Guitarist Jamie Hince (from Fact magazine): "'Alphabet Pony' is stream-of-consciousness ranting."
Like a number of the songs on the album, this was inspired by a 1960s documentary about playground chants called Pizza, Pizza, Daddy-o. Jamie Hince explained why to Fact magazine: "Well I love primitive music and always gravitate towards it, whether blues or folk or electronic, maybe because it's so stripped back and simple. Those playground songs sounded like they were from the same family as blues or something, and what I loved was that the hand clapping rhythms were so upbeat and yet the lyrics were so, so dark: about alcoholism and domestic violence and abortion and stuff like that - it was like Edgar Allen Poe or something."
Hince told Metropolis magazine that this was the simplest song on the album to record: "Everything was pretty straightforward. Probably the song that was the simplest was 'Alphabet Pony.' Alison (Mossart, vocalist) just sat in front of the mike with nothing in her head and we turned the tape on, and she just made up the words. There are a few songs like that."
The duo discussed their songwriting with the Times newspaper February 29, 2008.
Alison Mossart: "We're not very good songwriters, we don't really know how to write choruses and verses. That's not really our talent."
Jamie Hince: "All those old blues singers used to talk about voodoo and music in the same sentence, because they recognised that it wasn't necessarily the verses or the notes or the rhythms that made a song really electrifying, it was something in the attitude of people playing it. And that's what we've always chased."
The Kills chose to record the album in a studio in, Benton Harbour, Michigan. Hince told the Times: "No one would go to Benton Harbour unless they were trying to rescue somebody. It's pretty much a shell of a town that was really affected quite badly by riots [in 2003] and hasn't been rebuilt, so property is dirt cheap, everybody's moving out, not in. Our friends bought up an amazing studio space there and it's become our second home. It makes recording there secretive and you get a sense that you're hidden away. We found that that's quite important."
Mosshart explained to Metropolis
magazine about the album title: "The title came from a Jack Kerouac book called The Subterraneans
. It was an exclamation, like 'Wow.' It was kicking around in my notebooks, and seemed appropriate when we were at the studio. What happened is that we ended up staying up all night and sleeping all day. Everything was happening after midnight. We had this incredible creative energy when it got dark and the rest of the world seemed to disappear."