03 September 2012
Ahead of their national Retrotech tour, where they'll play their first two records in full, Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely write about the creation of each of the tracks from their debut record Tu-Plang. Tomorrow they'll tackle Unit.
I SUCKED A LOT OF COCK TO GET WHERE I AM...
BEN: Well Quan wrote this one and I must say I was very excited when he brought it along to band practice one day. I loved his idea of intense lyrical ideas with almost sweet pop melodies... I think it was this song mainly that pissed off the Christians so much that they tried to get us banned from being sold in department stores. I think I used a heavy metal distortion pedal on this recording... Can't remember much else about it...
QUAN: I guess the main inspiration for this tune was probably our recent signing to the record company. I recall Warner 'loving' the song but being a bit apprehensive about leaving the title as it was. I believe they bandied other more palatable titles about–Rinsing comes to mind–but inevitably caved into our infantile demands. Magoo was getting us to listen to a bit of The Beatles at the time. This song perfectly showcases my innate lack of ability to sing in tune.
KONG FOO SING
BEN: I remember the first time I heard Quan's demo of this song out the back of the old Roxy in the valley in Brisbane, in Quan's mum's old Alfa Romeo... I instantly loved the song. The distortion and groove grabbed me. He said the song was about how he had sent Janet from Spiderbait a box of the KONG FOO SING fortune cookies in an effort to get her to go out with him.
QUAN: Really? Is that what I did? Man I was such a stupid romantic back then. That was definitely one of the stand out riffs that I had on my Yamaha 4-track tape deck in mum's basement. I remember flicking that dbx switch and just listening to the faux sub-mix compression blow the drum sound out of proportion. All of the drums on those early recordings were done on an old Rogers kit I had bought through the trading post to replace a shitty Gold Sparkle Maxwin I had previously acquired. When I went to check out the Rogers I had promised myself to bargain the sellers down to 500 bucks for it no matter what. When I got there the kit looked perfect. It had the word 'ARGUS' scrawled on the Bass drum's front head in green crayon and I was overjoyed. Unfortunately when I glanced into the other corner of the room I noticed the nice couple selling the kit had a baby in an oxygen tent... Needless to say I gave them the full $700. I do like the anarchic drum tones Magoo and Martin [Lee -drummer] pulled on this one.
G7 DICK ELECTRO BOOGIE
BEN: There were many versions of this song demoed before we created this version. i think it was Martin's experimentation with samplers that got it finally sound the way it did. I do remember going out into the streets of Bangkok and recording street noises which were turned into the samples...
QUAN: I don't really remember much about the recording of this tune but Martin was definitely getting us into samplers and drum triggers at the time. Listening to it now I must have been pretty fresh at it... The lyrics do come off a little naive and '90s 'right on' but the politics of the song are still very relevant today and, if nothing else, are a testament to how little things fundamentally alter over the course of 20 years. I think this songs small claim to fame is attributed to the "gang-rape a cripple" line nicely taken out of context by a few bored conservative factions floating around at the time.
I COULDN'T DO IT
BEN: We had released this song previously on our first [self-titled] hamburger EP, though I think I remember the record label wanting it on the album so we thought we would play with the song and do a Bossa Nova version instead. I also remember being rather ill from food poisoning at the time and doing the vocal take lying down... thats why i sound kinda croaky...
QUAN: I seem to recall us all egging Ben on to get even more stoned than he was accustomed to being for the vocal recording of this version of the song. Though both Magoo and he did suffer massive bouts of explosive diarrhea, vomiting and general flu symptoms for around a week of the album sessions, that I can confirm.
BEN: This was another song Quan had composed for Janet once they started dating. I guess it's all in the lyrics. he basically describes everything about their dates, pretty much. I loved playing this songs live... it's got some great chord changes.
QUAN: This is probably the only real love song I have ever written. We stopped playing it for the simple reason that when love affairs end the love songs written about them tend to ring a little hollow for the troubadour whose heart has faltered. I do, however, still really like the song's odd chord progressions, bass tone and its cute, romance lyrics scattered over heavily distorted guitars. It is actually one of the few vocal takes of mine that I think works on the record, and Ben's Ennio Morricone inspired backing vocals in the choruses are pretty cool.
BEN: This is another one of those songs that we had multiple versions of and, through our experimentation with the sampling technology, went down that hip-hop production route rather than a live band execution. I remember us fighting a lot during this Bangkok recording session about how to do each of these songs, and this one especially was tough as I think we all had a very different idea about how this song would go down on the album. I remember Magoo made a sign that said 'IN MY OWN OPINION' and taped it to the desk to remind us not to get offensive with one another.
QUAN: This song was about being the designated driver in pretty much all of the rock bands I had ever been in. I remember a classic moment when, after supporting Spiderbait, I was stuck waiting outside the back of the Gold Coast Playroom's car-park for my band members to finish with their backstage antics. Janet came out and joined me and we bonded for the first time over our mutual lack of 'party aptitude'.
MUSIC IS SPORT
BEN: Another hip hop track that played with the sampler... what was that sampler called again? something 2000? Anyway... great cynical lyrics again. Quan expressing his confusion with being on a major label i guess.
