Tuesday, 10 May 2016

#73. Magicians – The 80 Aces

Jarrod Hawker: drums.
Matt Hewson: bass.
Jade McLaren: vocals.
Matt Neal: guitar.

Lyrics by Jade McLaren & Matt Neal.
Music by Jarrod Hawker, Matt Hewson, Jade McLaren & Matt Neal.
Written late 2006-early 2007.
Recorded at Noise Studios in mid-2007.
Produced and mixed by The 80 Aces and Marcus Jennings.

For reasons lost to the smoky haze of time, this song was left off the self-titled 80 Aces EP. We went into Noise Studios and recorded Guitarzan, I Am Trying To Read Your Mind, Acting Like A Child, Where Who What How Why, Lust, and this little number, with the latter not making it on to the final disc.

That's this one for those of you playing along at home.

The possible reasons are as follows:

1) I was certain that drummer Jarrod Hawker wanted it left off because he wasn’t happy with his drumming on it (Hawk assures me this is not the case).

Hawk during recording of the self-titled EP.

2) Singer Jade McLaren reckons we noticed some glitches in either the performance or the mix and we decided to leave it off because of that.

“I feel like we all decided that we wanted to put our best foot forward and we went off the quality of the recordings rather than the quality of the song,” Jade said.

“We all agreed that the recording of Magicians wasn’t as good because of a few errors that made it through to the final mix.”

Sounds legit, although listening back to it 10 years later, I’m fucked if I know what those errors were.

"How does the mix sound, Jade?"
"Shit, Hewy. Let's leave it like that."

3) Part of me suspects we left it off at my urging because my playing sounded way too Muse-like. There’s a lot of City Of Delusion in this, among other Muse tracks.

4) Another theory is that the song’s heaviness went against the grain of the rest of the EP and particularly Jade’s poppier inclinations. The 80 Aces sound was a bit of a running battle between my grungier preferences and Jade’s pop love. What I love about this EP is the balance struck between those two adverse ideologies. Whether this song tipped the balance too far one way may or may not have been a factor in it being left off the EP.

Grungey? Moi? Picture: Aaron Sawall.

Whatever the reason, the song pretty much sat in my song stash for the last decade, waiting for just this very moment to have its chance to shine.

“I always liked that song,” Hawk said.

“The rhythm section groove is cool, and the guitar sound is rad. I loved Doc’s Bellamy-esque solo and then in particular the guitar sound after that weird little bit about Houdini - it’s ‘ph’ fat. The vocal melody never say right with me but with a bit of re-working or putting through the Matt Hewson filter it could have been up there with I Am Trying To Read Your Mind. I was channelling my doppelgänger from The Butterfly Effect at the time. I was also listening to a lot of Tristan Piper haha.”

Hawk described Magicians as “the sound of The 80 Aces that I joined” and “Magic Shoes is the sound of The 80 Aces that I left”. It’s a fair point - the sound of the band changed a lot, for a number of reasons. We probably softened our sound a little in the hopes of chasing glory, and in the aforementioned battle between pop and the alternative, I think the former won out. In the end, I put most of my heavier riffs (such as those in Magicians or Invest In This Mess) to one side in order to compromise at the songwriting table. But we also broadened our sound in effort to try different things, so it certainly wasn’t just Jade’s fault that our sound changed. And in my book it wasn’t necessarily for the worse.

As for the lyrics this is probably the only political song The 80 Aces wrote. The magicians of the title are politicians. That’s about as complex as this one gets, but there are some nice lines and imagery among it all I think.

But my favourite bit (aside from the bass/vocal breakdown on the Houdini line) is the outro. When we played this live, we tried to stretch the end out for as long as we could, seeing how slow we could get it before it fell into a mess. I loved that shit.

As usual, Matt Hewson was unavailable for comment.


I don’t believe it unless I can see it
Just show me exhibits and logical limits
The smoke and the mirrors flow into the river
of the shit that you dribble, it’s just so uncivil

Like sleeping dogs you lie all of the time

Bringing me closer with one hand diversions
You conjure illusions while casting aspersions
Saw me in half, a campaign in my neck
The ace up your sleeve, we’re all cards in deck

Talk in straightjackets and pull a Houdini
You don’t get three wishes from corrupted genies

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