Earlier this week, UK rockers Wires released a brand new 3-song EP, ‘Shadows.’ Produced by Joe Grouse, the band’s new effort doesn’t disappoint. Tom Bennett’s vocal styling is tender, yet intense. His smart and supple lyrics are even somewhat chilling at times. Much of what makes ‘Shadows’ an engaging listen can be attributed to the ebb and flow of Bennett and Danny Parker’s swirling guitar lines. Meanwhile, bassist Toby Willmott and drummer James Pritchard provide more than enough power to hold everything in place. Together, this four-piece have honed an otherworldly sound that’s smooth and entrancing but still heavy.
Below, Wires break down their new EP for us, discussing what went into writing and recording it.
As a band, we feel that the ‘Shadows’ EP represents our maturing and progression as musicians. Whilst we see it as a continuation of our debut, ‘To Conquer the Waves,’ we were always clear that as a collection of songs it would have a different feel and personality. Essentially, ‘To Conquer the Waves’ represents the best of what we were in our first year as a band, whereas ‘Shadows’ expresses the more established and confident nature of how we have developed as songwriters.
These songs challenged us so much more in terms of writing, recording, and performing, but we couldn’t be more proud of the end result. It’s a bigger, more ambitious and far more collaborative effort than what we have produced before, and sets a precedent for how we will progress from here. Many of our favorite bands share one thing in common — every record they produce is a step forward with its own sound and feel, a refusal to stagnate whilst expertly keeping the core personality of the band intact. That is what we aspire to.
“Salve and Sting”
For us, “Salve and Sting” seemed like an obvious opening choice. It’s a track that we have always felt showcases our live performance and captures the passion and energy that is present, or just below the surface throughout our body of work. Musically, it evolved from a raw bluegrass-esque acoustic idea into something far more present and energetic, incorporating a mix of post-rock influences with a syncopated Latin twist.
Lyrically, “Salve and Sting” speaks of the double-edged nature of human speech, its innate power to create or destroy, to stimulate love or to command war. At the core of the song is the lyric, “I am the proof of the way that your heart beats” — a potent reminder that how we use speech discloses what and who we are internally. Stylistically, we have drawn a lot of influence from post-hardcore outfit Thrice, both in musical and lyrical content. In this case, the use of perspective in the lyrics serves tribute to the sonnets of Thrice’s ‘Alchemy Index,’ where a human voice is given to the elements. In this case, it is the human tongue.
“Whispers” started with a love of warm, haunting, and melancholic Rhodes piano parts, the likes of which are found in the works of Death Cab for Cutie. When Danny came to practice with just such a part, it immediately captured our imagination and formed the basis of a song.
Toby had already been working on a set of lyrics that continued a thematic fascination we’ve had with the sea and its treacherous yet alluring nature. Within a single practice we began to marry the two together, the delicate yet mildly foreboding keys immediately conjuring an audible sense of the picture painted by the lyrics. A picture of a morbid love affair with the ocean, complete with the requisite levels of desire and painful memories.
“Whispers” also serves as a sort of sequel or continuation of the story told by a track from our first EP entitled ‘Victor,’ in which a naively bold adventurer sets sail in an ill-equipped raft, [guided] by an overwhelming sense of potential for the unknown. “Whispers” almost bookends that story from a more jaded, world-weary perspective, casting back rather than looking forward.
As a band, we are hugely story-oriented. Be that novels, short stories, films, etc., and that is where the idea for “Shadows” came from. Danny was searching for inspiration in an Aesop’s Fables book looking for an idea for some lyrics and the story for “The Wolf and his Shadow” leapt out. It tells the story of a wolf who saw his shadow at sundown and thought he was bigger than he was. As this wolf is strutting around thinking he is the king of the animals, he is struck down by lions. The idea that we should be grounded in reality and not become conceited or arrogant, and that there’s always something bigger, was extremely resonant with us.
The bare bones of “Shadows” came together quickly and easily, but it took time to craft it into a song. As it is one of our most structurally unconventional songs to date, creating cohesion and flow was the most challenging part. What we came to love about this song is its dynamics. As it’s through-composed, it allowed us to build the song in a way that can be more tricky with your standard pop form. It was also the first song that we were able to test out our latest musical acquisition, a baritone guitar. Because it is tuned a fifth lower than a standard guitar, we were able to really drive the song at the end without it becoming overly heavy. As a song and a concept, it is definitely one of our favorites.
Pick up Wires’ new EP, Shadows.
For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.