Those BathTub lads have only gone and bloody done it. The Stoke duo Olly and Brandon have finally released a massively banging clutch of tracks for their debut EP The New Era.
If you have read the duo’s social media, even in a limited way, you will know how much music making run through these lads veins, and they have waited what feels like forever to release this solid, quality, themed and planned EP. For anyone who has yet to get into the vibe, fans of the likes of Royal Blood and Cleopatrick would be comfortable in their company. Heavy with bass and drums is the name of the game.The result is banging, and when you get into the lyrics which are not without controversy, brave too.
To celebrate the release, I managed to grab hold of lead vocalist and bassist Olly for a chat about the EP and to find out what inspires the songs. That’s in the latter part of this write up, and indeed rather than continue reading my blather, go down to the bit headed interview, as Olly’s comments really get to the heart of what makes BathTub tick (or perhaps over-flow is the better word).
Some of the tracks have been released already of course. There’s the massive track Introduction which introduced the duos manifesto to the nation, and hahaha, that opening riff always makes me think the track is Man Who Sold The World’s angrier and punchier brother.
Then there’s the strong sound of Oiled Up, which has a feel of a deep itching urgency, and a wild lustful obsession. It’s the musical equivalent of a roller coaster loop da loop. You are on the ride, it’s exhilarating but it pushes you out of your zone. Scream or laugh; with Bathtub, it’s the same thing.
New track Friday Night has a rolling beat, pulsing drums and the lyrics continue the general theme of someone chasing through the evening to get with a woman, only to get disappointed. “I’m fking sick of Friday nights” tells the tale after the initial burst of hope.
Before our protagonist reaches this point of abject disappointment, he recognises he might be better served looking for a woman by considering their brains rather than their looks. A glimmer of sanity to my mind. At first listen, the words in Friday Night seem to be purely around to get a woman, an image of a woman, an object. However, if you focus in, you find our man not really getting anywhere with his obsessional search.
Musically Friday Night reminds me more of an early punk song and for a Bathtub song the beats and bass are less at you. It makes for a tidy bit of contrast in the sound for the EP.
As a body of work, the lyrics and the theme of the New Era EP are hard hitting with our protagonist’s dark selfish lust, although Olly also explains in the companion piece that actually the tracks do not relate to the same person in a running story. The hard energy of the music compliments that sense of mad urgency in the lyrics and vocal.
As the final song in the cycle, Citrus, explains this unsuccessful obsession has turned the protagonist into a monster, still obsessing about women and blaming them for who they have become.
While it’s a completely different musical style, I’m actually reminded of some of the dark fetishism of some of Marc Almond’s subject matter, where people are numbers. I digress (moi?) but one of my all-time favourite lyrics is Almond’s “so sick and tired of being sick and tired of being used and abused” (Soft Cell’s Slave To This if you were wondering).
Clearly the subject of the New Era EP might feel uncomfortable territory for most perhaps, but let’s face it, this attitude exists whether we acknowledge it or not, and there are times where the most mild mannered of man just wants uncomplicated, unconnected sex with a willing partner. Its in our dna. Better for it to be discussed and thought about, and BathTub do it in a clever, matter of fact way.
I reflect that in music we often look for something new, different and stimulating and struggle to find it; here with the BathTub New Era EP it’s here. Hiding in plain sight.
I caught up with Olly to chat about the New Era EP that BathTub have released recently.
I swear there was a glint in Olly’s eye as he told me: “I actually welcome the controversy that the lyrics may create. Any publicity is good publicity after all!”
“I used to think too deeply into meanings of songs, and it created a massive writing block for me. So nowadays I don’t write from my own point of view, and it allows me to be a lot more creative”.
“Friday Night, Citrus and Oiled Up are purely fictional tales that in no way reflect my own views or beliefs.
A little like Rape Me by Nirvana, we play grunge music now, and our art is in the music itself, rather than in the lyrics or the tales”.
So, what was in your mind when you wrote a track like Oiled Up, which just feels so uncomfortably about a man on the edge with an obsession?
Oiled Up is actually a tale about a gay man being too afraid to come out. The last line of the song gives this away, “I’d rather live in pain, than come out and get left on the shelf”
The song over dramatises all the things the man imagines himself doing with this other man, but will never be able to do, because he’s too afraid of telling the man and everyone else how he feels.
Friday Night was my interpretation on Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High by Arctic Monkeys. It describes the repetitiveness of playing the game if you will. How empty and monotonous it is to be constantly searching for sex rather than actually enjoying your nights out, but the toxicity of it keeping you coming back for more and doing it all again regardless
While Citrus is effectively the same tale, but taking on a humorous twist, that once you take back a stranger from a night out, you never actually know what to expect. It is in fact a dangerous game.
The story Citrus and the lyrics in the bridge breakdown were taken from a video you’ll find on YouTube called “The Grapefruit Technique”, where Aunty Angel teaches you her new and extravagant technique to pleasure your man hahah. I found the video so hilarious I decided to weave it into my story.
So, you don’t really have someone locked up in a cellar or chained to a BathTub somewhere? I’m relieved that it’s not you!
Since starting to write the New Era music for BathTub, I’ve purposely strayed away from singing/talking about myself.
I’m very cynical as a writer, and find it a bit cringey almost when artists constantly sing about their problems etc… so what BathTub has become for me is an escape, basically with the new era I’ve been writing fictional stories
This is emphasised by me wearing my suit on stage. The boiler suit looks a bit weird, but allows me to not be myself, and delve into the role I’m trying to play, allowing me to be a better performer and front man.
* Images of BathTub have been taken from the band’s social media