After 14 odd years of putting pen to paper and axe to wax, Brisbane’s Screamfeeder released a singles album. “Introducing: Screamfeeder” will be a collection of 20 songs, including all their singles as well as a few “almost singles, or songs which shoulda been or coulda been singles too”.
INTRODUCING: SCREAMFEEDER Singles and More 1992 – 2004
Shock Records SCREAM1CD. Released August 2004. A collection of 21 singles, as well as other songs which made it onto video, or were the opening tracks from albums or EPs. Recorded, mixed etc over the period 1992 – 2004 by a million different people. Art by Tess Donoughue
2. Wrote You Off
4. Walls Come Tumbling Down
5. Triple Hook
6. Above The Dove
7. Lost In The Snow
9. Hi C’s
10. Fingers & Toes
11. Fill Yourself With Music
14. Who’s Counting
16. Mr. Tuba
17. I Don’t Know What To Do Anymore
20. Sweet Little Oranges
21. Ice Patrol
22. Tomorrow Never Knows
single / kitten licks / closing alaska ep / rockinghorse studio nsw / may 1996 / paul mckercher
t : dart was the first single from kitten licks, our fifth album, and first featuring dean behind the drum kit. we were rehearsing in a little room under barry parade in spring hill with a few other bands, and we got into the habit of going in almost every night for an hour or two. this was early 1996. we wrote most of the album and the single b sides in there, just knocking riffs around together. it was a real turning point, the first time we’d really written entire songs as a band, and we were having a great time. this song was tricky and took quite a few nights to nail, but we were all fired up about it and no matter how much yelling ”you’re playing it backwards, the beat should go like this!” I did, we still had fun putting it together. when we were done we were very proud. I had the verse melody, kellie came up with the chorus melody and she took it home and wrote the lyrics. the title (and that of kellie’s down the drinker) is a reference back to martin amis’s london fields which kellie and I had just been reading (a dart = a cigarette). we took an afternoon off from recording the album to make the video in the hills outside byron bay — we knew it would be the single already — shock were all excited from the demo version we’d recorded a few months earlier. we tried to re-do the vocals for the album’s american release, as we’d done the singing for dart on the last afternoon of our recording session, right before we mixed it. my voice was all hoarse and worn out and I kept wanting to do it one more time, but it just kept getting worse. after a few hours in the studio in brisbane with magoo a few years later we concluded that the song just didn’t have the same spark sung “all nice” so we abandoned the idea.
k : this was fun to write! it started off as one little riff that turned into this cool song. the first time we actually pulled it off without stopping we all stood there and looked at each other. we knew we had done something special. at this time we were communicating with each other in a new way. a language of our own, which included ways of speaking “drums”. it’s completely hilarious how so many conversations we have require speaking in drum beats. lyrically it’s a whole bunch of paranoia and conspiracy theory about being lied to your whole life. denial, treason, lies. but it’s not about drugs. someone once told me dart was about heroin addiction.
d : I can’t help but think of cows when I hear this track, or any of the songs on kitten licks — maybe because we recorded it near byron bay. but hold on, I don’t think I saw any cows at all, maybe some horses. but the cows are still in my mind. I prefer to record in the city, you keep busy in the city. what’s with turning the beat around? we were being clever.
I’m neat in cycles / mess on the floor / cram you in twice a day / you ask what for? / with every mention you make and every lesson you take / every question at stake is one big lie / with all the soul that’s on sale and all the lost / ones you bail / every boring detail is one big lie / bite with incisors / try all your might / denial’s exciting / treason’s alright / I’m in denial / losing litres by the mile / I’m cruising up your dial
wrote you off
burn out your name / megaphon studio sydney / march 1993 / david price
t : track 2 from our second album burn out your name. why this song wasn’t the single off the album none of us will ever know. it got us our first solid airplay on jjj — which wasn’t something we expected, or would rely upon in any way for publicity back then — and everyone loved it. we were living in a house in heussler tce in paddington; me, my girlfriend, and various other friends, on and off, including both kellie and tony (blades, our original drummer, who was with us until just after fill yourself with music in 1995) for a while. I came up with this tuning in the front room (our office; kellie, tony and I all had desks in there – I ran the record label, tony booked the band, and kellie wrote for magazines) and wrote a bunch of songs all at once. the tuning: eada#be, the songs: wrote you off, monster, button, I won’t be there. they all appeared on the album. it has always been a favourite way of ours for coming up with new song ideas — invent a new tuning. not about anything in particular — like fingers and toes — but the same general personal themes run through all our early albums. it got dropped from the set after a while as it was a real killer to sing; we should have written it a few keys down. I wish I could have sung it a bit better on the album too, but that’s hindsight for you.
k : recording burn out your name was such a great experience. the first time we were in a proper studio with a proper producer. we drove down to sydney in the van to record with david price, and he certainly had his work cut out for him when we were mixing — all of us over his shoulder telling him to turn our instruments up “more bass, turn the toms up, push the guitars up” etc. he had a bit of a temper too, he liked to kick things around a bit. I think we drove him a bit crazy. why was this song not a single? I think we all thought it was too obvious to be a single. whatever that means, we were a contrary lot back then.
d : when I moved to brisbane in 1991 there was this band called screamfeeder who were just everywhere. you would pick up a street mag and — bang! — they were in your face every week. I could see why. my friends and I would slag them off — I was jealous; I wanted to be in the band. 3 or 4 years later I was in. funny — I wrote them off.
