Singled Out: Wang Chung

Today Wang Chung frontman and founder Jack Hues tells us about their new single "Stargazing" which comes from their new studio album "Tazer Up!" Here is the story:

I wrote the first version of Stargazing after I moved out of London. I had been living in Hampstead which used to be a little village on the way out of London - we're talking 1820 here! It still retains a "villagy" appearance, but it is no more a village than Greenwich in NYC. I moved with my family to an old farmhouse in the the South-East of England, surrounded by an acre of beautiful garden and then fields beyond - no neighbours, no light pollution - well, considerably less light pollution than Hampstead. I bought a reflector telescope in a second-hand shop and on clear evenings I would set it up in the garden and look at the stars and encourage my kids to come out and look. It was particularly good for looking at the moon where you could see, in great detail, the craters and the vast plains and "seas" - never did find Tranqulity Base though.... At that close range you could see the moon's surface drifting past the lens as the Earth turned on its axis - you could really feel the movement.

So the lyrics obviously derived from that experience and I rewrote the verses in 2010 so they would resonate more clearly with our current concerns. The music is an hommage to Pink Floyd, who do the Interstellar thing better than anyone before or since, and I deliberately sang the chorus in that quiet double-track way that Dave Gilmour uses on Dark Side of the Moon. I wanted to write a song where the instruments would play separate, defined parts that would interlock and leave a lot of space between them - like the night sky. You would hear the parts separately then they would all gradually play together in layers through the outro. So this was always going to be a long song in order to expose everything individually, then play it all together. Plus the scale of the subject, we thought, requires a big canvas.

So... first there is a "twinkly" introduction as we fade up on the night sky. Then there is the drum part - very stark and open, the guitar in drop-D tuning playing the short riff and the bass playing the downbeat every 2 bars - very simple. When the chorus comes in, the chords start to change and the keyboard enters with a sound that weaves everything together, like standing back and looking at the whole sky instead of focusing on individual stars. My original demo used a drum loop from a DJ Shadow remix, but when I worked on the album version with Nick and Adam Wren (who engineered and co-produced Tazer Up!) we decided that drum loops were verboten and we came up with the giant drum box - Adam's sounds are amazing here.

We play with these ingredients in a classic intro/verse/chorus way and then get to the instrumental middle section. This introduces an arpeggio played on an old Rickenbacker 12-string. Half way through the drums go crazy. This was inspired by Tony Willams' "Some Hip Drum Sh*t" from his album "Ego" - we imitated it using drum box sounds and I remember programming it with Nick on the tour bus in 2010. Nick was great at helping to structure the long outro (we love long outros). It begins with just the keyboards, vocals (the opening line with no double track...), drums and the guitar riff from the verse; then Nick's fuzz bass comes in; then the 12-string arpeggio from the middle section; then a new backing vocal; then a new melody on slide guitar - so each repetition of the chorus brings a new interlocking ingredient, everything orbiting around the central D that plays through the entire song.

So there you have it - Stargazing is the first single from Tazer Up!, a completely mad choice as it lasts for over 7 minutes, but there is a radio edit and in this brave new internet world we figured why not have a 7 minute single and join the illustrious ranks with The Beatles' Hey Jude and Radiohead's Paranoid Android?

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself as you check out the video here. If you like what you hear and you want more, you can order the album on iTunes right here!

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