How we wrote Making a New World

Peter Brewis: "when we met up with the people from the Imperial War Museum, we kind of gravitated around towards the idea of us doing a, like, a new a new piece of work based on this artifact that they'd found in, er what was it, where did they find it again? like ammunition..."

David Brewis: "1919 US War Department munitions"

Peter: "when we first saw the initial object we weren't quite sure what it was. To me it looked like some kind of seismograph, you know these five or six lines. I mean it was obvious that there was lots of vibrations the
minute before the end of the First World War and then when the First World War ended the vibrations ceased."

David: "I think we realized that for us to do something like an analog to that artifact probably wouldn't be the best way for us to approach it. So we thought about it for a while and we talked about it for a while and we imagined these six lines from that, you know, this diagram continuing on and thought about like how what are the vibrations you might see if you carried those lines along, and that yeah turned into this way of linking stories from the First World War and immediately afterwards to other events across the next hundred years."


"Realizing that to try and tell a very big story in broad strokes it's not something which like pop music does very well. So even when we've been writing in our own songs when we want to make a point you tend to focus on a smaller story. In a way that approach worked perfectly for this because we can't tell the story of the First World War we certainly can't tell the story of a century after the First World War and everything that came from it, but we can pick little stories and find ways that maybe they can express something much bigger."


Peter: "Well when we were looking for stories we found a lot of interesting things, things that we didn't realize. For instance you know we talked about this a lot, then I said to Dave 'hey look at this thing I've just found out, that basically Germany have only just finished paying off their war reparations, in a way'."


"you know they took out loans throughout the course of the last hundred years and they've only just finished paying off, it was 2010. Wow that's, that's mad, we should we could write a song about that. I said well actually I can't write a song, I don't think I'll be very good at that, Dave do you fancy doing a song about that, like it kind of a song about money, and all in the kind of the how these sort of financial sort of transactions or and you know the repercussions of reparations kind of can affect people so I thought that was really interesting... and Dave did it and it, you know, you did it in a different way than I, in a way that I hadn't imagined."

David: "yeah you know I ended up writing a story basically imagining somebody in a back office in the German Treasury whose job it is to make sure the paperwork's right for this like final payment ninety two years after the end of the war. But it was just like it was it was an angle to write the song from." 


Peter: "the story about the impact of that the war hard on the influenza epidemic, and vice versa, we thought you know we shouldn't really be writing a song about that, it's like we can't express that sort of thing in a couple of verses and a chorus or a middle eight or something, I thought you know what, we just need to do some music for that, it's, you know, it's still a good, it's still a kind of interesting story, but it's a wider one, really that, I didn't want to just find a story within that."

David: "likewise when we looked at how some of the treaties and agreements made during the war affected the Middle East, and it again it's like it's quite shocking to see the very direct effect that had on the kind of continuing
conflict in the Middle East for a hundred years. But it's too big a story to make into a song." 


"and on the other hand there are some things where we could approach it in a really like light-hearted way. So we found out that of a material which basically made the modern sanitary towel possible was invented or came into wide use from being used to dress wounds, and it's Kimberly-Clark, a relatively small company at the time, had this material called cellu cotton and they thought well you know we'll sell it to the  US Army when the army joined and the US joined the war, and use it for to dress wounds, but nurses on the front started to use it for sanitary hygiene so after the war it ended in Kotex."


"I don't have any experience with the Imperial Museum at all, and in all honesty like the those words 'Imperial War Museum' are not things which I initially, I would you know instinctively think 'oh that's my kind of place'. But actually one of the first things we did was go to visit the IWM North and to realise what museums were really about, and to have like you know really powerful experience just being there, to see some of the films, and see some of the objects, and understand it away from the name, was it was huge for me."

Peter: "looking at the objects, looking at the stories, I thought god these are like the real, like, small like human, everyday of stories within these things but they're part of like this massive picture, this tapestry of everything
that's gone on before and since and it's like these things are really really important."



In January of 2019, Mercury Award nominated band Field Music came together with Imperial War Museums for two specially commissioned performances inspired by the Making a New World season. Taking influence from a rare document in IWM’s extensive collections, a graphic record which proclaims “THE END OF THE WAR” and captures the moment the guns fell silent, Field Music explore the energy, hope and fragility brought about by the end of the First World War.

The duo, comprising Sunderland-based brothers Peter and David Brewis, boast several critically acclaimed albums including Commontime (2016) and Plumb (2012) and a reputation for innovative and varied live performances. Since forming in 2004, they have become known for a deconstructionist approach to music and songs, carving a niche in their approach to albums, soundtracks and collaborations. In 2016 they helped commemorate the Battle of the Somme by writing the soundtrack to 14-18 NOW’s commissioned film Asunder.

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