THE BIRDHOUSE ON FIRE?

9 Sep

With rumour circulating that Black Fox will cover the track The Birdhouse On Fire by The New Season, Lambrusco Cramond was quick to establish contact with the song’s co-writing duo — tight-lipped, mystery figure Keith Zeppelin and our own Leigh Mullens. For your reading pleasure, we’ve posted an extract of the resulting conversation.

History suggests that musicians are often at their most creative when they’re downtrodden. Let’s talk about your lifestyles during the original sessions for this song?

Leigh:   Birdhouse was one of a handful of songs we churned out in the second half of 2006. It was an interesting time for me; my father was terminally ill, the air was thick with smoke from the bushfires that ravaged Melbourne’s east, and I was fast losing touch with reality. At some point I’d decided to turn my back on stable employment, and began a permanent vacation that would span the best part of the following two years. Despite this—or perhaps because of it—I don’t remember the period as all doom and gloom. With the shackles of employment cast aside, I was free to spend more time in the great outdoors and busied myself with handicrafts and creative pursuits.

Lyrically, the song continues Revolver / The New Season’s tradition of mixing psychedelic inspired metaphors with harsh slabs of cold reality. What do you mean by ‘The plane never dies online when I want to hide you’?

Keith:    I wouldn’t know as such lyric does not exist in the song.

Leigh:   Lyrically, I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly what Birdhouse was about. In fact, I confronted Keith about the song’s meaning a few years back and the conversation went like this:

‘What does the line ‘The birdhouse is on fire’ mean?’
‘It means the birdhouse is on fire.’
‘What birdhouse? And why does that mean that you have to leave for a little while?’
‘Cause it’s on fire.’

Nonetheless, it was a song that captured the essence of the period and never fails to take me back to those smoky summer days.

Somewhere between recording Revolver and The New Season, Mooroolbark’s Tony Iommi™ put aside his riff/rock styling in favour of the more subtle sonic approach represented on this song. Was this a deliberate decision, or natural evolution? 

Leigh:   Musically, it was a bit of a purple patch for both Keith and I. When I look back on this period, the songs that spring to mind are Feathers, Paralysed By The Sun, Escape To Elbrus, Permanent Vacation and, of course, The Birdhouse On Fire. This new batch of songs represented a sonic shift from the drop-D days of Revolver. For the most part, I’d put down my battered Les Paul, switched off my amp and picked up an acoustic guitar. Perhaps it was lethargy that led me down this road, or, more likely, I was searching for something a little more honest and real. It’s probably this approach that made the songs of that era a little more timeless than our angst-filled earlier efforts.

People seem to be attracted to music representative of their culture. Having said that, if Birdhouse On Fire was piped into the Mooroolbark train station, what would you expect the crowd’s response to be?

Leigh:   Commuters would probably relate to the line, ‘The trains never run on time’.

Thanks, guys.

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