Here you find what Turin Brakes were up to from the beginning until roughly the end of 2000.
|No Division EP||The State of Things EP||Fight or Flight EP|
State Of Things
…and Turin Brakes have secured a recording contract. Olly & Gale continued to play regularly at the Heavenly Social during the first half of the year, though the number of gigs they actually played at any venue were very select and very few at that. Turin Brakes were very much finding their feet and honing their sound at this point, spending a lot of time in the studio. The core of their sound was already in place, evident with The Door EP, and it was during these recording sessions that their music would start to become more polished. Turin Brakes had entered the recording studio pretty much days after signing for Source, and the fruits of their earliest work would conceive 4 songs to be released at the height of British summertime(!).
Turin Brakes released The State Of Things on 31st July 2000, two weeks before their debut festival appearances of Leeds and Reading. It was at these gigs that Olly & Gale became a fully integrated band for the first time – up until then it had just been the two of them and a couple of guitars. Critical acclaim was also slowly building. In the weeks leading up to the summer festivals the NME was busy hailing the new “acoustic movement”. Turin Brakes were being muttered in the same breath of a sudden new wave of bands being hailed as the dawning of a new era of music, tunes based around simple and pure guitar music. Coldplay were also rising to the fore that summer with their release of “Yellow”, and a certain bloke in a tea cosy hat called Badly Drawn Boy raised an eyebrow with “Disillusion”.
The State of Things EP is a collection of songs which would continue where The Door EP left off, with self observational lyrics as featured previously with ‘The Road’ and ‘The Door’. So what is it about the lyrics of Turin Brakes and what do they mean? “I don’t really know what our songs are about,” says Olly. “They show you a little window, they’re always kind of lost. I always feel like they’re someone walking around, trying to make sense of anything”. The Boss, however, has a degree of simplicity. There’s no hidden meaning with it, as Olly says “The Boss’ is obviously about working in a shit job for a shit boss”. Olly & Gale regard ‘The Boss’ as the best piece of work not to appear on any of their LP’s.
Second track Balham To Brooklyn is another one of those songs of longing and fear. Interestingly both ‘The Boss’ and ‘Balham To Brooklyn’ were recorded at home and both are extremely similar in sound. ‘All Away’ is A Folksome little demo, with some sea sounds in the background. This song was written around the time Gale was beginning to discover slide guitar and experimenting with different sounds. Its a dreamy little instrumental and before you know it you’ll be nodding off! The title track is left til last, and rightly so, its the cream of the crop. State Of Things is a gentle reminder that nobody knows where they’re going, you just have to go with the flow.
No Division EP
Things were going smoothly and work continued on future releases. Turin Brakes were joining the 5 other hot alternative / indie acts to tour the UK. This also resulted in a limited 12″ vinyl featuring tracks by these acts. Besides Turin Brakes, the EP features a diverse group of artists: Dj Skitz & Rodney, Lisp, Max Tundra (who would later remix Turin Brakes’ Long Distance), Skylab and Lazarus. The result is a pretty incoherent EP (the tracks vary in genre from hiphop to electronic noise to lounge) where Turin Brakes are basically the odd one out. The track featured here is a home recording of Future Boy. They manage to mess up the intro, so they try a second take and this one is perfect. It differs from the later version (on 2001’s The Optimist LP) in recording style (this live home version is much more intimate) and the final lines, which are sung much slower. Lyrically there are some minor differences.
26th July 2000 would see the first horses mouth as the very first offical Turin Brakes website was launched! The same night, Olly & Gale played what proved a momentus gig at The Social in London – though it wasn’t without incident. As they finished The Road Gale nipped off stage to fetch another guitar – and a drunken lout shouted out “play something better” – to the horror of most of the crowd, who turned and gave the guy a look of disgrace. Olly was visibly flustered, and under the glare of the lights launched into the spaced out strummer of “future boy”. Gale returned half way through, joining in with the melody, with the crowd clapping in defiance of the drunken idiot – and applauded even louder as the song ends. Turin Brakes were a band beginning to inspire passionate responses from a loyal and growing following.
