Track By Tracks: Michael Webster - A Northern Perspective (2023)

I love the idea of a breakdown of an EP so I’m super happy to be able to do this. There are a lot of albums I love that have so much intricate detail behind them, and I really try to incorporate this into my music as well. The stories behind songs make them unique - every single song has a backstory and journey attached to them!

1.Future sight:

I wrote this back in 2016/17, it was one of those tracks that just flowed out of me - it’s about moving to the bigger city away from my small hometown. The first line is reminiscent of Modern Baseball’s song “Re-Do”, using the line “well the future kinda freaks me out”, a topic very commonly put across in their music haha. The whole track really sets the scene for the full EP, kind of a coming-of-age feel, getting older and becoming more independent. There’s a lot of different influences in my music but I really enjoy this one as it’s folky and singer- songwritery but it’s got a lot of emo and pop-punk in it too. The chord progression is one of my favourites as well, super simple but it’s real lovely; I’ve played it so many times now I think I could play it in my sleep. There’s also a nod to the band Martha’s track “Cosmic Misery” in this as well - with the line “I put my faith in the north country, great poets, and the cosmic sea” - that album was a huge part of my life at that point. Even referring to Johnny Cash with “I was walkin’ down the line”, and the Pokémon reference in the title “future sight” - there’s a lot of me in this song.

2. Unburnt:

I wrote this whilst watching Game of Thrones, if it’s not apparent by the chorus. It’s a very political song, talking about the frustration I’ve endured trying to make sense of it all - it all seems to be a bloody hassle to just try and make sure that people are looked after and treated right. It’s not a surprise to hear politics in my music! I really like the punky, grungey elements of this track, this is another huge influence on me as well, but there is actually a Kendrick Lamar reference in this track too.. in the line “be careful you don’t overheat”, referring to his song “LUST.” - another artist who’s helped shape my music to be what it is today. I also love the bridges on this track, they’re some of my favourite lyrics as they perfectly depict how I feel about the fact that sometimes as a singular person you have no control over any element of political turmoil and it can feel like you’re not able to do anything about it. Oh, and there’s also a guitar solo at the end, AND a bass solo. Why not?

3. Waterlines:

This is easily one of my oldest songs ever. If I remember correctly, I wrote it back in 2015 when I’d just moved to Manchester, or was about to - I came up with the chord progression and loved it immediately. It’s proper fun to play, there’s so much energy in the track, and as a pretty novice guitar player, the jolting bridge section marked a really important part in my guitar ability, making the sound more unique and making me work on my ability a lot to get to the point where I am today. It’s heavily inspired by a Courtney Barnett song “Nobody Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” - I loved the chorus and wanted to write a track in the same lane of thinking as I’m terrible at making decisions as well. I literally had the recording project for years as well - there was a lot of old demos that sounded very very different. The thing that I’m really happy with in this tune is the organ, it adds so much to it, and the bassline just emphasises the groove that I wanted in it as well!

4. Consolation prize:

This is basically a love song I wrote when I was listening to a bunch of country music. I love the little riff at the end of the choruses, it’s real lovely to play and it’s one that people often sing along to, which is super nice. Realistically it’s like an anti-love song, being a bit more like “well if you don’t get what you want, then I’ll be here” - especially with the chorus, just about being a nervous mess sometimes. I think this track also marked a shift in my vocal style, there’s a lot more going on rhythmically in this with a lot of words in short spaces, there’s a lot of phonetic rhythm and it really relies on my accent to actually rhyme some of the words - I rhythm “prey” and “pave(ment)” which I think isn’t possible if you’re not from the North of England! I do love the slide guitar in it as well, it just gives it such a lovely atmosphere to it. I’m gonna get a music video done for it and I definitely want it to have a real country visual to it.

5. Pennine dream:

When I was at university I wrote my dissertation on “the impact of musical, artistic and literary works upon a societal structure”.. it was EXTREMELY long and took me about 9 months to do it in total. I read about 20 books for it, and a lot of it was philosophy or classics, and this song was definitely born out of that. It’s really just me having a think about the state of the world - there’s a lot going on beyond your control and it can be very overwhelming to think about at any great length. I feel it’s a bit of a response to people who dismiss opinions due to inexperience, which is often the case! There’s a lot of Bob Dylan in this track too. I really love the first line of the chorus too - “well I am the sum of what each of my qualities deem me to be” - it’s both introspective and contemplative on society. A lot like most of my songs, really. I also wrote the line “I floated in, like an epidemic disease” before the pandemic too, a lot of people think it’s inspired by that. A final point - this guitar solo was basically my first take for it, and I could not believe I’d come up with something like that so I just kept the initial idea! Hence why it fades out.

7. Lunar cycle:

This song is easily one of my oldest, I think I actually wrote it when I lived in Leicester in 2014. It’s depressing, very depressing. It’s therapeutic for me to write songs like this, being able to put those kinds of feelings somewhere and use them to create is like making the most of the bad situation. I actually changed a lot of the lines in this song as well, there’s a lot of revised versions along the way. It kinda relates to the previous track, another idea of that you can’t actually make any decent change and that the world is just a bit naff in general - especially with the lines “another story about my generation painted in a bad light; well you know we’re all in the same boat, we’re just trying to get by”, I just got very fed up of people putting other people down for no good reason - sometimes I think we should just stick together and support each other, but it’s not often an idea shared by many people.

8. Maple fear:

This could be the earliest song I wrote on this EP. The final track, it sums up that period of my songwriting really well - very angsty, angry and just a bit fed up of it all - a LOT of feelings went into this track. Getting fed up with the state of the country, seeing injustices and just people treating each other terribly, dealing with loneliness, a lot of the time I wanted to kinda just start anew; but at the same time I wanted to help make the change that I was looking for, so I was often in a conundrum. The first part is about when I took a holiday to Ottawa, the freedom I felt and the weight of it all being lifted - plus the line “and I ain’t ever sure I know what to do” is a real throwback to the topic of “waterlines”. I often feel that the second verse is maybe a touch too much - I think I may have slightly exaggerated the situation, be it on my own overthinking or just for creative splendour; but it’s also a strong reflection of how I felt at that point as well. I am very proud of the final line of that last verse - “I always heard that you can’t make a first impression twice” - I try to make sure I treat everyone with respect, and you’ll get respect in return. I do also love the ferocity of that tempo change - it just gives the track so much energy, and the bassline is absolutely nasty, it took me so long to get it right haha.

I really enjoyed writing this, there’s so much that I try to incorporate into my music that sometimes isn’t apparent at first. Thanks to Breathing The Core for the feature!

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