Okay Dane talk "Alienation" - behind the lyrics

Olivia Watson
8th Dec 2019

Melbourne rock band Okay Dane have just released their debut EP Alienation, and in a Sydney Scoop exclusive are taking us behind the scenes to discover more about the lyrics and creative process behind the writing each of the tracks on their latest release.

Inspired by a love of heavy and punk music, with parallels drawn to artists such as Violent Soho, Dear Seattle and DZ Deathrays, the trio channeled their desire to deliver music with punch and flair into their studio sessions while creating this EP. With Homesurgery Recordings as their base, Okay Dane explore a tapestry of rock music in the rollicking record that hit the scene this week.

Read on to hear the band take us through the lyrics of each track of their new release, then check out the music video for new single "Headache" here

Behind the lyrics of Alienation with Okay Dane:

1. You're Sick

'You’re Sick' is the opening song off of our new EP Alienation. The song was written ahead of our first tour as we needed something fun and fast to open the show with, we ended up with two punk songs that we’d alternate as opener (this and 'Headache') but this ended up being a better fit for EP opener so here it is! Lyrically it’s a reflection of some of our more selfish and stupid behaviour and self-analysis into why we behave this way, the original draft of the lyrics were quite mope-y and defeatist and it didn’t fit the fun and upbeat vibe of the instrumental.

Whilst re-writing some of the lyrics, to keep the mood of the song fun we all began to make fun of each other and ourselves, and that led to lyrics like “I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never been on time and I don’t plan on starting” (a reference to vocalist Jake constantly being late to everything). This approach led to a impromptu group therapy session where the band members and producer Jon Grace all screamed their complaints into the microphone, and you can hear this faintly in the background of the middle 8 amongst the frenzied guitar (anti) solos. The phrase “you’re sick, but I’m sicker” that the chorus and title are based off, became a self fulfilling prophecy as the in-studio banter between us and Jon escalated and became increasingly ridiculous.

2. Stupid Game

'Stupid Game' kicks off immediately after 'You’re Sick' ends, and it very loudly announces its arrival with loud fuzzy guitars. “I’m burning out without a shadow of a doubt”; this song was born out of feeling exhausted and directionless and trying to figure out what to do, that feeling of being lost is a recurring theme throughout the EP and the isolation it describes is referenced in the EP title Alienation. “Here’s a shot to dull the pain, another to swallow the shame, find somebody new to blame; when we play the stupid game”. The chorus in this song as well is an observation of how not to deal with stress and isolation, the “stupid game” refers to getting trashed and pushing others away instead of working through your issues and trying to grow from them.

3. God Complex

'God Complex' is a reaction to several instances in the last few years where we’d felt like we’d been taken advantage of by stupid people who thought they were smarter than everyone else. “I’ve got a small brain, you’ve got a god complex” –the first line of this song establishes both the subject and antagonists perspective, and shifts halfway through the sentence.

I’m a brand new person but I’m made of broken parts, I’ve got the same old problems and I don’t know where to start”, this line refers to being constantly manipulated into being someone who you aren’t, until you’ve forgotten who you are completely. If the first two songs set the scene for our current mindset, then God Complex explains how we got there and tries to find a way to reconcile it.

4. Headache

'Headache' is a big “fuck you” to all the people who’ve wasted our time and tried and take advantage of us. 'God Complex' sets up the pins for 'Headache' to knock down.

We found during pre-production that the initial chorus we’d written lacked the impact and ferocity that the track needed, and some improvised placeholders were put until tracking was almost finished. We eventually found the final chorus lyrics in “I’m not ruthless - you’re just stupid, I’m not yawning - you’re just boring”, however the melody of the pre-pro chorus worked well as a counter melody and it reappeared as the “na na na” section. The addition of the “na’s” amplified the juvenile nature of some of the lyrics, and helped balance rage with fun. The core of this song is the sheer frustration of arguing with some of the aforementioned people, and we wanted that anger to come through.

“My god you’re such a fuck-face!” - These were the last vocals tracked for the EP, and we did them all together as group gang vocals. After two weeks spent cooped up in the studio in close quarters, this was a cathartic experience and a fun way to finish tracking the record." 

5. Weak

'Weak' was the last song written for Alienation and is the combination of two song ideas. Liam (bassist) had this fairly down-beat and low-key bass riff, and this was combined with a demo Jake (vocals/guitars) had brought in that felt grunge-y and loud but tired and restless. Once combined, the instrumental felt sparse and spacious with a lot of atmosphere, this made it a great platform to get personal, confessional, and vulnerable. Of the whole EP, this song had the most collaboration on lyrics as Jake only had the verses ready, which led to the band and producer Jon Grace finding both the music and meaning together.

The lyrics for the chorus “I wish I wasn’t so damn weak, I wish you heard me when I speak” and counter melody “If you’re over this then why are we still here” were found by Jon in some of Jake’s discarded lyrics from other songs, and once we found that these fit perfectly we had found the song and found what we wanted to say. Thematically, 'Weak' is about realising that things aren’t going to change and feeling stuck and isolated with time passing by without you, lyrically it covers the same feelings, flaws and themes as ‘You’re Sick’ but from a new perspective after the whole journey is said and done.

The pre-chorus and middle 8 section is where we all got to collaborate on lyrics, along with guest vocalist Iseabail Lewis, and one of the few spots where we broke out of the first person perspective that most of the EP’s lyrics take place in. “Plant a seed and watch it grow, then let it waste away alone, like something small that weighs a tonne, nothing feels like where I’m from”."

Stream Alienation here