Tuesday, 4 February 2014

#33. Elevator – The 80 Aces

Jarrod Hawker – drums
Jade McLaren – vocals
Kyle McLaren – bass, vocals
Matt Neal – guitar, vocals

Lyrics by Matt Neal and Jade McLaren.
Music by Jarrod Hawker, Matt Hewson, Jade McLaren, Kyle McLaren & Matt Neal.
Written late 2007/early 2008?
Recorded at Motherlode Studios, Warrnambool, May 28, 2011.
Produced and mixed by Tony Peel.

On October 28, 2007, I was lucky enough to attend the ARIA Awards in Sydney. Sadly, it wasn't as a musician; it was as a journalist for the Warrnambool Standard. Even sadder, The Standard didn't pay for me to go - I had to pay my own way. I was dead broke at the time but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

So despite the fact I barely had enough money to get my car out of the carpark when I got back to Avalon Airport, it was a great experience. I didn't get to sit in the main hall at Acer Arena while the show was on but I did get to line the red carpet with the rest of the media throng and be in the media room where the winners were ushered into after they'd picked up awards (winners that year included Silverchair, John Butler Trio, Sarah Blasko, Gotye and Keith Urban).

Here's a fresh-faced Wally de Backer (aka Gotye) 
collecting an ARIA in 2007. PIC: contactmusic.com

This was the year Nick Cave was inducted in the ARIA Hall of Fame (I got to sit a few metres away from him in the media room after his induction), John Butler Trio jammed with Keith Urban (and were surprisingly rad), Gotye played a show-stealing version of Learnalilgivinanlovin, and Media Watch accused Channel 10 of using subliminal advertising during the broadcast.

Things I noticed while lining the red carpet included Nicole Kidman’s face looked like it was made of fragile porcelain, Delta Goodrem is as gorgeous in the flesh as she’s appears on TV, and The Veronicas have freakishly large heads.

Seriously, their heads are fucking enormous. PIC: zimbio.com

After the show, I wandered around the arena complex and bumped into Warrnambool comedian Dave Hughes, who had just won an ARIA for best comedy release and had promised me earlier in the night that I could have his after-party pass, seeing as how he had to host his breakfast radio slot the next morning and wasn’t planning to party on.

But seeing as how he'd just won an ARIA, Hughesy changed his mind and decided that he would go to the after-party after all, and, sorry, but I couldn't have his pass. Fair enough.

Fine, go and party with your hot wife, Dave, see if I care. PIC: matpacker.com

Rather than walk the three kilometres back to my shitty hotel room (I couldn't afford a taxi), I decided to try my luck and attempt to crash the official after-party. The doors leading into the party were very wide so I manoeuvred my way into the middle of the throng entering the party, perfectly positioned between the security guards on either side but out of their reach. I made it in - few passes were checked that night.

The after-party was ok but not great. I had a few drinks (they were free), wandered around looking at the D-list celebs (anyone important had gone back to their label-run after-parties), and chatted to the bored wives outside smoking (their husbands were inside schmoozing).

The night was a bit of a bust (I wasn't going to get to hook up with Delta Goodrem or throw things at The Veronicas) and I was about to leave when I bumped into Ted O'Neil of The Vasco Era. We'd played a bunch of gigs together previously and he seemed pleased to see me. Ted told me his bandmates had gotten so drunk during the awards ceremony that they'd had to be limousined back to their hotel.

Ted O'Neil, rocking out at the Kennedy's Creek Music Festival in 2013 
with his band Brother James. PIC: Matt Neal

“I’m about to head to Universal’s after-party – you wanna take their place and tag along?” he asked.
I eagerly accepted and soon we were in a cab with Vasco's PR person and her partner on the way to the skyscraper where Universal Music’s after-party was being held. We arrived, jumped into an elevator and rode 30 or 40 storeys up to the party, which was located in a skyscraper within spitting distance of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

Once inside (after we had convinced security that I was indeed a member of The Vasco Era), I got drunk on Universal's hospitality and wandered around trying not to stare at Sarah Blasko, the members of Powderfinger, and Kram from Spiderbait (I did hang out with Delta Goodrem's stylist, who tried to palm two models off to me but they weren't keen). At the end of the night, Ted slipped me a cab-charge - courtesy of Universal Music - and I made my way back to my shitty hotel at four in the morning.

Thank you, Universal Music.

Elevator is the song that came of that experience. On a basic literal level, it's about riding in an elevator. On a metaphorical level (although I doubt that was clear in the song), it's about rising up to a higher plane, or at least the desire to rise to a higher plane. To me, that elevator ride was symbolic of ascending - in this case, to a higher level of the music biz, albeit for one night (where I was barely able to speak to anyone). I got to see how the other half lived - just for a few hours - and it was cool.

I kept things deliberately vague in the lyrics so the song wouldn’t be some “I went to the ARIAs” wank (as opposed to this blog), although The 80 Aces’ singer Jade McLaren would usually ruin that by introducing the song with the line, “this is a song about going to the ARIAs”.

“(Elevator) was a good song and one of the best rock/pop songs written by Doc,” Jade said.

“It always reminded me of The Mess Hall’s Keep Walking. I would have loved to record this (properly) as it was one of my favourites.”

Drummer Jarrod Hawker agreed, although he wasn’t a fan of my bad Tom Morello impersonation at the start of the song.

“Your ‘Rage Against The Machine’ intro never worked, but it was a rock song and for that reason I liked it,” Hawk said.

Hewy was in the band when we first started playing the song, but that’s Kyle on this recording, which was made at Tony Peel’s during the demo session for the Dollars EP. When we were recording Dollars and had time to do one final song (which ended up being Magic Shoes), producer Steven Schram went through the tracks from that demo session, listened to the first 15 seconds of Elevator, said “nope”, and kept going through the recordings. Understandable – the song is probably what he would have referred to as one of our “Limp Bizkit moments”.

As Schramy has expressly forbid me from posting any photos of him
 on the internet, here's the Dollars EP cover.

I wrote the guts of this, handed the lyrics to Jade to do with them as he pleased, and just focused on making fucked up guitar sounds as often as possible with my Digitech Whammy pedal (aka The Ferrari). I was never too sure about the chorus, but I loved the verse riff – it’s so simple but so effective. I was going to try to describe how to play it but instead I just did this:

So there you have it: a song about riding in an elevator.


Push my button, take me to the top
I wanna ride on the elevator
My arrival, never gonna stop
Oh I wanna ride on the elevator

Here we go
40 floors and rising and still rising
40 floors and rising and still rising

Push my button, take me to the top
I wanna ride on the elevator
My arrival, never gonna stop

Take me to my floor, I gotta get more, gotta get more

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