Local Information - The French

Released August 11th 2003

Songs: Pornshoes, The Wu-Tang Clan, The Stars, The Moon, The Sun and the Clouds, When She Leaves Me, Canada Water, The Day You Arrive, The Pines, Nestbuilding, Gabriel in the Airport, Let It Go

Following their last album with Hefner, Darren Hayman and John Morrison made an entirely electronic album under the name 'The French'. Now considered by Darren to be his favourite album, the record was featured as a 'Buried Tresure' in the Sept 09 issue of MOJO magazine
Lyrics and Notes

Porn Shoes

He wore a cotton shirt by Ben Sherman,
And underpants by Calvin Klein.
He wore his best Levi's with a leather belt,
Which he bought in Crete, from a peasant girl.
He cooked a pasta dish, that was his favourite,
He cooked it very slow, that made the sauces thick.
His bed was freshly made, just in case she was due at eight,
She was half hour late

She wore gold shoes with diamante,
Like Kylie wore on TV,
They kept her feeling sexy,
They were what she always wanted.
But he thought they looked like porn shoes,
Like the porn stars wear in porn films,
But he thought they made her sexy,
But they weren't what he expected, no, oh, oh.

She stepped inside his house and looked around herself
She saw a poster print by Gustav Klimt
She thought that rather crass for a northern lass,
Who moved south long ago, to join the middle class.

She wore gold shoes with diamante,
Like Kylie on the TV.
They kept her feeling sexy,
They were what she always wanted.
But he thought they looked like porn shoes,
Like the porn stars wear in porn films.
But he thought they made her sexy,
But they weren't what he expected.

The girl wass hot and out of sight,
But a little forced and a little uptight.
He hoped she would spent the night
But leave soon in the morning.
He's had his fill of lipstick girls,
Who think they're cool and own the world.
He'd have a girl with flat-soled shoes,
But he wouldn't know what to do with her.

She wore gold shoes with diamante.
Like Kylie on the TV.
They kept her feeling sexy,
They were what she always wanted.
But he thought they looked like porn shoes,
Like the porn stars wear in porn films.
But he thought they made her sexy,
But they weren't what he expected, no, oh, oh.

(Written in a cottage in the Cotswalds in 2001. Took me forever to get that Diamante rhyme and I'm still not sure it works. The idea of the song was to have a blind date where both parties thought they were too good for the other person. I also tried to place as many brand names in there as possible in the hope that it might get me advertising work.)

 

The Wu-Tang Clan

She dreams of Staten Island,
she never ever dreams of Walthamstow.
Her friends are getting married,

getting their haircut like Jill Dando
She hopes that Terry Soanes won't ask her out tonight for the 4th time,
She wants to be alone.

With the curtains drawn and the stereo on,
She swings her hips and dances to the Wu-Tang Clan.
And the sadness ebbs away now.
She shuts her eyes, throws her head up high,
It's better when there's no one around,
And she's feeling something real now.

And on the train home everyone moves away,

because she stinks of work,
And she does, and she knows, so it doesn't hurt.
And in her mind she pictures ODB, in his prison cell alone,
It's not wrong to want to be alone, she would tell him so.

With the curtains drawn and the stereo on,
She swings her hips and dances to the Wu-Tang Clan,
And the sadness ebbs away now.
Shuts her eyes, throws her head up high,
It's better when there's no one around
And she's feeling something real now.

With the curtains drawn and the stereo on
She swings her hips and dances to the Wu-Tang Clan
And the sadness ebbs away now
Shuts her eyes, throws her head up high
It's better when there's no one around
And she's feeling something real now

And RZA, Ghostface Killah, Inspecta Deck and Golden Arms,
Will hold her tight and out of harm in the council flat tonight.
And the thought hits her at 105bpm,
That sometimes for a second, she believes that everything will be
alright.

(The French's first truly successful co-write. Hefner never really had that many co-writes, but one of the main differences with this new band was going to be that me and John were going to write songs together. I find it hard to write lyrics to other peoples music but as soon as John bought this in I knew it would be OK. I had an idea for a whole set of songs that had as their titles the names of pop acts, though so far all I've written is China Crisis and this.)