wrote you off but I’m missing / now I’m down for some kissing / fingers crossed I was wishing / they’re a knot and I’m pissing in the wind and I can’t untie them / hold my hand because I’m quaking / don’t need coffee to be shaking / wish it was progress that I’m making / but it’s a mess and it’s breaking like a twig and I can’t repair it / I can’t repair it / got my hands in my pockets / feeling dumb I should stop it / got my guts in a bucket and my heart / I think I lost it / wrote you off but I’m missing / now I’m down from the bitching / hold my hand because I’m itching / understand why I’m cringing / just inside but I cannot hide it / like a coal and it’s burning through me / like the cold and it’s turning freezing / and my heart / I think I lost it.
single / take you apart / black box studio brisbane / studio 001 melbourne / april 2003 / magoo & matt maddock
t : came up with the riff outside our practice room near chinatown in the valley one night, late 2002, waiting for the others to show up. we shared the room with halfway and it was always a real mess. we went inside, knocked the chords together and quickly got out of there again after committing it to 4 track. I wrote the words the next day. we started playing it live the following week, at a gig with sleater kinney at the zoo. like most of our songs it’s in b.
k : possibly my fave song on the album, it’s great to play live and I love singing the chorus. we recorded the album over 2 or 3 sessions, in brisbane where it was hot summer, and in melbourne where it was freezing cold. matt maddock, tim and I played cards while magoo mixed. we all quietly yelled at each other the whole time, and got sore throats. it was so much fun, and so sad when it was all over.
d : this album was a blast to make, I was listening to lots of old soul records and it really comes through.
last night I let myself out in the cold / can’t go back I’m breaking parole / ‘cos I made up a story with some words that I stole / I’m gonna find a chemical to take you apart / I wanna find a way I can appeal to your heart / listen while I dig myself into a hole / got no money now / couldn’t make the bail / just woke up and I’m living in a jail / ain’t so funny now / now you’re on my trail / I’m a little bunny and you’ve got me by the tail / can’t relax cos it’ll be trouble / can’t retract cos I know it’ll be double / I’m just trying to make a living by doing what I’m told / and you can make a killing making love to the world / I heard they made a gun in the shape of a girl / I’m trying to buy something that ain’t being sold / got no money now / couldn’t make the bail / just woke up and I’m living in a jail / ain’t so funny now / now you’re on my trail / I’m a little bunny and you’ve got me by the tail / I’m a little bunny and you’ve got me by the tail / I’m a little bunny and you’ve got me by the tail
walls come tumbling down (the style council)
home age ep / the dirty room brisbane / red zeds brisbane / august 1999 / magoo
t : after kitten licks came out we were given the opportunity to program rage — every band’s dream. we had a gig on wollongong on the saturday afternoon and we drove back to sydney in the rain. we went out that night to see powderfinger at the metro. kellie stole a bottle of their red wine and I stood on bernard’s hand in the foyer. jebediah stood around all night singing wrote you off and lost in the snow to us. we ended up at a backgammon bar in kings cross and had a big fun night. the next morning we had to check out of our hotel, the thellellan beach house in bondi. we walked down the road to the house of one of the shock staff where we’d film all the little bits in between songs (it’s not done live). still drunk, we sat around, ate some popcorn and drank some more wine. the talking dissolved into uncontrollable laughter almost every time someone opened their mouth. it was fun. we finally got to see the edition of rage when we were in a perth hotel room, falling-over drunk, again. one of the songs we programmed was the style council’s walls come tumbling down — all being big paul weller fans. I remembered the video from when it came out in about 1985, the band in prague, running around and playing, and looking cool. and what a great song. when we asked our american label for some money to record a new album (this was 1999 already) to follow up kitten licks, they went all quiet and stopped returning our emails. in the end they said we weren’t allowed to record any new songs and release them in australia for fear of a new album being leaked to the states, before it was officially released there. so, bound and gagged, we decided to record a covers record instead. we did 6 songs with magoo in brisbane and added 2 old b-sides from the gravity single (also covers), and 2 songs kellie and I knocked together on the keyboards, to make a very healthy 10 song ep, home age.
k : recording home age was a lot of fun, and was the first time since flour we had recorded anything more than demos in brisbane. working with magoo was great and would lead us back to him for take you apart. we did a lot of experimenting, and he was very keen to try lots of different things out. we would also record in a way we had never done before, taking each song as a whole instead of recording the drums and then doing bass guitar parts afterwards. we worked on each song one at a time, moving the drums to a different room for each one. I think we did a good job on this song, changing it slightly in the middle bit.. a bit cheeky, thinking we could better something paul weller had written!
single / rocks on the soul bonus disc / velvet studio sydney / june 1998 / red zeds brisbane / july 1998 / martin white / magoo
t : after releasing hi cs in 1998 we needed another single to keep things moving, so we decided to record a new song we had, domino. we went into the studio with martin white, who kept us entertained with stories of working with the cure back in the late 80s. we put a lot of effort into domino, adding layer upon layer of guitars and backing vocals. at the end of the day we also knocked off another little ditty we had lying around called triple hook. when we played the mixes to our manager joe, he looked at us blankly through domino, and then when he heard triple hook he said “that’s the single”. we were a bit miffed. we ended up adding some extra backing vocals to the song with magoo a bit later, and mixing it a bit better too, for the single. our friend and drinking buddy at the time lee did the artwork exclusively for us and designed the whole cover.
k : I wrote this when I was living at mt nebo, just outside brisbane. I guess it’s about gossip. one line is inspired by dean — “so thin that it doesn’t stink” — it’s about one dean’s shirts! he’d worn a shirt 2 gigs in row and said that it was ok, it wouldn’t stink because it was so thin. just one of the many classic comments to come out of dean’s mouth.
