To begin with, Tom begins with, we never thought this would be a first single. It was the first song Danny and I began writing together from scratch – we’d been listening to a Beatles song and this one just sort of fell out.Of course as the history book on the self will prove for all time, this was a single – the band’s first - and it went straight to Number One in the UK pop parade, staying there for a mindboggling two weeks.The boys are yet to discover what the real girl with five colours in her hair – from Channel 4 teen drama As If – makes of the whole thing, but they understand she is aware of her role in pop history. “She probably hates us,” Tom mopes.Fascinating fact: “I’d like to phone her cos she puts me in the mood” was originally “I’d like to bone her”. “We changed it,” Tom explains, “because we’re nice boys.” (Not so nice, it would seem, that they don’t sing ‘bone’ when they perform the song live, mind you.)
2. ObviouslyGet the hankies out – McFly’s second single is a song about “hopelessly reaching for a girl who’s out of this world”. The problem, you see, is that the girl in question is going out with a man a) 23 years old, and b) in the Marines. So McFly disappear off to LA for two years to get over her. Which some would say is a bit of an over-reaction, but there you go.
Why is being in the Marines better than being in McFly?“Being in the Marines creates an opportunity in life to express yourself as an artist,” Harry announces. “And as a performer. Artistic performance, I call it. You don’t get that in McFly.” Worry not, readers – he’s joking! But which of the band could have a proper Marine in a comedy punch-up?
“We’d have to make it a group effort,” Tom admits with a shake of the head. “We’d put our super magical rings together.”With all this “I never will be good enough for her” business, is there a bit of a McFly inferiority complex making itself evident on ‘Obviously’? “All of our lyrics are made-up stories with elements of real life wound in,” Tom explains. “It’s best to write like that. We’re not really like that. Well, not totally like that. As it happens this is the one song we wrote where nobody in the band was going ‘Why don’t we do this, why don’t we do that’… It’s just a song that came together really easily.”
Reasonably-fascinating fact: In the video for ‘Obviously’, McFly play golf. Other famous golf-playing celebrities include Justin Timberlake, Robbie Williams and Tiger Woods, although Tiger is a professional golfist so that sort of goes without saying.
3. Room On The Third FloorWhen Danny and Tom were first in London, they’d stay at London’s Intercontinental Hotel. In a room on the third floor. Room 363, to be precise. And this is a song about that. A bit Oasis, a bit Springsteen, a bit Beatles… “It’s just a great pop song,” Tom concludes, simply.
“Staying at that hotel was brilliant for the first week,” Danny remembers, “but when you’re in a hotel room for two months with both of you living in the same four walls it can get a bit tedious. We got so bored that we ended up leaning against the walls with glasses, listening to other people’s arguments.” The room service ladies were a bit keen, too. “Every morning,” Tom groans, “we’d be lying there, trying to have a lie in. And every morning, the same woman would burst in.
Every single morning. And every morning she’d go, ‘Oooooh I’m so sorry’, and she’d scurry out again. Unbelievable.” It is worth pointing out that Tom and Danny had separate beds.
4. That GirlFanfare please! This – a huge, Beach Boys-harmonied McFly classic - is the first McFly song ever written in the history of ever. “James (from Busted) and I had just finished writing two of the songs which ended up on the second Busted album,” Tom recalls. “But we knew that this song wasn’t Busted-ish and I’d just finished listening to the Beach Boys – a friend had given me their greatest hits and I’d been listening to it non-stop.
It sort of defined the McFly sound really early on.” “I couldn’t resist whacking a big guitar solo in it,” Danny admits. Slightly fascinating fact(s): Danny claims to be singing the backing vocals in a Bolton accent, and if you listen carefully you can hear that Tom has a cold. That’ll teach him not to wrap up warm. (Or something.)
