Pigfly - Artwork: Eva Krusche
You may have noticed that this painting is used for the cover of the album. A decision not taken by us but by Eva, or at least if I remember correctly she made 2 versions, 2 suggestions for the cover and we were all in agreement with this one.
It’s interesting because the title of the album for some time was going to be ‘Pigfly’ - so perhaps somehow, Pigfly is somehow the ‘subconscious’ title.
The song itself had two separate ideas, or starting points that somehow came together. One was a lyric idea and the other an idea based around a technique, or musical theory approach.
I used to live a little out of town (but not too far, a 45 minute cycle to the centre) and there was a stretch of track as part of my route that ran directly next to the train line. One day as I was cycling back and as a train sped along the track, I saw a small dog running frantically after the train. He / she was chasing it. It looked very funny and when I got home I made a note in my lyric book.
“Saw a dog chasing a train. And my did the dog run fast!” That was all.
The musical idea was that I always wanted to try writing a song with only one chord and instead of changing the harmony for interest, rather use riffs, or melodic ideas. It’s something until then I hadn’t played with much. Often there can be a lot of harmonic complexity within the music, even if it’s not noticeable when listening.
So I tried to make something based around a D5 chord, basically a two note chord with only D and A, usually in harmony there would a 3rd note, either a major or minor 3rd so D, Fsharp, A (D Major) or D F A (D Minor). A 5 chord (D5 in this case) gives more ambiguity as it’s not clear if it’s major or minor as the piece of evidence required to tell is missing.
I also tuned the lowest guitar string down from E to D for effect. And for that reason I wrote the Brass Boys Interlude that you may have heard live. A short (and tricky) little duet for the Brass Boys that gives me just enough time to retune the guitar after Pigflying…
Then there is combining of ‘groove riffs’ that interlock together to form a base for the vocals, which take on a sing song rap sort of style (a technique used often by the bands Cake and Red Hot Chili Peppers) and then there is a climbing unison section. That means everybody plays the same thing, although perhaps in different octaves (octaves being the same note but higher or lower, like when a man and a women sing the same tune, the natural effect is that they sing an octave apart, the man lower, the woman higher).
Phew, perhaps that is enough Music Theory for now!
So in developing the lyrics, I added something I saw not in reality, but in my imagination and it is something of a word painting around the theme of ‘Pigs will fly’ which in England is a term used to drive home the thought or belief that something will never happen. For instance:
“Do you think I’ll ever get my money back from Old Stingey Pete?”
“When pigs fly! He owes me a tenner too! Oooh the little rascal!”
This lyrical line is repeated throughout the song as a sort of mantra and then comes the section where I fail to write a song with only one chord, because a middle 8 appears with an extra 4 chords thrown in and this is where different lyrics appear and these are the words that inspired Eva to make the painting.
So I hope you enjoy this fascinating painting on the day of the album release.
And even though Art is almost something of an illusion, and perhaps it’s all in our heads, maybe that’s not a bad thing at all.
Saw a dog chasing a train, and boy did the dog run fast,
Saw a pig jump from a cliff, and man did the pig fly yeah
We’re all Monkey’s in this cage
Chattering with a mortal rage,
Denial will make you feel good,
We deny we deny we deny with our head in the sand
All these things are in our heads,
Maybe just an illusion
Was it real or in our heads?
Maybe just an illusion
Ian Chapman: vocals, guitars, ukulele
Dine Doneff: drums, vocals, e-bass
Carles Camós: piano
Sandra Hollstein: accordeon
Martin Habersetzer: tuba
Julian Hesse: trumpet
Just John Jones: vocals
Eileen Byrne: vocals
Producer: Dine Doneff
Music, Lyrics & Arrangement: Ian Chapman