i know you’ve been banging his drum / I know so does everyone / talk’s cheap, but it’s never free / you shouldn’t trust your secrets with me / so thin that it doesn’t stink / stretching it on top of everything / even your smile hides a bitter tongue / I know what you’re talking about / rumours are getting around / talk low so nobody hears / your body language is loud and clear / is it hatemail that your’e sending? / is it a broken heart you’re mending? / is it your mother’s cash your spending? / is this your get away? / I know what you’re talking about / rumours are getting around / talk low so nobody hears / your body language is loud and clear / I know you’ve been banging his drum / I know so does everyone / talk’s cheap. this advice is free / don’t trust your secrets with me
above the dove
single / rocks on the soul / bustin’ up, melbourne / june 2000 / the pound system
t : the first single from our 2000 album rocks on the soul, this song was written when we were rehearsing at a house on stanley st in east brisbane in 1999. ian from powderfinger used to run his studio there, then he moved out and the soma rasa guys took over. the song was inspired initially by sesame street, where I’d heard a song with the chorus “..above the dove..”. the story is about aliens coming to land, but not taking people away with them — taking the animals instead and leaving all the people behind. I can’t remember where the idea came from. the tense sounding eaeaae tuning always made the song sound pretty serious, but woody and the reverend (the pound system) really homed in on it and brought it to life with a lot of serious mixing and wacky sounds. the swooping delay sounds were so good we went out and bought the pedals ourselves. this was the point where we decided to get another guitarist in the band, to help achieve live the sounds we’d captured on the album. mike squire played with us for about a year, followed by darek mudge. we made a video based around us all lying in bed together in eerie blackness. it was an easy job, we were actually asleep in between being woken to sing various lines each.
k : this video was a complete first for me. I story-boarded the whole thing and had broken it down into a shooting script and everything. I’m not usually that organized and like to fly by the seat of my pants as it were, but we had hired people for lighting and camera so we needed to do it right, it was costing us money. a great example of how tim can steal things and make them his own.
d : the pound system session was a weird one at first. we were stripped right back. two days into the recording I was ready to catch a plane home — they’d told me I wasn’t allowed to play any drum fills. “that’s enough dean, we’ll loop it!” they said.
we’ve got an intergalactic invasion on our hands / don’t call security because they won’t understand / the doves are nesting in the floodlights on the field / they don’t want to miss the action darkness might conceal / aliens take positions in our libraries one by one / they unwrite our history books with their little laser guns / as we’re deleted word by word it becomes clear / future’s exploded because our past has disappeared / knowing there’s a sign to say they’ll take you when they leave / wearing shirts that proudly state that we believe / confident the continent will surely hear the word / the call’s been made and all the passengers have heard / going to a place where they can walk the streets with pride / the insect world is packed and they all climb inside / the birds can learn to swim and all the fish will fly / above the dove in the safety of the sky / you won’t be proud, but you won’t be allowed / above the dove in the safety of the clouds
lost in the snow
fill yourself with music / closing alaska ep / paradise studio sydney / december 1994 / wayne conolly
t : when we came back from our tour of europe in early 1994 we needed to release another single from burn out your name and we decided on button. we also realised we needed some b sides, so we got some new songs together and put out the felicitator ep. lost in the snow was a brand new one we’d written and we recorded a version of it with mick borkowski at vibrafeel. we liked it so much that we re-recorded it and it ended up being the first track on our next album as well. the song is about the breakup of hüsker dü, one of our favourite bands ever. inspired by the liner notes from their last album warehouse: songs and stories, bob mould had written a little piece and “opened the door, got lost in the snow” were the final words. without a sound by dinosaur jr was just out at the time and we were all into multi guitar lines all going at once.
k : this song reminds me of traveling through europe, playing weird little venues in france, spain and germany, and also places in australia like geelong, ballarat and lismore. I’m not sure why, I think because it’s about being in a band that’s on the verge of imploding, and I quit our band while we were on tour for this record. “we only wish you what it takes to get along” was like a mantra to me. as it turned out, we got dean in the band, found a way to get along, and the mantra became reality. on a lighter note — I’d like to take this opportunity to point out a lyrical gem “the news was bad, future was badder”. nice one. this is another killer song to play live, I play heaps of bass chords which I don’t really get to do it so much any more — they get lost competing with guitars. yes it really is a competition, and on this song tim is having one big competition with himself with those layered solos!
it didn’t hurt / we kept right on playing / we hadn’t heard the faithful praying / with all we had / it didn’t seem to matter / the news was bad / the future badder / falling into a hole was pointless and just wrong / we only wish you what it takes to get along / it didn’t rain / skies didn’t open / the world spun on / angels were hoping / it didn’t hurt / it was a lesson / snowing on dirt / you were a blessing / you lost your vision and forgot your golden star / and when it did rain they weren’t tears for you at all / you kept it from us you were losing it / the angels watching over you just let you slip away so painlessly / they were the only ones who knew / now the snow has frozen up both your cities / the angels disappeared from view / they left before we could have owned them / like they had nothing left to do
single / kitten licks / rockinghorse studio nsw / may 1996 / paul mckercher
t : tim rogers showed me the old rolling stones egdgbe tuning at the annandale one night, so I put it to good use on 3 songs on kitten licks. gravity, the 3rd single, was one. kellie and I co wrote the words, literally line for line. I can’t believe we got away with a cheese reference in the 4th line! we’d really only just learned this song (and quite a few of the others) before we recorded the album, never played them live or got them to the final stage they would arrive after a year or so of refining-by-playing-live. it was a struggle getting through some of them — lots of counting each other in and out while the tape rolled (it was our last album recorded direct to tape). but I guess that’s why it’s called a record. this songs sounds much better in hindsight, it wasn’t one of our most favourite ones at the time. we played this song live on recovery one morning, we were freezing and tired from having just driven in from ballarat, and my shoes were too tight. it might not have been the best performance ever.
