Ten Tonnes: 'Dancing, Alone' track by track

Interview Ten Tonnes discusses the story behind each song on new album ‘Dancing, Alone’

To mark the release of ‘Dancing, Alone’, Ten Tonnes shares the ideas and writing processes behind each track on his sophomore album.

Indie troubadour Ten Tonnes - aka Ethan Barnett - has undergone some significant life changes since the release of his self-titled debut album in 2019. With personal upheaval came a sonic shift, and Ethan focused his energy on pushing the boundaries of his previous work. Today, he’s shared his highly-anticipated sophomore album ‘Dancing, Alone’ - a more considered, varied, and mature LP that marks a new chapter for his career. To celebrate its release, he talks us through each of the record’s 12 tracks, sharing the inspirations, emotions, and instrumental approaches that went into every song.

Monday Morning

So here we go! The opening track and the first single I released from the album. The 80s influence is clear on this one. It was fully inspired by my love for power pop and new wave indie from that era. I thought it was a sweet concept for a song and would be the perfect album opener that didn’t feel too distant from the sound of my first record.

Heart To Break

I originally wrote all the music for this song first and then wrote the lyrics and melody afterwards. I’ve not done that before, but it was one of many ways I tried to approach the songwriting differently on this album. I love the guitar lines in this one and I think lyrically it has some great little turns.

Dancing, Alone

The title track, and I think my favourite on the whole thing. It’s a song primarily about isolation and being an outsider, and it contains lots of the overarching themes of the album. It was so exciting writing this song because it felt like a massive piece of the puzzle, and also felt like something people wouldn’t have heard from me before. I also have a big guitar solo which is always fun (it took about 30 takes)!

When It Goes

I recorded this album in batches of 4 songs at a time and this was in the last batch. I really loved recording the album that way, as it made clear what was missing sonically and musically as we went along. I knew I wanted to write a song that felt more bass/groove driven and laidback, and I really focused on counterpointing that with the vocal melodies.

Lone Star

I loved building the layers of guitars around the vocals on this one. Production wise, I was inspired by Joe Meek’s productions of the 50s and 60s, especially on the lead electric guitar line.

Out Of Here

I had made a little drum loop and added some sampled bongos to it, and then just kept playing the lead arpeggiated guitar line over it. It became a bit hypnotic and I liked the idea of a simple vocal refrain that continued throughout the song in that same way. I was trying to conjure some feeling of a vast, faceless city and the vibe of my favourite late 70s/early 80s records.

Drowning In The Deep End

Midway through making this record I started learning to play slide guitar and at one point I think every song had it on. I’m glad that’s not still the case. This is a song about hitting your lowest point, but reframed as an acceptance of that and an effort to reclaim your own life. It's also one of the funnest songs to play live - it properly goes!

The Joke Got Old

I had this title in my phone notes for ages and when I was in the early stages of exploring ideas it jumped out. It was exactly the tone I wanted for the record; slightly tongue in cheek and also a bit devastating.

Weight Of The World

Big shout out to Jag Jago who mixed the album, I love the snare sound on this one and how it builds to the end. Again, hopefully a different sound to what people might expect.

Come On Home

The middle eight of this song is one of my favourite moments on the whole album. It feels like a real gear shift from the rest of the song; I loved working out the interplay between the instruments and their parts in that section too.

Give It Up

The penultimate track and one last big banger before the end. This is one of my favourites and I hope people connect with it. It has some of my favourite lyrics too, and it all feels like just the right amount of heartbreaking.

Waiting For The Sun

And here we are at the end, the big finish. This one kind of all just fell out in one piece and I made the demo right then and there. I love the scope of the song and the extended instrumental section into the last verse and chorus. It’s a slower and softer song than the rest of the album and I think it really builds in a lovely way - I always knew I wanted it to be the closer of the record.

'Dancing, Alone' is out now.

Tags: Ten Tonnes, Listen, Features, Interviews

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