The times are-a-changing for the Bristolian gentlemen in The St Pierre Snake Invasion. Last Friday the South West bruisers released their longly awaited sophomore release; Caprice Enchantè, a fantastic slab of poetic, poignant and eloquent turbulent chaos. We recently got in touch with frontman Damien Sayell, who laid bare to the stories and influences behind each track. Put the kettle on and get comfy my friends; this is a wild ride.
The Safety Word is Oklahoma
"The title is taken from a Jackass stunt, it was our drummer Sam’s idea to name it such (schoolboy error I know). The opening line is a reference to Nikola Tesla, his obsession with the number 3 and what I believe to be a criminal lack of recognition of his achievements and contributions to the world. In the context of the song he personifies my ego, ‘Three’, his obsession, represents everyone/everything. ’I gave you the world on a plate, and this is the thanks I get?’, is me/my ego pontificating about feeling overlooked and undervalued (Ugly isn’t it?). There are parts of the song in which I’m trying to give advice to a younger version of myself, advice about not giving up, sticking to my guns, ‘there’s no-one listening but, there’s no excuse to pipe-down’ and there are parts of the song where I’m trying to convince myself to stop for the sake of my own sanity, ‘Let me off, avert this madness’. It’s admittedly all over the place musically and thematically but, I think because of that it accurately depicts the capriciousness and episodical madness of being creative, hence the nods to Willy Wonka. Innit."
"This was one of the 1st songs written for the album - which was intended to have a running theme of romanticism. The lyric ‘it’s romantic/poetic in the sense that it’s not romantic at all’ is a reference to the starving/tortured artist trope. There’s nothing romantic/poetic about spending 9 hours in a van to play to no-one, and there’s nothing romantic/poetic about becoming unwell because of art but, there is something romantic, poetic and liberating about recognising this and still choosing to continue. It was the first song on the album that the idea of ‘triumphant defeatism’ came to mind. Knowing that you’re destined to fail and carrying on regardless because you’ve realised that stopping has never been an option. It also touches on frustration, pride, inflation of ego and schadenfreude."
"This is probably the most obvious song on the album, both musically and thematically. Conceptually the lyrics were inspired by Stewart Lee’s ’Top Gear’ bit. In which he uses the rhetoric and implied values of Top Gear to critique the rhetoric and implied values of Top Gear. ‘From the East they scurried West with blatant surreptitiousness’ is meant to evoke images of migrants ’scurrying’ like rodents across the country, (used intentionally to mirror the dehumanisation of migrants by far-right figures) with ‘blatant surreptitiousness’, an obvious ulterior motive - benefit tourism/access to the NHS. They’re also intended to evoke images of a political campaign snaking across the UK, a racist crusade to rid the country of non-whites under the guise of restoring archaic ‘British values’. Each line of the song can be interpreted in two ways (I know, I know, smart as fuck, right? hahaha)"
"The title is the name of a famous ghost ship which vanished in 1921 and reappeared a few days later minus it’s crew. The song is about loss of identity, the perceived importance of identity, deception and self-entitlement. The ghost ship for me represents an entity which once had a clear objective, but is now drifting in to the unknown with no direction or purpose. ’Goodnight Sweetheart’, is a reference to the song of the same name by The Spaniels. My dad would sing this to me and my siblings as children in order to let us know it was bedtime, it’s meant to represent both the romanticisation of a ’simpler time’ and a farewell to a past I can’t regain, or the future I want which can never be attained. I got white gurl wasted to write some of these lyrics which is probably why they hardly make any sense. I trust that drunk me knew what he was doing though, and that they are jam-packed with sentiment and poignancy."
"A song about ego, frustration, doubt and expectancy. Casanova - synonymous with love, romance and passion. Novacaine - a numbing agent. The 1st verse is about the band’s prolonged inactivity, ‘Eroding cannons aimed directly at the sun’, an ageing, ornate and stationary weapon fixed on a target which is impossible to hit. The 2nd verse is a critique of my self-entitlement, ’The man, the myth, the sage, the legend, the patron saint of the undeserving’. The chorus is the one lyric on the album which is masked least with symbolism, ‘Anything could happen though you know it won’t’, almost a mantra we’ve collectively adopted from years of naive excitement about potential opportunities which rarely, if ever came to fruition."
The Idiot’s Guide to Music
"This is a song about celebrating individuality and having faith in your abilities. It was written after a slew of rejections from a number of record labels. Although we have no ill feeling at all towards any of them, the overarching sense we had was of being an outside bet, and given that labels are ostensibly investors, they were always going to opt for safer odds. Which is totally fine and completely understandable. The song is a polite and jovial ‘fuck you’, it’s my way of saying that I’m happier with us being an unmarketable band of weird cunts who’ll never set the world on fire commercially, than a band that compromised and shat out some soulless, insipid shit marketed at teenage girls with the explicit aim of securing a return on an advance. ‘and if it doesn’t suit the scenery? Well, I’ll drink to that’."