k : I got out my diary and we took lines out of it. the original stuff I’d written was a red wine and valium induced stream of consciousness. I agree about the cheese line, what were we thinking? it rained continuously the whole time we were at rocking horse. we were expecting paul mckercher the night before we started recording, he never arrived. we were a bit worried. he got lost on the way to the house where we were staying and ended up bogged at the bottom of the driveway. still unsure where he was, he’d slept in his car. we had to cross a creek on the way to the studio every day and I was freaking out that we would get cut off and not be able to finish the record, as tim was leaving to go overseas the day after we were due to finish. as it turned out the album was finished with no interference from the heavens and tim got on a plane as scheduled. it was a pleasure making this record. the lush surrounds, a great producer, songs we were really proud of (and just getting the hang of), the band all getting along.
d : there are those cows again.
i like a warm red glow (i like fast I like slow) / I like you sitting away from me (so I can stretch right out) / I like forgetting my name (and all these things you remember) / I like the smoothness of cheese (the way it slides down) / your tongue is silvery (as it touches mine) / your hands push me to be (they’re pushing me away) / a scared lamb to the slaughter / spiteful and petticoated / waiting for the sentence / is there safety to the silence? / saw the sun go down today (you write my name in the sand) / violent orange turned to grey (the sea turned silver) / gravity is good cos I can’t slip / comfort feels safe but I’m repulsed by it / lick the salt right out of my lips / my teeth sink in but they won’t stick / I like sitting in the dark (no one can see me smile) / I try not to touch the sides (no one can hear me breathe) / I drag it into the air (no one looks at me) / I stick pins inside of me (i just think it feels good) / when I close my eyes I can see the sun
single / rocks on the soul bonus disc / velvet studio sydney / november 1997 / paul mckercher
t : after touring for kitten licks for almost two years we moved into a rehearsal room at red zeds, a now defunct brisbane studio. it was a very noisy small room and we didn’t like being there. some nights there was so much noise coming in from the other practice rooms it was like we were the meat in a heavy metal sandwich. (this was before we bought the 4-track) or decided to ditch them anyway. we wrote hi cs there one night and managed to remember it long enough to finish it. it came out as a single in between albums and ended appearing on the rocks on the soul bonus disc as well. the songs on that disc (hi cs, triple hook, planet matador, sparks jump, and the instrumentals decaptivated, beef me up and the rat and the goldfish) were all that remained from that particular period; no others would survive long enough to end up on rocks on the soul. the song revolves around 3 chords, b, e and a, all played without moving from the second fret. very similar to bunny. the lyrics, equally minimal, are 3 lines, repeated. we shot the video outside the bardon 7-11, in keeping with our “no budget” video making ethic, kellie and I singing into the camera while all our friends (including dean in a blonde wig) wandered in and out of the shop behind us. it took about half an hour. the shop owners started getting annoyed after that. we did two takes straight through, pretty sure we used the first one.
k : actually it was the second take we used, the first one someone opened the door to the shop and everyone piled in and no one came back out. the second take was pure genius. we couldn’t have scripted a better clip. I think this was the beginning of the new style of writing we would take with us onto the next 2 albums. keeping things as simple of possible.
smiling stars and musical notes / I can’t read either / on hi cs I navigate by neither / can’t see a pattern forming
fingers and toes
single / burn out your name / megaphon studio sydney / march 1993 / david price
t : our first ever real single — even coming out on vinyl in europe. this was written in 1992 along with all the other songs on burn out your name. the signature sound of this song comes from a few things — my new eadaae tuning, a real lot of guitar overdubs, and my “unique” vocal approach. this is not to mention tone’s concrete slab drum work and kellie’s crazy bass lines. we recorded all the songs to a click track, and it really helped; they would have sped up and down all over the place and been far less solid without it. tone came up with the drum intro just before the first time we took the song to sydney, and we came up with the monster guitar slides during that tour, where we opened with the song every night. we played it solidly for a couple of years, but it fell out of the set as it was such a mammoth effort to play, for all of us. for me a couple of years yelling like that really took its toll, and I found I couldn’t sing it the same after a while. it was a prize song for extreme rock moves though, so if you ever see pictures of us playing, with kellie and I practically bending over backwards, we were almost definitely playing this song. the lyrics dealt with un-specific early 20 something angst, guilt and emotional turmoil. we made a video for the song featuring footage of a baby crawling around, us rocking out “in the forest” (at tony’s parents’ place), and some live footage from metropolis in brisbane (filmed at the last gig we did supporting pavement on their first tour here. I was wearing a back brace under my t-shirt, as I’d slipped a disc at perth airport and had to play the adelaide show that night sitting down. got back to brisbane and managed to stand up again). the album was remastered and repackaged, and released in america by taang! in 1994 (taang!88).
k : this was always so much fun to play! huge guitar slides, big fat bass distortion, and it’s so dark and menacing sounding – with so much emotion. all the songs on this album are so dense, layered with heaps of guitars, and somehow the bass still comes through all that murky noise. all I wanted was to have this huge distorted sound, and we achieved it. when evan dando and tom morgan came in to the studio, we were working on the guitars on fingers and toes. I remember evan said it sounded so good we shouldn’t put vocals on it.
can’t see for seeing / can’t feel for being / eyes try to fail me / can’t lie to save me / too many exits / not enough guts to stand trial / not enough time to stay a while / had my turn and blew it / should have said I knew it / too much waste to conquer / too much hate to want to / get on the outside and turn me right over / stuck on the inside, each day getting older / rip it right out, take my head off my shoulders / get on the outside until there’s nothing left over / too many exits / not enough health for two of us / not enough help to use / and I have to feel it / you can keep your dreaming / you can hide your feelings / can you look not have it? / can you feel not grab it? / can you just not have it?
