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Pet Shop Boys diary @ Xenomania
Posted at 9:05 AM, 25 August 2009 -

The latest issue of Literally magazine (exclusive to members of the Pet Shop Boys Club) includes a diary written by Neil Tennant (with occasional comments by him and Chris Lowe). The diary follows the release of their latest album Yes, with details covering the period in which the album was written and recorded. A few excerpts from the time they spent at Xenomania (pictures taken by the Pet Shop Boys):


2008
April 22
Neil, Chris and Dave Dorrell go down to Westerham to meet Brian Higgins. Afterwards, get a lift to Oxted station and take train back.

May 13
Lunch in the garden at Westerham with whole Xenomania team. Then Neil and Chris work with Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper on melody and lyric ideas for songs based on Xenomania backing-tracks: "The loving kind", "The next big thing", "Random", "Where the wild things are".

Neil: There's a few Xenomania songs that weren't finished, or it was decided weren't good enough. I think "Random" was finished. The chorus goes: "I have nothing to say / but what I'm saying today / is just random". I imagine nothing will happen to it. The song I think is actually quite good is "The next big thing": "Something tells me baby you're the next big thing..."

May 14
While Brian Higgins collates previous day's ideas, Chris and Neil drive to Sevenoaks, walk in Knole Park. Back at studio, work with Brian and Miranda going through melody ideas from previous day.

May 15
Neil writes downstairs with Miranda for "Where the wild things are". Chris writes new melodies upstairs for "The way it used to be".

May 27
Back at Westerham. Work with Brian and Miranda on new songs. Miranda and Neil finish lyrics for "The loving kind" and "Random". Neil records vocals. Chris upstairs.

May 28
Miranda and Neil finish more lyrics for "Random". Neil records vocals on "The loving kind". Chris upstairs.

May 29
Miranda and Neil finish lyrics for "Where the wild things are". Neil records vocals for "Random" and "Where the wild things are". Chris upstairs.

May 30
Miranda and Neil write lyrics for "The way it used to be" and "The next big thing". Chris upstairs.

June 3
Neil sings vocals on "The way it used to be" and "The next big thing". Chris upstairs.

June 4
Miranda and Neil work on lyrics for new track, "Love etc.". Chris upstairs.
Chris: I went upstairs and wrote melodies on Xenomania's backing tracks, some of which haven't been used by anyone so they must still be lurking around. I was in the red room, I think. Actually sometimes I was in Nick Coler's room, which might be the green room.

June 5
Chris and Neil visit Chartwell. Listen to comp of "Love etc.".

June 17
Back at Westerham. Work on "Love etc.". Miranda and Neil write new lyric for new song, "Revelation", based on "Where the wild things are" music. Neil sings vocals.
Neil: "Revelation" is what eventually becomes "More than a dream".

June 18
Work on structure and lyrics of "Love etc."

June 19
Work more on structure and lyrics of "Love etc.". Neil sings some alternative lyrics. Listened to work that's been done on "Did you see me coming?"

July 1
Spent the day with Brian deciding which songs would go on the album: "Did you see me coming?", "Pandemonium", "Beautiful people", "Crying, not laughing", "Legacy", "The way it used to be", "Vulnerable", "King of Rome" (renamed from "King of pop"), "This used to be the future".
Chris: There were a couple of songs we didn't like, that weren't that great. But these discussions were always entertaining.

July 2
Work with Brian on structure of "Love etc.". In afternoon decide "Building a wall" should go on album. Work on structure of "More than a dream". Neil writes extra chorus lyrics for "Love etc.".

July 3
Neil sings chorus lyrics on "Love etc.". Chris works with Tim [Powell] on new version of "Building a wall". Neil writes new lyrics for it. Finalise structure and lyrics for "Love etc.".

July 15
Back at Westerham. Girls Aloud there. Record Carla [Marie Williams], an in-house singer, doing duet with Neil on "The way it used to be". Chris and Neil work with Tim on "Building a wall".

July 16
Back at Westerham. Brian plays through tracks that had been worked on; Neil and Chris make comments etc. Neil and Chris work with Nick on "Building a wall". Neil puts down new vocal melody.

July 28
Phil Oakey arrives at Westerham, sings vocals on "This used to be the future". Chris and Neil work with Tim on "The way it used to be".

July 29
Finish working with Tim on "The way it used to be". Chris starts working with Tim on "This used to be the future". Neil sings full vocal for "King of Rome".

July 30
Work more with Tim on "This used to be the future". Record some new lyrics for "The loving kind". Listen to "The way it used to be" for Brian's comments.

July 31
Work with Tim on "The way it used to be". After lunch, Neil, Chris, Brian and Tim travel, via Oxted station and Clapham Junction, to Matrix complex at Parson's Green, where Jeremy Wheatley (mixer) has his studio

September 15
Back at Westerham. Talk to Brian. Neil writes "More than a dream" lyrics with Miranda while Chris works on music with Tim. Put down guide vocals. Start working on "I'm not crying, I'm laughing". It becomes new song, "All over the world".

September 16
Work with Tim all day on "All over the world".

September 17
Work with Tim on "All over the world". Neil adds middle vocals. Then work on "King of Rome" and "Legacy".

September 25
Abbey Road. Orchestral session conducted by Andy Brown.

September 30
Back at Westerham. Johnny Marr plays guitar, harmonica and tambourine on "Beautiful people", and guitar on "All over the world" and "Legacy".

October 1
Johnny plays guitar on "Building a wall", "Did you see me coming?", "More than a dream" and "Pandemonium".

October 2
Johnny plays acoustic guitar and harmonica on a Girls Aloud track. Start finalising mix of "Love etc." to be played at Parlophone 2009 presentation. Neil re-sings all vocals on "Legacy".

October 7
Chris works with Tim on "Building a wall". Neil does vocals with Matt [Tait] on "Building a wall" and "All over the world". Backing vocals recorded on "Beautiful people" with Jason [Resch] and Jessie [Malakouti].

October 8
Spent most of the day going through songs on the album determining what else needs to be done with Brian and Tim.

October 15
Work on "The way it used to be" structure, then "More than a dream".

October 16
Work on "Building a wall" and "This used to be the future".

October 22
Work on "Pandemonium". Record backing vocals with girls, then boys. Go upstairs to work with Tim on the track.

October 23
Work with Tim on "Pandemonium" track for most of the day. Neil changes some vocals on "King of Rome".

October 27
Nick records brass on "Pandemonium". Neil and Chris work with Tim on "King of Rome". Brian arrives and they finish structure of song. Chris and Tim work on "Pandemonium".

October 31
Back at Westerham. Worked with Tim on "Pandemonium" for most of the day, then on "King of Rome".

November 26
Visit Jeremy Wheatley finishing mixes for album at Matrix studios. Make changes to mixes of all tracks except "Love etc.".

November 27
Matrix. Finish mixes of "Love etc." and "King of Rome", then make a running order.

Chris: We all had our running orders - me, Neil and Brian Higgins - and Angela had a point of view as well. I'd shoved all the mega-pop ones at the beginning. In the end it was a compromise. Neil wanted to start the album with "Legacy". It's bizarre that anyone would want to start the album with that...

December 3
Mastering of album.

December 8
Album playback at Abbey Road for record company etc.

December 10
Neil speaks to Brian on the phone about bonus "Dub" album.


2009

February 5

Back at Westerham. Work with Tim and Matt on dub mixes for bonus album.

February 9
Hear first play of "Love etc." on Radio 2.

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