noises at night and he can’t sleep properly. But, then he finds out that the noises are directing him towards a wormhole into a secret realm, which reveals to him the reality of life, and that life is beautiful and nice.
This continues with the theme of meditation and calm that I wanted to force down the listener’s throat. To my ears it sounds a bit like one of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops, which I thought was sort of fitting in a weird way.
Another narrative-driven song – the first time I’ve really gone for it with that approach. It’s based on a real currawong who hangs out at my house a lot. I just sort of imagined a story about him being crippled and then me helping him out. Maybe a little bit weird on my part, to imagine myself as this super nice guy who helps the animals. But in the end, it’s more to do with my philosophy on how I feel we should treat each other in this life.
Sometimes people just need a little bit of help. They can’t get where they need to go, something might be holding them back, they’re not feeling good. But, they don’t know how to ask for help. I like to think that we all need to treat each other in a really beautiful and delicate way. Not in a walking-on-eggshells, wrapped-in-cotton-wool kind of way, but just with a real readiness to help our fellow humans, to give the absolute best of ourselves to each other.
I went super literal on this track, which I enjoyed just as much as doing the non-literal thing. It’s just about looking out the window at sunset, making dinner, being unemployed because of coronavirus, and thinking, “what the hell am I supposed to do?” – but also loving all this time you now have to appreciate the look of the trees and the beauty of the world.
Then halfway through the song, the sun goes down, and all my friends come over for a party. I wrote this bit when I was getting bored and missing my friends. It’s like an ideal fantasy of all the fun things you can do at a party: play ping-pong, have a sing-along, just chill out.
This is a cheeky rework of an old song called “I Wanna Understand” from 2014. It ended up becoming a kind of gloomy, Chills-inspired jangle fest, which I thought was cool. But then I also wanted to completely glitch it out and annoy everyone with this totally unrelated section about “having a good time”.
Apophenia, as a thing, is basically a quite poorly defined, mostly banal phenomenon to do with perceiving two unrelated things as being linked. So in the end, the song is about how its own two unrelated sections are possibly trying to communicate with one another, and the thing they’re trying to communicate about is just hidden from view, for the listener to figure out.
The last song we wrote for the album. I think it ties it everything up fairly well. The title is meant to be slightly awkward and ironic, but I don’t know if that comes across, because the song is fairly deadpan and sincere. It’s basically about imagining a positive vibe or sensation that might spontaneously erupt across the world to cheer people up – imagining that possibly our ancestors who’ve passed on are still alive and well, hanging around in the air, offering us a good vibe to carry on with.
That came from my ruminating on the passing of my Grandpa last year. He was a beautiful guy who meant a lot to me. It’s hard to accept that death is the hard-and-fast end of life. It may sound like total quackery, but to me, life has an essence to it – a vibe, if you like – that can’t be quashed. So I wanted to write a little song that might convey a positive message in that vein – that life is special, and if you take a step back from everything, sometimes you can really notice.