“Well, if you’re wrong it won’t matter”
Lyrics are here
Song is here
When I split up with my girlfriend of four and a half years I was understandably rather down. One of the things that helped me get through the dark days was listening to a lot of The Flaming Lips. Although it’s mainly an album about death, I still took a lot from the feelings of loss on Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.
My head was buzzing with ideas and emotions and I started thinking about what sort of thing Wayne Coyne would write in my situation. Then one night, while in the bath I came up with an idea.
This was not just any idea but a concept album – The Solution Experiment. This is where the line “we hope this experiment will last” comes from.
I envisaged Quatermass being the first track on the album, the lead off into a series of Yoshimi-esque, slightly psychedelic songs about science. Of course, like many of my other grand follies, this concept album remains unrealised and Quatermass is the only song finished, or indeed started, for it.
On that night in the bath I came up with the first two verses and the idea was that it would be a song equating fictional scientists with religion. Hence the lines about “midnight mass” and going “back to the shrine”. The original line “after cheese and wine” was meant to portray the sort of evening they had in the village where I grew up where the local vicar would either run or attend such things. In later years it became the more religious “bread and wine”
Now, I’d love to say that I realised just how pretentious that idea sounded and so scrapped it but unfortunately the truth was a bit more prosaic. Eight lines are about the most that I can remember at any one time of newly written material and so I just kept repeating them to myself while lying in the bath.
Eventually, I decided that I really liked the sound of them and so had to jump out of the bath in an appropriate Archimedes style and ran naked to my bedroom to find a pen.There’s an image to put you off your tea.
By the time that I’d dried off and got back to my scribblings, not only had I forgotten my grand plan for the song but I couldn’t actually name enough fictional scientists to make it work.
It was then that I realised that since the first two scientists where in reverse chronological order, I could do something in a real Wayne Coyne way – make the song about travelling back in time to ask scientists, both real and imaginary, for their advice to cure a broken heart. To be honest the remaining scientists were the first three that I thought of but they worked so well that I didn’t see any need to change them. Having said that, from time to time I do think about doing an extended version of this song with more verses in it but I’ve never actually sat down and fleshed it out properly.
With regard to the rest of the song, I was really happy with the line “keep fighting the fight until the fight is won” In my mind at least, it recalled Race For The Prize by The Flaming Lips.
However, the key line in the song is “after the two of us” Most people just assume that this is about my ex but it isn’t. In fact this is the one line that I really agonised about in this track. There was always a question in my mind whether it should be “two” or “three”
You see, this song is really about the band and especially about me and Ant. I hope that the “experiment” ie the band will last and after love and loss, science and religion before it all turns to “dust” and technology turns to “rust”, there is the two of us – Anthony and I.
In terms of actually writing the music, this was one of the first songs that Ant and I wrote. We did it face to face whereby I sang the lyrics at him and he tried to come up with some music that would suit my caterwauling.
The recording here is the one that we did at Roar Studio in Melton Mowbray featuring Ant on guitar, Stu on drums and me on bass, melodica and vocals. The engineer said that he really liked my bass-line which I played on the D-string with a really light pick.
While the bass and melodica took only one take each, the vocals took 4 or 5. I just couldn’t quite get happy with them.
Speaking of the melodica, I became slightly obsessed with the instrument after seeing Bonehead from Oasis play one in the video for Champagne Supernova. I love the fact that it looks like a child’s toy and yet sounds just a bit retro and out-there – perfect for After Quatermass.
We played this song live a lot of times. During the early acoustic gigs I’d use a bubble gun to try to inject that Flaming Lips type of magic into the show. Later on I’d use bubble machines while wearing a white scientist’s coat and a pair of sunglasses that reminded me of the Mike Teevee bit from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I liked to think that while onstage I was actually ready to go back in time to visit those great thinkers.