Simple Math

Album: Simple Math (2011)
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Songfacts®:

  • Atlanta indie rock band Manchester Orchestra's third longplayer, Simple Math, is a concept album, telling the story of the band's frontman Andy Hull from his own perspective. "This record is two dueling conversations between me and my wife, and me and my God," he said. "Sometimes even for myself, it's difficult to decipher which one I'm actually talking to. Everything I've written in the past has been about those things. This album is the most realized form of my questioning."
  • Video directing duo Daniels directed this song's music video. Hull told Spinner about the twosome: "I met with them in New York a few months ago. We were getting close to choosing, and I just felt this energy off of them that was so young and ready to just conquer. We really try to work with anybody who's like that.

    They looked at that song and they're like "a lot of times we have to find the arc and we have to find the story climax, and the hook isn't always there, and like, you know, 'Simple Math'? You've given us four climaxes over the song. We can really make something cinematic about this."
  • Confused about what the video means? So was Andy Hull and he told Spinner: "I didn't really know what it is. Even when we were filming it I would keep asking, 'What are we doing this for?' They'd be like 'OK, well, we're going to be putting a giant steering wheel that will whip around and blows out of you at this point.' It was kind of incredible filming it having no idea what these dudes were doing with just having full trust in them."
  • Hull explained the significance of the deer head in the video to Spinner: "Our first song on the record is called 'Deer' on Simple Math, and I kind of encouraged Daniels to incorporate as much stuff from the album as they could into it, so there's little things all across the video that refer to the full-length. I think the deer head is terrifying, that's why I like it. They really wrote that treatment as like those movies like Being John Malkovich where John Malkovich is John Malkovich but he's not. It was like they wrote what they would think would be my childhood. And in reality, it's even a joke between me and my dad -– we never went hunting, ever [laughs].

    Both of the guys in the directing team are named Daniel, that's why they're called Daniels, and one of them grew up in Alabama where we shot it. We shot it in his parents' huge house in Guntersville in the middle of nowhere. It's actually called 'Meth Mountain,' the area that we were in. They had this treatment of what me as this little boy would be like in this story. At the beginning, I feel like you get this vibe that the dad's kind of an a------, and by the end you realize I'm the a------. My dad's been there the whole time. I was just too young to see it."
  • Andy Hull explained the song's meaning to Spinner UK: "'Simple Math,' that song is fictional, and the verses are a kind of storytelling of what I think an affair would be like; the stirring emotion of temptation and lust. The chorus is written more spiritually, so that's where the lyrics say 'What if all we thought was right was wrong?' [It's] the scary idea of 'Oh God, what if I've been believing the wrong thing forever?' That's sort of what the record title means."

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