Friday, 21 June 2013

#15. Cash In Now Before We Die – 21st Century Ox

Harry Fahey: drums, effects, water bowl.
Matt Neal: vocals, guitar, bass, effects.

Lyrics by Matt Neal.
Music by Harry Fahey & Matt Neal.
Written in 2000.
Recorded at Harry’s Practice, Crossley, 2000.
Produced by Harry Fahey and Matt Neal.
Mixed by Harry Fahey.

Finding a good place to rehearse can be difficult, but over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to jam regularly in some very cool places.

My first regular jam space was dubbed Harry’s Practice, so-called because it was at drummer Harry Fahey’s place in Crossley and it’s where 21st Century Ox would practice (and we obviously had a thing for Dr Harry Cooper).


It was just a shed out the back of Harry’s place, which was great in summer but slightly less great in winter as I recall. Occasionally, when it was cold and no one else was home, we’d drag our gear into the house and jam.

Harry's Practice on a summer's day.

Before or after one of these rehearsal sessions, Harry and I decided to make the most of the gear already being set up inside the house and lay down a song. Maybe the other guys were coming out later, I’m not sure, but for whatever reason, me and Harry had the old Tascam four-track and a loungeroom full of gear all to ourselves that day. The end result was Cash In Now Before We Die, which ended up as one of the four secret songs (yes, four) on 21st Century Ox’s first album, What Am I Going To Do With All These Portaloos?.

Ox bassist Dion Barker puts it this way:
“You bastards organised a pre-recording recording session without telling (guitarist Brendan Hoffmann) and I. And you came up with an awesome song! Bastards!”

I found the chords for this scribbled in one of my songbooks (with no date, naturally) as part of a list of song ideas that were basically just rows of chords with a word at the top to serve as a reminder for the rhythm or feel. Above the chords for Cash In Now… it just says “bouncy”.

Mmm... bouncy.
PS. That dirt smudge is a paw print from one of Harry's dogs,
 who came in to help us record.

But on the next page was the lyrics, and while my memory of mid-2000 is hazy at best, I can still remember what the hell I was on about in these lyrics. I was thinking about artists such as Tupac and Jeff Buckley who seemed to sell more records after their death than while they were alive thanks to a steady stream of posthumous recordings of varying degrees of quality. The lyrics were about imploring people to buy our music now and beat the rush before we carked it.

Speeding up the track may have been a homage to Ween although I’m not 100 per cent certain Harry and I had heard much Ween when we recorded this. Realistically, the effect was used to cover our sloppy timing and my out-of-tune vocals. Speeding it all up (which just involved adjusting the tape speed dial on the four-track) made everything a tad tighter and sharper.

It’s still pretty messy though. But I know Harry and I were proud of it at the time – proud enough at least to “hide” it as one of the secret tracks on What Are We Going To Do With All These Portaloos?.

Here’s Harry:
“That was an awesome, fun tune to record and mixdown! I remember using Hoffa’s old Tascam four-track and we messed with the tape speed as an afterthought but it really makes the song. Good lyrics too, Doc, hit the proverbial nail on the head. And the random water bowl... what was that about?”

Random water bowl… yes, what the fuck was that all about?

This is a photo from the actual recording session.
That's Harry in the top right corner (water bowl not included).


Everything’s better after you’re gone
The music’s appreciated more
Better to play fast, leave a beautiful corpse
Wouldn’t want to live forever, oh no

Cash in now before we die
The price is low but it will get high
Cash in now before we die somehow, somehow

Unfinished masterpieces found on the floor
Polish them up for an album or four
Selling more records than you did before
and better known
It’s a shame you're dead really

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