Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from Sir Bobby Jukebox (No Monster Club, Grand Pocket Orchestra, Paddy Hanna), whose debut album Friendship Gift is out now on Already Dead Tapes & Records.
His previous incarnations saw him touring basements and dive bars across the world, making a range of U.S. media appearances (WFMU, ‘Chic-a-Go-Go’, ‘The BJ Rubin Show’) and performing alongside the likes of The Polyphonic Spree, Ariel Pink, HEALTH, Jeffrey Lewis and Wavves. With ‘Friendship Gift’, the prolific songwriter is starting afresh after an unusually long hiatus, during which he turned his attentions to a best-selling history book (‘D’You Remember Yer Man?’) and a surreal stage musical (‘Trial of the Centurys’). – imro
Read/hear more stories in our archives.
Something of a companion piece to Jimmy Webb’s ‘MacArthur Park’ – a lyrically bonkers song that’s topped the charts a few times, but also manages to end up on ‘Worst Song of All Time’ lists. Pretty inspiring stuff, if you ask me.
It paints such a baffling visual image that it infiltrates my thoughts quite a bit. And I guess, in this case, it managed to infiltrate my own song about somebody that’s not very nice. Who left that cake out in the rain? What kind of cake was it? Was it accidental or intentional? Why would anybody do something like that?
Do what you gotta do to make your dreams come true, and say what you gotta say to keep the pricks at bay.
Almost exactly a decade ago, the very first No Monster Club single sampled a hit song from 1966. That same song is sampled at the beginning of this song. You know what? I’ll send a free copy of the tape to the first person to tweet me (@SirBobbyJukebox) with the name of this song.
Listening to this now, I realise that it probably should’ve been the first track of the album. It fades in nicely, and the lyrics are about the excitement of going to record an album with a blank canvas. I mean, duh.
The title comes from a restaurant in Dublin that I’ve never been to [choice Google review: “Absolutely disgusting. Dirty, under cook. Old dry food. I can’t stress how horrible of an experience eating here was. How this place is legally allowed to stay open I have no idea.”]
Coincidentally, this restaurant is also directly opposite the venue where No Monster Club played our last club show to date.
Whatever could it all mean?!
“…Here’s spring come, and the nights one makes up bands
To roam the town and sing out carnival,
And I’ve been three weeks shut within my mew,
A-painting for the great man, saints and saints
And saints again. I could not paint all night—
Ouf! I leaned out of window for fresh air.
There came a hurry of feet and little feet,
A sweep of lute strings, laughs, and whifts of song…”
– Robert Browning
My instinct has always been to produce short songs, from fifteen seconds to probably an average of two minutes long. It’s not like we’ve to pay per inch of tape that we use anymore. And we’ve none of the phonograph-based limits that led to the three-minute song either…
So on this album, I decided to shake off the imaginary shackles and loosen things up a bit – which is how I ended up with this miniature package-holiday that can only be described as a jam. It’s a simplistic ditty about hitting the dancefloor early enough in the night that the DJ might still be playing ABBA and The Four Seasons – and before that cursed time when it’s just ham-after-ham from Michael Jackson or Maroon 5 or whoever.
At this point on the album, this is the longest song that I’ve ever released, but – SPOILER ALERT – it won’t be holding this record for very long…
I’ve always been fascinated by maps, but I’ve also always been weirded out by the random squiggles across them (I guess they’re called “borders”?) – especially over the past few years, as my life has become more and more dictated by visas and forms and bureaucratic red tape.
It’s incomprehensible to me that we’ve been mysteriously placed on a planet for a short, indeterminate amount of time… yet you’re essentially forbidden from venturing an arbitrary distance from wherever you were born.
And despite the world having shrunk due to advancements in transport/technology, partnering with somebody from outside of your parish is strongly discouraged. It’s just bizarre, but I’m pretty certain it’s only because old schmucks are still bossing us about. Hence “We don’t care where we came from/The only map that matters says You Are Here”.
