Features Track By Track: Everything Everything - Arc

Jonathan Higgs talks us through each track on their new album.

Everything Everything are an ostensibly lyrical band; if you just studied the words, there's enough poetry in their tracks to allow you to delve a bit deeper to find the meaning, without spelling out the subject matter. And that use of language is a big part of makes the Manchester band so bloody interesting, as well as earning them the 'intellectual band' tag. New album, 'Arc', may be more accessible than their debut 'Man Alive', but there's plenty of lyrics to chew over. And who better to delve deeper into the words than the man who wrote them? Frontman Jonathan Higgs talks us through each track, and explains the meaning behind each song.

Cough Cough
'Sold your liver but you still feel in the red.'

I was inspired about a story I read, about a Chinese boy who sold his kidney in order to get an iPad. And I thought selling your liver, obviously you'd die. And still feel in the red, well, everyone's feeling in the red because there's no money, and then obviously there's the blood reference. And that's the first line of 'Arc'.

'Four walls and a cauldron of Kalashnikoving,

and our home is a trigger that I'm always pulling.'

I thought 'Kalashnikoving' sounded like the ultimate fighting word, so I just made it up. Because it has Kalashnikov in it, which is obviously an AK, and then a cauldron makes it sound like a melting pot of war. And I quite liked that I'd made up a word. And I was in a garden shed, so whatever!

Torso Of The Week
'Girl you been hitting that treadmill, like a freak

and maybe you're not, quite the torso, of the week.'

I spent quite a lot of time in the gym for that year when we weren't in a band, and I was kind of inspired by the night time people working out, expressionless faces and the darkness outside. And the fact that they were humans, doing this very human thing, but in an artificial environment. It just made me think about how weird that is, that you've got to go somewhere to run now, because we don't use our bodies. And how that was kind of sad. It's a classic second album, now we've introduced to the seedy underworld, some of it's dark and some of it's good. And about balancing your life, don't look back; woman struggling on and keep her babies, still be young and go to the gym. A lament for the working woman, as it were.

'Do you feel left behind? Like there’s something not right?

I don’t think I’ve been connected,

but of all the dead volcanoes on earth,

you just happen to retch and roll through mine.'

That's a kind of prosaic way of welcoming someone into a song about being unsatisfied with everything.

Choice Mountain
'Trying to leave my ocean home,

I'm trying to leave my ocean, though I don't know nothing of the swamp.'

That's about depression and trying to make something of yourself even though you feel like you're not going to, you're never going to. And because all creatures look the same when they're an embryo, and then they change into whatever they're going to be, I like that potential story. One of those guys who never goes anywhere, I could be this, I could be that, I “could be the dolphin of your dreams”. It's supposed to sound like an advert.

Feet For Hands
'And the faces of my family fade,

now as featureless, as an orange as an orange to me.'

That's a song about that policeman that Raoul Moat shot and blinded, and putting myself in his position as it were, towards the end of his life. I read this big long interview with him, about how he couldn't remember what his family looked like anymore, they were as featureless as an orange to him now, and I thought that was strangely poetic. Even though that's a terrible terrible thing to say. And a terrible thing to have happened. Unpoetic. It just struck me.

'First boy, I think you should know,

if you try hard then you might get a part as a

doe-eyed, impressionist mime,

bare as the lives of the footballer's wives.'

This is a vitriolic attack on the commercial side of our business again, the way you could fall into being surrounded by 'yes' men and women, and the X Factor culture, that if you pretend you're something, you'll get there.

And there's a bit where there's a billionaire and the mob have got him, and they're going to get him, hang drawn and quarter him, pull his intestines out and hang him over the bridge. There's a bit in the third Batman film, where the mob takes over and they have a kangaroo court where they sentence everyone to death. And it's kind of thing, it's kind of bubbling at the moment, with the bankers, that kind of feeling. I like painting the idea of that happening. Quite aggressive mob mentality. Like the birth of the Nazis, everyone's in a shit state, so someone starts saying firey things.

The riots definitely effected the record as a whole, it comes out in the lyrics, that feeling of bubbling tension, discontent, malcontent, everybody not really knowing what to do. There's going to be another seven years of it, and the sweet portion of my life is going to be during a kind of shit time, during the recession. I think everyone's a bit angry about that.

'Man in grey,

He's strapped in and he's upside down,

The wreckage of a limo, crying

'Oh I've really done it now!'

I've really done it now.'

That comes at the tail end of something, in a car crash, just the sort of scene that I like; the rich powerful man in trouble.

'The street is a boneyard she glances,

numb as a drain at the end end.'

That's about being in a crumbling society, and trying to hold on to the person you love and protect them from it. Keep them okay. Make it all okay. Essentially.

The House Is Dust.
'You take the family I take the car

and the house is dust.'

That's a song in two parts. One is divorce, which was happening around us in one way or another, and also a simple desire people have, I certainly have, of wanting to know where the human race is going. That comes at the end of that very personal bit. It is small fry really. It's a call of “don't you want something else out of this life”, and then a bit at the end where it's “I wish I was still around when all this ends”.

'I'm staring through the telescope hungry

I'm staring through the telescope at all I know.'

I wanted it to be about a hunger for knowledge, but the more I see it, the more I think people think I'm just hungry. It's supposed be about the search for science, the search for answers, scientifically, and the frustration of what next? Then what do we do? And then there's a chorus of “And I see, a Geiger counter, and I see, a Richter scale!” and it's how you can't control the natural world, we can measure it, but we can't do anything about it. Being very uptight and being scientific about it, actually all we've got is the Sun and having children. Don't bother with all that measuring shit.

The Peaks
'So they came one by one, there was never any warning,

Bled out the stuck pig fields like it was gonna last, long,

And I saw the whole rise, I saw the whole thing fall, down,

And all flesh spun, a lattice of it reaching out.'

That takes place at the end of mankind, and weighing up whether we did more good than bad.

Don't Try
'Don't try to hide it, no...

Don't try.'

That's me, talking to a younger me, saying don't bother trying to be British about everything, there's not enough time. There's enough worry in the world. It'll all be alright.

Everything Everything's new album 'Arc' will be released on 14th January via RCA.

Get your copy of the latest issue

More like this

Mind Games: Everything Everything

Mind Games: Everything Everything

Since 2010 debut ‘Man Alive’, Everything Everything have become masters of the intricate and the odd. And fifth album ‘Re-Animator’ is their most uninhibited record yet.