The Stars, The Moon, The Sun and The Clouds

Sweetheart let me in, I forgot my keys again
But you forgot to do the dishes, you forgot to clean the bin.
It's all very well learning poetry by heart but it doesn't mean we have
to live like poets.

You can read a book and tell me what it means,
You can argue politics because you know your history.
You look happy without a smile, I've been waiting here a little while,
For something good, for something bad to happen.

When you get up late you're wasting half the day away,
I thought we'd walk the dog but you can't stand the rain.
Well if you don't like dogs, then how can I like you?
When you first described yourself, you were not being true.
I speak a little Spanish, I did an evening course,
I can swim 30 lengths and I can cook a pepper sauce.
I can see in your eyes, you're somewhere else,
I can hear you talking to yourself.
Will something good, something bad happened.

And the stars, and the moon,
Have been keeping us together since June.
But the stars, and the moon,
Are getting bored of hearing I love you.
And the sun, and the clouds,
Are keeping us together somehow.
But the sun, and the clouds,
Are getting tired of being let down.

Everyone would like some dirty sex upon the floor,
Everyone cries on TV because they're bored.
Everyone looks sad when they smile.
They've been waiting a little while,
For something good, for something bad to happen,

And the stars, and the moon,
Have been keeping us together since June.
But the stars, and the moon,
Are getting bored of hearing I love you.
And the sun, and the clouds,
Are keeping us together somehow.
But the sun, and the clouds,
Are getting tired of being let down.

And the stars, and the moon,
Have been keeping us together since June.
But the stars, and the moon,
Are getting bored of hearing I love you, I love you.
And the sun, and the clouds,
Are keeping us together somehow.
But the sun, and the clouds,
Are getting tired of being let down.

When She Leaves Me

When she leaves me,
It will be a cloudy day,
There'll be a little rain,
A few patches of blue sky,
and trains on the Northern line will be delayed because of signal failure.
And children will dream of the weekend,
And my neighbor's cat will sit on my back porch.

When she leaves me,
I'll be wearing scruffy trainers,
With paint on the side,
And mud caked underneath.
I'll have some mild toothache on the right side of my mouth,
And I'll probably need a shave.
The government will say they didn't do something that they probably
actually did.
And Mark might phone me like he does each day and I might pretend to be
not in.

But when she leaves me
But when she leaves me
But when she leaves me
But when she leaves me
I will not try to understand

When she leaves me,
The rusty car outside my house will still be there.
with four parking tickets and a busted windscreen.
And at midday I might take a walk, stretch my legs, get some air, feel

the wind.
I will see the retarded girl with the baseball cap,
who walks up and down the market with a bunch of plastic flowers,
I will eat in a greasy spoon, regret it, then walk home.

But when she leaves me
But when she leaves me
But when she leaves me
But when she leaves me
I will not try to understand

Canada Water

The books are heavy like stones,
And when she's finally home.
She will worry about her ankles,
He will worry about his teeth.
The books tell her what her life could be like,
And that her ankles are perfectly fine.
He doesn't floss his teeth like he should,
He'll have dentures when he's thirty-nine.

She picked a name on the map,
She made her mind up fast.
She'll get a bus and a train,
down to Canada Water.
She'll jump right in.
She'll jump right in.

She bets the water is blue,
That the sky is too.
She'll get her traveling shoes,
Down to Canada Water.
She'll jump right in,
She'll jump right in.

She's had enough of the fields,
There's too much space to get bored.
Boredom makes suburbia hateful and proud,
It makes you stupid, so you say it out loud.
She could live in a street with big iron gates,
And Parking and CCTV.
She's in spitting distance of the West End lights,
And the people are clean, rich and friendly.

