Wednesday, 13 May 2015

#55. Invest In This Mess – The Extreme Sprinklers

Harry Fahey: drums
Matt Hewson: bass
Jade McLaren: vocals
Matt Neal: guitar, additional screams

Lyrics by Jade McLaren and Matt Neal
Music by Harry Fahey, Matt Hewson, Jade McLaren and Matt Neal.
Written December 25, 2005.
Recorded at The Shed, Warrnambool in April, 2006.
Produced, engineered and mixed by Harry Fahey.

Money makes the world go round, it's the root of all evil, and it's a good songwriting subject.

It's certainly the subject of a few songs 80 Aces singer Jade McLaren and I have written over the years, though none quite as obvious or as heavy as this one (and by “heavy” I mean “grunge-metal”, whatever that may be).

Jade reckons this song was written at the house he was living at in Kerr St, Warrnambool, but I’m not sure, mostly because he thought the song was written the day Steve Irwin died. He was absolutely certain of this for some reason. It’s not the case though – according to my songbook it was written on Christmas Day, 2005. The reasons why we wrote such a song on Christmas Day are lost to the mists of time, and this track certainly won't be appearing on any Christmas albums in the foreseeable future. Maybe we were broke from buying presents. 

Anyway, the main riff of Invest In This Mess is pretty generic in a grungy metallic way - it's the bastard child of Pink Floyd's Have A Cigar (especially the Foo Fighters' version which heavies it up some) ...

... Jane's Addiction's Mountain Song ...

... and Tool's cover of the Peach song You Lied (the bit at the 1:40 mark).

Jade said it sounded "Grinspoony" and “pretty derivative”. The rest of the song is kind of Muse-like, particularly this song with its arpeggios and guitar effects and shit:

But what I liked about it was how fun it was to play and how heavy it sounded, especially that opening riff – for me, it’s the epitome of the big, dumb, fun riff. I think I had the riff up my sleeve for a few years before it finally found its way into Invest In This Mess.

The Extreme Sprinklers original modus operandii had been "play all the genres" - we'd written blues, reggae, country, disco, funk, pop, punk, rap and just about everything else we could think of, but nothing heavy, so I guess this made sense. Also it was around this time - early 2006 - that we started to ditch the genre-hopping in favour of being a rock band, so it made sense in that sense as well. So much sense (or cents as it were, considering the lyrics of this song).

Despite this rational for its existence, Invest In This Mess didn't last long in the set list. I think it was mostly Jade who felt it was too heavy. Plus this was in the last batch of songs written before drummer Harry Fahey quit the band, leading to the arrival of Jarrod Hawker (and a name change to The 80 Aces) and a general move toward new songs and a different sound (although Hawk probably would have enjoyed playing this one – I’m not sure why that didn't happen).

The Extreme Sprinklers: (l-r) Jade McLaren, Matt Hewson, me, and Harry Fahey.
PIC: Glen Watson.

Lyrically it's about “being fucking broke and trying to find a girlfriend”, as Jade puts it.

“It’s just playing on all those money metaphors,” he recalled. “I don’t know whose idea originally it was – it may have been a ‘play me what you’ve been playing, Doc’ kind of thing. It sounds like a Doc riff and then we moulded it into a song.

“Quite often we were both writing a song and working on them from completely different points of view. That happens a lot. (From my perspective) I was about to date someone and I was just a complete fucking mess as I usually am when I’m single and I was like ‘love me - I’ve got nothing, but love me!’.

“It was probably me that was backing away from (playing) the heavier stuff. (But I) used to love performing that song because it just felt so rock ‘n’ roll. So I enjoyed playing the song, but I never thought it was what our band should have been like.”

Jade, being rock 'n' roll. PIC: Glen Watson.

As Jade pointed out, the lyrics are a mess of money metaphors. I like that “no dough to make the bread" and "I’ve never brought home the bacon” go together (mmm, bacon sandwiches), and I’m pretty sure I had the bridge line about one’s wallet being as bare as one’s fridge sitting around in my notepad for some time. Also “no sense (cents) to make the dollars" is a good lyric, no matter how obvious it may be.

This particular version of the song was recorded in The Shed (located behind Reunion, previously CRB, previously La Porcetta). Harry used to ingeniously hook up a handful of mics and record our rehearsals (I’ve no idea how he did it to be honest) and this is from one of those jam sessions. The slightly overblown mix is due to the fact Harry used to have to “set and forget” the mixing desk because he was busy drumming while it was all being recorded in another room.

Here's Harry "setting and forgetting", ably assisted by Hewy.
PIC: Glen Watson.

Final note: because this was as “metal” as we got, Jade and I decided we should do our best metal screams at the end of the song, so that’s me and him trading screams at the end of the song. Personally, I think it’s kind of hilarious.


Got no mint to make the money
My state has no capital
The cash flow's stopped running
The rapids are non-negotiable

But I’ll do everything I’m able
To put food on the table
Though my wallet’s as bare as the fridge

No sense to make the dollars
This bank has lost its balance
I’m losing interest in what follows
And withdrawing from this madness

Invest in this mess

No dough to make the bread
I’ve never brought home the bacon
My stocks are in the red
There’s no coins in this pudding

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