Friday, 6 February 2015

#52. I Don't Know When To Leave The Party

Matt Neal – vocals, guitars, bass, drum programming.
Brendan Hoffmann – backing vocals.

Music and lyrics by Matt Neal.
Written August 2012.
Recorded May 23, 2013 at the Port Fairy House and January 21, 2015 at Hoffa’s House.
Produced and mixed by Matt Neal and Brendan Hoffmann.

80 Aces singer Jade McLaren and I have written dozens of songs together and each song has had varying degrees of input from both of us. However I’m pretty sure this song, despite being written in a joint songwriting session, was entirely my work. Not that Jade would want to claim it - it's not great, hell, it's not even good - and it was never going to end up being played live or recorded by The 80 Aces. It just kind of came out the way it did and that was that – another song all dressed up with no place to go.

This was one of a couple of songs we nutted out during a few days spent at my parents' "weekend house" in Port Fairy, which has been the scene of many songwriting sessions for the pair of us as well as for the whole band. It's also one my preferred places to go and demo/write stuff on my own.

Which invariably results in me re-decorating thusly.

When it came time to write this one, I believe I presented Jade with all the chords and the chorus as they appear in the recording above. I wanted help with the verses. I explained that the title/chorus was a line that occurred to me after a few too many nights when I should have gone home earlier and regretted not doing so the following morning, and that we should use that as the jumping off point lyrically.

We went into our respective corners to work on our tried and true list method, whereby each of us goes off and writes a list of words, phrase and lines that can then get shaped into lyrics. But as I sat back to begin writing, I had a brainwave - what if the verse lyrics were spoken word, told from the point of view that annoying guy at the party who has worn out his welcome?

Having lived for more than 12 months in a house that's proximity to the pubs meant it was the “after party house” come closing time, I had more than enough material for a list of after-party annoyances: people who pinch grog, who wreck things, who corner you and crap on forever, who never bring cigarettes. Within five minutes, I'd written all the words. Jade hadn't come up with much so we went with what I had. We recorded a quick version into my phone and moved on to the next song.

These kind of parties. Not pictured: people who don't know when to leave.

Next time I was in Port Fairy, I recorded the guts of the song - the acoustic guitar, the lead vocals and some drum loops, but left it unfinished. I was convinced at the time (as I still am now) that the song didn’t have much promise.

I dug it out earlier this year while going through some folders of unfinished songs. I’d started doing bits and pieces of recording with Brendan Hoffmann, the guitarist/singer from my erstwhile band 21st Century Ox. I Don’t Know When To Leave The Party seemed like it could be a fun little song to finish off, so I took what I’d recorded so far to his place and within a couple of hours we had a rough mix in the bag.

Pictured: me not knowing when to leave the party.

The final mix is the result of me trying to turn this into something worth listening to – at least the guitars are rocking (and loud - crank it up!), there’s a drunken-crowd-singalong-quality to the chorus to suit the theme of the song, and there’s a cool riff at the end (which I kind of see as a reward for making it that far).

Musically, I think I was trying to mess with the chord progression out of the awesome Muse b-side The Groove (although in hindsight it's not very close):

As for the vocals in this, I’d just like to say that I hate the sound of my own voice talking almost as much as I hate the sound of my own voice singing. I contemplated getting other people to speak the verses or trying it in an American accent but in the end I thought, ‘fuck it – the song’s not that great anyway’.


You kinda just walked away there in the middle of our conversation. I see you were distracted by the girl who tried to slap me earlier. This drink was full, I swear, just a minute ago… and why are my shoes so wet? It’s ok – I came with that guy. Can I pinch another cigarette?

I dunno when to leave the party

I just found this beer in the fridge. And that glass coffee table was like that when I got here. You’re a great friend and I like you a lot – now help me look for my phone. I didn’t mean to corner but I really needed to get that off my chest for the last one and half hours. God, I must have been boring you to death.

I dunno when to leave the party

I don’t care if the sun’s coming up – let’s keep going to the next house. No, I don’t like to have people over to my place – I prefer to leave a mess elsewhere.

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