||Upon the release of a new album,
the Pet Shop Boys usually take time to explain in
Literally Something of the songs' genesis. The release of
Disco 3 is no exception. Time on my hands Neil: "Time on
my hands" was done right at the beginning of writing for
Release, round about the same time as "Home and dry".
Actually Parlophone were very keen on this track but we
didn't think it fitted in with Release and one of the band
wasn't that keen on it.
Whereas the other member of the
band was. It doesn't sound substantially different from
the demo, though we remixed it and Chris did some more
Chris: Not much, though.
It's my favourite track on the album. There is a sample
from a Mahier symphony, but I can't remember which one.
Sometimes we just play another record over something to
see what it sounds like, and I had this album of Mahier
adagios, slow movements from symphonies, so we put that on
and a bit of that sounded good, so we sampled a few bars
and repeated it. It gives it that very eerie quality. It's
a song, which fits very well into the Pet Shop Boys work
because it's about being bored.
is the right word to use. The Pet Shop Boys canon.
Neil: It's a song about being bored: "it's very nice but
it's not what I'm used to - time on my hands". In fact in
my notebook I had two different titles: "Time on my hands"
and "It's very nice but it's not what I'm used to", which
obviously we'd thought of at some silly moment, and so I
just put them together.
Chris: What do you do when
you have time on your hands? I can only think of one
thing. Watch the television.
Neil: "70, 80, 90..."
is Chris's. It's meant to be the Millennium.
It's one of my inimitable vocals.
Neil: I read in a
review that we'd jumped on the electro clash bandwagon
with this track. I'd just like to point out that it was
done at the end of 2000, 50 this predates us jumping on
the electro clash bandwagon.
Positive role model
Neil: When we were going to put out greatest hits in
Chris: The last time.
Neil: . .
.we had this idea. It was at the end of Nightlife, when we
did "Happiness is an option" and "Somebody else's
business". We did three songs that sampled things:
"Happiness is an option" samples that Rachmaninov thing,
"Somebody else's business" started by sampled the Isley
Brothers, though it got taken out, and this was Barry
White, "You're The First, The Last, My Everything".
Chris: I'm always listening to Barry White The
Collection. It's a must have, really. Also, we always
liked that Tamperer record.
Neil: We recorded it
with Chris Zippel over two visits, but then we decided not
to put out a greatest hits that year. It originally had a
different bit in it, and that was the version we performed
live at Glastonbury. It's a satire about rehab, about
people going into the Priory and coming out and going
straight back on drink and drugs. Hence the "back on
everything" thing, though "Back on everything" was also a
separate song title I had. It was a spoof on that whole
culture of famous people saying "I think it's really
important to be a positive role model for kids", which
kind of makes you want to throw up a bit. Then it ended up
in Closer to Heaven - it was supposed to be a song that
Straight Dave had written so I rewrote the words. I always
Thought that it didn't seem to make any sense in Closer to
Heaven but no one seemed to care because it sounded right
and gave it a finale. This is the original lyric.
it (I'm in love with a married man)
always like this song. It's a song written by Bobby 0 in,
I think, 1983 and it was recorded by a group he had called
Oh Romeo which was some session singers. I think it came
out just when we got to know Bobby 0 and we always really
loved this record. By his standards it wasn't at all
successful but we always remembered it. We had actually
suggested to Tina Turner she should record it when we
recorded with her in the mid-Nineties. She wanted to do a
big stopper but we didn't have one so we suggested this. I
still think it would have been a hit with her singing it
but she didn't like it.
Chris: I love this song.
And sung by a man it's extremely risqué'. I just love that
line: "do you think about me, darling, when you make love
to your wife?" How good is that? And also "the world
doesn't understand my affair with a married man".
Neil: I remember the first time I heard it I was quite
shocked by that line.
Chris: It's got all the
Neil: It's a very good lyric - even sung
by a woman it's very, very daring. It's kind of like a
country song. You could imagine Tammy Wynette singing it.
For our version we couldn't work out what the words in the
middle bit were so I've sort of made them up. I love the
it. What's interesting about electro clash is
that it's brought back the octave baseline.
It's brought back lots. It's brought back cowbells, Linn
drums, tom fills - all the things we like. All sorts of
things that have been expelled from the face of the earth
for nearly two decades
London (Thee Radical BlaMite
Neil: We met Felix Da Housecat when we were
in Denver on tour. We wanted him to remix a
Song for us
and we knew this was coming up as a single so we asked him
to remix this. He's taken a sample of my voice and he's
made a different record really. For the CD we edited it
down because it was quite long.