5. HypnotiseWARNING: May contain traces of harmonica. This song, which sounds a bit like The Coral retwiddling Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs Robinson’, was one of the album’s speediest to write. Up in that room on the third floor, Danny and Tom had just finished, writing a song, when Danny fell asleep. Tom kept writing, and when Danny awoke they finished off ‘Hypnotise’.
None of the boys have ever been hypnotised, but Danny is the only one who believes himself immune to the scary dark art of making people think they’re a chicken. This, frankly, is the sound of a gauntlet being thrown down to the rest of the band, who are now planning to book a hypnotist for an evening, purely for the sight of watching Danny behave like a fool. “Danny would be the ultimately easy person to hypnotise,” Dougie insists. Watch, as they say, this space! Wonderful fact: The first line, “you threw my bags out through the door”, makes Tom think of his driveway.
Bonus fact! According to Danny, the opening drum beats sound a bit like a wet fart.
6. Saturday NightThis song, a barnstorming ode to teenage house parties, was McFly’s set-opener every night on the Busted tour, and the lads can’t hear it without thinking about the feeling of being on stage in front of thousands of fans.
How very ‘Pavlovian’. It’s another recently-written song – the line “no-one here to check if you’re underage” is a reference to Dougie still not being old enough to order booze in a pub.Dougie, meanwhile, recalls that his most memorable house party wasn’t, perhaps wisely, at his own house at all. “Last New Year’s Eve, James from Busted had a massive party at his parents’ house,” he smiles.
“It was brilliant – there were pigs in the house.” Pigs?
Logistical fact: “I’ve never had 20,000 people at a party,” Tom says. “I wouldn’t have room.” Well, quite.
7. Met This GirlDuring the recording of the album, McFly’s rubbishness with deadlines sometimes made itself felt in highly dramatic ways. Like, the night before the very final recording sessions, when the boys still hadn’t finished their songs. Like this one. “
We were in the living room,” Harry remembers, “and the studio was booked for the following day, after we’d been to the Capital Radio Awards. The message had been made fairly clear: ‘Finish this song or die’. So we finished it. Because Dougie and I were the last to join McFly a lot of the songs were already taking shape by the time we were in the band, and I wasn’t a songwriter beforehand, so it was nice to be thrown in at the deep end here.”
Adds Tom: “It’s great to have an album which hasn’t just been written as one job lot – it’s good to have a bit more variety.” Self-evident fact: “This song is about someone who is fit, walking into a room,” Danny says.
8. She Left MeThey don’t like to talk about it too much, but McFly are fans of an old 80s film called Back To The Future, in which a character called Marty Something-or-other travels back to the 50s and then has to go quite literally back – ie forward – to the future. It’s all a bit confusing these days because the future to which he must return is in fact 1984, ie the past, so they should really have retitled it Back To The Past for the recent DVD re-release.
Except that wouldn’t have made any sense at all, so it’s probably best that they left it as it was. ANYWAY. When Marty is in the 1950s, he goes to the Enchantment Under The Sea high school ball – and ‘She Left Me’ is just the sort of classic song you’d expect to hear at a 50s teen dance, all cascading guitar loops and swooshy harmonised backing vocals.
“I like this one,” says Tom, “and I have nothing else to add.” Ming-boggling telephonic fact: There’s an answerphone message sequence in this song. Once, while Tom was sitting on the toilet, the phone in the pocket accidentally dialled Dougie’s mobile. Dougie was treated to the sound of Tom singing the entirety of Track 11 on this album at the top of his voice.
9. Down By The LakeParents, eh? Can’t live with them, can’t not live with them until you’re 16, by which point all the “BUT YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!” arguments and door-slamming ‘episodes’ have been resolved. Which seems rather ironic, doesn’t it? It would be a lot more convenient if you could move out when you were, say, twelve years old, and then move back in when you were seventeen and capable of sitting down and having a level-headed debate about whether or not you should get your ears pierced or whatever.
