Cough Cough

Album: Arc (2012)
Charted: 37
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Songfacts®:

  • The first single from British Indie band Everything Everything's second album, Arc, is about a pecuniary contradiction. Lead singer Jonathan Higgs explained: "'Cough Cough' is about the power of money and the desire to get away from it. It's also about waking up and seeing the world as an unfair place and then slipping back under the spell of greed. It's about having no money, and wanting more money, and wanting nothing to do with money at all."
  • The 2011 riots were an inspiration for the Arc album. Jonathan Higgs told NME: "It's not an overtly political album, but all of that has really gone into the record - the sense of injustice, of people saying, 'If you're going to present this stuff as the solution to my problems and take away the means to buy it, then I'm just going to smash a window and take it.' Certainly there were opportunistic ar--holes wanting a bigger telly, but the flashpoint was police brutality and this growing sense of us and them, poor versus comfortable. The extremely wealthy are the government. It's why 'Cough Cough' is so furious."
  • Everything Everything drummer Michael Spearman explained the band's songwriting process to CMU: "Jon [Higgs] will demo a song on his computer and bring it in to the rest of us once he is either happy with it or needs some opinions on which direction it should take. Together we try playing the parts, evolving them and experimenting with the arrangement as we go. Sometimes sections get re-written or changed a lot, but other times the demos don't change much at all.

    There's always a degree of translation that happens from the programmed parts on the demo to how we'll play them live, and with that comes a discussion about how we might want it to sound when we come to record it. With 'Cough Cough' the demo was pretty dense with ideas and had two more sections in it. We all felt that it was too confusing, so it became more streamlined, and we worked on how best to order the sections so that they flowed well and the chorus felt like a chorus."

    Spearman added that the original genesis of this song was Higgs, "coughing in the rhythm that you hear on the track, and despite going via the denser demo, that simple idea was more effective once the streamlining had taken place."
  • The song's music video was directed by Jonathan Higgs and shows shots of the band playing playing the track interspersed with images of guns, fire and riots. He told NME: "This song was inspired in part by greed, and by the 2011 summer riots, so I wanted it to be aggressive and steeped in crude oil. All the riot footage came from the UK."

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