Having released his debut EP Can’t Take It Much Longer last year, singer-songwriter Ulysses Wells returns in full force to the music scene with his new creation Mend a Man, centred on the theme of ‘fight’. True to this core concept, many songs hit listeners with their sheer power and sonic force, but others show a softer, gentler side to his music — thus channelling the ‘Angel and Devil’ divide so prominent in Wells’ first EP.

“At this point, I realised that the song had more potential than I thought”

Wells highlights the use of one especially heavy song from Mend a Man, titled “Blame”. Garage rock combines with a distinctly electronic sound to magnify the frustration and angst of a break-up.“The lyrics [of “Blame”] were originally really weird.” he comments, “I thought I should tame them and have them convey more meaning, so I ended up rewriting the song many, many times. Sometimes I had great lyrics but they didn’t match the music, so I had to rewrite them again. I had to compromise — I still think the chorus is too simple, but I guess that makes it catchy.”

While Wells’ EP takes a deep dive into psychedelic rock — as seen in “Mend a Man” — it also features the softest song of his entire collection, “Miles Away”. A profound reflection upon lost love and the resultant journey to salvation, the song was created in just half an hour.

“At first, I didn’t like “Miles Away” at all and I put it in the bin,” he remarks, “My sister then listened to the song and though I sent her a rough version, she started crying and told me she loved it. I sent it to other people and they agreed. I never intended to put “Miles Away” on the EP but the more people heard it over lockdown, the more they asked for it to be released. At this point, I realised that the song had more potential than I thought.”

“The song has an incredible string arrangement by David Ridley at the National Theatre in London, a great composer, so I was really lucky to have him,” continues Wells. “I had Eva Cassidy’s backing singer doing the vocals at the end and they just sound unbelievable. There was incredible musicianship. Jason Gail was my co-producer for this song (and also the bass player in the band), and he did an amazing job at mixing the sound. “Miles Away” was arguably the easiest song to make, but the sound is so band-based that if you don’t have the musicians there, you have to redo things and it can sometimes sound a bit contrived.”

"Miles Away" is one of Wells' most emotive and reflective songs to date

Having recorded the entire EP on the Isle of Wight in his own flat, Wells cites the creative process as lonely and extremely challenging. “We had to work with what we had — the band couldn’t really do anything, so I ended up working with a lot of samples” he says. “I was on my own and going crazy, I think I wrote sixty versions of one tune, and just kept on rewriting lyrics, choruses, verses. Sometimes this made it worse.”

“It’s definitely the hardest EP I’ve had to do, partly because I didn’t have any outside help with the writing. When we got into mix and production, I did some online sessions with a producer and my bass player, so it came together very quickly in the end, but the journey itself was a challenge.”

“The last EP was easier to create, because just as we came into lockdown, I came out of the studio in Liverpool.” he continues, “I barely knew what was going on — I drove into London and it was like an apocalypse, bars were closed, there were blue guys in suits on the streets. Luckily, all of the EP was already recorded and I then moved in with my sister, so I had a lot of people to bounce off. But for this EP, I didn’t have a studio and was on my own for five or six months. I don’t know anyone on the island, so it was pretty lonely and I’ve made very good friends with my basil plant — I can’t believe she’s actually flowering now!”


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Despite the difficulties of creating the EP, Wells’ musical experimentation has evolved and taken different routes, as he began to make more extensive use of sampling live sounds. “I think sampling is great for building a mood.” he says, “In “You Wanted It Over”, I just took a cheering crowd from an old phone recording of a gig and that’s in the background of the chorus. There’s the ocean going pretty much all the way through “Miles Away”, and there’s lots of strange soundscape stuff if you listen closely — I used a big sheep drum and then a tuned-down double bass to make a synth sound.”

With the final song released on 21st October, Wells hopes to showcase the EP’s music in person this winter and next year. “Soon after we release the final third EP, we hope to be on tour. That’s the current plan, I will definitely do some acoustic shows and Instagram lives too,” he adds, “Because we haven’t played a gig in two years, putting the band together again is going to need a lot of rehearsing. We’ll just have to make every second count.”