She picked a name on the map,
She made her mind up fast.
She'll get a bus and a train,
Down to Canada Water.
She'll jump right in
She'll jump right in

She bets the water is blue,
That the sky is too.
She'll get her traveling shoes,
Down to Canada Water.
She'll jump right in
She'll jump right in

Goddamn the trees,
Goddamn the leaves.
Goddamn the Christian faith for making her so lazy.
The stupid English think they're British.
The clever English love the French.
She wants better food, and better sex, and better boyfriends.
She's got her mind set upon higher things
She's got her mind set upon higher things

She picked a name on the map,
She made her mind up fast.
She'll get a bus and a train,
Down to Canada Water.
She'll jump right in
She'll jump right in

She bets the water is blue,
That the sky is too.
She'll get her travelling shoes,
Down to Canada Water.
She'll jump right in
She'll jump right in

(Like most of my records, ‘Local Information' has a theme which this song epitomizes the best. ‘Local Information' is kind of a sister album to Hefner's ‘We Love the City', in that whereas that was about the city, this album is about the suburbs and the people who live there. In this song the girl believes that London looks like those artist impression drawings you see when they're doing some new building development.)

The Day You Arrive

I never thought your sister was a backseat driver,
Didn't see her as the type to complain.
We knew this day would come,
We knew that it would rain,
The day you arrive.

The rush hour traffic held us back we're just about on time,
I didn't think we'd beat you to the station.
I knew that you would come,
You wouldn't let me down.
The day you arrive.

We're looking forward,
We'll have lots of time.
You will be forgiven,
The day you arrive.
There are no excuses,
For everything you did.
But we will be forgetting,
The day you arrive.

Julie, said she loves you,
And Fran said she does too.
They wish they could've made it,
The day you arrive.

We're looking forward,
We'll have lots of time.
You will be forgiven,
The day you arrive.
There are no excuses,
For everything you did.
But we will be forgetting,
The day you arrive.
The day you arrive.

(The first French song, written at the tale end of Dead Media and recorded by me and John on my old 8-track before we had any clear idea that we wanted to do a new group together. I like it immensely. Its quite unlike anything else I've written with the relentless one note bass line etc. I've tried to do something like it again since without success, a one off I guess.)

The Pines

The night she got the swastika tattoo,
Her lips were cherry red, her eyes were sapphire blue.
The night we let the bombs off in the forest,
She got so horny, we made love in the pines.

The wind blows softer down in Southern Arkansas,
The match hits the paraffin, the wood burns to the floor.
We know what's wrong or right,
We know what love is for, it's for our kind.

We've got friends down south, and friends up in the mountains,
She paints her toenails red because that's the way I like them.
We know the FBI and CIA are frightened,
But they won't keep our love underground.

I don't do drink, I take no drugs,
But christ she's hit the bottle, like there's no tomorrow.
I used to think that she truly believed,
But now sometimes I wonder if her faith is just a smokescreen.

The wind blows softer down in Southern Arkansas,
The match hits the paraffin, the wood burns to the floor.
We know what's wrong and right,
We know what love is for, it's for our kind.

We've got friends down south, and friends up in the mountains,
She paints her toenails red because that's the way I like them.
We know the FBI and CIA are frightened,
But they won't keep our love underground.

And does my love keeping hoping of,
The better world I've been dreaming of.

(The idea of this song is that I'm trying to question the idea of complete evil. Perhaps as bad as he was Hitler helped an old lady across the street once; maybe Margaret Thatcher gives money to the Battersea dog's home. In this song we have a white supremacist in love. It's the only time that some pressure has been put on me by both record company, publishing company and girlfriend to change lyrics, (but only a little pressure), hence the original lines ‘The night she got the swastika tatoo, she got so fucking horny' is lost forever.)

Nestbuilding

Windows, this house has broken windows,
But with a new pane, and a little will, and a little glue,
I'll make them close to new.

Baby, you're not scared of things I'm scared of,
Let's have some role reversal.
And I'll will show you I can be brave too,
When you need me to.

When you've been drinking too much wine,
When you're low and overtired,
When my arms are open wide,
Take your time.

Nestbuilding, nestbuilding,
I'll make it right for you.
This feeling, is building,
I can't be more in love with you.

