Eddie Argos is a proper busy bloke. Aside from his work with band Art Brut, he’s written comic books, and he also he tends to slap paint onto canvases and sell them via lo-fi-punk-rock-mother-fucker, a website that he maintains from his home in Berlin.
For the past few months Eddie has been working on a series of art pieces that sit in a concept that may take some explaining. So, here’s an explanation:
You decide which of your favorite albums you’d like Eddie to listen to – he plays the album, and he paints a reproduction of the cover – he also offers a review of the album. It’s an amazing concept, and it’s really affordable too… You get some proper art, a proper pop experience, and Eddie’s drifting along in this magic, musical, arty odyssey that’s as surprising for him as it is for us. Oh, and you can check out his progress via his Instagram, of course.
When we learned of Eddie’s current project we realized that it fit into the popbollocks ideas for artistic conduct, and we got very excited. When popbollocks learned that Art Brut were back in the studio, working on their first album of new material since 2011’s Brilliant! Tragic! we got equally excited, and thought it would be nice to get a little meta with Eddie.
We requested a painting from Eddie Argos, naming one of our favorite albums – Art Brut’s debut, Bang Bang Rock and Roll. We made these demands:
- write a few sentences on how you feel about the songs, and your mental space in the composition of your debut album.
- compare that headspace with your current world-view, and the material contained on the upcoming Art Brut album.
Let’s look at the picture and words that Eddie Argos did with his very own hands. And let’s listen to some music too.
I know that the directive was for me to find a copy of Bang Bang Rock and Roll, but I’ve realized that I only have it on vinyl and I can’t use headphones with my record player. I don’t really want to sit in my room blasting out Bang Bang Rock and Roll while I paint (I never know what face to make when my own music is playing), and I’d hate my girlfriend to walk in on me listening to myself – again) so I’m going to use the internet to listen to it instead. I hope that’s ok.
Formed a Band:
The only version I can find of this online is the original Keith TOTP produced version, that was supposed to be our first demo, but got heard by Rough Trade and became our debut single. We rerecorded it for the album. This version always feels very special for me though. It’s the most honest song we have really. A lot of it was just me saying what was in my head at the time, the lyrics weren’t really finished when we went into the studio. Before we reached this definitive single version the lyrics used to be a bit different every night. The ‘Yes, this is my singing voice’ lyric came about because, during the first take, when Keith TOTP heard my voice for the first time, stopped the music and asked if everything was alright. So I’m letting him know that this is my singing voice and that he shouldn’t worry.
‘Dye your hair black, never look back’
I don’t dye my hair black anymore, as now I’m older people will think I’m doing it to hide grey hairs.
I’m sorry we haven’t yet written a song that makes Israel and Palestine get along, we are trying as hard as we can.
My Little Brother:
There we go, this is the album version now. I had a terrible had cold when we were recording the album, but I persevered and tried to record all the songs while I was sick because I thought it made me sound more like Jonathan Richman. I change the lyrics up so much live it’s weird to hear the real ones now. “He no longer likes A-Sides” is much better than “He no longer listens to A-Sides” I’ll put that back, next time we play live.
I love my brother, he’s a lot funnier and cooler than me, this song is a mix of admiration because of that, and also concern because he was a mess and living on my floor at the time. I still have a lot of admiration for him, I don’t need to worry so much about him anymore though, as he really got his shit together. If I was to write a song about him now I guess it would be a mix of admiration and pride, and no one wants to hear that. (except probably him)
Keith TOTP is the person who suggested that I shout “Stay Off The Crack!” at the end. It’s good he gets his props now, on your website after all these years.
It is very strange hearing this album all the way through, they play this one in the morning on Flux over here in Berlin sometimes and I always think it sounds slow. I think we play it a lot faster live.
When we first wrote this I thought it should be a B-Side, but because I didn’t think it was great but because I thought the subject matter was too personal for anything else. From the first time we played it live though, it became a special song, people would come up to me after our shows and tell me about their ex boyfriends and girlfriends. I really liked that connection with people. This song was the first time that sort of connection happened really, it is probably the reason I write so many autobiographical songs. When you get a connection with people like that it makes your audience feel like friends, and who don’t want more friends?
Not much had happened to me, between Art Brut vs Satan and Brilliant! Tragic! so there was not as much life experience/truth to put in the songs. Loads has happened to me since Brilliant! Tragic! though, our new album is full of autobiographical songs that I hope will give me that same feeling of connection.
“I wish I’d convinced you you’d made a mistake” is a much better lyric than “I wish I’d told you you’d made a mistake” which is what I’ve been singing live. If I’m learning anything from this listen through it’s that I should stop fucking around with the lyrics live.
