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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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NO SLEEP TILL BROOKLYN

6 Sep

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Callum and myself headed to the Purple Piano Studio in downtown Brooklyn to record some additional vocal parts for the record. This well-equipped and eclectically-decorated studio is situated at the back of Sanford and Sven’s Second Hand Store, and proved to be the perfect location to spend an afternoon laying down some takes. We rolled around in the early afternoon and were greeted by Sven, the very relaxed co-owner of this second hand store/studio space. He was happy to lead us past his collection of old super 8 cameras to the back of the store, where the studio is located.

We set up our gear in the middle of the room, surrounded by some kind of animal skin and a large collection of posters featuring Elvis, Van Halen and the Spice Girls. In the hours that followed, Callum laid down take after take of harmonies and backing vocals; stopping only briefly to slam down a greasy burger and leave a poor tip at a nearby food emporium. Once the recording session came to a close, we headed back to Callum’s pad to celebrate with a round of Drake’s Coffee Cakes—a delicious cinnamon snack, packed with great pop-culture references.

SUBURBAN ROOMS

4 Sep

Loved by Black Fox and universally hated by ‘fans’, the song Suburban Rooms was recorded in November then swiftly swept under the rug for being too grunge….

Well, that was until it found itself halfway around the world into the hands of Hazy McBain; who incidentally loved it!

Since then rumors abound of it once more being dug up, dusted off, stewed over then re-swept under the rug accordingly.

So slap a Boss DS-1 on your pedalsboard and enjoy these snaps taken way back when my room was apparently furnished with milk crates…

Black Fox_Leigh Mullens

Black Fox_Daniel Mullens


NEW YORK BOUND

22 Aug

Currently sitting in Melbourne Airport, waiting to board a flight to the New York.  I’ll be over there for 10 days to collaborate with friend, musician, and teen-pinup Callum MacBain on a few tracks for the upcoming record. Originally from Melbourne, Callum has been studying and breaking hearts in Brooklyn since late 2010. Should be a riot. – Dane

THE ROLAND JUNO-106

18 Aug

I pulled out Dane’s Roland Juno-106 analog synthesizer on Marcel — the precarious tale of a rolling stone. Stemming from a creative purple patch, Marcel (along with Chinatown) was written and demoed over the course of an afternoon in my Nishi Okazaki ‘El Escapo’ mid-2009. The opening chord progression was originally intended for piano, but Leigh’s always played it on guitar live with The Smoke and Black Fox. Cop that.

Anyway, back to the Juno; it carries the intro to the inevitable smack of Fergo’s snare — launching Marcel on its way. Other Juno sounds are splattered all up and down the remainder of the song. Due to the fact I can’t sing, the Japanese demo was as much spat out punk story-telling as it was melodic, and all on overdriven acoustic guitars!

Take a breathe, take a step. With the beat in your head. Pick a fight, tell a lie. To the man in your head

The Juno-106 provides a lot of Cure-ish (who also used one) atmosphere to balance it all out. Money and I saw Cut Copy about five years ago in Richmond with one of these onstage. The New Electric, too. Such a rad synth.

ANDREI SELEZNEV KICKS OUT THE JAMS WITH BLACK FOX

17 Aug

Andrei Seleznev — formerly of The Reigate Squires — joined Black Fox on bass guitar over the weekend to work on a cover of Japan’s Automatic Gun.

Whilst, the song itself didn’t really get off the ground, Andrei’s bass playing, penchant for caffeine and Russian punk sensibilities struck a chord with the band; who later partied with Andrei and his comrades at a Richmond house party. That’s not the last we’ll see of Andrei — or Automatic Gun.

HOOKED ON THE YAMAHA TX7

10 Aug

This is our Yamaha TX7 FM expander; on loan from HT Nebauer. It’s the rack version of the Yamaha DX7 — probably the most famous digital synthesizer of all time. Dane and I pretty much always program our own synthesizer sounds on the Oberheim OB-8 and Roland Juno-106. Therefore, we never really paid the TX7 any attention….Until now!

There are countless patches available for the DX7 series, but needless to say, I’m still hooked on the factory presets — especially Strings 2, which sounds more like hazy brass…Anyway, I’ve squeezed Strings 2 onto just about every song on the record; usually blending it with AC1 Trumpet Ensemble from the Oberheim OB-8, which actually sounds more like strings…Another DX7 preset on the record, is Marimba; featuring in the bridges of both Monarch and Beatles Party. I’m predicting a comeback for early FM synths. So rad.

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