Hold on, I don't mind if you hold on,
What I said was just a put on.
Because you can hold on to my shoulders,
When you need to.

Darling, take your clothes off nice and slowly,
You no longer do it slowly, now that you know me.
Come on baby, come on show me.

When you've been drinking too much wine,
When you're low and overtired.
When my arms are open wide,
Take your time.

Nestbuilding, nestbuilding,
I'll make it right for you.
This feeling, is building,
I can't be more in love with you.

Nestbuilding, nestbuilding,
I'll make it right for you.
This feeling, is building,
I can't be more in love with you.

(The only ‘personal' song on the album, and its about my girlfriend. She used to get whole albums now she has to be content with the odd song unfortunately. )

Gabriel In The Airport


Peter Gabriel, please come to gate nine,
Sting has saved the rainforest and things are fine.
Call your limousine and go back home,
Your children need an angel on the telephone.
You're always checking in and checking out,
The real world's inside your heart, just let it out.
We've had enough world music for a little while.

And all the business suits walk by,
They say plasticene video guy.
And the world's not right,
but it's right enough for you to do some loving stuff,
to your darling wife, by the fireside.

And the British Airways girls they sigh,
saying there goes that Phil Collins guy.
And if you stay at home tonight,
The world won't go right overnight.
There'll be songs left to write tomorrow.

And don't you just love the sight,
Of the little cars with the orange lights.
The moving walkways and the baggage reclaim,
Don't you wish that you could stay,
Don't you wish that you could say,
That you never thought of Kate Bush in a dirty way.

And all the business suits walk by,
They say plasticene video guy.
And the world's not right,
but it's right enough for you to do some loving stuff,
To your darling wife, by the fireside.

And the British Airways girls they sigh,
saying there goes that Phil Collins guy,
and if you stay at home tonight,
The world won't go right overnight.
There'll be songs left to write tomorrow.
There'll be songs left to write tomorrow.

And all the business suits walk by,
They say plasticene video guy.
And the world's not right,
But it's right enough for you to do some loving stuff,
to your darling wife, by the fireside.

And the British Airways girls they sigh,
Saying there goes that Phil Collins guy.
And if you stay at home tonight,
The world won't go right overnight,
There'll be songs left to write tomorrow.

And all the business suits walk by,
They say plasticene video guy.
And the world's not right,
But it's right enough for you to do some loving stuff,
To your darling wife, by the fireside.

(So the idea started with me thinking about Airport departure lounges and angels floating about like in ‘Wings of Desire', then I thought about being a particular angel, the arch angel Gabriel, then I thought it could be about Peter Gabriel. Its like that some days you just day dream, right? The trick is to be able to tell the difference between when its just idle daydreaming and when it's a genius idea. I don't know if this is genius, but it IS funny, at least the first time you hear it, and I do genuinely mean no offence to Peter Gabriel in case he's here doing some net ego surfing. I love ‘So'.)

Let It Go

Katy, sung a stupid song,
while she pulled her knickers on.
I said something wrong.
Kate, let her pupils dilate,
She'd taken too many drugs that day,
But drugs have ways of making you feel safe.

She's so ordinary,
And ordinary people know.
You use the hate then let it go,
Let it die away.
I'm so ordinary,
My heart dies with the summertime.
I can't be hateful all the time,
Let it die away.

I know, it's only rock n roll,
But I don't like it and I like what I know.
She said don't go,
It's not love I know.
But I need you so,
Let the anger go.

She's so ordinary,
And ordinary people know.
You use the hate and let it go,
Let it die away.
I'm so ordinary,
My heart dies with the summertime.
I can't be hateful all the time,
So let it die away.

She's so ordinary,
and ordinary people know.
You use the hate then let it go,
Let it die away.
I'm so ordinary,
My heart dies with the summertime.
I can't be hateful all the time,
So let it die away.

(The last song on Local Information, and a sad one to be sure. Sometimes when a bad thing happens to me, I think, that bad thing owes me a song at least. Normally a song written when I'm down or angry don't work out but this one did for some reason. My albums always send to end on a downer and there's no difference here.)
Available from Hefnet shop / iTunes (shortly!)

