Sunday, 24 March 2013

#3. Adam's Family - The Extreme Sprinklers


Performed by The Extreme Sprinklers.

Harry Fahey: drums.
Matt Hewson: bass, backing vocals.
Jade McLaren: vocals.
Matt Neal: guitar, backing vocals.

Lyrics by Jade McLaren & Matt Neal.
Music by Harry Fahey, Matt Hewson, Jade McLaren & Matt Neal.
Written late 2005.
Recorded at The Shed, Warrnambool, May 29, 2006.
Produced and mixed by Harry Fahey.
Released on The Extreme Sprinklers’ “Wolf” demo disc.




OK, firstly, yeah, those are some pretty bung harmonies on my part in the verses – that’s me doing that out-of-tune falsetto next to Hewy’s much nicer vocal line. Sorry.

(Note: To differentiate things slightly, I’m calling the “Harry Fahey on drums”-era The Extreme Sprinklers, and the “Jarrod Hawker on drums”-era The 80 Aces, even though they’re the same continuum and the band name didn’t change exactly when Hawk joined. But it’ll do. There’s also some stuff Jade and I did together that will be classed under The Extreme Sprinklers, to make things more confusing. Whatever.)

Anyway, Jade and I wrote this, like quite a few songs at the time, in his little unit above Mack's Snacks in Liebig Street, Warrnambool. Going back through my songbooks, it seems like we were writing a song or two a week at that stage. We’d been writing and recording stuff for about a year, and our band The Extreme Sprinkers had been happening for six months or so (I think).

A key influence on the band initially was Ween – in particular their propensity for taking on any musical style or genre. So we genre-hopped like crazy in those early days, writing reggae, hip hop, country, blues and anything else we could think of.  Adam’s Family was intended as a punk/grunge number, directly influenced by the likes of Talking Heads, XTC (there they are again!) and The Pixies.

Here’s what Jade has to say about writing this punky little number:

“I remember listening to a lot of early XTC at the time - White Music was on repeat. I was really interested in the rhythmic and stuttered delivery of their vocal melodies and wanted to replicate it. It’s since become a big part of my singing style.”



Lyrically, the song is sung from the point of view of Earth, and the title was kind of intended as being an off-hand way Earth might regard humans – “oh, that’s just Adam’s family”, you know, in a biblical sense.

“At the time, I couldn't think of a song that was sung from the point of view of Earth,” Jade says.

“To me it seemed humourous that planet Earth might be upset that humans thought of the history of the planet to be their history and story when it was actually the Earth’s story and we just lived on its 'outer crust'.”

The coolest bit in the song is that kink in the chorus, where the beat shifts. I found a live recording of the song done not long after it was written, and that kink isn't in there, so it must have been something thought up after we'd been playing the song for a little while. According to Jade, he and Harry got the idea for that bit from the We Are Scientists song Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, which has a similarly off-kilter section in part of its chorus.

 

 Over to you, Harry:

“The four-bar chorus groove uses the same kick/snare pattern in the first two bars (but) in bars three and four it’s nudged 1/8th note later - messes it all up in a funky way. It totally messes with your head when you’re playing it!

“I remember I was really into studying backbeats (at the time) and so the first verse has the exact same kick/hats rhythm as the other verse but (in) the second verse there is a snare backbeat added in. It changes the whole groove.”

This particular recording was done in The Shed, which was a massive shed (funnily enough) we shared with some of the guys from The Chosen Few. Harry set up his Mac in there so we could record rehearsals, which we only did a couple of times. This is from one of those sessions. The recording ended up on a demo disc we gave to a few people in lieu of doing a “proper” recording.

This photo was taken in The Shed about three weeks before this recording. PIC: Glen Watson.


Finally, I want to mention the guitar solo. Jade once called it “the ultimate Doc solo”, meaning it was the epitome of my love of noise. He’s probably right.

Lyrics

Your bodies sink into the continents
and some day you will rise again
and from you things will grow high (goddamn!)
Your lives go on as my time goes by

Pleased to meet you
What was your name again?
This is my story
It’s not your story
It is my story

You crawl around me like little ants
tickling my outer crust
We’re all mortals here on planet Earth (goddamn!)
Always death with follow birth

So nice to meet you
What was your name again?
This is my story
It’s not your story
This is my story

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