Behind the Song: "Guilden Street"

The seventh track on Friends in Low Places is a sharp curve from the rest of the album. 

"Guilden Street" starts as a somber acoustic reflection piece, and explodes into something much more. It has quickly become a fan-favorite, but is seldom played live.

Describe the origins of "Guilden Street," the place and song.

BM: "Guilden Street is a street in New Brunswick, N.J. that some friends used to have a house on. This house was notorious for insane nights of teenage debachary."

JA: "Guilden Street started as an acoustic demo that Bobby put on YouTube. He felt strongly about it for the album, and while I was heistant at first, we figured we'd just lay it down and see what we could do with it."

How was the song conceived?

BM: "The song was written based off a series of events that took place at this house, and how I felt out of place. Seeing my friends turning into different people over the years, or even the course of one night, is really what the song is about. Not fitting in with your friends as they change and grow up, and how you have less and less in common is part of life - it happens. It all hit me at this house party one night, and that is what inspired the song. I also never really understood the whole 'partying' thing that most people my age do. I just never saw the appeal to drinking or doing drugs. Not that I am some annoying 'Straight Edge' advocate that judges people, or a D.A.R.E. officer, but I just never really got into that stuff. But to each their own."

JA: "I wasn't there, but everything seems to be pretty literal in the song. You can follow along the storyline fairly easily, as its written to reflect how the night unfolds. It fits really well following up 'Deadbeat' because things are really beginning to crash and burn for the main character."

Describe the recording process.

BM: "The acoustic guitar and lead vocals were recorded by me in the studio, and then we brought in Joe Larkin to sing some harmonies with me to make it sound huge. He did a great job and I think his vocals really make the studio version of the song come to life and stand out. Max then did the snare drum part, and I wrote the string quartet part and added it in later."

JA: "We've mentioned throughout all of these how much Bobby and I argued over elements of the album. 'Guilden Street' was one of my biggest contentions. I believed in the song, but not the original presentation. The song was laid down vocally and acoustically, and that was originally to be it. I had initially conceived a full band version of the song, with it being intended to close the album in the same exact way 'Self-Induced Exile' does. But we soon learned that version of the song would not work, and I pushed to add more elements to what had been recorded. We conceived the snare to resemble a drummer boy march, as the characters, as Bobby insinuates, are marching to their downfall. The other voices was Bobby's call, and the strings fell on both."

What are some of your favorite elements of the song?

BM: "Well like I said, Joe's vocals really tie it all together. I am also proud of the string parts, and the lyrics. These are some of my most honest lyrics I have ever written."

JA: "The harmonies definitely are awesome. There's a lot going on, which is cool. I think once the snare hits, the song really explodes, which creates an awesome sonic moment on the album."

Are you surprised the song has gotten over the way it has?

BM: "Yeah, a lot of people tell me that they connected with this song the most on the album, which makes me happy. I fought tooth and nail to keep this song on the record, and I'm happy people appreciate it for what I intended it to be."

JA: "Very, and that's not a bad thing. I didn't think it would be a song people would connect to initially, but I think once we added the extra elements, it really becomes a standout track. And now, ironically, it's one of my favorites."

Do you have plans to keep the song around?

BM: "Yeah I think we have some cool ways to work the band in a little more with this one."

JA: "Stay tuned, Canada."

What are the struggles with playing the song live?

BM: "Most of the shows we play are hard rock/punk shows that don't have a lot of room for ballad type songs. People who are there to rock out, often times tune out the softer songs, or go to the bathroom or get a drink. But that is why I want to change up the arrangement a bit and give it a little more bite."

JA: "We've gotten experimental with it. Our live show is where we earn our money (jokes), so when we have to slow things down, it becomes a little harder to elongate a show. But the song is fun, and there are people who really love this song."

Any final thoughts?

BM: "It is a song about sticking to your guns. I am extremely proud of the song. Don't go to the bathroom when we play it."

JA: "I mean, if you gotta piss..."

Friends in Low Places is available via iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify and various other outlets.

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