Sunday, 30 March 2014

#38. The Generoxity EP

This week’s blog is not about just one song – it’s about a little EP that serves as a minor memento from Warrnambool’s musical history.

At some point in early 2001, my band 21st Century Ox neared completion of our debut album What Am I Going To Do With All These Portaloos?. During discussions about a release gig, someone in the band – we’re not sure who – hit upon the idea of having a joint launch with two other Warrnambool bands who were also nearing completion of their latest recordings.

Those acts were metal band Negative Hold and grunge group Ritalin. We’d played plenty of gigs with those guys before and were all good friends, so it made sense to launch our stuff together. Negative Hold were working on the P.M.U. EP, and, if memory serves me correctly, Ritalin were preparing to launch a cassette album (which was apparently still a thing in those days).

Negative Hold in action.

To make it something a bit different from a regular launch gig, someone in Ox (I’d like to take credit for it but it probably wasn’t me) struck upon the idea to make a free CD to giveaway on the night. It would feature each of the three bands covering a song by each of the other bands.

On April 2, 2001, me and my Ox bandmates headed around to the house where Adam and Chris from Negative Hold lived and we discussed the idea with Adam, Chris, and Lee Ronald from Ritalin. Everyone agreed it was great idea, and so we parted ways with the plan to record two songs each and put them together on a CD for the launch gig.

Negative Hold live on stage in Koroit, 2001. 
(Apologies for the shitty "photo of a photo" quality.)

The end result is the Generoxity EP, which we gave to everyone who turned up on the night of the all-ages launch at Warrnambool’s Temperance Hall sometime later in 2001 (July or August, I think). I’ll bet there are a few people out there with copies now propping up wonky table legs or serving as beer coasters.

So here is the Negative Hold original that 21st Century Ox covered:

Backfire – Negative Hold

Dean Berger: guitars
Adam B. Metal: vocals
Tim Meyer: drums
Chris Wombwell: bass

Written, produced and mixed by Negative Hold. Recorded at home in 2000.
Released on 3 Track EP in 2000.

What a killer track. They recorded that 3 Track EP for $25 at home. Awesome.
And here’s our version:

Backfire – 21st Century Ox

Dion Barker: bass
Harry Fahey: drums
Brendan Hoffmann: guitar, vocals
Matt Neal: guitar, vocals

Written by Negative Hold.
Produced and mixed by Harry Fahey at Harry’s Practice, Crossley, on May 28-31, 2001.

Thirteen years on, I think we all agree on what the coolest part of the Generoxity EP was:

“The real interesting part was seeing how others covered your material, doing something very different with it than you would have thought,” Dean Berger from Negative Hold said recently.

Ox bassist Dion Barker agreed. “It was great to be able to put the Ox twist to a couple of other local favourites,” he said. “It was even better hearing Negative Hold's version of one of ours!” 

Obviously we changed a couple of things in the Ox version of Backfire, the main one being turning that awesome grinding opening riff into an easier-to-play, grungier alt-rock riff that suited our style and owed a debt to Smashing Pumpkins’ Quiet. We threw in a drum breakdown and slightly different outro, and rather then me yelling “Yeah!” or something when the drums kicked in, we thought it would be funny for me to yell “Hold!”. I think we thought the Hold boys would get a kick out of that.

Negative Hold returned the favour with a cover of Juliet & Her Romeo. Here’s the original:

Juliet & Her Romeo – 21st Century Ox

Dion Barker: bass
Harry Fahey: drums
Brendan Hoffmann: sax, vocals
Matt Neal: guitar

Written by 21st Century Ox.
Recorded at Motherlode Studios, Warrnambool in 2000.
Produced and mixed by Tony Peel.
Released on What Am I Going To Do With All These Portaloos? in 2001.

And here’s the rather awesome cover:

Juliet & Her Romeo – Negative Hold

Dean Berger: guitars
Adam B. Metal: vocals
Tim Meyer: drums
Chris Wombwell: bass

Written by 21st Century Ox.
Produced and mixed by Negative Hold. Recorded at home in 2001.

“I don't remember why we picked our Ox song,” Dean Berger said.

“Maybe (it was) because it was so different to what we had been playing and writing. I enjoyed doing it as we didn't have to think about writing a song - just spraying our Negative Hold jizz all over it, which I think we did.

“I thought Adam did a great job on it. And as always recording it was a fun experience, especially because it got all the muso's together working on something completely different.”

