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Demo Vault: The Everything Goes Back To Normal Button
7 versions of a song that bolts at the door of recording studios
It only took 10 minutes to write. It’s embarrassingly simple.
Yet after 10 attempts to record over 10 years, The Everything Goes Back To Normal Button still leaves me feeling bamboozled, befuddled, unsatisfied. How did this happen?
Sure music is art, and art is mysterious, but trust me when I say there’s not much there with this one. Various musicians and producers have tried to find something, anything interesting to do with it. But it’s basic, shabby, flimsy. A cheap trick. You can’t dress it up, you can’t make it special. It just sits there, being what it is and absolutely nothing more. Perhaps that’s a sign it’s….not very good…?
Except I get tons of messages about it. It gets requested at gigs. It means something to people. Everything Goes Back To Normal Buttons sit on Bastille’s pedal board, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, bar walls, behind washing machines, all kinds of places.
Did we mess this one up?
Did we, in fact, do fine and I sound totally unhinged right now?
You decide. It’s demo vault time.
I’ve narrowed down my embarrassingly large collection of recordings of this song to 6 key attempts. As a bonus1, there’s also a brand new 2-string live video at the end as part of my Some Things Are Like Other Things live series.
The One That Started It All - Band rehearsal demo (2013)
This iPhone voice note remains my favourite recording of the song.
Me, John, Harry and Kev had met up in Harry’s gran’s house in 2013 to kick around some new songs. After years playing together it didn’t take long. Harry ‘put his jazz specs on’ and we were away. That ride cymbal / hi-hat foot combo, the minimal gimmicks, the steady vibe, this gang just seemed to get it. Often I’ve thought “Why can’t we just do it like this?”
The Manual Sessions v1 - Fish Factory (2013)
Simon Edwards, session bass legend, had the idea to bring the if-you-can-call-it-that chord structure to life with an afrobeat bassline. Harry’s flat, neat drums gave us lots of space to build on.
This audio is totally unfinished, just building blocks really, but ultimately it all felt a bit spiritually lacking to me. Producer Calum MacColl, the co-Sisyphus of this story, suggested a fresh go with a new rhythm section.
The Manual Sessions v2 - Yellowfish (2014)
John Parker (double bass) and Martyn Barker (drums) are feel players. That’s a way of saying they’re tuned to the emotion of a song, bringing out its meaning with instinct and expression over textbook technique. If anyone could find a song in this song it would be them.
Another unfinished, unedited mix here. Look past all that.
Listening back all these years later I wonder if we had it here? But the jelly was setting. Mere mention of the title brought gloom energy. It shouldn’t be this hard. It started to fall off the map.
The Manual Sessions v3 AKA Punk Button (2015)
Frustrated, Calum and I rolled the dice one last time. Shiny Full Band Button wasn’t working. How about Solo Punk Button? A one-take, two-mic banger.
Its manic energy is closest to what I play live. It’s raw, racing fast, but so different from everything else on the album it was jarring no matter where it sat in the tracklist.
All of this is all explained by it not being an especially good song. Or sometimes it’s just how it goes?
Tell It To Me Straight Vol. 1 (2018)
We gave it another shot as part of Tell It To Me Straight v1 solo album. As solo versions go, it’s solid. I like it.
Some Things Are Like Other Things (2022)
A new album, a new producer, maybe this was the moment to finally banish the ghosts, put all this right?
In pre-production, Mattie Foulds pushed me to do more with the pre-choruses. It was a great move, I found a little run I wish I’d done years earlier. We set up in the studio as a live band. Perhaps that would help capture the vibe I’d been chasing from my original demo?
Neill MacColl pulled out some amazing electric lines, Mattie did ‘his best Tony Allen impression’. It’s loose, fun, great, I like it. But deep down I just want to be back with the guys in Harry’s gran’s house.
The 2-string Live Version (2023)
As versions of this song seem so disposable, how about one more? Plus I have a live video series to finish. So on the tiny chance that you’re not utterly done with this song, take a look.
Well that’s my deep dive on TEGBTNB. If anyone else wants to give it a go, be my guest, but it’s time for me to move on.
Which version, if any, is your favourite?
Can you see something here I can’t?
Let me know in the comments.
The STALOT Live Video Series
11 down, 1 to go. Links to other videos in this series:
So I Had This Dream
The Everything Goes Back To Normal Button
There’s also a video playlist here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4Z0AIn26cVAsafDmGO87vQctd9wLty6Y
Wednesday 29th March 2023 - Windermere Old Laundry Theatre. Tickets.
Thursday 30th March 2023 - Manchester The Castle. Tickets.
Saturday 1st April 2023 - Isle of Bute Butesong Festival. Tickets.
Sunday 2nd April 2023 - Nottingham, Running Horse. Tickets.
Wednesday 19th April 2023 - Suffolk Riverside Theatre. Tickets.
Sunday 23rd April 2023 - Winchester Railway Inn. Tickets.
Friday 28th April 2023 - Leamington Spa Temperance. Tickets.
Sunday 21st May 2023 - Bristol Louisiana. Tickets.
Friday 22nd September 2023 - Lintrathen Lodge at Lochside Wee Bear Cafe. Tickets.
Saturday 23rd September 2023 - Dundee Masonic Hall. Tickets.
Saturday 7th October 2023 - Purley On Thames St Mary’s Church. Tickets.
View all confirmed dates on a map here: https://share.jakemorley.com/livemap
A questionable use of the word after listening to 6 versions of this song.