Wednesday, 19 February 2014

#35. Everyone’s A Photographer – The Extreme Sprinklers

Jade McLaren: vocals
Kyle McLaren: bass
Matt Neal: guitars, programming, keys

Lyrics by Jade McLaren and Matt Neal.
Music by Jade McLaren, Kyle McLaren and Matt Neal.
Written mid-2009, March 15 and April 6, 2012.
Recorded at the Hai Bin, Warrnambool on April 27, 2012.
Produced and mixed by Matt Neal.
Additional mixing by Brendan Hoffmann.

The Meredith and Golden Plains music festivals are the best festivals I’ve ever been to. They’re the perfect blend of location, duration, line-up and atmosphere. I’ve written about how awesome they are here, here, here, and here.

I only mention Meredith and Golden Plains because this week’s entry began with an innocuous comment made by one of my friends at one of those festivals. I don’t know which one because a) they all tend to roll into one giant decade-long festival in my memory and b) those events are a major factor in why I have no memory left anymore.

The comment was a throw-away line that was said during one of those moments when there seemed to be a lot of people around us in the Supernatural Amphitheatre taking photos. People were taking photos of the band, people were taking photos of their friends, and people tripping balls on acid were taking photos of their shoes.  


“Everyone’s a photographer,” my friend said, and for some reason that really stuck with me.

I took that line – and a bunch of chords written a few years earlier – around to The 80 Aces vocalist Jade McLaren’s place one day and we wrote this collection of lyrics about social media and the government spying on the populace. Basically it’s about how we give up so much information about ourselves that it’s made things so much easier to be monitored by the powers that be.

This was written with the intention of becoming an 80 Aces song. For whatever reason (I’m not sure), it never made it to rehearsal stage. There was some suggestion that the opening guitar rhythm and chord change was too reminiscent of Eminem’s Lose Yourself but that can’t have been the whole reason (although it's partly why I added keys to the demo - just so it sounded less Lose Yourself-like). I think the main reason The 80 Aces didn't pick it up is because it wasn’t pushed very hard as a potential song for the band.

Jade suggested “the song was a bit predictable in its changes, which overall kinda killed its prospects”.

There are a couple of little tricks in this track where I can pinpoint exact influences. Kyle’s opening bassline is a lot like the start of The Clash’s London Calling – in fact, the guitar rhythm and progression in the verse is similar but played twice as fast.

But the nifty little production trick I’m most proud of is the way Jade’s voice on the word “shoot” at the end of each chorus morphs into a synth sound. I pinched that idea from an XTC song (yes, those guys again) called The Last Balloon, where at the very end Andy Partridge’s vocal morphs into a trumpet. I’d probably heard this move in other songs but the first time I noticed it and had my mind blown was in The Last Balloon. If you’re wondering why the hell I keep referencing XTC in these blogs it’s because they’ve done just about every great musical idea I can think of … and they’re fucking awesome.

The bit I'm talking about is just after the four-minute mark. It's cool.

Lyrically, I think this might be one of the best things Jade and I have written. It seemed to hit the zeitgeist on the head – it’s Facebook and Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks all rolled into one, although this was written before the Snowden saga so I guess it’s more just about general surveillance paranoia. There are so many lines I really dig, such as the “piece of our soul” line and the first line in the second verse. Jade and I worked really hard on these words – probably four hours over two sessions – and I hope it shows.

“I remember spending a lot of time on the lyrics trying to write a song about the culture of Facebook photo-tagging without it coming across as preachy,” Jade recalled.

“My favourite part of the song was the chorus - the melody is fun to sing. The line ‘we’re all framed and we don't have a choice’ is probably my favourite line. It does what a chorus is supposed to in terms of summing up the song.”

"Spies are never needed 'cos we already pose." PIC: Gareth Colliton.


We’re all taking photos, we don’t know where they go
Bring us into focus, become part of the show
Capturing our moments and a piece of our soul
Everyone’s a photographer

Spies are never needed when we already pose
Smiling for the camera ‘cos we’re all turning pro
If we’re doing something and we want you to know
Everyone’s a photographer
Everyone’s a photographer

We’re all framed and we don’t have a choice
Just point and shoot
Everyone’s a photographer
Everyone’s a photographer

Pixellate the people, we’re collecting them all
All of this exposure just to hang on a wall
Now we’re doing something and you will want to know
Everyone’s a photographer
Everyone’s a photographer

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