This is a song about the joys of young love and the benefits of getting together “when daddy’s not around”, because the daddy in question doesn’t like your new boyfriend. Nor does the boyfriend like the dad much, either – as Tom says in the song, “told him once I liked him, but I lied”. Well, get her! There are some more great Beach Boys-type touches to this song, with chugging riffs and a brilliant bit at the 2’11” point with a stupendous rising harmony which sort of falls in on itself and gives way for the final chorus.
Thought-provoking fact: In Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Juliet’s dad isn’t very happy about the whole going-out-with-Romeo business. However this song is nothing to do with that.
10. Unsaid ThingsAnother essay in McFly teen loserdom, ‘Unsaid Things’ ponders what might have been if, seven years ago, they’d plucked up the courage to tell A Lady how they felt about her. In the time since it’s all gone monstrously tits up – she’s pregnant (“with a baby”), she’s getting married, and her fiancé is big and muscly and annoying.
“Her fiancé is the same guy who’s in the Marines in ‘Obviously’,” Tom explains. “A lot of our characters turn up at different points in the album.” But what of the controversial “pregnant with a baby” line? “My whole family keep reminding me how stupid that lyric is,” Tom groans. “As if she’s likely to be pregnant with something else. Perhaps it should have really been ‘with her baby’. Still, it’s too late to change now.”
And the fact that she was writing letters to you seven years ago surely means that it’s time to let go, move on and develop a crush on someone else? “I know. That’s a long time. If she was writing to me now it would probably be via email, or in a text message. But that wouldn’t mean as much. You can’t beat a nice hand-written love letter. I’ve still got all mine at home.”
Intriguing fact: This song features Harry and Dougie’s first ever writing credit – they did the middle eight. Dougie’s not happy with his vocal part, though. “It makes me want to pick at my eye,” he says. Whatever that might mean.
11. Surfer BabeIf this song was a house it would be on the same street as ‘Five Colours In Her Hair’. ‘Surfer Babe’ was written by Tom and James, and after every songwriting session Tom would post a MiniDisc of the record off to Danny for his advice. The MiniDisc went backwards and forwards for some time until the song was just right.
Finally the finishing touches were put to ‘Surfer Babe’ with Tom, Danny and James sitting on a freezing hotel room balcony during last year’s Busted theatre tour. “For some reason James doesn’t seem to feel the cold,” Tom laughs, “so we were sat out there in the wind and rain trying to write about girls in the hot Florida sun. Listen out for the brilliant middle eight, which has the a cracking chant of “But you are but you are but you are but you are…” ricocheting from speaker to speaker. Intertwining album-type fact: The girl left behind in bed at the start of this song is the same girl in ‘That Girl’. It’s like a conceptual wheel within a wheel!
12. Not AloneDanny’s solo song. Of which he says: “This is one of the best songs I’ve written. I wrote it in my room at college when I was sixteen years old – I was bored and depressed, and I was travelling to and from London all the time to see Tom, and I didn’t know where everything was heading.
But at the same time, because I’m Catholic, I did feel that I wasn’t alone. It sounds cheesy but this song is a bit of me. Some of my influences are in there – like Bruce Springsteen – and I think it represents what I personally bring to the band.”
Semi-fascinating fact: Harry correctly identifies this as “a rock solid song”, while Dougie opts for the word “good”.
13. BroccoliThat’s right, pop pickers: McFly have chosen to close their album with a song called ‘Broccoli’. Brocolli. “Like the vegetable,” Tom nods. So, that’s: broccoli. “It’s the coolest-ever name for a song.” Right you are, Tom. “It’s about a girl you’ve decided you’ll cook for, but you’re crap at cooking. Hence the “virgin in the kitchen” line. Then while you’re cooking she calls you and blows you out. This is one of those songs that we weren’t sure about when we wrote it, then we slept on it and the next day it sounded great.”
Supremely fascinating final fact:
Dougie’s five favourite vegetables are: