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Sick Joy’s track-by-track guide to WE’RE ALL GONNA F***ING DIE

Vocalist / guitarist Mykl Barton lifts the lid on every song on Sick Joy’s debut album, WE’RE ALL GONNA F***ING DIE.

Sick Joy’s track-by-track guide to WE’RE ALL GONNA F***ING DIE
Words:
Mykl Barton
Photos:
Bridie Cummings

As Brighton-based newcomers Sick Joy gear up to drop their excellent debut album WE’RE ALL GONNA F***ING DIE (and support the mighty Pearl Jam in London on the day of release), vocalist / guitarist Mykl Barton peels back the many layers of the record, offering inspirations and insights into its 12 vital tracks…

1don’t feel like dying

“This was the first song written for the album and was kind of the catalyst for the tone and theme of the record, before we even knew it was going to be a record. It came from just a good day in between a period of really difficult stuff. It was a weird mix of happiness, hope and hesitance. It was all just in my head when I was laying in bed, so I got up and tracked all the bits and just left it there until we started demoing the album. I thought it was kind of a sarcastic and shutting down its own positivity in a way, but it ended up sounding really hopeful. Singing it always brings me to those moments of awareness when everything’s okay and remembering to try and enjoy them and be present. Something I’d like to be better at…”

2talking to the drugs

“This all started with the drum beat. It was this disjointed midi thing I was messing around on my guitar to and the riff eventually happened. It kind of doesn’t have a chorus because the riff ended up being the thing we just wanted to play on a loop, so we figured, ‘Let’s just milk the fuck out of that because it’s fun.’ It always gave me that confidence you get from listening to heavy music, like when I was kid and feeling small at school or whatever I’d listen to some heavy shit and I’d feel like I was made of nails. I went into the lyrics with that in mind and say what I wanted to say and just be straight-up about stuff.”

3stay numb

“It came out of a relationship declining and neither one having the strength to say, ‘Stop.’ Neither person was really to blame, or even any animosity, just the end of something that felt unavoidable. And then bearing the guilt and weight of the decision. Letting go of something that you’re stopping growing or being stopped by without any major friction feels harder than when it really obviously sucks sometimes. I had the riff but saw it as a ‘big chorus all crashes’ thing, but it just sounded really lame like that. Sam didn’t want to lose it so suggested it should be a verse and had the weird broken-up drums that I love and it all just made sense from there.”

4deep dream

“This started as a totally different song with the pre-chorus as the chorus. That vocal line and those lyrics ‘gotta get myself back deep into that dream’ are what the whole song was based around. The riff started happening and I liked the idea of having a chorus that didn’t really have any words or was something more like a chanted mantra kind of bounce. It was also the first time we brought in keys, I threw a load of distortion pedals and stuff at an old organ so it got a bit weird gospel or something. Missing a certain moment in time is a habit I seem to abuse a lot. This is where that all came from.”

5i’ve got more than i need (and i don’t have much)

“I remember having the chorus to this on an acoustic and I was listening to a lot of The Prodigy around then and was obsessed with their drum patterns and sounds, so built something up to fit that. It’s probably the most open and blunt I’ve been lyrically so far. That was kind of making me nervous, but there was a lot of stuff I was processing from my past, and also seeing friends go through things, that made it feel like that ‘world’ was everywhere. I didn’t have the energy to be super-clever or dance around stuff. I just wanted to say it how it came out. That exhaustion pushed the whole song along.”

6alive on the inside

“We’d never been able to show songs like this before with EPs or singles, so it was really great to be able to delve into writing and finishing it. It’s a song for wallflowers and the things that aren’t said. The ones that get talked over or don’t show up to the party at all. They’re normally the people I get on best with, and it feels like an ode to them. I think I had a lot of Wolf Alice on at the time, it’s probably obvious.”

7the blood & the bliss

“This was another one that came from hours and hours of just sitting messing around with Trent Reznor-style drum loops – and there’s a lyrical nod to in the second verse, too. Another one that we needed the creative depth of an album to be able to put out. I’ve always loved bands that don't just do one thing, but I think the way music is consumed now forces a lot of artists to do that. I always loved that In Utero by Nirvana had Dumb on it, but also Tourette’s. It didn’t feel like a Sick Joy song and that made me want to do it. It felt kind of menacing in its movement and that carried across into the lyrics. After you’ve been so low it feels like nothing can hurt you, nothing can do you worse than you’ve already had. It's written from that place of nihilistic confidence.”

8rich hippies

“I guess this is a dumb swipe at certain things or people, and just being a bit confused too. It's not really ‘political rage’; I’ve always felt artistically unequipped to properly get across certain messages like that. It's more an ‘I see you’ at experiences of class appropriation. It's a strange thing seeing people pretending to be a certain way, or be from a certain place or lifestyle, like it gifts them some kind of badge of legitimacy. Wherever and whatever you have come from is yours, just own it and stick to that because that matters too.”

9belly aching beast

“I felt like this was too easy and obvious, so threw in a harmonica solo attempting to be edgy like Bowie and asked Jamie Lenman to sing some stuff hoping I'd like it more, and it worked. It's a complaint at people hiding behind things to make excuses for their bullshit behaviour towards other people. A lack of ownership and self-responsibility. If you know you're being a dick and make no effort to prevent or change that, then that’s on you.”

10sadisfaction

“I wrote this on my roof drinking Bloody Marys in the sun during the whole 2020 lockdown thing. I wasn't worried about what people might think or if anyone would even hear it, if ever. So that kind of freed us up to just do whatever – if it sounded good to us then we kept it. I liked the idea of having a quiet chorus like Pixies but couldn't quite pull it off so it became the pre-chorus. Trigger happy with the distortion pedal, I suppose. I remember feeling aware of all this life inside and outside of myself that I couldn’t do anything with for a multitude of reasons. It felt right in front of me but also just out of reach. I was giving my life away to things I didn’t want or need, especially at that time. I’ve been putting myself behind everything else in my life for as long as I can remember and sometimes that’s a good thing to do. But other times you’ve gotta say, ‘Fuck this’ and stop playing along. This is for me.”

11nothing better

“It’s staying in the dark because it’s comfortable. I wrote the riff and vocals at the same time, and put some basic drums down so I could keep going and it felt like a weight on my shoulders. I felt held down and didn’t want the song to deviate from that. I wanted it to stay there with me. A march is a curated and forced walk and that’s what I felt I was doing, wherever I was going.”

12ultimately.

“The title says all I can say. If this one is for you, then you know it. The sun can shine back through at any moment. Just keep moving. All of the songs on the record, like all music, are whatever the listener wants them to be. They're yours as much as they're ours.”

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