fill yourself with music
single / fill yourself with music / paradise studio sydney / december 1994 / wayne conolly
t : the title track, and first single from our 3rd album of the same name. we recorded with wayne, and had a ball. a really friendly, easy going time. this was the early-mid 90’s, the glory years of indie rock, we were listening to the flaming lips’ albums and wayne was on a big sebadoh kick at the time which translated over to our album having a loose organic feel. the recording was easy and fun, and mixing it was a piece of piss too. I didn’t own any gear at the time, I’d smashed my 2 guitars and my amp was broken, so we borrowed all these amazing guitars and amps from wayne and also simon from the hummingbirds. the “guys who’ll make you cry, they start with e and b and m” are evan dando, bob mould and matthew sweet — all great influences at the time as well. I didn’t quite hit the mark with my plan to “write the perfect pop song” — some of the chords could still be better, but the lyrics are still ok. wayne introduced me to the jagermeister school of singing during the last days of the session, and it was a revelation. the whole album was an exercise in just doing whatever the hell we wanted in the studio, and not feeling any pressure (from ourselves, or from the record company) to live up to any previous standards or anyone’s expectations. a lot of people found the whole album a bit “soft” after the heavy slab of rock that was burn out your name, and looking back, lightweight pop songs like this one and who’s counting? certainly would throw people off a bit. but who wants to make the same album twice? this was to be tony’s last recording with us although none of us knew it at the time, the first screamfeeder line up would fall apart during the tour for the album, in the middle of 1995.
k : we went down to sydney on a greyhound bus to make this record. it was one of the worst bus trips I’ve ever had. tony and I had to sit together and we weren’t getting along very well at this stage, and I was very down about it all. when we got off the bus, I just wanted to get back on it again and go home. when you make an album, you remember all the feelings of the studio, the surroundings and other small details. I remember how hard it was to get along with tony, how tim was with his girlfriend, and I felt very lonely. I was reading a book called the death of rock ‘n’ roll which didn’t help my state of mind, and the album was full of emotionally heavy and sad songs. wayne was great, he was open to a lot of experimentation and had a very calming influence in the studio. I was continuing my love affair with my big muff distortion pedal. after button, this was my least favourite screamfeeder song.
fill yourself with music let the good vibrations flow / if you ain’t heard the message then there’s something you should know / cos’ there’s guys to make you cry / they start with e and b and m / and girls who’ll twist your world / and you will be grateful to them / fill yourself with music! / fill yourself with song / let the music do the rest / elation to depression / extreme emotions are the best / my baby’s gone away I can’t get by without her around / just turn it up and drown myself in sound / fill yourself! / walk out in the sunshine let it fill you up with light / and curl up with your radio to make it through the night / there’s special songs for everyone to make you feel alright / they open up your heart /and bring your pain to the light
single / kitten licks / rockinghorse studio nsw / may 1996 / paul mckercher
t : the opening track and second single from kitten licks. the first 3 songs (static, bridge over nothing, dart) ended up a family — all written in the same open a tuning, we’d always play “the big 3” together in quick succession at gigs. we recorded the album in the lush surrounds of northern nsw. paul mckercher and his partner had just had their baby — joe — and the whole family was up there with us. paul amused us daily by saying “guys I’m just popping into lismore quickly, see you about 12.00, we’ll start recording then”. a lot of waiting around was done, a lot of ping pong was played and eating done. at around 4.30 he would arrive back, all happy and ready to get down to the studio. I wrote this song in the kitchen at st james st after reading a texan fanzine called dreamwhip, which had a story about making a radio that broadcasted nothing but static. I forgot to credit the author for ripping off his story — luckily I remembered to do so when the album came out in america (time bomb records in 1999). played this song on recovery one morning later in 1996, the footage was good so we used it for the video clip.
k : this was when I felt like I was really a part of the band. we got dean in on drums and the whole world opened up for us. we were very disciplined at this point, walking into the valley each day to the practice room with a whole new approach to writing songs. almost every day we would come up with a new riff that would be turned into a song. a very creative time where everyone was part of the process. tim was really getting good at stealing other people’s ideas and making them into songs. kitten licks was rife with it! but you could never guess where any of these things had come from, sometimes even if you’d read the same book he had appropriated an idea from. thanks to wendy and jason (schmuck) for the great single cover art for static. they came up with a character for every song on the album that we put onto a t-shirt, and later on the u.s. version of the album. they also did a huge painting for us that we used for the cover art of the u.s. mini album we put out in 1997, closing alaska. (guilt ridden pop trg 89361-2)
I’m going to build a radio with static from the stars / and broadcast at a frequency you’ll pick up in your cars / I’m setting out on airwaves where I will feel right at home / I’m going to call it nothing because you don’t need to be known / my signal will get lost in all the white noise floating by / it drifts above the cities invisible in the sky / and if I transmit long enough someone will roll through the dial /and they’ll stop on some static and they’ll listen for a while / though they’ll feel some mysterious transaction has been made / a message slipped through interference has been received some way / because thoughts don’t need to be worded for you to understand / you listen through your eyes just like you hear through your hands / I’m feeling far away
single / take you apart / sing sing studio melbourne / studio 001 melbourne / april 2003 / magoo & matt maddock
t : a black-keys-only song written by kellie lloyd and I in the kitchen of her house in bardon one afternoon when we were meant to be rehearsing for an acoustic gig. dean and darek popped by and I said “what do you think of this?” they said “oh yeah..” we liked it so much we played it as an instrumental at the acoustic show, and again quite a few times before I wrote the words. lyrically simple or complex? deep or shallow? it’s both at once. contradictions and dualities abound within screamfeeder. we made the video at the troubadour in brisbane and got sekiden and a bunch of other friends to dance for us. it was a weird afternoon, we got drunk really quickly.
k : I got bored of the way we were writing songs so I started bringing in my dodgy keyboard to come up with stuff for the next album. tim and I had been doing some acoustic duet shows with me playing keys, so it seemed logical. I know nothing about playing piano, so I just made up little riffs that we could turn into songs. in a live context this means that I play the keyboard while darek plays bass. it’s heaps of fun. the film clip didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. it was meant to be our signature one take job, but none of us were happy with any one take, so I had the unenviable task of editing the 6 takes into a cohesive whole. it nearly hospitalised me. tim would repeatedly come in after I’d worked for hours and say he wasn’t happy with it. in the end I did it, and it don’t look too bad.