Chris: It's very
Eighties sounding, which is good. It sounded so different
to anything else on the album that Tim who mastered our
albums did a very good job making it sound part of the
Somebody else's business
This was written in 1999 but it didn't have a verse, and
the first time we worked with Chris Zippel in Berlin in
2000 we wrote the verse there. It's about a placid man
dealing with his angry girlfriend. It's saying that she's
great really, because at least she's not boring. I've
always thought this was very catchy. Chris Zippel had a
lot of computer plug-ins - what a lot of people call,
rather annoying in my opinion, "the Cher effect". I want
to know whether people say that to Madonna when they're
listening to "Music":
"oh, that flaming 'Cher effect'
again, Madge". I love the bit in the second verse where
the car drives off.
Chris: We hadn't done that in a
while. I remember writing it, taking the Isley Brothers
sample, just the first two chords of "Behind A Painted
Smile". I would always leave them in but Neil would always
rather take them out.
Neil: It also samples "Love
comes quickly". We took it off Discography. It might have
been Chris Zippel's idea, or I might have been starting to
sing "oooh"s and said, "these sound like 'Love comes
quickly' - why don't we just sample them?"
B new extended mix)
Neil: Since we first did "Here"
Chris said he could imagine a remix of it.
The version on the album was sort of day one of recording.
It just seemed like you could dance it up a bit. This will
be the last house-y trance-y thing we ever do'. [laughs]
Because we now hate house music. And we'll never do
Trance ever again. The future is clear. The filature is
Neil: Or' specifically, 1981 is the filature.
On the vinyl version, on what we call the dub, there's a
new keyboard riff we came up with which just goes all the
If looks could kill
Chris: This was
started at Ray Roberts' studio...
Neil: . . .in about
1983. About the same time as "Rent" and what-have-you.
Chris: It was jam.
Neil: I was singing with the
microphone and playing the echo unit and shrieking very
loudly and Chris was...
Chris: ... I was vamping
Neil: I was playing the piano as well.
Chris: Not at the same time?
Neil: I did, Chris. I
literally picked the microphone up and walked across the
studio and do the [mimes piano part] We wrote two songs
the same day - this and "A powerful friend". We always
liked them because they were a bit bonkers - we always
felt they sounded a bit like late Soft Cell. We endlessly
talked about doing it over the years. Anyway, we dug out
the demo last year and did a version for John Peel and
then we decided to take it more electronic-y. The original
demo had no words really, apart from "if looks could
Chris: "...they probably will".
Neil: I was doing something that sounded like words but
wasn't actually, so I had to write them for the John Peel
show. It became about confronting a very bitchy person. A
very, very bitchy person who gives you those looks that
could kill. The song is saying: I don't care - you don't
scare me, love.
Sexy Northerner (Superchumbo mix)
Neil: Tom Stephan suggested remixing this track
because he liked it. He saw us in concert when we were
playing the original version.
interesting is that he's actually kept quite a bit of the
original, which is unheard of for Tom. But he's made it
deep and tribal.
Home and dry (Blank & Jones mix)
Chris: This came about because during the university
tour we did one last gig in Cologne and in the Mercedes on
the way back to the hotel they had a very good sound
system and I put the local radio station on - Neil was in
a different car, but everyone in my car said "let's face
it, we all love a bit of trance; who cares if it's not
trendy". And we turned it up fill whack and had a really
good journey back to the hotel. And after that Mitch
phoned up the radio station to find out who was the DJ,
which was Blank & Jones, and the next afternoon she was
having lunch with them and a remix was being spawned. And
this is it.
Neil: At the last moment, when we
decided to call this album Disco 3, we just thought back
to the other Disco albums, and it just seemed obvious that
this should be on as well. At this point we realised that
in doing the "Here" remix we d used the drum sounds from
Blank & Jones, and they had an identical beginning, so at
the last minute we had to go back to the cutting room and
trim off the start of "Here" because it had exactly the
same beginning, which was very finny.
(Genuine piano mix)
Neil: This was totally done by
Chris: And his pianist.
When Chris Zippel has got your stuff over there on his
computer he endlessly works on it and keeps sending
endless things over, which is actually quite nice.
Chris: It's always work in progress.
Neil: Until you
say "stop it!". Even then he carries on. He remixed
"Positive role model" for this album. For this, he got a
pianist friend in and he re-harmonised the whole song. It
reminds me a bit of Ryuichi Sakamoto: "Forbidden Colours".
He did it with the original vocal and you could hear the
microphone stuff on it and also there was one note I just
thought sounded weird against the new chords he put in, so
I sang it again. We considered making this the version on
Release; on this album it sort of functions as a chill-out
Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 2002: All Articles
Taken From Literally 2002 Issue 26