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about

I've been thinking about this song lately. I have a strange relationship with it as it uses terms that I don't often put into my art. This album was conceived as a kind of skipping through radio stations and so I wrote in tones of voice like this as kind of abrupt gear-changes. I felt after I had written these words that they were 'cringey' but I decided that a 'cringey' moment in the album was what I wanted.

Anyway, I know the author is dead, but this is the internet and I would like to write something by way of an explanation of this song.

like nearly all the songs on this album it is a sort of collage, the music having been recorded months before, with no words or structure in mind. I wrote words in the days following the public vote for the UK to leave the European Union. I was very angry at everyone, including myself and wrote these words as a venting of my frustration.

I worded in terms of 'us' and 'them' because it was my own culture I was angry at and wanted to criticise, while not trying to set myself apart from it, to acknowledge that I was culpable for what I saw as the chauvinism of white English men (to be specific to my own demographic).

The line 'we put up walls and drown the weak' is a reference to the US/Mexico border wall proposed by the then US Republican party candidate Donald Trump. From my perspective, the decision of the UK to leave the EU came at the height of reportage on the Callais jungle, a temporary camp for people seeking to enter the UK from mainland Europe, as well as the callous treatment by much of the UK press of rafts of people fleeing their homelands in order to escape conflict. In that moment Brexit looked to me like we were putting up a wall to keep these people out.

The rest of that verse is about that too, but also about other fears I had for the future of the country, which had only the year before elected a Conservative majority government in the midst of growing inequality.

It is a simplistic reading of a situation, but was an attempt to capture my frustration at inequality, chauvinism and xenophobia, and my fears of the rise of the far right across Europe and in the USA

the last lines:
You thought that you would never see, The rise of another nazi party, You thought those days were dead and gone,You thought you’d never vote for one

this is emotive and divisive language. Sometimes I wish I'd never played around with it and if I have offended you because you feel I have made light of the unspeakable crimes of the Nazis, then I am deeply sorry and would be happy to talk to you about this song further. I wrote this in response to my own inner anxieties about the new rise of fascism across Europe, which entered my consciousness with mass murders that occurred in Norway in 2011 and continues to this day. Many of the supporters of these far right groups make 'Nazi' salutes when they march and there has been a rise in groups in the US calling themselves 'national socialists' and using the swastika symbol on their flags.

None the less I am torn about my last lines in this song. Part of me feels as though I have overstepped a line, not in the strength of my fears about the far right, but in my wielding of a word whose meaning and connotations I had taken too lightly. Again, if you have been affected by this, I'd be keen to talk it through with you further.

I make art to help me to survive, and on rare occasions I'm lucky to say it has helped one or two others to do so. Every day I find it harder and I need my survival tool more and more. I write this now because I am determined that I should keep my art in working order and always be willing to examine and re-evaluate the effect it has.

Lyrics:
Women still earn less than us
Who exactly can they trust?
We still rape them and kill them
Still treat them like an underclass

We put up walls and drown the weak
Blame our problems on refugees
Side with the wealthy kill the poor
Let our children die in wars
No fixed abode, no human rights
Kicked in the stomach for being on the outside
Are we too smart or not smart enough?
Who exactly can we trust?

You say their god is against our god
Their culture is a concern of ours
Tell women to fear their abuse
Best to stay with the abuse you know
You thought that you would never see
The rise of another Nazi party
You thought those days were dead and gone
You thought you’d never vote for one

credits

from Thru The Nite, released July 24, 2017
Henry Ireland: Words, vocals, guitar
Emma Rayner: Drums
Olly Watson: Bass

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polite records UK

polite records was founded in 2005. It is not an example of the best of anything. it is just a catalogue of the projects of, or connected with, the three people who run it: phil dodd, henry ireland and olly watson. if you are looking for a label, we suggest that you start your own. it is easy and you can get in touch and ask us for tips if you want. ... more

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