Seatbelts are a band from Liverpool, comprised of James Madden, Ryan Murphy, Abigail Woods and Alex Quinn. James and Ryan – known for their work in Hooton Tennis Club – wanted an alternate name for The Beatles, and while jumbling the letters around over a drunken phone call Seatbelts poured forth.
The backbone of Please Slow Down was recorded at Parr St. Studios and was co-produced and mixed by Chris Taylor (Bill Ryder-Jones, Our Girl, The Coral). The result is an intricately layered EP with richness and weight. This new set of songs possess a more robust, full-band sound than Seatbelts’ previous releases, providing a detailed and vibrant listening experience. Lyrically, Please Slow Down seems to be concerned with the trappings of our capitalist society. James Madden (vocals/guitars) comments:
“The EP was written at a time when we felt overwhelmed, overworked, and over-tired. Mark Fisher’s writings came to the rescue. His work contextualises the problems with our capitalist system – cries out for an alternative. Many attempts to slow things down were undertaken last summer (2018), from watching Francios Trauffaut’s filmography late into the evenings, to listening to a Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue every morning in the shower.”
Seatbelts have provided a track by track run through of each song; detailing the inspiration for each, the writing process, the content and its context.
This song started off, like most of our songs to date, set to a drum machine. So rhythmically it was initially pretty kraut-y. We then formed a band and developed a poppier structure for the track. We went with a male-female vocal arrangement, which dances from English to Spanish, helping to tell of the relationships formed between people and place. It follows the conversation between two lovers reminiscing about their experiences of Spain. The line, “Even if I’m not there, I am me and you are here,” is about disconnection and how you can still love someone at a distance. How it is sometimes healthy to have long absences. In the final part of the song, the two lovers and the two languages overlap. They then cut out to make way for the cornet lines, which ‘hum’ the melody of the song. Our press people called it a gonzo-snapshot of a way of life; an ode to the idea of a country – James Madden.
This Is How We Do Things
This one was written years ago, back when I used to live in the ‘Garlic Mansion’ (an eight-bed house share in Liverpool). My friend Tom put a Stooges style saxophone line on the original demo, which I liked a lot. I played it out continuously and one of my flatmates complained: “please stop listening to that same song!” Musically, I was inspired by how J. J. Cale keeps his instrumentation rolling on, and lyrically it turned into a thing about Capitalism, which seems to be a theme running through ‘Please Slow Down’. It’s supposed to be written from the perspective of the big top cat in his ivory tower, spending tax payer’s money and rubbing it their faces. – Ryan Murphy.
This song is about trying to dig yourself out of a technological (metaphorical) hole. A man tries to convince his lover that leaving the city to take a trip somewhere will help lift her from the doldrums. On his knees, in a fit of desperation, he then begs to be taken out from the rush. It’s a song about how I think art is being intensely affected by attention span and instant gratification culture, through ‘content’ providing and social media. Our minds and day-to-day activities are being continually guided by the gods at Silicon Valley. The male character in the song is anticipating the ‘content crush’ each morning and living through it until he next sleeps. He craves stability in a world lost to rapid transactions and the ‘now’ – James Madden.
The lyrical themes are about how Capitalism can destroy an individual; their ideas, their lifestyle, their ‘cool’ etc. The song addresses a sadness for how people around you change and are shaped by a system, but how we can still gain strength and be creative from that ugliness. The initial spoken word assault of advertisement slander represents our daily mind enslaving of these ‘new gods’ (as the verse line goes). In the song’s climax, Abi’s dreamlike Nancy-meets-Nico vocal begins to surrender to capitalism, addressing the disdain of a unsatisfied individual in a system they have reached the pinnacle of. The song title came from a question that Abi and I joked about one day at work, “Do you have a Capitalist confession?”. Embarrassed, Abi responded, “a white Porsche Carrera convertible”, and I followed up sinfully, “Apple Macbook Pro.” I am fortunate enough to have recently had my confession granted. Unfortunately, Abi still drives a Fiat Punto. – James Madden.