1 2 3 4 5 / can’t you tell that I’m alive? / my writing’s bad but here’s my letter / i’ll let you know I wanna make it better / 5 6 7 8 9 / it’s a crime it’s a crime / my talking’s bad / but listen hard / I feel alone when you put up your guard / 6 7 8 9 10 / can’t we just begin again? / my luck was bad / can we go back if I make up for all I lack? / 3 4 5 6 7 8 / it ain’t so hard to get it straight / my life was bad but it was living / now you’ve just gotta come and be forgiving / if I get to 10 I won’t count again / a long time listening to the phone call ring / I’m almost at 9 / I’m almost out of time / and there’s a lot of places that I’ve never been / there’s a lot of places that I’ve never been
single / fill yourself with music / closing alaska ep / paradise studio sydney / december 1994 / charing cross studio sydney / august 1995 / wayne conolly / paul mckercher
t : the second single from the fill yourself with music, it was released as a double a side with sweet little oranges. the cd even came with “limited edition sweet orange scent”— someone at shock had dabbed each cd cover with orange scented oil. this is the single mix; the version on the album has all the drums panned to the left, and all the vocals on the right. someone decided, possibly joe our manager at the time, that this severe panning might not be too good on the radio, so we got paul mckercher to remix the song at charing cross studio. the new version sounds a lot brighter and more “mixed”. pretty much all the backing vocals on the whole album were made up on the spot, recorded first take, so there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on there. this was about the time we’d really started getting into pavement, and the whole “loose” (oh yeah, it used to be called slacker) thing comes through here. an easy song, not about much, but pretty good fun to play. the single featured a sleepily lazy version of sebadoh’s brand new love, which we recorded on a tiny acoustic guitar, late on the last night of the whole session after plenty of red wine.
k : this is such a weird little pop song, very different for us at the time. very pavement-esque — the sounds and the stripped-back guitars and the way it’s mixed. we were definitely moving away from what we had done before. it’s quite deceptively complicated, with these great opposing bass and guitar lines that run on top of each other, and I always loved the last line — “tracing them back straight to hell”. I hadn’t heard this album for a few years, and after we’d had finished it I’d told myself that I didn’t like it, but when I heard it again I couldn’t believe how good it sounded. for me, I think it has the best bass lines of any of our albums and tim’s songwriting had taken on some pretty hefty subject matter — it seems to be a big turning point for him in a personal way, looking at himself and his past.
put out the rubbish today / there’s a lot of things that I just can’t say / all of them wanting to be heard / most of them choking on a word / it’s a call that I can’t respond / since most of what I’ve said is at best half right / it’s all half wrong / facts are burnt but they’re not gone / they remain but I can’t explain you one / can’t pertain to one / walked down my street today / there’s a lot of cars parked in the way / reminds me of words that don’t make my mouth / I find I prefer not to talk it out / so our conversation’s lame / but who’s counting the ways we can be inane? / they’re all the same but we drag them out again / can’t react / it’s a trap and it’s a game / there are cracks I can’t explain / got cracks I can’t explain / filled up a box today / with all the things I managed not to say / they can’t stay because they’re no help / can’t throw them away all by myself / because they are cracks I could not foretell / I’m tracing them straight back to hell
promo single / rocks on the soul / bustin’ up, melbourne / june 2000 / the pound system
t : anyone who’s been in a band as long as we have has definitely put in a few good years on the dole. the rock ‘n’ roll. putting your form in at what used to be called the dss. kellie’s line “some dss guy wouldn’t have a clue about what I will achieve in my life” is genius. the pound system really jumped on this track, taking it apart and reassembling it their way. it was great fun working so intensely in the digital domain for the first time. it was also a great laugh seeing woody, homeless at the time and sleeping in the studio, ambling down toorak road in south yarra looking for his first coffee of the morning, or showing up at our hotel room for a shower every few days. ironically, like close again, it was a song we’d only ever demo-d then quickly forgotten, putting it up the end of our cd of songs we had to work with for the album. so there you go, the two least likely candidates end up book-ending the whole album. they never told us where they got the drum loop from, they nicked it from somewhere, little monkeys. we played this song live with a full backing track of drum loops and assorted noises until the task of taking a cd walkman on tour and running it through the foldback became too much for dean (it was his walkman).
k : we had a great time making this record. a whole month in melbourne recording and mixing. the lyrics were taken from diary entries from years previous, a song about old ex’s, forgiving yourself and letting go. the guitar is in the eadaae tuning tim showed me, which I also used for close again. I had been listening to a lot of my bloody valentine — stopless and close again were very strongly inspired by their sound and simple revolving chords, changing the vocal melody instead of the chords to make the song interesting. recording this album, I was able to sing more, play more instruments and have more fun. I have to thank woody mostly for achieving what I was actually wanting to do with this song.
d : I’m not too sure but at the time I thought the drum loop was stolen from a madonna song. the one where she’s all dressed in leather, kissing guys and girls..
