Singled Out: Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas' Noondrunk
Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas recently released "Noondrunk", their second single of 2020, and to celebrate we asked Ben to tell us about the track. Here is the story:
It's pretty obvious what this song is about but just in case it's not, it's about enjoying the sauce a little too much, a little too early in the day.
This is actually the second version of "Noondrunk." We played the first version live in the set for a run of shows, certainly long enough for that version to become second nature. We loved playing version 1 but always felt that it had more gears and so we decided to rework it.
The intro is a crucial part of the song and we wanted to establish a really strong rhythm section from the outset. The opening riff, now a bass hook, was originally a guitar part in the first version. There are a few sonic motifs in the song but this is the chief one.
We worked with Bruce Thomas for our single "The Reveal" in 2018 and we were really inspired by those dynamic, articulate, walking baselines that he is famous for. Bass always features as a lead instrument on our songs but with this track we wanted to make it even more prominent. So, in many ways, this was inspired by Bruce.
The drums were cut in three takes. Our Clive loves a bit of disco and he always squeezes it in wherever he can and you really feel it on this track, particularly on the chorus. Although, if it is disco, then it's the darkest party in town.
When you open a number with that much energy you need to create another ceiling. You're already at full tilt and you run the risk of leaving yourself with nowhere else to go and some very careful arrangement was required.
Once we had the drums and bass down we were after some sparkle to go with what was becoming an altogether guttural rhythm section. We were so lucky to get Mike Webster of Asylums and Baddies in to cut an additional guitar part.
Mike has a tremolo effect that we'd seen him use live a few times and we wanted him to do something like that. With any guest contributor there is always that: "what sort of thing do you want?" which is invariably met with "just do whatever you feel." We did, of course, gently nudge him towards the trem.'
In truth we thought it would end up being be a more subtle, high-end thing but he made it absolutely blistering. It just soars.
Mr Billy Ritchie plays keys on this track and as usual he brings wonderful body and a sort of "icing" to it that you really catch in the chorus. His playing always shimmers.
I wanted the lyrics and the vocal delivery to be manic and machine gun-like in the verses and then a desperate lament and plea in the choruses, a high followed by a come-down. It all reflects drunkenness. Andy's guitar solo was written as a drunken stumble and certainly the effect used adds to that quality. The part itself is jarring and even counter-intuitive but the beauty of it is that you get that clumsy feeling of being inebriated but it also really works as a melodic, albeit wonky, guitar break.
What was becoming more and more clear throughout the recording process was that there was an awful lot there. On top of all of the instrumentation the lyrics and vocals are busy, too.
Having too much is a good problem to have at that stage but we found that when we were pruning and at the point where you'd use all of your discipline and taste to accept the jettisoning of certain parts, to drop what needed to be dropped, that we'd end up really missing parts that were no longer there. So we leaned in to it. We were determined to have it all in and make a real tour de force if we could.
The real challenge of this song was going to be getting everything to sit together. It was recorded, produced and mixed by Adie Hardy at Unit 2 Studios in West London. The mixing session was a marathon and it actually got quite heated at some points.
We've worked with Adie extensively and he always delivers. We knew that the tension was simply born out of everyone wanting it to be as good as it could possibly be coupled with the frustration of having to go right through the mill to get there. We certainly didn't make it easy for him, or ourselves but that's why "Noondrunk" is such a satisfying pay-off: because it was not easy. There's so much varied character in the song but what we love is that it's one moving, breathing unit- a single entity.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the group here
Singled Out: Ben Wood & The Bad Ideas' Lead Me On