Singled Out: Cellophane Flowers
Some songs arrive fully formed, this one came together like a jigsaw puzzle. I was messing around on the keyboard and came up with what is now the guitar riff that opens the song. Fra started strumming on the acoustic. We tried to give it a disco feel, but we just couldn't get it to work and we almost left it behind right then. But I got sacked from the keyboards (yet again…) and played tremolo guitar along to the acoustic and a whiskey rhythm and we got a really good vibe going, kind of David Lynch meets Chris Isaak, with Fra scatting these short, punctuated nonsense verses over the top. We sometimes play a live acoustic version that sounds a bit like that.
At this stage, it had slowed down to about half the speed it is now. That's when the chorus was written – it took about two weeks to convince Fra to sing it because it was really poppy, which was somewhat at odds with the rest of the song at this stage.
Because of the vibe, it needed some sleazy dark lyrics. Sex, booze and gambling. The news was full of the latest corruption, banking or political scandal tearing the UK falling apart (OK, it could have been any day in any country over the last five years), so the theme emerged of the powers that be gambling with our futures – they win and we lose, we lose and they win.
Fra's scatting lent itself to writing some really dark and punchy words, the story kind of wrote itself even though we ended up losing half the singing and half the story in the verses to keep it sparse – the remnants of the original verse are still there in the third verse with that ghostly refrain that Fra does.
It then became obvious that we needed to make this a driving song again, who wants to relax while being screwed over? So Nick and Luca sped it up and came up with that great driving rhythm. It still had something missing, but there was enough of something there to take it onto the recording studio where we'd already started work on the album. This was the only track we took in unfinished and was the most fun to record, we were still creating as we lay it down and we had no idea if it would make the cut or not. We ended up not using about five tracks that were recorded.
We played it to Dave Allen, our producer, he recorded a rough take and two minutes later added that sequencer keyboard sound. It instantly came together and is now probably the most natural sounding song on the album. And now everyone is saying it's a homage to Siouxsie - it's a homage to Lynch!
The Promise is one of our favourite live tracks, even bigger and louder, and it's actually the only one we play to a click so we can get the sequencer going.