Pet Shop Boys Discuss ‘Electric’, Their Euphoric Summer Album: Idolator Interview

Robbie Daw | June 21, 2013 6:51 am

“Thursday” sticks out as a real pop gem on this album. How did this particular day of the week earn the honor of being immortalized in song by Pet Shop Boys? NEIL: The song started as an instrumental demo written by Chris, which he’d written on a Thursday. The demo title was “A Thursday Night Special.” CHRIS: Basically — I don’t know if it’s the same in Los Angeles — but in London, Thursday is really the start of the weekend now. Everyone goes out on a Thursday. No one can be bothered to wait until Friday anymore! So that was just the title. When you’re writing a song in Logic, in order to save it, you have to come up with a title. So I come up with loads of crap titles, which very rarely get used. NEIL: Well, there are two of them on this album! CHRIS: Yeah. But I normally come up with them simply to save the song. I never expect them to end up being used in any remote way. NEIL: Something that happened with this album is that Stuart Price wanted us to work on the tracks in alphabetical order, which is how the album did indeed work out. And so we got up to “Thursday Night Special” in alphabetical order, and that was just reduced to “Thursday” then, when it was saved, while we worked on the music for the track. It really fits it, musically, in that place on the album. I remember being at home and thinking, well, I’ll have to think of a lyric for a song that you can call “Thursday.” I was in my kitchen and I just thought of this very simplistic thing: Thursday, then Friday — it’s soon gonna be the weekend. And it took off from there.

What brought about the Example collaboration for “Thursday”? NEIL: We had this idea of having a rap on it, and we downloaded from the Internet an a cappella of Nicki Minaj. And that was in the rough mix. Actually, it sounded really good on it, too. CHRIS: I think you could probably put her rap on any record and it would sound good. NEIL: Yeah. What song was it? CHRIS: I can’t remember now. Not a very famous song. NEIL: Anyway, we discussed having a rapper — endless discussions about who to ask to do it. Then Stuart was going to be working with Example, who is, of course, a rapper and a singer, and we persuaded Stuart to ask Example if he’d do something. And Example was really into it, which was great! He said he’d do it if he could sing, as well. He took the track away and spent quite a while working on it. We weren’t there, by the way — this was all done in Los Angeles and we were in England, I think. He did this great rap and he sang a different melody and words over the chorus. So then we had that, and listening to the chorus that I’d sung — “Thursday, and Friday, it’s gonna be the weekend” — sounded like we could have something with a bit more energy. So we came up with another chorus, which was kind of influenced by what Example had sung: “It’s Thursday night, let’s get it right.” And then we put them all together. It was quite a lengthy process, but I think it works really well.

It’s certainly one of those songs that keeps unfolding. It’s quite beautiful, actually. NEIL: Thank you. And his rap style is gorgeous. It reminds me of, as Stuart suggested, [something] like Sugarhill Gang, or that sort of period. It’s not like ego rap. It’s like that warm, rhythmic rap.

The roll-out for this album feels very similar to Elysium last year, when “Invisible” was unveiled as a buzz track before the single “Winner.” Was that the same thinking with “Axis” and Electric? NEIL: You’re right, but the question is nowadays, what is a single? You can buy this single track on iTunes — it’s actually being released on 12” vinyl, as well — so in that respect it’s a single. We don’t expect to get overwhelming radio play with it. I don’t think it’s been formally serviced to all radio stations. It has been serviced to one or two. I think what we really wanted to do with this is establish that this is a very dance-based record. We really want to make sure that’s the vibe that goes out with this record. But it’s interesting what a single means now for us. We’re not going to get that radio play in Britain. It’s not possible because of our age. It doesn’t matter what record we made. We’re very grateful Radio 2 plays our records, and that one or two other stations do, but broadly speaking, they’re just not going to play it. So you have to look at that as a kind of freedom thing. You can put out something whenever you want, really. You don’t have to follow those airplay rules.

In that respect, it must feel like a very exciting time for Pet Shop Boys. NEIL: It does — it feels like it for us.