Monday, 21 October 2013

#26. Do Unto Others – 21st Century Ox

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

Lyrics by Matt Neal.
Music by Dion Barker, Harry Fahey, Matt Hewson, Brendan Hoffmann and Matt Neal.
Written early 2000.
Recorded at two house parties in Melbourne in June and November, 2002.
Music produced, engineered and mixed by Dave Wilson.
Video filmed, produced and edited by John Turner.

Look at those handsome young fellas go! This is 11 years ago, and we are playing at two different parties in Melbourne for some good friends of 21st Century Ox’s legendary sound guy Dave Wilson, with the footage spliced together by the talented John Turner. Usually this song is not played at speeds approaching 1000bpm, but we were full of vodka-induced energy on the nights of these performances.

Here’s a version from Dave’s rehearsal space (recorded and mixed by Dave – what a guy!), which features us playing at a slightly more respectable pace:

Do Unto Others was one of my favourite songs to play in 21st Century Ox. It was in almost every setlist. I used to love introducing it by saying, “This song is about the hypocrisy within religion”, and then launching into the opening riff.

At the time, I thought I was being so clever, so political, so deep, so controversial. Now I look back and think ... well ... to be honest I don’t know what to think. Is it too try-hard? Naïve? Derivative? Laughable? I really have no idea. But back then, I thought I was approaching “serious songwriter” territory. Now, I cringe a bit at the preachiness, but at least the words read okay on paper, and the sentiment remains worthwhile.

For all its atheistic simplicity, it was even simpler musically. I later realised that opening guitar riff I play is pretty much the riff to Silverchair’s Israel Son sped up. It's fair to say there was probably a lyrical influence too. There’s a bit of dynamic, but it’s essentially a one-riff song (and that riff is “generic angsty riff in dropped D tuning”).

What makes Do Unto Others cool from my perspective is fellow guitarist Brendan Hoffmann’s awesome grunge-funk riff, Matt Hewson’s crazy sax lines, and the solid rhythm section of drummer Harry Fahey and bassist Dion Barker. Meanwhile, I was out front, pontificating.

Like I said, I don’t know how I feel about this song now. It’s so angsty. It’s obviously me trying to turn 21st Century Ox into Rage Against The Machine, except it kind of turned out like Limp Celery Against The Machine.

Having said that, part of me is proud that I at least tried to write this kind of song. It was fun to play and a few people have told me over the years that this is their favourite Ox song.

On a side note, I think this song is part of the reason 21st Century Ox never released our second album. Knowing that people seemed to like the song, I seem to recall we had planned to record a studio version because the album wouldn’t have been complete without it, but we never got around to it because a) we ran out of money, b) we ran out of time in Motherlode Studios, c) when we set up to record at Dion’s house we wasted too much time getting wasted, and then d) the band broke up. Oops.


"This is the book," he points at the people saying, "and you’re the voice that screams against the things I’m praying.
"Slay all you heathens, slay all you infidels, and send you to your pagan hell."
He drops the book, it flutters open to a page; "do unto others", and all that other godly rage.
He says, "You will believe or you will die".

Watch what you hate.

There is a man, who says he hates all gays. Says it’s against god’s so godly ways.
Yet every night, he goes to watch a video – turns out to be a lesbian porno.
It could be your son; it could be your friend or daughter. It’s someone that you knew and now you hate them just because (their gay)?

Watch what you hate.

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