|2005 was quite a remarkable year for McFly. They scored their second number one album, Wonderland (debut album Room On The Third Floor entered the UK album chart at No1, earning the band an award from the Guinness Book of Records for being the youngest band ever to chart at No1 with their debut album (an award previously held by The Beatles). They had two more number one singles (All About You, I’ll Be OK), which brought the total number of chart-topping singles released by the band to five (while guitarist and vocalist Tom Fletcher has co-written a further three No 1’s for Busted bringing the total to a remarkable eight No 1 hits, all before the age of 21).|
They headlined the Live 8 concert in Japan and played at the pre-G8 summitt in Glasgow. They embarked on another sold-out arena tour, which was later turned into a No1 platinum selling DVD. They made their first film, Just My Luck, with Lindsay Lohan, the hottest young actress of the moment. The film was one of the biggest teen chick flicks of the year in the US where it was No 3 at the box office on release. The experience provided them with material for their most recent number one: Please Please was inspired by drummer Harry Judd’s offscreen dalliance with co-star Lindsay Lohan ‘it’s not obviously about it, it’s got subtle links’ Tom begins to explain, before a slightly aggrieved-looking Harry interrupts: ‘Subtle links?’ he frowns, ‘like please, please Lindsay?’.
They travelled to Uganda as ambassadors for Comic Relief. They performed at the Royal Command Performance and met the Queen, an experience only mildly tainted by drummer Harry Judd’s unique choice of coiffure ‘I had a mohican, he groans’. They gained fans from far beyond the usual pop milleu – ‘I’ve lost count of the number of my mates, or my brother’s mates, or my dad’s mates that have seen us live and are shocked, who go ‘damn, you’re really good” says Harry. Amassing a fanclub that includes everyone from screaming teens to Brian May of Queen. ‘He came onstage with us the other day’ says guitarist and vocalist Danny Jones. ‘It was one of the greatest moments ever for me. He wrote a thing on his blog afterwards saying that we could easily outplay any respectable rock band. And we had a jam with him backstage beforehand as well. Andy from Razorlight walked in as we were jamming with Brian May and said ‘well, that’s one way to warm up for a gig”
Given that 2005 was the year that pop music was widely pronounced dead, McFly continued to buck the trend with a triumphant 12 months work, after which the quartet took some Christmas holidays.
They returned refreshed, with bassist Dougie Poynter bearing what Tom describes as ‘this whole vision for McFly, all these ideas for the next album. Me and Danny went on a cruise from Miami all around the Carribean, and we had a drunk chat about it one night on the balcony of the ship’ explains Dougie. ‘There was lots of surf stuff around, which was really inspiring, designs by this artist called Drew Brophy that I really liked. We already had the album title Motion In The Ocean from when we were in a burger bar in Beverly Hills and a friend of ours was telling us about a friend of his who apparently has a really small dick and had said ‘it’s not the size of your boat, it’s the motion in the ocean’. Me and Tom looked at each other, like: ‘album name!”.
Dougie had ideas for the band logo, for the album cover, an underwater photoshoot and for videos. It’s been a great process this time around as a lot of our ideas have been embraced. We’re really proud of this album.
Produced by The Collective (the team featuring Jason Perry of punk-popsters A who, you may remember, didn’t want your job in Starbucks). The result is a striking, diverse album that, according to Tom, provides the most direct, natural distillation of what McFly are about. ‘The best thing for me is when we’re some 15 year old girl’s favourite band in the world, we’re the first concert she’s ever been to. We just wanted to give her an album she could enjoy, rather than try and convince people that we’re a real band and we’re cool. Mind you’ he adds, ‘ I think we’ve achieved that on this album just by being ourselves and writing brilliant songs’.
The album stretches from the harmony-drenched pop of Sorry’s Not Good Enough, equal parts Queen and the Beach Boys, to the bizarre psychedelic showtune Transylvania, written by Poynter under the influence of acclaimed US power-pop band Jellyfish’s 1993 masterpiece Spilt Milk. ‘They really went for it, they’re stuff’s quite funny and a little bit weird’ he explains, ‘It just makes you think you can do anything in a song’. At one extreme, there’s the tearjerking Bubble Wrap, which starts out a gentle piano ballad and ends up with crashing electric guitars, an orchestra, the kitchen sink etc. – at another the pure McFly pop of new single Star Girl (release on 23rd October) , which includes a flatly hopeless Uranus pun, but is, as Harry rightly points out ‘no more stupid than ‘what’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster?”. ‘I had this dream that we wrote this song about falling in love with an alien and it was an amazing mega worldwide hit’ says Tom. ‘I told Dougie about it and he said ‘well, you should do it with this one”.
Then there’s Friday Night, which ponders the whys and wherefores of getting thumped by persons unknown while trying to enjoy a night out, something Danny claims to have personal experience of. ‘A bunch of blokes started on me in a club for no reason, so I had to go to a bouncer, which I hate doing, ‘I’m from McFly, these blokes want to kick the shit out of me, can you walk me to a taxi?’ So he did, but when I got in the taxi, I saw them and gave them the finger. Then I realised I hadn’t locked the door of the taxi’
But it is album opener We Are The Young, a teen-pop take on the powerchords and drum thunder of Who’s Next-era Who, that perhaps best encapsulates the new McFly mood. ‘There’s nothing like us around’ says Tom. ‘People need pop music. We’ve stuck around, we’ve stuck through this bad time for pop music and our fans have stuck with us. Now we’re back, doing exactly what we want to do. It really feels like this is what we should be doing’.
You could, if you were the kind of person who talks about albums having an emotional center, describe We Are The Young as Motion In The Ocean’s emotional center, bristling as it is with a combination of pop nous, bullish confidence and fuck-off attitude. Tom, however, demurs. ‘I don’t think our attitude to the album is ‘fuck off” he frowns. ‘I think our attitude to the album is that we’re going to write really great songs, they’re going to be really poppy and summery’. ‘And if you don’t like it’ says Harry, ‘then you can f***off’
MOTION IN THE OCEAN is released on Universal-Island on 13th November 2006. New single STAR GIRL is released on 23rd October 2006.
5th October 06