Grounds

Album: Ultra Mono (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • Do you hear that thunder?
    That's the sound of strength in numbers


    Following the release and success of Idles' 2018 album Joy as an Act of Resistance, frontman Joe Talbot got criticized for speaking up for socialism and the rights of minorities. He wrote this defiant post-punk stomper as a response. "I want to sleep at night knowing that my platform is the voice of reason and an egalitarian want for something beautiful," he told Apple Music. "Not the murder of Black people, homophobia at the workplace, racist front lines."
  • "Grounds" is a marching tune, spoke-sung by Talbot over a brutal but simple beat and bursts of guitar. Talbot described it as "a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief - a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in."
  • Talbot addresses Britain's colonial past.

    Sayin' my race and class ain't suitable
    So I raise my pink fist and say black is beautiful


    He explained to the BBC he believes those people who want to "make England great again" are ignorant of their country's past. "They don't know what genocide happened to make the empire what it was, and how important immigration is, and the National Health Service is, and socialism was as a construct in building our country, the welfare system, and looking after the poor," he said. "We are now in a class war, and the poor are losing massively. I'm just fed up with England."
  • Idles previewed "Grounds" during their late 2019 tour before releasing it as the lead single from Ultra Mono on June 16, 2020. The album further explores themes established in the band's previous two records, such as the class struggle and racist attitudes. "We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts' marching band, armed with a jackhammer and a smile," Talbot explained of this song. "We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did."
  • Idles were recording in Paris when Warren Ellis of The Bad Seeds and Grinderman popped into the studio. He is friends with Ultra Mono co-producer Nick Launay, and Talbot asked the Australian musician to contribute a "Hey!" to the song.

    Ellis recalled to Uncut magazine: "Joe turned to me and said, I'd really like to have some backing vocals like Malcolm Young. And seeing as you're Australian, you can do grunts, like on [AC/DC's] 'T.N.T..' The thing I like about Idles that I saw in the studio is that they're very much a group, and there's power and strength in a group. They see the potential in that, and that's an unusual trait these days. It was really great to see their love for being in a band."
  • Colin Webster plays the saxophone; it's one of five Ultra Mono tracks he performs on.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Timothy B. Schmit

Timothy B. SchmitSongwriter Interviews

The longtime Eagle talks about soaring back to his solo career, and what he learned about songwriting in the group.

Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins

Tom Bailey of Thompson TwinsSongwriter Interviews

Tom stopped performing Thompson Twins songs in 1987, in part because of their personal nature: "Hold Me Now" came after an argument with his bandmate/girlfriend Alannah Currie.

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," Kiss

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."

Adam Young of Owl City

Adam Young of Owl CitySongwriter Interviews

Is Owl City on a quest for another hit like "Fireflies?" Adam answers that question and explains the influences behind many others.

Andy McClusky of OMD

Andy McClusky of OMDSongwriter Interviews

Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.

Don Felder

Don FelderSongwriter Interviews

Don breaks down "Hotel California" and other songs he wrote as a member of the Eagles. Now we know where the "warm smell of colitas" came from.