What inspired Sam Fender to write Hypersonic Missiles?

13 April 2020, 18:15 | Updated: 29 April 2020, 13:34

It’s the title track of the singer-songwriter’s debut album… but what inspired the song of the same name?

Sam Fender released his debut album Hypersonic Missiles in the summer of 2019. It was the culmination of an exciting year that began with the young singer-songwriter winning the BRITs Critics Choice Award.

Fender has released stunning songs like That Sound and Play God, but it’s the song Hypersonic Missiles that’s caught the ear of people around the world.

“Dutch kids huff balloons in the parking lot / The golden arches illuminate the business park.”

It’s a dense, compelling picture of the modern world - from politics to social change to the world grinding to a halt thanks to climate change and war.

“I eat myself to death, feed the corporate machine / I watch the movies, recite every line and scene.”

Sam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles album cover
Sam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles album cover. Picture: Press

Fender’s song peaks with the chorus: “When the bombs drop, darling / Can you say that you've lived your life? / Oh, this is a high time for hypersonic missiles.”

But what does this emotional diatribe actually mean? What inspired Sam Fender to write Hypersonic Missiles?

Speaking to Radio X’s Gordon Smart, Fender revealed that the lyric came straight from the media.

“I read the paper that day and that was the headline: “hypersonic missiles”.

The titular weapons can apparently travel at Mach 5 (that’s five times the speed of sound) and are designed to launch a surprise nuclear attack. It’s though that the main super-powers - America, China and Russia - all have them.

Russian Defence Ministry testing new strategic weapon systems
Russian Defence Ministry testing new strategic weapon systems. Picture: TASS\TASS via Getty Images

Fender went on: “Just the fact that it was a bit of jargon in the world that I lived in was kind of terrifying and really exciting.

“It ended up centred around this character that’s a complete and utter tinfoil-hatter who’s loosely based on myself.”

For the young singer-songwriter from North Shields, the song “sets the tone for the album”. He also admitted that he finds it easier to write the lyrics before setting them to a melody.”

Sam Fender performing live in March 2020
Sam Fender performing live in March 2020. Picture: Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopres/DPA/PA Images

“A lot of the time, my lyrics come first,” Fender explained, “I write reams of poetry and then I’ll write a melody around that. I always feel like if I write the melody first, the lyrics will suffer because I’ll shoehorn lyrics into a certain melody.”

With Fender’s debut album Hypersonic Missiles one of the biggest album releases of 2019, it’s put this alarming piece of weaponry at the forefront of people’s minds. With this song, Sam Fender has caught the mood of the times.

Watch Sam Fender in session at Radio X