Between the Lines: Axolotl
The Veils' Finn Andrews lets us in on the inspiration behind the band's new song, Axolotl.
When I was a child, one of my first toys was a stuffed platypus, and my mother kept axolotls in tanks. Both of these creatures have always appealed to me - any living thing referred to as a mistake of God should be held even closer to the heart.
The song is about transformation and existential dread, but it's also meant to be funny. I enjoy mixing these personal, confessional stories with entirely imagined ones. I've written from the perspective of an adolescent mother, a sociopathic truck driver, and the collective subconscious of a flock of birds. And why the devil not? Creating these strange little worlds where the rules of the outside don't apply is all part of the fun.
This was the first song we made with El-P, who is a rapper, so I thought it would be cool to put in a line that sounds a bit like Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, which I've heard referred to as one of the first examples of a rap vocal.
His lines went:
Maggie comes fleet foot/ Face of black soot/ Talkin' that the heat put/ Plants in the bed but
Which I changed to
Sister Maggie's coming in fleet foot/ Baby's got a belly full of black soot
Mostly just cause I thought it was funny, but the line ended up having a very sinister quality to it within the context of the song.
I think the idea for the song also came from a Bill Hicks bit I heard when I was in my early teens about creationists saying that God hides dinosaur fossils on earth to test our faith, like he is just this all-seeing, infallible prankster running around the desert burying bones to fuck with our minds. That image really stayed with me.
Axolotl is the first single from The Veils' upcoming album Total Depravity, out 26 August. Pre-order here.
Between the Lines is a series where songwriters take us into the writing room
Read (and listen) to the rest of the series here