by ZAK SLOMAN
Recently, rapidly-emerging Hull five-piece Bunkerpop unveiled a self-titled debut album, which they had spent the best part of a year working on, constantly tweaking what had been recorded to ensure that the release would be the best it could possibly be, as well as being an accurate reflection of the band’s eclectic and distinctive sound.
Unlike the majority of albums, the collective opted to split their first offering into four parts – all named after colours – each comprising of three tracks, and they were happy to go through them all in detail with me.
‘START SOMETHING WITH A STOP’
This track started off in life as a tune called ‘Disko Socks‘, which we used to play live, and was quite a favourite in the early days. It didn’t quite work on the recording, so we basically took everything off the live take and stripped it back apart from four bars of Jonathan‘s synth line, which we repeated over and over again.
It’s the most Kraftwerk-type tune we have, and conjures up images of speeding down the autobahn in true krautrock style.
‘(ARE YOU READY) FOR SOMETHING’
The obvious choice for the single from the album. It has elements of The Chemical Brothers and charity shop Daft Punk to the sound. Paul and Jonathan did the vocoder parts, with the original dialogue coming from a YouTube clip of a crazy preacher man trying to convert the masses at a church.
The first track the band ever practiced together in full. Jonathan started it with a squelching from his synth, Carlos joined in, and the rest of us followed.
The dialogue track came from a promotional record bigging up a 1970’s local radio station somewhere in the south of England, and Trevor – the band’s bassist – has a selection of bizarre sound effects records that we draw from when we need something a bit odd to add to proceedings.
This is the track we used to open every live set with for the first year. It came about from an improvised jam, and we really loved it. Paul added the Camberwick Green acoustic guitar to give it a nostalgic feel that took us all back to our childhoods.
This tune started off being called ‘Three Times The Stabs‘, and it was called this right up until about a month before the final mixes. It has been described as “Super Mario on acid” by fans of the band. It’s a live favourite, and was BBC Introducing‘s track of the week a few weeks ago.
This started off as the weakest track on the album, as it really wasn’t doing anything. The three tunes on this side all meld into each other, and this really was a bit lame, so Mark and Paul cut it up, sliced it, spliced, thrashed, and added chopped-up bits from the original live take to come up with something we rather like, so it’s bizarre.
The three songs on this side are Dutch brothers….the English translation is ‘Stop, Look, Listen‘.
The only track on the album with “proper” lyrics. The words are descriptive of the boredom of city centre living and town centres in general. It highlights town centre planning, town centre furniture, town centre zombies, and town centre mediocrity….which we quite like. It also features our friend Salbo Baggins (The Dyr Sister) on strings.
‘DON’T UPSET THE HAWK’
A one-chord live jam that was pretty boring until we cut it up in the studio and added overdubs. Nice, fuzzy, and percussive. Carlos the drummer plays a blinder.
The dialogue comes from an Australian TV interview with Lou Reed. Lou wasn’t playing that day, so the interviewer’s questions were more interesting than his answers.
Also, watch out for the new video made by Nicholas Broten of Fonda 500 for this track…one of our personal favourites from the album.
‘Wet Brains‘ was the first song we practiced after Paul returned from an eight-month trip travelling around Europe.
It’s in ‘B’ minor, which is unusual for us, as we normally stay in the majors. It’s very dub and laid back right until the end when the band goes nuts. It also features sound effects from a steam boat, and Nicholas Broten on razor guitar.
This was originally about three minutes too long, so we cut much of it out. It’s a very playful tune which reminds us of a Henry Mancini tune called ‘Baby Elephant Walk‘ for some reason.
It’s a delightful plod through the jungle, and the dialogue once again comes from one of Trevor‘s sound effects records.
This was the biggest surprise on the album. It’s basically a live improvisation towards the end of the last recording session with a few overdubs from Mark in the studio eight months later.
Basically, we had some spare time, so we just pressed record and went for it after a few false starts, which we kept on the record as we really rather liked them. Paul and Trevor both play bass on the live take, and Jonathan‘s parts were recorded with his headphones plugged in, so we didn’t hear what he was playing until we pressed the recorded playback.
It’s a gorgeous, atmospheric piece of muzak.
‘ACTION AFTER WARNINGS’
‘Action After Warnings‘ is a song title we had for ages, but couldn’t find a tune to fit. It was going to be the album title too. This tune basically followed straight on from the improvisation of ‘Lovely Eno‘….we just kept on playing. Mark, Jonathan, and Paul added overdubs of guitar, keyboards, and melodica in the studio…and hey presto!