Album Snapshot: Then Thickens 'Colic'

Then Thickens' Jon-Lee Martin gives us an insight into their deeply intimate and expansive new record 'Colic'.

Ben Smith

Date published: 30th Oct 2015

Image: Then Thickens

What started out as a bedroom project for front man Jon-Lee Martin has blossomed into a burgeoning four piece with two albums already to their name.  

Rooted in the north west town of Chorley, Then Thickens have just released their second album Colic, the follow up to their acclaimed debut Death Cap At Anglezarke.

Prone to soaring guitar parts with a strong sense of melody, the album also heralds more sombre moments with deeply intimate lyricism and observations of characters Jon-Lee has created.

To get a greater sense of the exciting new record from the band, we got word from Jon-Lee on his high flying project as well as a harrowing and consuming tale about the death of Elliot Smith.   

What does the album represent? 

Brutal honesty, blurred only by a poor and creative memory. I was set on trimming the fat off this LP. The songs needed to be transparent and clean - direct even. It needed to represent the sound of the band too, clinically and avoid using the studio as anything other than a tool to document.

I personally became paranoid that the songs would suffocate if we approached it the same way as our first album.

Where does it stand musically? 

For the most part its based around repetitive melodic phrases akin to lullabies. Sleep was not working out so well for me for some time and I became obsessed with lullabies, they are hidden all over the record.

Playing clean and precise was new territory for us and it did feel a little exposing at times but I’m proud of the way it turned out.

Where was it recorded?

We recorded in Liverpool, at Whitewood studios, we could see and smell the Mersey from the control room. Rob Whitely made the album from start to finish this time and we had the luxury of tracking in his studio, so it was quick and we were all pretty comfortable with what we were doing. I was also secretly hoping I’d bump into Lee Mavers.

Pick out a lyric from the album and why?  

“Cannot sleep for dreaming“. I’ll go with that, it’s pretty much true; I dream constantly, I’m doing it now. 

Favourite song to perform live?

‘Turn your words around’. It’s on the new album but we have been playing it for a while now. It was one of the first written after Death Cap at Anglezarke. There is a groove shift at the end from a 4/4 to 3/4 rhythm and it just feels incredible, it pops without having to dig in or boost anything.

Tell us something we wouldn't know about it? 

It’s about a really heavy evening I had in New York at the CMJ festival, years ago - Winter 2003. I noticed a woman just completely lose it in a bar, like hysterically upset. Me and my friends went to see if she was ok. After a while she told us that her dear friend had just been found dead, with a knife in his chest.

The friend was Elliot Smith and the girl Mary-Lou Lord. It had a very deep resonating effect on me, I didn’t know Elliot and wasn’t familiar with his music at the time but knowing what we did, before the rest of the world felt wrong. People talk about the New York fear and I was sceptical but I got it bad that night.

Colic was released Friday 23rd October via Hatch Records

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