Here's the awesome shit that Adam B Metal is up to these days.

As Dion Barker said, it was very cool hearing someone do stuff to one of your songs. We were pretty blown away by Negative Hold’s version, especially the way they’d messed with the chords and melodies to make it more Hold-like.

Ox guitarist/vocalist Brendan Hoffmann said he was impressed by the cover of Juliet & Her Romeo, as well as the concept of the EP as a whole.

“(The EP) was a great idea and we gave away shitloads of them. It was agood gesture, and good to have everybody collaborating.”

Harry and Hoffa during Ox's Generoxity recording session.

The third and final track on the Generoxity EP (the name is a bad mash-up of letters in the band names) was 21st Century Ox’s cover of the Ritalin song Lust. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the original anywhere – only the cover we recorded in the same session as our cover of Backfire.

Lust – 21st Century Ox

Dion Barker: bass
Harry Fahey: drums
Brendan Hoffmann: guitar, vocals
Matt Neal: guitar, vocals

Written by Lee Ronald.
Produced and mixed by Harry Fahey at Harry’s Practice, Crossley, on May 28-31, 2001.

The only downside to the project was that Ritalin didn’t contribute any covers. Frontman Lee Ronald (RIP) may have been a rad guitarist and an awesome dude but his time management skills weren’t the best. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even have their cassette album ready for release at the gig. That was very Lee. Ritalin did rock at the launch though – that I remember clearly.

(l-r) Nathan Pye, Lee Ronald, and Brendan Hoffmann 
at the 3WAY FM Studios circa 2001-2002

I’m so glad we got to record one of Lee’s songs and played so many gigs with him and Ritalin (and later on The Extreme Sprinklers played a few shows with his next band The Circle K). Lee may be gone and we all still miss him, but his recordings are still out there and so he lives on - in our memories and in his music. When I listen to Ox’s shitty recording of Lust (it sounds slightly less shitty in headphones, trust me) it makes me smile and I think of Lee and that is a good thing.

RIP Lee. Gone too soon.

So after covering each others’ songs, the only thing left to do was launch our damned recordings. Here’s Dion:

“The original plan was to do the underage launch and then another one down the track at a licensed venue... I don't think we ever got to that one,” he said.

“I'm not sure which one of us geniuses came up with the idea, but it was awesome working together with everyone on the CD and subsequent show at the Temperance Hall.

“It was a good crowd. They were lined up out the front beforehand and it was a bit of a crush to get in! I do remember confiscating a fair bit of alcohol off the little tackers, too. Security were watching me like a hawk (so I had to) dispose of it all down the drain. There were tears, trust me.”

For the final word, here’s Ox drummer Harry Fahey:

“To be brutally honest, Doc, I have no recollection of any of this happening at all.”

Ah, the memories….

Monday, 10 March 2014

#37. Fives

Matt Neal: programming.
Written, produced, recorded and mixed by Matt Neal at ???? in 2007 or maybe earlier.

One evening, about 10 years ago, I heard an interview with a musician on Triple J and he was talking about how most dance/electro music was in 4/4 timing and how he’d deliberately set out to write a dance/electro song that wasn’t in 4/4 timing.

The end result was a really cool song. At this point in time, I can’t figure out what song it was. I had a feeling it was a song by Ross McLennan, formerly of Snout, perhaps from his album Songs From The Brittle Building. I contacted Ross through Facebook to see if he could figure what song it was I’d heard.

It's not this song, but Symphobia is awesome nonetheless.

He was nice enough to respond and said it sounded like something he would say, but was unsure of the song. Maybe it was We’re The Devil’s Own, he suggested, before thanking me for being “a bit obsessive and interested in music” and encouraging me to buy the album on eBay.

I still don’t know if this is the song cos I can’t find it anywhere. Oh well. The point is that interview made me think about trying to write something dancey in a time signature other than 4/4.

Fives is the result (so-called because it’s in 5/4). It was also inspired by a song 21st Century Ox drummer Harry Fahey did called Sevens (which was in 7/4), which was a very cool track he whipped up and we whacked on What Am I Going To Do With All These Portaloos? as one of the four secret tracks.

This album cover and title still makes me smile.

I don’t remember much else about Fives, but I do know that it has one of the coolest drum loops I’ve ever programmed. Pretty sure you can’t dance to it though. I think that means I failed. Also the song should be about a minute shorter. Onwards and upwards.