By the end of the summer Turin Brakes returned to the studio buoyed with their gradual rise in recognition and that September would record some music to be put on a third EP to be released at the end of the year…
The Fight Or Flight EP
Fight Or Flight was quite possibly a creative high for Turin Brakes in terms of the quality of tracks which featured on this EP. Mind Over Money, Nine To Five, Emergency 72 and Christine. The most important point was that Turin Brakes had already completed writing, recording, mixing and fully produced most of the tracks for the album when the State Of Things EP was put out. So what was the wait? Rumour has it that the record label, Source, were too scared to put the record out so quickly. As far as they were concerned, Turin Brakes should concentrate on generating wider exposure and finding their sound. All Olly & Gale wanted to do was put the record out, but when Fight Or flight was released on October 23rd there would be a further 5 month wait before it would see the light of day.
So, what about Fight Or Flight? And the title? Many often forget to look into it, at first sight it just sounds like some sort of Rhyming slang, or phrase that just came from nowhere. But there is a meaning there. Fight Or flight has a definition, and the definition is “An emergency reaction in which the body prepares for combat or escape from potentially dangerous situations, animals, or people”. “Usage: Many non-verbal (e.g., dilated pupils, sweaty palms, bristling hair [i.e., piloerection], and a faster breathing rate. Along with squaring the torso for battle or angling to prepare for flight) are visible in stepped-up visceral feelings and body movements of the fight-or-flight response”.
Though the EP doesn’t come across as agressive and full of anger, at least two of these seem to sound like a person or something with some kind of angst. The important thing to remember here is that none of these songs are belted out Liam Gallagher style. But then, why would you want that? Turin Brakes have loads of angry songs, but you don’t necessarily need to shout to get your feelings out. Emergency 72 has a lot of up and down moments where Olly’s voice sounds extremely tense, there’s lots of breathing over the lyrics, particularly at the start.
Mind Over Money, on the other hand, has the chorus to end all chorus’. Perhaps the crowning moment of Olly & Gale’s career at this point. If any other band had written and recorded this, it would have been legendary, and probably featuring more than just a match stick promo video to boot. But no. This was Turin Brakes at a time when they were still gatheirng their army of fans and developing their sound. This song would not have been put to shame by spending 10 weeks at the number one slot, still, Turin Brakes’ were’nt trying to ‘be’ anything, They were nowhere near being a commercial sucess just yet, and even if they wanted to, you couldn’t see a wave of screaming teenagers chasing them down the street anyway. They were just two blokes who love to play guitar and write music. Fans? Critical acclaim? Who cares. Mind Over Money on the other hand, would have its finest moment about 12 months on from the release of “Fight Or Flight”.
The two other tracks on the EP are also drawn from the top order. Nine To Five could easily have sat right next to ‘The Boss’ on The State Of Things EP. It follows the same idea of being in a mundane job, with Olly’s voice here almost dying to scream out during the final verse. Christine ensures the EP finishes on a softer note, its only a short song, just 1 minute 45 seconds long, but there’s certainly plenty of melody here. Turin Brakes closed the year on a creative high, with an already overdue album almost screaming to be put out. The video for the next single “The Door” was filmed at Dungeness in November. That month Olly & Gale also added another horses mouth to the site, having also just completed a UK tour with ‘Doves’ as a complete band and ‘Kathryn Williams’ as just a duo. TB ended the year by touring with ‘Lowgold’.
By the end of 2000, Jockey Slut had proclaimed them “so good it hurts”, Skint head honcho Damian Harris, aka Midfield General, reckoned they could probably make him cry just by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and the NME had practically ordered its readers to listen to them: “Turin Brakes inhabit a space which is entirely their own, fully-formed and brutally emotive… give them the devotion they deserve.”