Rusted Guns of Milan:
Here we go, another very personal song, this one about erectile dysfunction. This did not have people coming up to me after shows talking to me about their erectile dysfunction, thankfully. Although sometimes people ask me if “Eddie’s Gun” by the Kooks is also about me. I hope not. I have no idea. This is one of my favorite Art Brut songs. I don’t know why we don’t play this live anymore. I used to change up the lyrics up and improvise with this a lot. When we were getting ready to record Bang Bang Rock ‘n’ Roll, John Fortis who was producing the album, made me come over to his flat and write out all the lyrics I’d been saying so we could work out the best ones for this album version of the song. That was quite an embarrassing afternoon.
I’ve been forgetting to say if my opinions have changed since I wrote these songs. They haven’t. Modern Art still makes me want to rock out, I’m a very excitable person who fucking loves art. It’s strange to hear this version that lasts only two and a half minutes. This song is a 20 minute improvised odyssey when we play it live.
This album is totally in the wrong order. I don’t know what we were thinking. This one should definitely be the last track on the album. It’s got a big guitar solo through the end of the song and me shouting “Go! Guitar! Go!” That is sure for an album closer.
This is me trying to write my own version of “I’m into something good” by Herman’s Hermits. I love those big over the top love songs that you can imagine someone dancing down the road head over heels in love to. There are a couple of these on our new album.
This should have been the last song on the album. “and I think that I love her” would have been a great closing line.
Bang Bang Rock and Roll:
I can really hear the cold in my voice on this. I wish I’d had a cold recording the new album. Perhaps I can try and catch one and go back and try and record some of the vocals. I totally forgot we had a cello at the end of this song too. This is another song I used to stop live and talk in the middle of. I used to explain I didn’t hate the Velvet Underground, I just didn’t like bands who were just copying the drug taking, sunglasses wearing element of the Velvet Underground, and not including the innovative lyric / songwriting part. I used to stop it all the time and say almost exactly the same thing. You could always tell the insecure bands on the bill because they would get the huff thinking I was saying it specifically about them.
When we played it NY for the first time, some members of The Strokes who had been watching us from the bar left.
To be fair though I was saying it specifically about them, and mentioned them by name. (although I did not know they were there) Man, I used to be such a dickhead.
This is such a great piece of music that Chris wrote, I wish I hadn’t written the lyrics about having a fight. I hate fighting. I can’t imagine writing a song about fighting now. Just listening to it stresses me out.
Moving to LA:
I’ve not heard this in a very long time. We spent ages recording this as it was another one that I’d been making the lyrics up to live. John and Howard (who produced the album) made me record lots of different versions of things I’d said and even made me say single words and syllables to they could cut it up later. I’d refuse to do that now as I believe a song loses its sincerity if I have to do more than three takes of a vocal. My vocal does sound good here though, maybe they were on to something. Ian’s backing vocals are great on this (the ‘oooh oo oooh ooh”) and I’d forgotten I say “goodbye” at the end. If we play this live again I’m definitely bringing those things back.
I used to live with Ian, and he wrote the riff for this song, drunk in the middle of the night. The first time I heard it is when he kicked in my bedroom door shouting “You want pop songs but I’m a fucking blues musician!” Ian is awesome and this is definitely a blues song. My mood veers all over the place on this album. I don’t think there is anything as angry / depressed on our new album. Definitely not about popular culture anyway, maybe one or two about ex-girlfriends.
Stand Down With Enrico Gattin:
This is the last song I wrote the words for on the album. I remember freaking out and giving myself writer’s block. I thought I’d never write another song again. I literally couldn’t think of anything to write about.
That passed though, and I’ve written lots of songs since (including the unreleased one, 6 albums, and a ton of B-Sides) I’m glad I don’t suffer from writer’s block anymore.
A song about a failed Italian bank robbery, a true story but quite an unusual one to end an album with. Probably the last song I wrote that wasn’t specifically about me.
It was strange to hear this album after so long, especially so close to listening to mixes of our new songs. My ‘headspace’ isn’t that different really. I’m certainly less preoccupied with the inept terrorist group the Gatti Gang and trying to build metaphors around them, but I have been for a while and I’m a parent myself now, son on the other side of the “why don’t our parents worry about us?” lyric from “My Little Brother”
Although with the way the 50-64 age bracket voted over Brexit, perhaps more of us should be asking why our parents don’t worry about us.
Hearing the new songs side by side with this first album, I can see similarities in them. Perhaps we should call the new album “Bang Bang Rock and Roll Vol. 2” (older and wiser? This album’s the decider)
Thanks for making me listen to our album, I’ve not heard it in a long time. I hope you enjoy the painting.
HURRY – LISTEN – ART BRUT
PHOTO – TOM BARNES