The Juliana Field

What the songs are about and how they were recorded.

"Way Back Home was one of the quickest songs I have ever written" says Rob. "It was done and dusted in 10 minutes. I knew it would have minimal bass and a floor tom thing in it. Like some old Phil Spector recording. The lyrics, as always, mean little. But it was fun to namecheck the Tom Waits album "Raindogs" in it. My sometime-roadie Ciaran bangs on about that record a lot. I threw it in for him. It was recorded in a studio up in Ballymount in Dublin along with Colin Whelan (co-producer). It was done relatively quick. 4 hours perhaps? Whelan had a very "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" bass line for it. I had to over-rule him quickly. The video was shot by me in Paris, France and was edited in Dublin. I was basically walking around the streets of Paris with a camera filming my feet and the streets and shit. I was getting a lot of funny looks alright. But fuck it, the video got recognized and even the folk who run the Meteor Awards took note. Bless em."

"I got the idea for  the guitar bit after hearing Gem Archer do something similar on "Listen Up" during one of Noel (Gallagher)'s solo acoustic gigs.  I liked the repetitiveness of it. And the effect it had. And that along with the harmonica thing makes it for me. The song itself is about self-doubt. And talking yourself out of it. It's all in my mind, etc."

"The first and only time I used a mandolin on a recording. But Whelan had this great Epiphone mandolin - it had to be done. The stomping bass drum was recorded by literally thumping the drum, not with a kick pedal, but with my hand in a studio. Which gives it a weird sound I liked. The snare drum bit was recorded seperately at my house. It has about 4 different guitar sounds on it including, very low in the mix, an electric guitar with a lot of overdrive and delay effects on it."

"I wrote this song in Paris. When I was shooting the Way Back Home video. There was this homeless woman begging outside a supermarket beside my hotel on a street called Rue Sainte-Dominique. I gave her some change when I'd frequent the shop and thought about where it went wrong for the woman. Here she was in this picturesque city, begging and drinking cider and rambling on in French. She was probably telling me to fuck off or something. Who knows. So i wrote this tune almost immediately. The line about "kisses in the sky" was when i gave her some change and walked back to my hotel there was this cloud straight ahead that resembles lips. I imagined it could have freaked her out so I sang (singing) "I dont want you to feel uncertain/About those kisses in the sky". It was recorded in one take too.

"One of the first songs I have ever written. Dates back to 2000 or 2001. There is a very early demo of this with big drums, a faster tempo and big guitars and so on.I slowed it down, made it more acoustic and melodic. Took ages to record. I remember Whelan was getting pissed off with it, as was I. But in the end it worked out."

"This is a demo, what is on the final CD. Hence the low-fi sound. But like Digger's Blues, it sounds like fun. A happy-as-fuck song. I tried recording it properly, but this demo sounds, not better, but more life in it."

"A song recorded about 2003 and has won me some serious praise for an instrumental piece. Jackie Hayden from Hot Press magazine said something like it's a piece of music waiting for the right film. And it is. Brendan Hickey used it on his poetry album as background music to one of his poems written about a marajuana induced time in Morrocco. And even Karl Odlum (musician and producer Kila, Mark Geary, Jape, Mic Christopher etc.) added additional music onto it for Brendan. It was great for someone like him to work on one of my recordings. Possibly the most interesting piece of music I have ever recorded. The bongos on the track were bought in Marrakesh by my parents - hence the title. But it does have that Sahara feel to it".

"An absolutely tender piece. Produced by myself. I wrote it as I recorded it almost. Born in the studio. Whatever it means to you, thats what it's about"

"Again, like Talkin About People, this was also a demo. And when I tired recording it, it didnt sound as fun as it is on The Juliana Field. So the demo won. I like the lyrics - name checking places like Buenos Aires and Southen-On-Sea. Just for the craic, I guess. It has absolutely no meaning. But I chose the title Digger's Blues because Digger is the nickname of my brother-in-law. So I thought, fuck it - I'll name an album track after him. Considering he did name his second son after me. Well, middle name. That said, it''s not exactly bluesey. The recording was done about 3AM in my house and I had a fierce hangover all evening  - hence the hoarse vocal. But it works."

"The title track. No bass on it. The guitar is my Epiphone Dot guitar with a shit load of treble going through some boss effects pedals Whelan has. And through some shitty practice amp. But the sound came out was fucking huge. That's all the mix is: one vocal, one guitar, one snare drum. The song doesn't really take off until the singing is finished and it grooves along until the long outro and the long fade. I love it. Low-fi, warm and groovy as fuck!"

Interview with Rob Smith - November 2010.