Wednesday, 30 September 2015

#64. Kick Out The Housemates – The 80 Aces

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

Lyrics by Matt Neal.
Music by Jarrod Hawker, Jade McLaren, Kyle McLaren & Matt Neal.
Written 2010.
Recorded at Motherlode Studios, Warrnambool, May 28, 2011.
Produced and mixed by Tony Peel.

Change is scary. When The Extreme Sprinklers’ drummer Harry Fahey told us in late 2006 (quite abruptly and just as we were about to start rehearsing) he was leaving the band, I was terrified. Harry was the only drummer I’d played with over the preceding seven years – a length of time that bridged two bands, dozens of songs, and hundreds of gigs. We’d developed one of those unspoken musical connections and had become best mates. Our birthdays are on consecutive days, which meant joint birthday parties every year. Not playing in a band with him seemed like a weird and frightening proposition.

Pictured: Something not weird and frightening. Picture: Glen Watson

The remaining Sprinklers – Jade McLaren, Matt Hewson and myself, soon to be renamed The 80 Aces – began the daunting task of looking for a new drummer. We had a stack of cover gigs already on the books, as well as quite a few original shows, and we needed someone who could learn about 50 covers and 20 originals. Harry agreed to play on ‘til we found a new drummer but we didn’t want to stretch the transition out, for all our sakes.

Jon Emry, who in my eyes was the best drummer in Warrnambool at that time, came and had a jam with us in our rehearsal shed behind the old La Porchetta restaurant (now Reunion) but you could tell he was too busy and not totally interested. It ended up being a cool jam though because we ended up drinking beer and playing Ween covers.

I'm just gonna leave this here and mention that me and Jade were at this gig and it was the greatest motherfucking thing ever:

I think it was Hewy who suggested Jarrod Hawker. I knew of Hawk, but didn’t really know him. We’d probably crossed paths somewhere on the scene and his reputation for being a great rock drummer preceded him. He turned out to be the perfect pick for The Extreme Sprinklers, who were about to be renamed The 80 Aces. Harry was the ideal backbeat to the first half of my musical career, and Hawk has been the perfect percussionist for the second half.

Hawk joining the Aces not only sparked the name change (which was voted on over a drunken poker game in a smoky room following a gig at Hamilton’s Cally Hotel) but it began a beautiful musical relationship and a solid gold friendship. Through The 80 Aces and on into Doctor & The Apologies (new EP out now!) with the occasional Gutsy As!! diversion in there, it’s a partnership that’s been going for nine years. 

"Doc, you're guitar's not plugged in." Picture: Leesa Donkers

I mention all this because this song Kick Out The Housemates is a good example of what I like about working with Hawk. When I asked him recently about this song, he just replied that his drumming was “very loose”, which is totally ignoring the fact that the drum patterns are really cool and kinda weird, and that Hawk played a massive part in arranging the track – I basically brought in the chords and words but Hawk really drove the arrangement. The final 30 seconds in particular were his idea, inspired by a Supergroove song I believe. There’s a bit at 2m47s where it all straightens out in a good way and we both agreed it should have done that more often in the song, but this was probably one of the first (and last) times we played this track. More playing would have probably locked that shit in.

Supergroove. Fuck yeah:

I’d written this, incidentally, about the place where Hawk was living at the time. He was sharing a house with three other dudes (one of whom was Jade) in Merrivale, and the place was a regular hangout and after-party spot. There were also three or four girlfriends at any one time who were also calling that sharehouse "home" and it occurred to me that the almost-constant parties, poker games and songwriting sessions going on in the house would have made it pretty hard for any of the guys and their partners to do something as simple as hang out on the couch and watch a movie together (or “Netflix and chill”, if you will).

"All right - I'm chipped up, now get the fuck out of my house." Picture: Matt Neal

This realisation didn’t stop me going around there getting hammered four or five times a week, but it did inspire me to pen this song. It never got much of an airing in the band unfortunately, which is a shame because I love the way Hawk’s beat, Kyle’s bass line and my guitar rhythms marry up in the verse and how it gets loud and grungey and screamy in the chorus. Jade put the kibosh on it though, saying it was murder on his voice, but realistically I don’t think it really married up with his vision for what The 80 Aces should sound like. Shame - I thought it rocked, and with a little bit of polishing would have come up alright. Sure, it was kinda like bad RHCP mashed up with bad Foo Fighters or something, but I thought it was cool. Not my best effort lyrically, but cool nonetheless.

I wish we hadn't decided to take band photos 
when we were all in such a nonchalant mood.
Picture: Gareth Colliton

This demo was made with the able assistance of Tony Peel at Motherlode Studios. We went in there for a day in May, 2011, to lay down a version of every song we hadn’t recorded yet in preparation for the Dollars EP, which we recorded in December that year. This “Demo For Dollars” session saw us smash out live takes of 16 songs in one day, giving us recordings of song that otherwise would have been forgotten (such as Elevator) and plenty of extra fodder for my blog.

Hawk during the Demo For Dollars session. Picture: Dannii Hale


This place stifles
It’s full of people
No room in this crowded house for kisses
I’m here, you too, and so many more people cramping, squeezing, suffocating the pleasing

Kick out the housemates
Get the motherfuckers out of the way

All this public
No privacy just static
Grasping, wishing, a bodily friction

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