Battles guitarist Dave Konopka discussed each track from the band’s 2011 album Gloss Drop at the behest of NME. A transcription of his commentary is below.
"Africastle": "That song stuck out for us as a good opener because of the pacing of it and the way that everything just kicks in. It was a great way to open up the album after a four-year hiatus from our last recorded piece. It was definitely the ideal opener for the album."
"Ice Cream": "We asked Matias Aguayo to guest as a vocalist on this particular track. He kind of matched the level of sexiness that the song required. There was kind of an underlying level of sexiness that the song had and he kind of brought that out a little bit more."
"Futura": "There was this minimal thing that was going on there and there was this pacing that was like taking turns. I know a lot of Battles songs can be like a leap-frog process of just playing on top of each other and it creates this overall texture, but this song was really more about the entrances and it was almost like… a tide, for me, it has this semi-hip-hop tide which I really like about it."
"Inchworm": "We were in the studio for the first half of the year and we had a setback when we lost a member, and we went home for a little bit but when we went home we made sure we weren’t going to be complacent, so I recorded this. I set up and just played this one riff and just altering the source material of that same riff and just working with this loop, and this was like a two-hour jam with a dancey-type vibe. The key to it was to translate that as a band and John [Stanier] added thatreggaeton beat and Ian [Williams] brought in all his bass lines and that song was a really successful under pressure-type song that I think is really important for the scope of the album."
"Wall Street": "That song was one of Ian’s babies we recorded in the same studio as Mirrored, Machines with Magnets, with the same engineers, and because we were under pressure to get the album done, we separated into three different rooms and would record our parts direct, through all of our effects and then we’d feed that into the live room and the engineers took on more of a production role to kind of find the sounds for us and re-amp stuff as we kept cranking out more material. Really Ian was like, ‘Alright, I keep envisioning these ’80s stockbrokers at the pinnacle of their success partying on a yacht’ and he was like ‘Yeah, this song’s got to be all about success’ and he kept pushing that visualization, so we decided to call it ‘Wall Street’.”
"My Machines": "The title was taken from the lyrics of Gary Numan. I remember John saying ‘We should totally ask Gary Numan to sing on the album’ which was a total shot in the dark because we didn’t think there was any way of getting him to be on the album. We drove up to Boston and he was playing The Pleasure Principle, and we got to see him after the show and it was bizarre… like us just stood outside his dressing room and his manager was like ‘Okay, you want to come in and meet Gary?’ and we were like ‘Yeah, that would be great’, and we had a CD for him so we went in and he was like ‘Hi, I’m Gary, pleased to meet you’ and we were like ‘Hi, nice to meet you’ and he said ‘Yeah, I’ve listened to your track, I like it a lot… it’s really fucking weird’ and we were like ‘…Gary Numan’s telling us that we’re weird’ and it was like this is a moment I’m never going to forget. But he was awesome to work with and a total charm.”
"Dominican Fade": "It’s named after a hair cut in the United States. It existed from a little jam that John and I had together that we kept working on in the rehearsal space, and it was like maybe it will be cool to have this little bridge in between songs but then when we recorded it and he put his drums and all this extra percussion on… like he plays a, cast iron skillet. So then we were like, this song’s a lot doper than we thought it was going to be and it’s a really simple, almost like an EP-type song and that was really important to harness some of that energy from our EPs, our first recordings and Ian put some more percussive elements and keyboard parts that put the icing on the cake."
"Sweetie & Shag": "We asked Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead because she lives in New York and she has an amazing voice and great delivery and we’ve all been Blonde Redhead fans for years. She was awesome, she was like, ‘This is part of your life document and I’m totally into helping you.’ So she came up to the studio and rode up in the car with us and worked like all day. I think she had a little bit of a cold but she worked so hard to bring it all together and work out the melody and she was awesome, she was great."
"Toddler": "It was just like this little ditty that Ian did and we though it might be the beginning of ‘White Electric’ but we thought it was just this little kiss of just space in the album, and would be nice to have placed strategically, and we didn’t really have a name for it… yeah, we didn’t have a title for it and I just thought ‘Toddler’ would be a really cute name for that track. [laughs]"
"Rolls Bayce": "I was running John’s beats that he did through my guitar pedals, everything I was recording was within the BPM that fits within the song and I wrote a bass line to it and that’s what that bass line is, that ‘Rolls Bayce’ and then Ian had this cool line that we called ‘Ethiopian Ice Hockey’ during the break, so it was just those things and we were like, ‘If we can get away with writing a song out of this then it could be a good one.’"
"White Electric": "It was the first song that we worked on for this album and I think that we were like so… trying to get into the mode of writing again that when we were first done with this track it was like 16–17 minutes long… we were like, ‘Yeah, maybe for the first song on the album it should be a little shortened down’ so that was like a constant work-in-progress because it was the first thing we worked on, but then all the way at the end of the process there was like a complete re-writing of it and I think that we felt that there was maybe a little bit of, we weren’t flexing enough… whereas the album rocks, I don’t think we were fixing the riffing rock enough, so by the end of the process we just wanted to get across a semi-metal type thing and its also named after one of our favourite coffee shops in Providence, Rhode Island."
"Sundome": "It’s named after a basketball league in Jordan. The whole beginning of it is very organic and the whole song is like trying to find its shape and then it starts to slowly evolve, but at the other end of the spectrum you have very experimental bizarre vocals as instrument incorporated into the track. And we felt that who better to do that than Yamantaka Eye from Boredoms, and he was awesome… he just sent us this raw track and he was like, ‘Do whatever you want to it.’ And the vocals themselves were bizarre to us… because, we thought he was speaking Japanese, but he’s just making up his own stuff and he’s repeating stuff that he’s making up which is so hard to do, and I love what he came through for with that track… it just brought it to another level."