"The title song and the one which pretty much sums up the album in two minutes a thirty-four seconds. It’s about flipping violently back and forth between an unwavering sense of aim and purpose and a crippling sense of despair and pointlessness. ‘I love it, I hate it, I hate it, I love it’. ‘I leave myself in empty rooms for cheap cigars with new recruits’ is an autobiographical account of the feeling I’ve had having literally vomited on venue floors through exhaustion in front of ten people in the middle of nowhere, for seemingly little to no benefit of the band. Which is not to say it was a waste of time, people often talk to us about being at those shows, and that proves it was actually all worth while. Caprice Enchanté."
It Gave a Lovely Light
"This is adapted from the poem ‘Figs from Thistles: First fig’ by Edna St Vincent Millay. I first came across it in Christopher Hitchens’ autobiography ‘Hitch 22’. He quotes it when describing his love and talent for drinking. My relationship with alcohol is simliar to Hitchens’ in that ‘I have a propensity for drink and the capacity to withstand it’. I moved to Bristol to start the band, and to meet like minded people in order to talk with them as much as possible about music and art. I discovered that the ideal time to execute this was between the hours of 4am and 7am deep in the belly of a lock-in, kept in drink and good company. This song is a tribute to all of those nights and the friendships I now have which blossomed because of them."
"This is about a sense of losing my identity through the success of others. It’s a bullshit concept and one that took me a long time to put to bed. I won’t go into this one too much because I’m too embarrassed to explain the ins and outs. In short, I can be a bit of an arrogant and entitled prick sometimes."
Not All Who Wander Are Lost
"The concept for the lyrics came from ‘Music, Maestro, Please’, an old big band song from the 30’s (there are many versions of this but my favourite and the one which influenced this song is by Jack Hylton). It’s about a man/woman at a bar ready to drink away their sorrow and memories of a past love whilst listening to music to ease the pain. ‘A table by the band, a small one, some cigarettes, a drink, yes a tall one, and waiter I could use, a chaser for my blues’. ’Tonight I mustn’t think of her/him, Music, Maestro please’. The premise of NAWWAL is me sat in that art deco bar as an old embittered curmudgeon, still waiting for the recognition I believe I deserve to arrive, despite not wanting to ever be reminded of music again. ‘Maestro, not tonight, starved but I’ve had my fill of waiting for the fog to shift’. It’s a day-dream about how it would feel to have your art discovered and appreciated years after you’d ceased to make it."
Things To Do In Denbigh When You’re Dead
"The music for this is the oldest on the album - I wrote it about 7 years ago and at that time we were still in our garage rock stage so it just didn’t fit. I had the title and the lyric ’So, that’s what a real man looks like. This is what a real man looks like’ way back then but I struggled for years and years to write the verses. The song is in part about growing up in isolated sea-side towns (some good old-fashioned escapism) and thinking I was depressed for half my life when I wasn’t (it was emotional instability all along - in case you’re wondering). Denbigh is my wife’s home town. The title is a play on ’Things to do in Denver when you’re dead’ a film staring Andy Garcia, who incidentally ate his twin sibling whilst in the womb - google it! The lyrics are mostly about my low moods which is why they took so long to complete and is also why they’re overtly cryptic, because to be brutally honest that shit is none of your fucking business, yo!"
"This was the last song written for the album, it’s one of my favourites because we wrote it together, whereas usually I write everything, show the boys what to play and then make prolonged and grandiose statements about my talent being akin to that of Prince and/or Mozart. ASK THEM. NINE YEARS OF IT, THEY’RE FUCKING SAINTS THE LOT OF THEM. Pierre Brassau was a chimp (real name Peter) who was made to paint some canvasses. A journalist then took those ‘works’ and displayed them at an art gallery in Stockholm. Upon viewing them many reputable and esteemed art critics began to unknowingly shower the higher-primate with praise, lauding him for his artistic prowess. "Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer.”’. I see this as a metaphor for implied culture, and that……… is why I don’t like craft beer."
I Am The Lonely Tourist
"I’m not going to explain this one. It’s named after a friend of mine called Paul Tierney who makes music under the moniker ‘Lonely Tourist’. He’s a fantastic songwriter and you should listen to his music at the nearest juncture."
Caprice Enchantè is out now, released independently. The band celebrated the release with an album launch show in Bristol last Friday (Keep those peepers peeled for our live review) and will be performing across the country throughout the summer, with more dates set to come. Catch the group at the following dates:
27th June - Level 3, Swindon 28th June - JT Soar, Nottingham 13th July - 2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham 17th August - Arctangent Festival - Bristol 21st September - Craftcore Festival - Oxford