Friday, June 25, 2010

By Popular Demand

Had it not been for the keen reader of this blog, we might never have advertised the upcoming gig in this, the most obvious of places. Our own self-funded focus group. The locus of our brand power. Where the band gestalt takes the pulse of our broad and deep fan base.

When: Sunday, 4th of July, 8pm.
Where: The Empress Hotel, Nicholson St.
With: Colour Kids and The Chemistry Set (the nicest guys in rock).

The rock will be hot. Plenty of new songs (Silky and Crafty usually recognise them once we have played a few bars), and plenty of old favs. The set list may not be too adventurous as some stupid footballing nonsense has kept us from each other.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Grand Themes

Our attempts to race album number 2 have halted for a variety of reasons. My non-band activities are largely to blame but there are many additional reasons. Another that springs to mind is the slight paucity of material, and in some instances sub-squid-standard material.

What we did manage to record is at once encouraging and discouraging...and ultimately not enough. Sometimes I listen and I hear gold, sometimes I listen and I hear lead.

What does strike me is the, I believe, inadvertent partial move from my randy sex lyrics to addressing the big issues. Contained within the short set of songs we cover euthanasia, abortion, illicit (gay, if Silky is right)love, slave trade, indentured prostitution, Uri Geller and scientific animal abuse. Birth appears to be absent and I am planning to address this, although I feel Pink Floyd's Embryo says all there is to possibly say on the subject. Perhaps tax free superannuation contributions is another hole in the story? What about an eliotesque Key To All Mythologies?

Not wishing to be too National Times about things by ending with a few questions but are missing anything else? Or have we covered all possible grand themes?

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Exit Everything

There was a very sad loss to the gulag last year when Roland S Howard left the building as a result of liver cancer. I am guilty here of doing something which irks me about people's treatment of RSH, i.e. referring to him as a guitarist by way of the gulag. The guy was a unique guitarist and one of the finest Australia has produced...he more than passes the UT test of whether a guitarist matters, did you recognise their playing the moment you heard it? But this overlooks what an excellent songwriter and more specifically, sorry rhythmn section, an excellent lyricist he was. While his erstwhile bandmate Nick Cave long ago descended into self-parody, Roland wrote cold, visceral songs about now (not some southern gothic blah blah blah). I am not a fan of treating lyrics as poetry (again step forward Nick Cave and his published volumes) as they don't stand up. But check Dead Radio (unfortunately as his solo releases were hugely overlooked, more on this in a minute, you tube has only some sketchy bootlegs. Here is the lyric sheet) for some fine work. Even his most famous song which he wished to partly disown, Shivers, is about the best set of teenage-written lyrics I have cry/fly/die mountain/fountain to be found there.

So far as I can tell his last album Pop Crimes was as near as self-released and sold out within minutes at his last gig at the Prince. The previous album Teenage Snuff Film is a masterpeice. Brooding, nasty, malevolent, melodic and intelligent. Not a dud track on it.

I was greatly saddened by his passing. He was awesome and original. His guitar playing was at once melodic and percussive, and you never once heard him play a note that didn't matter (something of which I am guilty every time I play). There was no pointless Clapton shit.

Considering his physical appearance made me feel ill, so sickly did he look even in health, his lyric that "when the lighting is bad, I'm the man with the most" sums him up perfectly.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010


Getting four dudes to stand in a grim little room with walls made from breeze blocks, thick filthy felt stapled to these walls and an inadequately hinged door constructed by gluing together 8 bits of MDF, is difficult. Only Paddy seems serious about it by not having a baby any time soon because he doesn't want to mess with the life aquatic. What with endless international sporting engagements, stupid children everywhere and near constant but diverse illness and ailments, the Squid life, as Willie so adroitly put it whilst humping encyclopaedia around Fort Worth, ain't no good life, but it's our life.

So how do I compensate? Buying new gear of course. The '81 USA Fender Bullet pick ups were giving me the shits. A lovely rich clean sound but a papery distorted sound. Having been so pleased with the Fender Bronco upgrade, I plumped for the DiMarzio Super Distortion S rail pick ups in the neck and bridge position. For those who like a little meat with their Tedious gravy HERE IT FUCKING COMES!

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Our New Life

I was listening to the radio yesterday and heard a charming little song with a nice melody, an affecting swell in the strings in the middle section and an active bassline. Not at all rocky or funky which would normally make me take notice, you realise, merely pleasant.

I'd never heard the song before and a search bar was handy so I typed in a few of the lyrics I was hearing to find what the song was. Turned out it was a single by a chap called Max Gazzè from 2004 called ‘La Nostra Vita Nuova.’ Here's a link to the video on YouTube if you're at all curious. The video reminds us that the masculine wonder of the healthy moustache lives on in Italy and I, for one, am pleased to see it.

There is an odd thing that happened during the day and a half since then: I have found myself playing the song over and over. It has bewitched me. I am utterly besotted with this beautiful little song.

I like the way the simple, almost one-note, verse contrasts with the sweet melody of what I'm calling the chorus. And then there is the genius of repeating the word “diverso, diverso” at the end of the chorus. The word is the same at each of the three choruses so it sticks in your mind and yet the things that are “different, different” each time are themselves different. A quirky touch.

And there is that dramatic middle bit. Glorious. Cheers me right up and I sing along happily. It is in the key of A while the rest of the song is in D and you can really hear how the key change pushes the middle bit out.

The tritoney riff at the end was a mistake in my opinion but serves me well as a reminder to hit that rewind button again.

On the rare occasions when I write a song, I'm conscious of avoiding writing songs that are driven by the bassline as I don't like the thought of people saying “oh that song has a good bassline. Who wrote the song? The bass player? Well, that explains it” — as, of course, people inevitably would. You know what they're like — cunts that they are. As for this song's interesting bassline? Max Gazzè is a bass player. Well, that explains it.

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Friday, June 04, 2010


I don't know if you remember the show, but The Young Ones once had an episode where all four of the lads were unwell. They all had colds and got grumpy at each other (as opposed to other episodes where a bomb dropped on the house and they all got grumpy at each other or where they mysteriously fell through some kind of a time warp and they all got grumpy at each other). This comes to mind as I am at my workdesk on a Friday afternoon pumping out the hot stuff for my employers and their shareholders. Like Neil, Rick, Mike and Vyv, I am gobbing up great piles of unpleasant bodily excretia; coughing and sneezing, befowling mountains of handkerchiefs. It is gruesome.

All of my coworkers here in the office are as sick as I. Filthy crew that they are. If we somehow had Madness turned up here playing Our House we wouldn't be able to hear it over all the coughing here. God it's revolting. There is some extreme acupuncture, involving six-inch nails, I'd be pleased to perform on them all.

I date the beginning of the worst for me at last rehearsal. I have a nasty history of rocking up to the rehearsal room with a bit of a cold and then ruining my throat through over-singing. My technique isn't great and I sing quite high for me in many of the songs and my voice gets trashed.

I have not done a great deal of research into the subject so does anybody have proper tips on how to avoid ruining my voice when I have a little bit of a cold? I guess the only correct answer is “take singing lessons for five years”