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Track By Tracks: Final Coil - Convicted Of The Right! (2020)

Convicted Of The Right:

Convicted Of The Right was always high on the list of potential singles for this album because, although it’s not as immediate as something like, say, Empty Handed, it showcased a different set of dynamics in our music and I figured that, for people who had only heard our single releases, it would be a chance to experience the more atmospheric side of the band. The other reason that I wanted to release the song as a stand-alone is that I felt that it had a particularly strong narrative; one that not only encapsulated the wider themes of the album, but also which lent itself particularly well to a video.

So, in terms of the story, Convicted… is an amalgamation of fact and personal history. On the historic side, it looks at the experiences of my Grandfather, who had been badly traumatised by his experiences as an intelligence officer in World War 2. I didn’t know him terribly well, and so he was something of a dark figure in my psyche; not so much menacing as unfamiliar and yet tragic. On the rare instances that I saw him, he struck me as an isolated man. Desperately lonely, and yet unable to drop his guard for even an instant, so he remained distant and austere. I often wish that I knew more about him, and perhaps writing the song was an attempt to redress that balance, although I wasn’t conscious of it at the time.

More generally, the song considers the long-lasting impact of indoctrination on a person. Since their inception, nation-states have sought to control the hearts and minds of their population. In times of war, such propaganda is ramped up to fever pitch, but even in peace time it can easily be seen (just look at the way the tabloids have treated issues such as migration and, latterly, Brexit). It is simply impossible to be bombarded for so long and not feel the effects, and so this video takes a look at how extremity (whether extremity of language or imagery) seeps into the soul, hollowing out the individual and leaving them open to whatever suggestion is placed in front of them.

The lyrics pretty much suggested the plot of the video. Jola and I came up with the initial premise – to film a veteran of an unknown war having a nervous breakdown whilst being bombarded with images of conflict. To this, Rich added the fantastic idea of having a drill sergeant – a sort of nightmare figure – on the TV singing the words. He volunteered for the role (something he later came to regret when we had him up against the wall, so to speak), but he delivered the piece perfectly and his performance proved to be an integral part of the puzzle.

The only issue left was who we could ask to play the veteran. Initially, I thought I might have to do it; but I wasn’t particularly keen, and we were delighted when our friend Mag stepped forward. His performance was just remarkable – powerful, impassioned and harrowing to watch. Without him anchoring the video, it wouldn’t be what it is. His performance, alongside Jay’s kinetic filming style, Lou reprising her role from The Last Battle video and Elin’s set dressing, bought the track to life in a way that could only dimly have hoped. It is the best video we’ve done to date, and my only slight concern is that we have to top the thing next time out!

Empty Handed + You Waste My Time + Spider Feet:

I’ve always been a fan of John Peel. It was his show that I would eagerly tune into, when I was still too young to go to festivals; and the highlight was always the session recordings. I particularly loved the bands that would take a nuanced studio recording and rip through it; turning it into something more visceral in the process, and so I’ve always wanted to do something similar with Final Coil.

We spent a lot of time thinking about which pieces we would do. We wanted to capture something from the new album, and Empty Handed was an obvious choice, not least because it had been mooted as a single. Also, it’s really fun to play and I wanted to capture the raw version of the song that I remembered from album rehearsals.

However, the real excitement was in doing a couple of pieces from our debut album, Persistence Of Memory. As Barry hadn’t played on that record, it was great to give him the opportunity to put his own stamp on pair of tracks. The first choice, and the one I particularly wanted to do was You Waste My Time, as it was Barry’s epic performance of the song during audition that got him the gig with Final Coil. The other obvious choice was Spider Feet. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album but I always felt the mid-section would benefit from being a bit squallier and Richard, who wrote the track, certainly felt that way.

Once we’d chosen and rehearsed the tracks, we packed up our gear and headed down to Soundlab Studios in Essex to record the session. It’s a cool studio and they spend a good deal of time setting everything up in order to get the sound right. They also filmed and edited the session and we’ll be releasing those clips along the way to the EP release. A word of warning to bands who want to play there, it’s an epic place, but they have a record shop above the studio, and we all managed to leave with lighter bank accounts and larger record collections than when we arrived!

I’ve got to tell you, I loved re-recording those three tracks, free from click or backing material – it was great to just rip through them. With no chance for overdubs, the tracks are all tough, single take performances that capture the band playing pretty much as we do in rehearsal (although we don’t normally have the funky, Roger Waters headsets). It was great to have the opportunity to record exclusive b sides for this release. It’s not so common these days, but I still have a load of singles in my collection with exclusive tracks, and I hope that it’s something our fans will understand and enjoy. At any event, we had a great time doing the session and it was great to produce something a little bit closer to our live material.

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