Article from Time Magazine Sunday, Aug. 10, 2003

Vive the French!
By JIM LEDBETTER


In October 2000, I found myself drinking champagne in an east London bar with Molly Ringwald. I'd had the usual schoolboy interest in the coltish American actress ever since The Breakfast Club; she was visiting town and a mutual friend suggested we meet. Molly wore fishnet stockings and her hair was short and brown. (Was it ever truly red?) We talked about a sitcom she was developing, and about the U.S. presidential race. When the bottle was empty she went off to have dinner at the Ivy with Channel 4 star Graham Norton; I got in a taxi, exhilarated but slightly glum, and went home. A copy of We Love the City by Hefner— a London-based trio somewhere between folk and punk — had just arrived from Amazon. I hit the play button and heard the first line of the first song: "This is London/ Not Antarctica/ So why don't the tubes run all night?/ You are my girlfriend/ Not Molly Ringwald/ So why won't you stay here tonight?"

After my freak-out subsided, I realized it was a perfect Hefner moment. Through five albums starting in the late '90s, the band constantly blurred the lines between life and art — with songs about love-wrecked, angry misfits living in rented outer London bedsits — and produced some of the funniest, most tender independent music to come out of the U.K. in a decade. Hefner appears to have evaporated, but the creative force behind it, Darren Hayman, has formed the French, which this week releases its debut Local Information, a winning collection of story songs from the miserabilist and his electric keyboards.
I don't like to say Hefner split up. It's just that four or five albums is enough.
"I don't like to say we split up," Hayman says of Hefner. "It's just that four or five albums is enough, unless there's something really new to do." Hefner's drummer and guitarist are pursuing solo projects, while Hayman and bassist John Morrison are the French. Why call a band the French? Hayman, who grew up in Essex, explains that due to the antipathy his countrymen have for their neighbors across the Channel, "it's a kind of litmus test of my audience."

His audience — somewhere between big cult and the bottom of the pop charts — will be relieved to discover that the essence of Hefner is still there: the realization that the stupid experiences we all have can be the building blocks of art. Hayman's is the music of false starts and dead ends; like Woody Allen and Philip Roth, he turns unvarnished neurosis into art.

The French sounds much as Hefner did on their last album, Dead Media: sparse organ arrangements that almost qualify as melodies, with occasional blips and bleeps added. Hayman says he had to create a new band to accommodate his increasing push toward electronica: "I don't think of eclectic as a good thing in a band, and to record the songs the way I want them to sound as a Hefner record would be misleading people."

The biggest change is that Hayman — at least in his songs — has gone straight and domestic. Not that surprising: Hayman is now 32 and looking for property in Barcelona. In The Pines, a kind of love song between white separatists in the American South, the man who wrote the boozy anthem The Hymn for the Alcohol now proclaims: "I don't do drink or take no drugs/ But Christ she's hit the bottle/ Like there's no tomorrow." And while Hefner ballads usually chronicled a brief infatuation, many French songs are about something like commitment. In The Stars, the Moon, the Sun and the Clouds, the singer chastises his girlfriend's scholarly squalor: "It's all very well/ Learning poetry by heart/ But it doesn't mean/ We have to live like poets."

As with so much electronica, there's a soulless quality to this record, not helped by Hayman's insistence on recording with a drum machine. His DIY aesthetic has its own appeal, but without guitars to ground it, his plaintive voice risks floating off into nasal helium. But he can still make me laugh. The best track is Gabriel in the Airport, a wicked attack on the pretensions of Peter Gabriel: "And the British Airways girls they sigh/ Saying 'There goes that Phil Collins guy.'"

Listening to the French is much like listening to the indie-rock god Stephen Malkmus' solo work; it gives you a wistful yearning that his great band Pavement was still recording, but you're grateful for anything you can still get. As for Molly, the last time I saw her was in the New York Post, pregnant. There's a song in there somewhere.