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The sound of two car alarms going off simultaneously. Depending on what mood you were already in you’d find that pretty annoying wouldn’t you? You might find it mildly irritating or it might send you into a tailspin of teeth-grinding fury, but what it probably wouldn’t do is provide an Archimedes-in-the-bath eureka moment. For Nothing But Thieves guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown that’s exactly what it did though.
When driving home from a hungover writing session the sound of those two clashing sirens proved to be a surprise source of inspiration. “We’d demoed this song Emergency and written the lyrics for it but we didn’t have the main bit for it,” recalls the guitarist. “I was driving home and heard this siren sound and I was like, ‘Hold on!’ I always have the voice recorder on my phone with me so recorded it.”
“Joe used to deliver pizzas and he would send me voice memos of him singing bits of melody during the delivery, you could hear the car in the background,” adds guitarist/keyboard player Dom Craik. “I’d try and fit chords around it and we’d throw it back and fourth around us to see what would work.”
From bits of graffiti they’ve spotted, scenes witnessed on the walk home from a night out to the oppressive claustrophobia of a packed tube train, Nothing But Thieves take snippets and snapshots of life in 2015 and weave it into the patchwork of their intoxicating, skyscraping hybrid. It’s music that can crunch like a jackhammer, twitch with glitching electronics, leap into an elastic groove or gently shimmer soulfully like the dying embers of a late night camp fire.