They talk to Gigwise about their debut album...
jason gregory
15:50 20th March 2009

Filthy Dukes stars Olly Dixon, Tim Lawton and Mark Ralph give Gigwise the exclusive low-down on their debut album 'Nonsense In The Dark', which features guest appearances from some of indie-electro's finest.

1) 'This Rhythm – feat. Samuel Dust (Late of The Pier)

Olly: "We had booked Late Of The Pier for (our club night) Kill Em All a couple of times and got on really well with the band and loved their music so Sam was the obvious choice to put a vocal to our first finished track. He recorded his vocal in his bedroom with his Mum asleep in the next door room. He had to hold back a bit so he didn’t wake her and his voice has this amazing restrained quality because of this. His lyrics fit the hypnotic nature of the track perfectly. It became the benchmark for the rest of the album really."

2) 'Elevator – feat. To My Boy'

Olly: "Elevator is a crazy track, with Kraftwerk synth lines, electro hip-hop drum patterns and Jack from To My Boys’ haunting vocal. It kind of shouldn’t work but it does. A lot of people have said it’s their favourite track on the album."

3) 'What Happens Next? – feat. Foreign Islands

Tim: "This track features vocals from a New York band called Foreign Islands. We'd done a remix for their track We Know You Know It and the guys were over in the UK so we invited them around to do a session in the studio. We ended using these vocals and built up a track around them. Marks vocals have a Beastie Boys style to them so we went down an old school electro route. We made up a horn and synth style sample and had some fun with it."

4) 'You Better Stop'

Mark: "After a day of jamming with Rat Scabies, drummer of the Damned, we grabbed all his best bits and created the monster beat for this instrumental. Tim and I simultaneously played live bass and Moog, while Olly created the electronic percussion, building the track into a screaming synth explosion by the end."

5) 'Messages – feat. Tommy Sparks'

Olly: "This is our big, unashamedly pop moment. We recorded the music and just knew it needed a great pop vocal. Tommy Sparks is a really talented writer and singer, somewhere between Talking Heads and Prince. He sent back his vocal after a one night and we just knew that was it. It scared us a little with how pop it was but we loved it, still do, it’s our Italo pop moment."

6) 'Tupac Robot Club Rock – feat. Plastic Little'

Mark: "We created this track by referencing some Seventies prog rock albums and recording live drums, which were then crunched and squashed to hell. We combined the prog rock chorus with an electro bassline in the verse to give us what we all agreed was a track which needed a rap. Enter Plastic Little, whose bombastic, filth-ridden lyrics hit the spot perfectly."

7) 'Nonsense In The Dark – feat. Orlando Weeks (The Maccabees)'

Tim: "This track started when Orlando came down to the studio to write and sing over a track we'd made. We looped up the instrumental and he jammed over the track, the result being an amazing 16 minute performance of building vocals. At first we didn't really know what to do with it as the take was so full of emotion and we didn't want to lose that. A couple of weeks later we went at it a managed to get a 6 and a half minute version of the vocal. We put down some beats then layered up arpeggio synths, bass guitar and some sweeping pads. Then Mark played a building guitar riff and we did a live take of drums over our programmed ones." 

8) 'Cul-De-Sac'

Olly: "We’ve made a big Krautrock influenced record. The time signature on this changes half way through giving it a very strange feel. It is dark and menacing yet seems quite pop. Isaac, who drums for us live, recorded the drums on this track on the album so he loves going for it when we play it live."

9) 'Light Skips Cross Heart'

Tim: "This is a deep prog like dance track that really chugs along, with lots of sound effects and live drums. Brandon Curtis wrote the lyrics over the instrumental but as he was already on Don't Fall Softly I sung the vocal. We love Brandon's lyrics – they really suit the brooding style of the track."

10) 'Don’t Fall Softly – feat. Brandon Curtis (Secret Machines)'

Mark: "This Fleetwood Mac/Cars influenced song is one of our more introspective moments and was perfect for the haunting voice and lyrics of Brandon Curtis. One of my favourites on the album."

11) 'Twenty Six Hundred'

Mark: "Inspired by and comprising almost entirely of sounds from our dearly beloved synth, the ARP2600, this pulsating Yello-inspired stomper builds into a wall of malfunctioning synthesizer noise and is a big one for us live."

12) 'Poison The Ivy – feat. frYars'

Tim: "This is one of the more 'traditional' sounding tracks. Lots of guitar, live bass and drums with synths layered over the top. We wanted to get a great vocal on this so we sent it to Ben from frYars. We'd heard his vocals on his track Ides ages ago and he had always been in the back of our minds. His dark crooning works perfectly against the uplifting synths."

13) 'Somewhere At Sea – feat. Mauro Rimmidi (Sunny Day Sets Fire)'

Olly: "We recorded this track with Mauro from Sunny Day Sets fire and initially it was quite fast and had a big bass line. Before he left the studio Mauro played the track really slowly on our knackered old piano and it just kind of stuck in our heads. A few months later we decided to scrap the old version and get him back in to record the slow one. His vocal performance and piano playing is quite mind blowing. We had made up our minds at this point that we wanted to create an album of great music and not everything would be a dance track. We added some cello and loads of electronics, and spent ages recording live percussion."

'Nonsense In The Dark' is out now. CLICK HERE to read Gigwise's review of the album.