A few years ago – outside and before a No Monster Club show in Kildare – Mark, Paddy and I enjoyed a whirlwind friendship with a fascinating man that called himself ‘Pedro Gonzalez’. According to him, he was once a “superstar” and he told us a number of half-remembered, potentially false yarns about him and his famous friends like Paul Simon and George Best.
We later found out that there was actually a 50s character actor by the name of Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, from whom our Pedro must have taken his nickname (it definitely wasn’t the same guy).
Long story short, this song is like that movie ‘The Hours’, except with me and the two Pedro Gonzalezes instead of Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep.
Sorry, ‘You Only Dance’! As well as being the longest song that I’ve ever written, this may also be the song that I’m proudest of and that I personally enjoy listening to the most. Probably because I feel almost entirely removed from it.
The protagonist (not me, as I’m far too savvy to be swindled by a tuk-tuk driver) narrates a strange day spent at the beach, during which they have a strange existential crisis. In between the verses, there are a bunch of instrumental passages when their story gets interrupted, time passes and mysterious off-screen stuff happens.
An extremely visual song – in my opinion – that’s best listened to on headphones, eyes closed, in the sun. Fiachra McCarthy, who mixed the album, really knocked it out of the park on this one… I think he had to chisel this one out of something like 70 or 80 individual tracks.
Beware the divil.
I spent many of my formative years in the Scouts. It was a great time, and this one is obviously a nod to the scouting chant ‘Everywhere We Go’. It’s also a satire of blind nationalism (revisiting a topic touched upon earlier).
I love maps and I love flags, but c’mon like.
I found a file on an old hard drive called “carrottime.wav”. It was just drums and bass and it ended up being the skeleton of this one. I lived in Brisbane for the last year, where there is never silence because there are literally dozens of nearby birds yelping at any one time.
Here are some things that some of the birds outside our apartment sound like:
– the intro to ‘Sketch’ by Tieranniesaur
– the electricity tripping out
– gibbons on nitrous oxide
– a handyman whistling G#-G#-F every ten seconds
– a smoke alarm running out of batteries
– a clown getting run over
– those groaning neon tubes from the 90s
An anti-capitalist rant set on a Thursday evening, promoting suncream, antihistamines and my debut album ‘Friendship Gift’ – out now at sirbobbyjukebox.bandcamp.com
I started writing the lyrics while listening to the instrumental track on loop as I spent a lovely sunny day wandering around Montjuïc (and hitting the Joan Miró museum) in Barcelona. It later came to be set in Paris.
Piano-wise, I gotta say I really dig the contrast between the unnerving horror movie chase music and the cathartic, almost ABBA-esque piano line. Good juxtaposing, me.
Ordinarily, I would never write a song with lyrics like this – but this was specifically written to send to Ireland’s national broadcaster in the hope that they’d choose it to represent Ireland in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Like everything that I do, it was shunned and rejected.
Despite the fact that this was an exercise in insincerity, it ended up possessing a candid magic that completely took me by surprise – like psychography or something. And although I intentionally wrote the lyrics to be as universal/vague as possible, it’s still wild to me how appropriate it sounds right now in particular. It really sounds like a cheesy lockdown anthem about how everyone’s gasping for a pint, which is something that I wouldn’t be able to write if I tried: “At the end of the day/When the war is won/We’ll be allowed to play/And we’ll all have so much fun”.
Instead of going to the Eurovision, ‘World Peace’ ended up in the stage musical ‘Trial of the Centurys’ – in which it’s a hit song by popstar twins Trelliot. Although my own rendition pales in comparison to their rousing version, it strikes the perfect note to end this record on. This is also the only song on the album on which I didn’t play all of the instruments. Tim Falcon Prime bashed a snare in a militant fashion, and Eoin McQuaid parped a trumpet in a similar way.
And thus ends the first friendship gift of Sir Bobby Jukebox. Thanks for listening!