Love isn’t lost for this acoustic wonder
After a year of playing shows around London and working on new material, Project Culture are back! The London 4-piece return with their fourth single ‘Drunk on Valentine’s Day’, a charming acoustic track written by frontman Gary Hill.
The idea for the song came to Gary in February 2021, when he was on youtube watching some live videos of Courtney Barnett. Scrolling through the list of recommended videos, Gary found one which was of Courtney doing a cover of a song he’d not heard before – ‘Drunk on Election Night’ by Dan Kelly & the Alpha Males. Before he’d even listened to the song, he thought that it was such a great title; it was like Gary already knew what the song was going to be about before he’d heard one word of it.
After trying the ‘Drunk on…’ title with a load of different events and public holidays, and being conscious of the looming 14th February, Gary eventually came up with ‘Drunk on Valentine’s Day’ as a title, and was immediately inspired to turn it into a song. He liked the idea of Valentine’s Day – a day that one might hope would create joy and romance – having the exact opposite effect that you’d think it would have on a person, and instead of bringing to the surface their fears and insecurities. The song came together pretty quickly, with Gary being spurred on by his self-imposed deadline of completing the song by Valentine’s day: he had the idea for the song on Monday 8th February, finished writing it by Sunday 14th Feb, and then put a demo up on Bandcamp the next day.
The sparse, acoustic nature of the song – the recording features just Gary and Andrew (the band’s new lead guitarist) – is a result of Gary being strongly influenced by Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, two of his favourite acoustic/singer-songwriters. He was also inspired by all the short, 2 minute acoustic ditties that The Beatles always had on their albums that he grew up loving; one goal he had when writing his song was to create a contemporary version of these songs. There are also hints of the first Velvet Underground album in the song (namely, the slower, prettier songs like I’ll Be Your Mirror & Sunday Morning) as well as Lou Reed’s solo album Transformer; Gary cites the closing track on that album Goodnight Ladies as being the song which had the biggest influence on the writing of Drunk on Valentine’s Day. What Gary says about the song:
‘I recently read a quote from Ray Davies that pretty much sums up what I was trying to do with this song: “If you can make a funny song and then have one very hard-line, you reach people.”’ ‘The song is generally quite light-hearted – informed by its title which I thought was quite funny – and has a fair few lines that are played for laughs (e.g. “kicking doors and screaming in the dark”, the narrator noting he’s about to pass out) which hopefully help to keep the listener’s attention. However, in the bridge of the song, the narrator’s facade drops, and his insecurities are laid out for everyone to see.
He wonders if he’s done something wrong to be alone on this particular night and whether he should just give up trying to find someone – before ultimately accepting that he’s inevitably going to try again. However bad he’s feeling right now, he knows that tomorrow is another day, ending the song on a more optimistic note. I hope that people who hear this song will be able to find humour in the narrator’s melodrama, while also relating to or empathising with the feeling of being unhappy on a day that’s supposed to bring you joy.’