if I’m talking in past tense / I have lived a charmed existence / now that change is in the air / another force that we’ll compare / I thought at times I’d been enlightened / to tell the truth I’d become frightened / by all the things I’ve never learned / and all the energy I’d burned / on all those stupid boys that I thought / were worth my time and I would die for / I’d lose my head and when my heart felt / I’d add to my life’s list of disappointment / he sounded good on the phone / I’d walk at night on my own / I knew that it was worth it / and I’d never have to do it again / I’ve been having weird dreams again / I just wanna have the one where I win / all the times they’ve said this job’s for you / some dss guy wouldn’t have a clue / of what I will achieve in my life / it’s not some 9-5 thing or a house wife / not that any of those things are bad / it’s just never been a dream the I’ve had / I’ve got a dark ambition in me / I will be independent and free / and all the stupid things I’ve done / i’ll never have to do them again
promo single / rocks on the soul / bustin’ up, melbourne / june 2000 / the pound system
t : sesame street is a great inspiration for writing songs, and this is another direct rip off. mr tuba joins the town band, and he plays so loudly and out of time that the other members of the band tell him that if he doesn’t listen he must go. a great concept — we’ve all known people like this. this song featured in the set for a year or two before we recorded it, and with its rousing chorus was always great fun to play. we sent dean out from the studio one afternoon with a portable dat recorder and a microphone to record ambient street sounds, while the rest of us stayed put, keeping warm, drinking coffee and smoking. his mission was successful and we chopped up the sounds and added them to the end section. the reverend put the icing on the cake with his great lead break after the last chorus. this was a promo single off the album.
k : thanks to leo mullins (2 litre dolby), ollie brown (art of fighting) and brendan webb (ex-sandpit) for lending their singing talents to the choruses of this song. I think they weren’t as loud as they could have been in the mix, i’ll take that up with woody when I see him next. again, tim nicking an idea and making a great song out of it. d : I managed to sneak a couple of drum fills into this song while woody and the reverend were out getting their dinner.
mr tuba your sound is beautiful and round but you don’t listen / the rest of the band are tired of only playing your tunes / you should stop being rude, and just be happy with what you’ve been given / a nice big bell an inspired section and a chair to sit on / small prickles grow into rosebushes / we can change anything we feel / how can we love a guy who pushes? / we won’t deny or can’t conceal / that we’re not going to grow to love your presence
i don’t know what to do any more
single / take you apart / black box brisbane / january 2002 / magoo & matt maddock
t : a simple song, written around the title, which had been lying around in my head for about 6 months before I did anything with it. the second single from take you apart — we actually recorded it ahead of the album in january 2003. we made perhaps our most fun video ever for this song, breaking teeth and microphones, which inspired me to sing it live without playing guitar. darek played half the guitar on this recording.
k : editing the clip on a friend’s computer I had a great time laughing at dean falling over the drum kit 2 million times in a row. tim brought this in basically as a finished song and we beat it into shape in rehearsals. we were sharing the powderfinger’s practice room on vulture st — we were like their poor cousins that they let move in. eventually they told us “if you move out this week, we won’t worry about the 6 months rent you owe us.”
d : I think keith moon came down and finished the end of the track for me while I was out getting my dinner. no-one told me he was in town.
i ain’t saving myself for a rainy day / I ain’t saving you up ’til I can pay / you don’t care what I’ve got to say / you tell me that I’m a bore / and I don’t know what to do any more / I called the doctor and he laughed at me like I was on dope / he kept putting me on hold every time I spoke / he’s all booked up and I’m broke / and now I’m feeling sore / and now I don’t know what to do any more / he’s all booked up and I’m broke / and now I’m feeling sore / and I don’t know what to do any more / can’t call me this can’t call me that / but she calls me it all / and I can’t help it I’ve just gotta wait for her to call / she’s the blinding sun in my eyes and I just stand in awe / ’til I don’t know what to do any more / she’s the blinding sun in my eyes / and I just stand in awe / and I don’t know what to do any more
flour / vibrafeel studio brisbane / november 1991 – january 1992 / mick borkowski
t : the first song on the first screamfeeder album, flour. an old song — it was written in 1988 when we still lived in townsville and were still called the madmen. the song was inspired by a news report about a space rocket that couldn’t leave the ground because of bad weather. other themes get a peek, paranoia, missing someone, feeling isolated and feeling liberated, the euphoric infinity of space. written around an open b chord, very new day rising. also inspired by winterland by died pretty, which we’d previously covered. when we moved to brisbane in 1989 kellie got in touch and volunteered her services to make a video for this song, and that’s how we met her. within a year she’d replaced our then bassist cam hurst. the original version was recorded at murray nash’s place “nashville” in townsville. he had the idea for the vocal delay, and for the drum fills in the choruses. he even played them – he was an excellent drummer. our temporary 4th member bruce gardner played on the original version too, his guitar tone really filled out the sound. I guess this was our “best song yet” at the time, and we released it as our second 7” single on our own label stone groove. we re-recorded it with mick borkowski at vibrafeel. not sure why we bothered though, as the original version was pretty much bang on. then in 1996 we decided to re-mix and master the album as it hadn’t really been mastered the first time around, and mick reckoned he could mix it better. so we mixed it again, and in the process I laid down new vocals on some of the songs, this one included. we re-issued it with slightly modified cover art (sur521rcd). this is the re-mixed version.
k : I was really intrigued by the madmen, I hadn’t really heard that much of them, but I heard the single tower and I really liked it. I remember the night my clip for it clip was played on rage, I started running around the house and screaming. I knew the guys would be out in the city and not watching tv, but I was so excited that my boyfriend and I jumped on his motorbike and rode to the club where they were and told them. there’s no other feeling like hearing your song on the radio for the first time, and seeing something you’ve made shown on tv is exactly the same. you can’t describe it.
