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5 KEY INGREDIENTS OF A MOANING LISA SONG

Something Like This But Not This is out now!

Image: Claire Warren


Alt rock four-piece Moaning Lisa recently unveiled their debut album, Something Like This But Not This. To celebrate the release, the band have shared with MILKY five key ingredients that go into creating a Moaning Lisa song.


“It's kind of quintessential, in a way,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Charlie Versegi of the album. “You really do have your whole life to write your first album – there are songs on here that even predate Moaning Lisa itself. Some tracks have been around since our earliest days, others came literally weeks before we went into the studio.”


Singer and bassist Hayley Manwaring shares, "I hope people walk away from this album knowing that their feelings – whatever they're feeling or experiencing – is not new. Music has a way of eliciting these shared emotions. We're all together in the way that we feel and process things as humans, and it's very real.” Versegi adds: “I think it's a very no-bullshit, cutthroat record. I think every single song has that as a common thread; straight to the point, no fucking around. It's an album that's defiantly rooted in reality.”



GUITAR TEST

If you take everything away and the song still works when it’s just acoustic guitar and a vocal, that’s a pretty good sign. Sometimes when you add twelve layers of guitars and edit everything to perfection you can lose sight of what the song actually is. But if it still hits when it’s on its own, then it’ll hit when you add everything back in.



TEMPO

Finding the right speed can be just about the hardest part of the songwriting process. The chorus for ‘Inadequacy’ is two beats per minute slower than the verse, and even then it took a long time to reassure ourselves that it shouldn’t've been just one.

We use a highly technical, data-driven principle called ‘Jumping Tempo’. The idea is that once you feel like a song is done, you have to do a jump test and bounce around to it like you’re in a mosh pit. If it’s hard to jump to, you might need to go back to the drawing board. Or turn it into a ballad. That’s what happened with ‘Don’t Dream’, we originally made it into an entirely un-jumpeable doo-wop thing. That’s when we knew we had to take it back to just Hayley and a guitar.



DISTORTION

Choosing the right distortion pedal for each moment of the song is critical. They all hit different. We have a few go to’s. First of all, there’s the Tube Screamer which is an overdrive pedal, and it’s great for beefing up a part where you’re playing chords and you need just a bit more energy without overtaking everything else. Then there’s the Blues Driver. It’s blue. We made the cover art for our song ‘Inadequacy’ to match the colour. It’s only right in certain moments, but when it works, it works, you know? Failing all that there’s the Rat, which is basically when you want to go as big as you possibly can. Ellen’s pedalboard is a whole different ball game. That thing is one of the most magical and mysterious structures you’ll ever encounter.



PINKY

This is one of Charlie’s secret songwriting weapons. If you’re writing a song and one of the guitar chords is just feeling a bit stale, or awkward, or square, all you have to do is shang your pinky on a random note and voila! Your song just became experimental, punk, or something else that is at the very least not boring.



HARMONIES

No matter what song we’re working on, the moment it starts to feel like a Moaning Lisa song is when Charlie and Hayley harmonise with each other. It’s definitely a misunderstood and underappreciated art. You can’t just go in and sing a harmony like you would a lead vocal and vice-versa. Taking different people and different voices and making them all work together, that’s pretty much what we’re trying to do as a band.



Something Like This But Not This is out now!