• Mark Mathews

The Making of track 01 - Grape Juice


The first track of the year that I am going to release and that will kick start this project of releasing a song every single month for 2017 (!) is a track called, Grape Juice! I'll get to the reason why I titled it that in a little bit, but I thought I would explain a bit about how the song came about and the recording process a little.

So, as part of this years plan, each track that I write has to be approached differently from the usual way in which I've become used to writing songs, which was essentially sitting down with a guitar, finding some chords and a melody and building from there.

With, Grape Juice, I wanted to write a song from a bass line as my starting point as it was something I had never attempted before. I recall, quite a few years back, when Stereophonics released the song (and possibly their biggest hit) Dakota. When Kelly Jones was interviewed about the song he stated that he had decided to start writing songs for the album on a bass guitar, which is where and how Dakota was born.

I wasn't necessarily interested in making a song sounding like Dakota (not that I don't like the tune, I think it's great!) but I liked the idea of creating a song from a bass line. It would be a challenge for sure, but one I was pretty certain I could pull off.

Sitting at my bass guitar it was not that difficult finding a bass line I wanted and that I liked. I've always enjoyed playing the bass and often seen it as quite a dignified part of any band or song, as weird as that sounds!The bass almost holds it all together (Don't get angry here Drummers!). My songs are all about groove and rhythm and swing and the bass guitar, therefore, is integral.

The tricky part was how to work this into a song. Normally, with writing on the guitar I get a melody line that feeds into lyrics and then everything follows naturally after that. The bass line I had was quite funky and I needed something to latch onto, which was where I figured the best step would be to get the bass' old partner in crime involved - The Drums.

Creating drum tracks and beats is again a pretty new thing. I used the Logic X drum loops and slowly and steadily slaved over it, adapting each beat and creating a drum track that I thought was pretty good.

I played the bass line over it and it just didn't work. Sigh. Good drum track though, I tell ya!

So, back to the drawing board. I went back to the bass guitar and played the riff over and over trying to imagine what it would work with. I started feeling what this bass line reminded me off - The Baggy era. It had a Black Grape/Happy Mondays vibe and so I started thinking about that sort of drumming - Reni from The Stone Roses being a key reference.

My second attempt was not only quicker than the first, it was miles better - Well it actually worked this time round! From this point the song then just worked through me. I had done the hard work and the rest just came together with an ease and low effort.

The tune sounded awesome and pretty different to anything I'd done before, owing to the new approaches I was taking. However, there were no lyrics as of yet. I'd normally get a feel for a song through playing the chords and humming the melody and that would set the mood, but with this I was kind of engrossed in the music and it's production. What the hell was this tune all about? What was it I was going to say?

Fuck all, I thought. I was going to wing it.

Lyrics are something that get crafted and thought out and that have some sense of story to them. But that was the old way. This time was going to be different. I set up the microphone in my little home studio ready to record and then I left the house. My plan was to record the first things that came to me, but I had a feeling they would be too contrived stone cold sober. So, I went on the piss for a little bit (It was a top nigh BTW) and then when I came back a little lubricated I hit record and spat out the first things that came to my mind.

It was done in one take and then I went and passed out.

Below are the lyrics I scrawled down the following day with a few minor changes.

In the morning I listened back and with the exception of a few odd words that didn't work with the timing of the melody, the whole lot stayed the same. I mean, it is nonsense in many ways, but it also can make some sense in a Noel Gallagher sort of stylee I think! I love how free it sounds and how it does make you listen in and take note. This was my reason that I decided that this simply had to be the first release, to get people asking 'WTF?!'.

Actually, I say that all the lyrics were made up on the spot,but truthfully there was one bit that I actually came up with on my way back home that night and that was the title, which I sing at the end of each chorus - Grape Juice. I was thinking how much the song reminded me of a Black Grape tune and thought I should reference that in someway. The name Grape Juice came to mind and I thought, 'Yep, that'll do'!

Other than that, it was all nonsense shouted on the spot from me brain box! It's quite funny because the original demo recording with that drunken vocal actually has me sputtering and saying something weird at the start before I start laughing. That part was cut from the actual recording of the record as it was a little contrived to do it sober I thought. Shame though, as it made me laugh...clearly!

Are you looking forward to hearing the new track? Let me know in the comments below!

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