QUAN: The Akai S2000 was a beast I can't believe I even bothered to wrestle with back then. But I don't actually recall playing around with one that much in Thailand. I suspect most of the slower hip-hop beats on this record were actually constructed haphazardly on the Triton that happened to be in the studio. I remember sitting in the side room racking my brain over these lyrics for a few hours while other things were being recorded around me. I think I was obsessed with the beats on DJ Krush's 1994 album Strictly Turntablized which certainly guided the beat that appears on this tune.
BEN: Well this instrumental kinda speaks for itself. I was into–and still am–into surfing and, I guess at the time, surf music. We were playing 'genres' as our name suggests, and wanted to branch out and not just be a heavy rock band soooo surf music was completely acceptable.
QUAN: I recall that I played bass on this tune and it was recorded without overdubs I believe. Ben played guitar and really turned on the bandmaster schtick in the centre of the studio. It was fun to watch him get into it like that.
BEN: Well at the time I was going through a break up with my first love and I wrote this song about her. It's about wanting to put off the band so I could spend time with her and fix our relationship. It was either us or the band, as she always had a problem with me being away so often on tour. I didn't or couldn't stop working in the band so I lost her.
QUAN: Aww man, is that what it was about? The vocal take sounds pretty heavy I must admit. I can't really remember much about this recording but Magoo loved distortion, and when in doubt was always keen to help us throw on as much as we all thought the song could handle.
BEN: Quan wrote this about her sister-in-law and how she got married to this guy who turned out to be a brut and was violent with her. This song is his anger at the situation. I love how it sounds like an angry song, though it's a song about not tolerating someone else's anger.
QUAN: This song is a great example of how solid a drummer Martin is. The way he shifts in this song is awesome. A very rough and ready recording. I was never particularly thrilled with my vocals on this one but it has a punk urgency and ugliness about it that is apt for the idea behind it. I remember recording the single version's twenty-minute noise adjunct in that studio though and that was hilarious. Ben would often get us into the idea of experimenting with noise, I assume a hangover from his acid-enhanced delay-unit twiddling days. These types of sessions were always a nice break away from the usual band set ups for both us, and Magoo I think.
BEN: Yet another hip-hop song with heavy use of the sampler. The great thing about Martin the drummer was his ability to not be precious about having live drums on ever song and his experimentation with hip hop beats. This song was also influenced by Dr. Dre. Just listen to that high synth line.
QUAN: Ben is definitely right about the Dre influence. I remember Martin showing me The Chronic and being blown away by the production quality of that record. I loved hip-hop but was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the sexist and racist sentiments, par for the course on most of the stuff I liked the sound of. The touring lifestyle was also proving a bit of a strain on my then fairly puritanical attitude towards the world.
YOUNG BODIES HEAL QUICKLY
BEN: When we started we used to create a lot of instrumental tracks and this one was one of our favourites of all those. I guess we needed more songs to fill out the album and this made its way onto the record.
QUAN: Ah that classic Lee snare 'pang'. This song was a fairly old tune I think born out of our then far more frequent rehearsal jams. I think it's a very odd mix of things that was indicative of the type of band we were. The dub-style bass line, discordant Fugazi-like guitar intervals, the '90s soft-to-heavy and the epically loud drums.
BEN: Yet again another version of an older song released on a previous EP. Its faster than the EP version, though I think I prefer the NEW EP version better. Can't remember much about recording this...
QUAN: The lyrics are directly inspired by the fairytale of the same name taken from The Virago Book of Fairy Tales edited by Angela Carter. That eskimo shit is real! I actually prefer this version, vocally, but I think it's too fast. It also has extra outro lyrics which I became fond of.
BEN: I do remember the studio we recorded Tu Plang in had a keyboard called a KORG Triton. I recorded this instrumental track while shut in a cupboard while Quan was doing the vocals, hence the title. Apart from that I cant remember much... It was a very long time ago.
QUAN: This is definitely one of those journey into the centre of Ben's brain songs. I don't really have any memories associated with it, because it was a personal experiment of his. But I do remember listening to it up really loud with all the lights off through the big speakers in the studio and getting contact stoned.
WED 26 SEPT - Byron Bay, GREAT NORTHERN
THUR 27 SEPT - Brisbane, THE HIFI
FRI 28 SEPT - Brisbane, THE HIFI
SAT 29 SEPT - Sydney, THE HIFI
SUN 30 SEPT - Newcastle, CAMBRIDGE HOTEL
THUR 4 OCT - Canberra, UNI OF CANBERRA
FRI 5 OCT - Wollongong, UNIBAR
SAT 6 OCT - Adelaide, THE GOV
SUN 7 OCT - Perth, THE ASTOR
THUR 11 OCT - Melbourne, THE HIFI
FRI 12 OCT - Melbourne, THE HIFI
SAT 13 OCT - Hobart, BRISBANE HOTEL
SUN 14 OCT - Hobart, BRISBANE HOTEL
Regurgitator also performing:
SAT 18 AUG - THE NORTH WEST FESTIVAL, Port Headland, WA
SAT 1 SEPT - RED DEER FESTIVAL, Mt Samson, Qld - SOLD OUT!!
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