photo by Bleddyn Butcher - art by Dave Western
Something happened to us just last week at our Thursday Stage It Dot Com show. Something was happening and we really didn’t understand did we? Yes, it was balls of confusion all around. King Of The Dudes was the billing. Sorry for the drama, we are working something out with head office. What do I mean? Turns out we might’ve played a GHOST SHOW! But we played the whole time! We will be fronting up again at the doorway to the universe/the possible void this Thursday at 8 pm AEST ( as well as a Sunday 7am/Saturday night show for our mates in the Northern hemisphere this weekend.
You know what pandemic time is like! Fast but still. Slow but tense. It folds up on ya! Anyway, these shows have given us a great outlet and focus. What’s on ? A pretty different set. Drums, vibes, bass vibes, rhythm tracks, instrumentals and our rhythm ace drum machine, 12 string and 6 string electric and my little Maton Alver given to us by Des Hefner in 1985 which was more of an ornament over the years (and indeed stayed in a storage chest for five years while we were in the UK) but I got it fixed by Maton and have been playing it on these shows. In open D. Yes, I've been fooling around with some tunings and the house has guitars in every room, all tuned to different keys.
I Read a book lent to me by Tony Mahony and found a
documentary about Dean Reed aka Comrade Rockstar aka The Red Elvis.
Born in Colorado and Hollywood pop deserter . Huge entertainment figure
in South America, Spain and Italy then the USSR and the GDR where he
lived. Stuff I never knew!
Here is a link to a film about him.
Our shows go for 50 minutes and there’s a small fee for admission. We have this set very low but you can pay more if you are flush. We play a different set each week. The other week (I forget which) there was a real focus on the Devil Drives album from 1997. Well we played four or five songs from it. Artwork by Tony Mahony and title glommed from a book about Victorian era explorer and linguist Sir Richard Francis Burton. It was released to radio with an interview disc called Coffins Have No Pockets where I was interviewed by HG Nelson aka Greig Pickhaver. Oh and Lee Marvin seemed to fit too.
We also played two songs by Love and another new instrumental, our third over the last month. The inspiration was my getting a delicious sound from my electric twelve string after a decade of hit amd miss attempts. the secret was a pedal I'd only used on my bass before and Clare had used on her keys. A Digiyech Bass Synth Wah. I was looking for a sound for my other guitar that Keith Richards got on Some Girls. I guess he was drying out from long term heroin use and also he looks super fit in pictures of the time so maybe his ears were more sensitive? Anyway he apparently used some sort of MXR Phase 100 pedal on the whole album. I had a more pronounded autowah setting at first but dialled it back to a subtle octaving boost at the bottom end. I don't turn it off.
I also made a breakthrough with my small Red Witch delay pedal. Again I was erring on the side of good taste and just using a short repeat but after a while I turned it right up and that has also been a revelation. I remembered Rod Hayward who played guitar in the Coral Snakes talking about the development of his playing and he talked about amps and guitars and strings and straps and he finished by saying "then you discover delay....". Hey! He was not shittin"us!
We have also had a real crack at playing our pandemic epic, We May Never Love Like This Again (theme from The Towering Inferno) properly. We have almost achieved it, several times. One of those 2:20 pop tunes with a unique arrangement and a thousand slight chord variations.
This week? Vibes, drums, 12 and 6 string guitars, voices, live from our Melbourne studio. Thursday night 8pm AEST and then Saturday night GREENWICH TiME - it’ll be 7am for us but 10 pm Saturday night in the UK and afternoon or evening depending on which coast of the USA you are near or nearest. No worries.
Work continues on our next release, Lyve At Byrds. Its a real rock'n'roll epic recorded at Birds Basement in Melbourne with the mistLY in November 2019. Blazing!
In other more BLOGLY type news, I'd been finding it hard to settle on a book. I read the Dean Reed bio and then Albert Camus' THE PLAGUE (in French so I was struggling), then some short stories and Stanley Booths saga of the Stones 1969 tour of the USA but couldn't really settle into anything.
I tried Clive James DANTES INFERNO but its an impressive, howy achievement but alas, not for me. I can never get over once reading him railing against John Coltrane and the bebop generation and championing Louis Armstrong and trad jazz. I do like Louis and haven't really heard a lot of Coltrane but I love Charlie Parker and Charlie Christian and the whole bebop era. I can dig both. The poem is about 400 pages of strict rhyme. Very strict. I have read Byron in that long form but that was Byron. This just didn't grab me. Sorry Clive. Too much has happened in poetry since Dante and I must say, Ed Dorn is more my thing. Wild and scrappy 60s/70s small print stuff.
the outskirts, announced the Horse,
a creature of grass and only marginally
attracted to other distortions.
Here we are in the sheds
and huts of the suburbs. There are
some rigid types in here.
It’s kinda poignant
but that doesnt move it any closer to the centre.
Yup! empty now of all but a few
and disturbed only by the return
of several husbands known to be unable
to stay away during this celestial repast
called lunch. Thats where youre out
before you leave. Theres a man
turning on his sprinkler, it should be illegal
a small spray to maintain the grass, the Edible
variety no one doubts.
But I see none of my friends grazing there
these green plots
must be distress signals to God
that he might notice
their support of one of his minor proposals
He must be taken by these remote citizens
to be the Patron of the Grass
Holy shit, Lawn grass…
from the great tribe
they selected something to Mow"
Then turned to Paul Bowles who guided me through the 80s as I read all his works. Started on his collected letters. He leaves NYC in the mid 40s on a freighter ship with 3 other passengers. His room has a bed, a "large table for composing" (he was a musician first) a porthole on two walls and a door opening onto the deck. It cost $200 and he was heading to Tangier where he had been once before the war and would stay for the rest of his life.
“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it
will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that
terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we
get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a
certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more
times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some
afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even
conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more.
Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise?
Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”