Monday, 19 May 2014

#40. Guatemalan Rock & Roll – The Extreme Sprinklers

Jade McLaren: vocals, whistling
Matt Neal: keyboards, vocals, guitar

Words and music by Jade McLaren and Matt Neal.
Recorded and written May 31, 2003 in Studio Studyo, Warrnambool.
Produced by Matt Neal and Jade McLaren.

The musical relationship between myself and Extreme Sprinklers/80 Aces singer Jade McLaren began at 4.30am on May 31, way back in 2003. It’s weird to be able to pinpoint such a thing so precisely, I know, but it’s also probably weirder to have something happen at 4.30 in the morning that isn’t forgettable, regrettable or just generally a bad idea. Guatemalan Rock & Roll is none of those things. It may seem strange when you hear the track, but this is one of my favourite songs that will appear or has appeared on this blog.

The story behind this song, for what it’s worth, goes like this: Jade McLaren was back in Warrnambool to catch up with some old mates, and we’d been hanging out a friend’s place for a while before heading back to my joint for some steady drinking and because Jade needed somewhere to crash.

After a few hours of talking shit, we decided we should record a song. Didn’t matter that it was 4.30am in the morning, didn’t matter that people were trying to sleep elsewhere in the house, didn’t matter that we’d never written or recorded a song together before. Fuck it.

Fuckin' rebels. 
(Pic by Angela Milne, circa 2004)

In the minds of Jade and I, this song is kind of momentous, though it may seem like a pile of weirdness to you. This bizarre little number is the beginning of a musical partnership that has lasted 11 years, and as such, it holds a special place in our hearts. It kickstarted The Extreme Sprinklers, which would eventually become The 80 Aces.

The recording was done as quietly as possible so as not to wake the sleepers in the house, which is why it comprises mostly keyboards and quiet singing. The noisy guitar was added the next day, but the rest of the song was completed by 6.30am.

Apparently the song was almost called Descent Of The Clowns 
(or rather Decent Of The Clowns as it says here)

“I remember how excited I was to actually be making a song as it was my first time writing a song with anyone,” Jade recalled.

“I was amazed at how the recording technology worked and how we could change and manipulate what we sounded like in strange and weird ways. The song itself is pretty much a tech demo of us playing around on various instruments and effects.

“I make no excuses for what I am about to say and that is this; ‘I love this song’. I’m as proud of it today as I was 11 years ago when we made it. Not because it’s a good song but because of what we achieved on our first ever go at writing together and how cool some of the effects and that sound.

“We eventually released it to some of our fans (we used to have fans), and they were so freaked out by the song that some swore never to listen to it again,” Jade laughed.

Not sure why that was.

One thing I like about Guatemalan Rock & Roll is that it doesn’t sound like anything else I can think of. We both freely admit that we were trying to emulate our heroes Ween, and generally speaking it’s reminiscent of Ween in the sense that it’s weird and sung in funny voices and has an “anything goes” attitude to it, but it doesn’t sound much like a particular Ween song. It just has a general Ween vibe.

This is about the closest thing I can find:

I still like Guatemalan Rock & Roll 11 years on. It’s the kind of song you make when you don’t give a fuck and you don’t really know what you’re doing, and I miss doing that.


Elevators scare me so,
What’s below me? I don’t know
Sinking down into a hole
Falling gently in slow-mo

What’s below him? He don’t know
Elevators scare him so
Sinking down bellisimo
Guatemalan rock ‘n’ roll

Feel the movement in my bones
Technicolour rainbow tones
Push the button, down we go
Maybe I should sing down low

Guatemalan rock ‘n’ roll