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Pet Shop Boys speak about Xenomania's unusual methods
Posted at 1:24 PM, 13 March 2009 -

Pet Shop Boys are the guests on this week's Guardian Music Weekly podcast. Click here to download or listen to the podcast.

In the interview, Neil Tennant says that with Xenomania «it's the most unusual way of working». He describes Xenomania's headquarters as being a bit "chaotic" sometimes and gives a rundown of some of the things that happen inside the house:

- all the rooms upstairs have a different studio setup
- in the attic there's "two young Australian guys" playing guitars and keyboards (Jason Resch and Kieran Jones)
- in other room there's "people working with mixing and lots of programming" (among them are Tim Powell and Nick Coler - who used to work with The KLF in the early '90s).
- there's "a french guy" (Fred Falke)
- in another room, a guy who records the vocals mainly and who's "a very good engineer" (Matt Tait?) - «people keep coming in and handing him memory sticks with a new bit of a song on and he listens to it and grades it»

With this setup, the Pet Shop Boys had to keep taking turns from one bedroom to another: «Sometimes we might be in different bedrooms. I might be doing vocals with Matt in one room, and on the other end of the corridor Chris is with Tim working on programming or something.» Neil revealed that every now and then «there's a meeting downstairs where they go through all the different projects». «When we were there, Girls Aloud's album was being finished and that was the priority, 'cos it was coming out that year. They also had their own bands developing and Alesha's album», Neil explained in the interview.

«It was exciting because while we were there "The Promise" was on the radio, Alesha's single "The Boy Does Nothing" was ALL OVER the radio, and they were having a big hit at the time with Gabriella Cilmi. So Brian Higgins would be looking at radio charts and things». At this point, Paul MacInnes (the Guardian interviewer) asked whether Brian Higgins looked triumphant. Neil replied: «He looks quietly satisfied, he doesn't really do triumphant».

Chris Lowe said that they were looking forward to writing songs with Xenomania: «It's quite interesting seeing how other people write the songs, we were really up for that. It's quite an interesting challenge. It was fascinating really, 'cos they write songs in such a different way than we do, and we've taken quite an awful lot away from it. They will keep on working the song, trying more melodies and trying more lyrical ideas, switching them around the song, and they'll just keep on pushing, and pushing, and pushing, until they've tried everything that can go there».

There's a a funny part in the interview when Neil Tennant is talking about the song "More than a dream" and starts singing various different bits. «It was originally a song called "Where the wild things are" and it had a spoken intro and a whole chorus that was based on the dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee [Neil starts singing the main melody riff]. That melody is still on the record but Miranda Cooper thought it was crap - because it was, it was a bit corny. We were going to scrap this song and then Chris wrote a bit of a melody (...), and suddenly Brian loved the savage contrast between the optimistic riff and this very European-sounding melody. The PSB melodies are more lugubrious, they've got more nerve and a bigger range, whereas Xenomania really got the pop riffs».

«With their songs, the song isn't really totally evident until the record is 70% made. I can wake up in the morning and finding myself singing something and then think "oh... it's 'The next big thing', the song we wrote with Xenomania that's never been recorded, that's lurking around on various memory sticks down in Kent. I quite like that song [laugh]».

The Pet Shop Boys consider Yes to be «a bit like a greatest hits record», with a sort of a «and the beat goes on concept»: «We wanted to have very, very, very strong melodic songs with strong ideas one after the other, and we wanted Xenomania because we wanted it to be electro-pop all the way through. So there's a linking sound, this album really hangs together».

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