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The LaFontaines – Business As Usual – Track-by-Track

To celebrate the release of Business As Usual, The LaFontaines chat to 1883 Magazine and give a track-by-track breakdown of the new album revealing the hidden stories behind the music.

Scottish trio, The LaFontaines, are back with a stellar new album.

Over the years, the band has built up a cult following of fans thanks to their distinctive rock sound. The band has also performed worldwide at Very TV Festival in Bangkok, the NHS Weekender in India, and of course back home at Scotland’s TRNSMT festival. They’ve even toured from New York to Paris with the likes of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, Anderson .Paak and Example to name a few.

Back in 2019, The LaFontaines shared their third record Junior to critical acclaim, and earning their first top 40 record in the UK album charts at the position of 33. Now, vocalist Kerr Okan, drummer Jamie Keenan and guitarist Darren McCaughey are back, with the fourth studio album, Business As Usual

This time, after a short hiatus, the group feel reinvigorated and have provided their most personal record to date, and the group’s charm shines throughout the LP.

To celebrate the release of Business As Usual, The LaFontaines’s Darren McCaughey chats to 1883 Magazine and provides a track-by-track breakdown of the new album revealing the hidden stories behind the music.

Business As Usual

This was the first track we completed for the album and is possibly my favourite song we’ve ever written. A vast majority of the record was written during the lockdowns of 2020-21 and the chorus for this one came through fully formed in an acoustic demo from Jamie. All I had to do was add the distorted guitars and we were good to go. It’s the perfect intro and sets the tone for what’s to come.

Since You Made A Move

“Since You Made A Move” marks a whole different shift in direction and sounds unlike anything we’ve put out up until this point. For me, it’s important to always be evolving and trying to push what we’re doing into new territories and this track does exactly that. Musically it’s my take on the way DJ Koze, O’Flynn or Daphni would flip a sample into an upbeat modern sounding dance track. The beat was made in around 20 minutes on my laptop when I was moving house in 2022 and we all wrote the chorus lyrics together over zoom.


Where They Know My Name

A lot has changed in our personal lives since releasing our last record, a big change being Kerr’s move from Glasgow to London. This is his love song to our hometown which I think is a great concept and something that will resonate with a lot of people. Musically this follows on from Since You Made A Move and our long time collaborator Thomas McNeice helped us work out the chorus melody for this one. I think this is as close to ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ by Stardust that we’ll ever get, which is my favourite song.

Good Life

Most of the time, the best tracks come together very quickly with ease but occasionally they’ll require 10 different versions, this was one of those times. I couldn’t get the verse right and after exhausting almost every idea I had I remembered a guitar loop that Kerr had noted he really liked (which originally was the verse for ‘Business As Usual’). After some re-pitching and re-jigging it fitted perfectly, the puzzle was complete and we were on to writing lyrics, which similarly went through many different versions until we arrived at what you hear today.

Unconditional

During the lockdown I decided to dedicate time to learn how to play slap bass correctly (mainly to play the Seinfeld theme tune) and when I had the piano chords down for Unconditional I reached for the bass this time to apply my new skill which to my surprise really fitted the tune making this the first LaFontaines track to feature no guitar. This album is the first time the 3 of us have really honed in on the lyrics and melody together and was a massive learning curve, this track was one of the first we worked on together in that way.

Keep Me On The Outside

I was sent a Squire Bass IV (a 6 string guitar which is tuned down an octave, similar to a Bass) during COVID which I was convinced I’d be able to write countless great songs with, but after months of trying couldn’t get anything out of it. It wasn’t until I accidently tuned the D string to C that I felt as if the instrument was truly unlocked. I wrote 5/6 demos in this vein but ‘Keep Me On The Outside’ was by far the strongest. This is my favourite performance of Kerr’s on the album. The flow switches in both verses and adlibs really make the track. For years I’ve tried to make a track similar to ‘Club Foot’ by Kasabian and I feel that comes out on this song.

Schematics (Skit)

Our first skit. During the roll out of our last album it was suggested to us one point that we should include a skit, solely to allow us to release another single due to the album length and chart stipulations. We ended up just writing another song (Body) but the idea always was floating round in the back of our heads. The track that follows this (Any Day Now) was the last to be finished for the record and is lyrically very different from the rest of the album.

Wanting to still include the song but not wanting it to sound so out of place we wrote and recorded this introductory skit which sets up the next track and lets you know what’s coming. I don’t think we would have had the confidence to do something like this if it wasn’t for our weekly podcast which was started just as we went into lockdown and is still going today.

Any Day Now

The last track to be finished for the album and a stand out chorus from Jamie. I wrote the music to this one directly after watching an episode of the Rick Rubin Shangri-LA documentary which I found to be very inspiring.

We recorded this track (along with “Business As Usual”, “Good Life” & “Overstated My Welcome”) with Tom Longworth at Costal Sound Studios in Liverpool. Tom really brought this one to life and it was amazing to have the studio’s vast array of vintage gear at our disposal for this session.

July 11th

Similarly to “Where They Know My Name”, this track draws directly from another big change in Kerr’s life – welcoming his son into the world on July 11th 2022. The lyrics for this were recorded and written to another piece of music which I felt didn’t suit the tone and message of the song.

I took the acapella and tried to write numerous ideas to fit it but it wasn’t until I put over a demo named ‘”Joy” that I created back in April 2019 (before our third album was released) that it clicked and we have the track you hear today. It’s a lesson in always hanging on to everything you record.

Overstayed My Welcome”

Following a similar method to ‘”July 11th” this track stemmed from a demo Jamie sent me where I removed the music and kept only his vocal, constructing a new beat around it. Working in this way can be interesting as it’s like making a remix of your own song.

We have a track called “Torture” from our second album Common Problem that we love playing live as it gives a whole different feel to the set and is a bit of a breather due to its laidback beat and tempo. We always thought that song was great but the live version is very different to the recording, so this is essentially us doing a better updated track in that style, taking influence from our experience of playing live. 

The LaFontaines’ third studio album, Business As Usual, is out now.

Follow the band by clicking here.

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