So Cow is (currently) the music project of Brian Kelly – who played all the instruments on So Cow’s latest release, Lisa Marie Airplane Tour (released on Jigsaw Records). As with any band who has survived 10 years and multiple releases – line-ups and locales have come, gone, and morphed.
Brian currently resides in the small coastal town of Spiddal, Ireland. Most of the photos I’ve found of Spiddal show show an empty, yet quaint and beautiful beach town. I can’t think if a better postcard for the discordant pop songs that make up Lisa Maria Airplane Tour.
At times he croons like early Robyn Hitchcock, other times he lets the guitar prickles take over the conversation. There are references to Batman, Cork (hey, I’ve been there!) and isolation – all of which make it a welcome addition to my winter playlist.
My favorite tracks are some of the more loud, quiet, loud ones: “Westerly Direction” and “Wait It Out.”
Enough of all this guessing about what the songs are about and where they came from. Instead of me just ruminating my vision that the songs were all written by a fella in a heavy sweater (errr… jumper?) playing with a 4-track while sitting on a cliff overlooking Galway Bay – we are lucky enough to have Brian, Mr. So Cow himself, (charmingly) share the story behind each of the songs on Lisa Marie Airplane Tour as well as AN EXCLUSIVE STREAM of the whole album.
Listen and learn (below the soundcloud listen now box)!
*What Makes A Man Start Gorse Fires*
I now live in a place called Spiddal, a pleasant coastal town. You have the sea, and then you have barren craggy landscape. It looks amazing in summer and bleak as all shit in winter. It seems that as spring and summer come around, someone will decide to start lighting fires, which inevitably spread. It’s not equivalent to, say, fires in Malibu where some actor from CSI: New York’s second home gets destroyed, or anything. It’s more that someone might be out there, up to no good, motivated by boredom. The song is for that person, and the idea that if I don’t engage enough with life, I might end up becoming them
*Asleep On A Bus*
About trying to set off and make an impact on the world, like in all those plays I’ve never watched. People usually realize after a few months that they’ve made an awful decision. I tend to realize within seconds, which is both useful and upsetting. It’s about the fact you shouldn’t have left and/or the fact you should have left sooner. It’s partly about the first time I went to the US to play shows in 2008, and the realization that I was so far out of my depth, and having to just get through it.
*Captain Of Industry*
Disquiet and unease. Sometimes it’s better if the whole house just collapses down around you instead of spending months anxious about that crack in the kitchen ceiling. I have no idea of Abba sang “Waterloo” that late into their career, by the way.
I cannot say in good conscience that this song is actually about anything in particular. I guess its about the fact I liked the music and sang nonsense lyrics over it and then got so used to the nonsense lyrics that they ended up going in. There’s someone in my life who the lyrics can describe absolutely perfectly, but that’s entirely co-incidental. I played some of these songs live with a backing track, of myself playing the drums and bass parts. This was the fun one to do in that regard.
More songs about unease. Primarily about the feeling that you have to tell someone whats on your mind. There’s no harm in just shutting up sometimes. Like, if you gave it a week. Blah blah all you want after that, of course, but every now and again its entirely healthy to just keep your mouth shut. One thing about this song though…the last verse was, in a vague way, about all the people sitting in their cars just staring out at the sea. At the seafront in Galway, Barna, Furbo…there’s always a few people who have gone there to think deeply, and it’s probably not a great scene. However, it was pointed out to me by a friend that the verse also describes, with no little detail, the activity known as dogging. A fact that now mortifies me. Unintentional, but I’ll do full interviews on the topic if needed.
There’s lots of songs that focus on it being summer, and the amount of options for fun things to do afforded by that. This is kind of along those lines, but more focused on the fact that, when faced with a huge number of fun options, the best thing to do is nothing. This ‘fear of missing out’ thing people talk about, I guess is the very exact opposite of social anxiety. Pretty much the same emotions.
This is one of those love songs people write. I’m married nearly one year, and its now impossible to write these kinds of “the excitement of a new thing” songs because I’m just not in that place. I’m in a great place, mind. But I’m not in the “I met you last Thursday and now you’re moving to Norway, oh no!” place. But I guess that’s where memories come in, right?
My favourite song on the album, if anyone’s asking. There’s a website called Adverts in Ireland where people buy and sell whatever shite they have. I’ve bought a bunch of stuff from it and end up having to meet people at the doors of pubs or at their houses or wherever. You check the product to see if it’s working, you hand over the cash. It’s never anything other than awkward. I guess it’s yet another song to be filed in the ‘Why did I bother doing that?’ column.
Only realised a few weeks after mixing was all done that this is uncomfortably close to being a Young Marble Giants song. No particular YMG song or anything, just in the air of it. Wasn’t really the intention but there you go. There’s a guitar ‘solo’ in the middle that I tried to make sound like a keyboard. I’ve completely forgotten the pedal settings for how I did that, so when the 20th Anniversary Album-In-Full concert comes around, you can presume I’ll be skipping this one. I’m not massively into Batman or anything, but it made sense when I sang it.
As part of teaching duties, I’ve had to invigilate exams. I found doing so terrifying. You have to maintain total silence in a room of 40 or so people. That becomes a bit oppressive. I would find myself thinking “I’m gonna yell out loud for no reason, aren’t I?” and then spending the remaining time doubting my ability to stop that from happening. So it goes into OCD territory. It’s about keeping order while you’re brain is not your side. Take all that, make it about love, and there you are.
*Wait It Out*
Its a fun, jaunty song about paranoia and trying not to submit completely to it. Anxiety does that. You assume the worst, and then presume everyone is a few steps ahead of you already. I can see how the tin hat brigade become the tin hat brigade.
This song is about dancing with your spouse at someone else’s wedding. You’ve had five pints. You’re not quite hammered yet, but there’s a pint bought for you, and that’s the one that’ll mess up the following day entirely. But hey, you’re having a great time. So you head outside for a walk around, the moon is bright in the sky. Its all perfect. You’re a bit sweaty from all the dancing. In a week or so time, you’ll have a nasty cold. But it’s all worth it. Its about a good time, basically.