Between the Lines: Neon Nebula

Music

17.04.2015

Between the Lines: Neon Nebula

“Neon Nebula” is a song that was written in about 10 minutes, but looking back I see that there were various happenings and things that were influential to me, mainly on a subconscious level, to help it along. Firstly the song comes from being err...totally heartbroken. When the main riff was written I was just feeling overwhelmingly fucked and depressed. And a circular riff came out, it felt good, so I kept it and then some lyrics, real easy.

I didn't sit down with the idea of writing a song, I was just playing the guitar because I was feeling completely cornered by pain. It sounds melodramatic now, but seriously, it’s true. 

“Go tell it on the mountain,

She's a neon nebula

And she's in my head again”

The first line comes from a painting by artist Dylan Rainforth from an RM exhibit that my flat mate Sriwhana Spong had bought and hung near the front door in our flat in Arch Hill round about 1999 (it currently resides in her parents’ attic, while she works overseas). It was A4 size and had a pink, grey and blue mountain with the words "Go tell it on the mountain" written in glitter. Also at the time, I would often walk up to the summit Mt Eden in Auckland, so it reflects that too.

The second line (and title of the song) comes from a Blondie song called 'Pretty Baby':

“Pretty baby,

You look so heavenly,

A neo-nebular,

From under the sun”

Blondie had pretty much always been my favorite band since I was about 10 years old and thanks to my older brother Robbie, I had all of their albums and knew all of their songs, and it wasn't my favourite song by them - but that line stuck in my head for some reason at the time.

“I don't want to just take,

Cut like a razor light  

I’ve got none to give

She's a neon nebula

And she's in my head again”

Those lyrics are pretty um…straightforward. Of minor note, however: the ‘razor light’ line pre-dates the UK band of the same name by about 3 years - so  it’s not a tribute or anything!

(Incidentally we had a song very soon after called “Razor Light” and we even released the “Razor Light EP” and sent a few to the UK. Then, whaddya know?! Some band from the UK has this name,.etc, But seriously,  we later renamed the song 'Dirty Ears'

 

 

Anyway, “Neon Nebula” was recorded as part of a 95bFM live to air that we did one morning with a very accommodating Mikey Havoc. That’s the recording of the song used on every release of the song since. bFM put the track on the Heads Up CD compilation of 2002 bNet nominees (it got nominated for ‘Best Unreleased Song’ at the Awards that year), as well as another comp called Live and Loud. . The track also appeared on DJ Skinny (aka Michael Simons)’s CD compilation Rock n Roll Music Is My Only Salvation from 2002, an archival collection of NZ rock music from 1998 and 2002. After we split up, Blink released the song with a bunch other Xanadu songs in CD format with A LOW HUM>SERIES 3>ISSUE ONE. It’s also the track that made the most money from radio airplay. But the best thing of all was just playing the song - that a few people have said to me that it was their favorite song, and that they have listened to it over and over again. That is cool.

It’s weird, though. Of all our songs, this was our ‘biggest’.But it still feels upon reflection like I had nothing to do with it.


Read PP contributor Duncan Greive's authoritative Xanadu biography for A Low Hum here.
Following a killer reunion tour earlier this year, Xanadu's small and perfectly-formed discography has been remastered and reissued on MP3/FLAC and vinyl. Buy it here.
Cover image credit: Elizabeth Matthews - Xanadu performing at Wellington's RPM record store, 15 March 2015

Between the Lines is a series where songwriters take us into the writing room
Read (and listen) to the rest of the series here

If You Stand By This Tree Long Enough, They'll Make You The Fucking Queen: Bill Direen and A Memory of Others.
Read Time: 22 mins
Campbell Walker on Simon Ogston's Bill Direen documentary...
Music
If You Stand By This Tree Long Enough, They'll Make You The Fucking Queen: Bill Direen and A Memory of Others.
By Campbell Walker
All The Elements Conspire: Beautiful Collision At 15
Read Time: 13 mins
Pasan Jayasinghe charts a lifelong fandom with Bic...
Music
All The Elements Conspire: Beautiful Collision At 15
By Pasan Jayasinghe
What Would Jack Do?: A Review of "Passio"
Read Time: 11 mins
Alex Taylor finds an exquisite corpse exhumed.
Music
What Would Jack Do?: A Review of "Passio"
By Alex Taylor
First Watch: The Map Room’s ‘Hold Me Up To The Sun’
Read Time: 4 mins
We premiere The Map Room's video for 'Hold Me Up To...
Music
First Watch: The Map Room’s ‘Hold Me Up To The Sun’
By Simon Gooding
Mine by Right: Copyright in Aotearoa
Read Time: 22 mins
In a knowledgeable essay, Elizabeth Heritage explores...
Literature
Mine by Right: Copyright in Aotearoa
By Elizabeth Heritage
Blenheimer Rhapsody
Read Time: 28 mins
Mark Mullen describes growing up in the Blenheim of...
Music
Blenheimer Rhapsody
By Mark Mullen
Clashing Communities and Negotiating the Mundane: An Interview with Cut Off Your Hands
Read Time: 10 mins
With their first single in six years, post-punkers...
Music
Clashing Communities and Negotiating the Mundane: An Interview with Cut Off Your Hands
By James Manning
Between The Lines: People Like Us
Read Time: 27 mins
Adam McGrath on his song 'People Like Us', a childhood...
Music
Between The Lines: People Like Us
By Adam McGrath
Beta!