Track By Track: Mantra - I Want EP
Hear Mantra's debut EP in full, first on Upset.
Published: 11:08 am, January 12, 2017
London trio Mantra are setting out their stall with debut EP ‘I Want’, out tomorrow, Friday 13th January through Dine Alone Records. The five tracks were recorded between Rockfield studio in Gwent with Tom Dalgety and Lightship95 with Rory Bratwell, and tackle everything from political issues such as government budget cuts (‘Power Struggle’), to internal struggles and paranoia (‘Hypochondria’). You can hear the EP in full below, alongside a track by track commentary from the band.
I Want was recorded with Tom Dalgety at Rockfield Studios in Wales, which is an old farm in Monmouthshire with so much musical history. Black Sabbath, The Pixies, Oasis and Queen all recorded at Rockfield. I got to play on the piano that Freddie Mercury recorded Bohemian Rhapsody on. Mental! It was really fun working until 6am and crashing in the chalet accommodation they have there. My toilet was gold and sparkly, It’s just an amazing place.
We were in between drummers at the time so I picked up the sticks for this song. I wrote it in my bedroom a few months before and for some reason those pop radio drums over this wonky riff seemed to work. There are lots of themes in this song but I guess the thread that ties them all together is the repetition of ‘I Want’ which can be interpreted in any socio-political way you like.
Stroke was inspired by trying to write a song with one string on my guitar. I’ve always liked being a three piece because it helps you think about what each instrument can do to create something greater than the sum of its parts. We recorded this one with Rory Bratwell (formerly of Test Icicles) who is just great. He has an old north sea tanker called Lightship95 moored in the East London docks. It’s a cool place until you feel sea-sick when the tide comes in. Thematically the song is an exploration of embracing feeling numb. At the time there wasn’t much to look forward to.
Destroy You is really an attack on the narrow funnel that is modern pop music and how low the bar is now. I meant it to be a positive call to arms but I’m not sure it’ll be taken that way. This is another one that we recorded at Rockfield. I wanted to experiment with structure, varying the dynamics between loud and quiet, building to a crescendo. I suppose it mirrors the song's lyrical intention of deconstruction. How French.
Power Struggle has lots of different elements to it, but to me it has a kind of punk-dub thing to it with that recurring swinging riff and half time middle eight. I also wanted the vocals to have this rhythmic syncopation to really punch through the music. The cuts to public services came to my local hospital, so I felt like I had to say something about how easy it is to lose the basics if you’re not paying attention.
Hypochondria came from a summery ukulele chord, that evolved into this weird funky riff. It’s really fun to play live. This is my synth debut. I guess this song is about being told that everything is alright while someone stabs you in the back. Paranoia, basically.
Mantra’s debut EP ‘I Want’ is out tomorrow, Friday 13th January.
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