there’s no one else around and you’re the best thing in the world / so what do you want to want? / because there’s sadness here with you and some place you wish you were / so let the light embrace because we’re still heavy on this earth / I wish everything went round / and I wish there was a sound / I don’t want to be in far away places / never is anything coloured or does it flower / this is the closest to my heaven transmission tower / if you’re scared you should have stayed / this is the place where no one goes / the edge without a seam / and we’re without a colour scheme / our eyes will swallow up the sky / never does it get darker or does it change / never will the clouds lift, so they can make space / never will they let go so they can take the test / never will they take flight, never leave the nest / never will they make the heavens or see the stars / never will they see the future, or make the past / never is anything coloured, or does it flower / this is the closest to my heaven transmission tower / there’s no one else around and now we’re more afraid / now they know how and they’ve got the power / they’ve worked it out and they’ve built the tower / we’re more afraid
felicitator ep / burn out your name / megaphon studio sydney / march 1993 / david price
t : this song makes me laugh. it was our “simple little pop song” for the album, and was such fun to play. the little squeaks through the song are bits of guitar feedback, it was so overdriven it would feed back even during playing. we had a real fight over the mixing desk for most of the session — david price would be up there doing his thing (and hats off to him) and then I’d wheel my chair up towards the end of the mix of each song and crank the guitars up a few notches while he wasn’t looking. kellie was quite keen on doing the same thing with the bass. luckily tony was happy to sit back on the couch and have a relaxing smoke with dan, our then label manager at survival. other people dropped in too, evan and tom came up one “morning” (around 4pm) and did some lazy backing vocals on a song called goat cheese. it was a fun session, we stayed in marrickville with our old friend sully, and walked round to the studio every morning. we toured europe on the back of the album in late 1992, playing france, germany, spain and switzerland for the first time. jeff graham, kellie’s old band mate from krud shot a video for this song — us rocking out in kellie’s loungeroom, indispersed with stock footage of maggots amongst other stuff.
k : I think I liked this song the least out of all the songs we had at this stage. I don’t know why.
don’t bring me symptoms, I don’t feel sick / I don’t want a promise if it won’t stick / I don’t want nothing except you to push my button / don’t want anaesthetic / I’m not awake / I feel pathetic, mistakes I make / I don’t need nothing except you to push my button / you know the secret / I hope you ain’t forgotten / I don’t want nothing except you to push my button / don’t want an injection, I’ve got it sewn / don’t want your infections / I’ve got my own
sweet little oranges
single / fill yourself with music / paradise studio sydney / december 1994 / charing cross studio sydney / august 1995 / wayne conolly / paul mckercher
t : pretty sure I borrowed wayne’s sg for this song, as we were trying to go for the whole boston / buffalo tom / early lemonheads sound. the title came from our travels in spain, where there are oranges everywhere. the words in the chorus I nicked from the film like water for chocolate. the flaming lips references are there for all to hear. our friend mike, who later became our second guitarist (2000-2001) came down to sydney to play harmonica on this song and also numb. this is the single version of the song, remixed by paul mckercher. it sounds a bit punchier than the album version. k : the songs that I love from this album are the slower, sadder songs. fill yourself with music may have thrown some people with its musical approach, but there are still some catchy pop moments such as this song.
just like a flaming lip / enough spit would extinguish it / I feel its gentle fit / i’ll burn my hand a bit and I won’t change / I can’t retune my own preset personal frequencies / don’t need to reduce any of my inadequacies / I won’t respond to your accusations of negligence / I can’t relate to pretentions of non-intelligence / they burn a hole in me / found my insecurities / they’ve got a minute hand / I’ve got a grain of sand and all the power it holds / but I can’t release the energy for an eternal flame / the box of matches inside me has gotten wet again / they warm me up in little bursts each time a spark is thrown / and when the whole box caches light then I will burn alone / it is a recipe between a clenched up fist and sweet little oranges / it is a precipice / it is a hand to kiss and mine are flaming lips
single / take you apart / psi fi brisbane / black box brisbane / matt maddock
t : this was recorded as a fill-in single before we became involved with rhythm ace, and almost didn’t make it on to take you apart because we thought it wouldn’t fit. almost as old as needles, another song written for but left off rocks on the soul. the words are inspired by some guys in the arctic circle who have to go out “on ice patrol” to protect themselves from icebergs (i saw it on telly), but are easily adaptable to a much broader range of situations. we wrote this song in eaef#be along with mr tuba, but we ditched that tuning after a while as it was too inconvenient to play at gigs. we recorded this with our sound engineer and drinking buddy matt maddock and stayed up till about 7 in the morning doing it. at about 2.00 am we passed through the “going crazy, working too long and shouting at each other because we couldn’t get the guitar to sound right” stage, but we settled down again, got the guitar right came out of it ok. did all the singing after that, while everyone else slept.
k : psi-fi had this amazing feel to it — a big warehouse type of arrangement with gigantic fish tanks in the walls, and a row of theatre — style chairs at the back, all of which gave it a real dreamy feel. the clip for this was really fun to make. I took tim’s approach to songwriting and applied it in a visual context, basically stealing footage and editing it. I found 15 minutes of unedited film of a 1970’s interpretive dance class in new york in the dance section of the qut library where I was working, and it was the perfect canvas to work with. I used a borrowed i-book and edited the clip in premier, learning the program as I worked. it was the most liberating creative process. I loved how I could slow down the movements of the dancers and make them move to the words and phrasing.
I’m on ice patrol / I’m looking out for ways we could be crushed / I fly above the secret sea checking out what we can’t trust / controlling my balance isn’t instinctual I must remember to really try / I feel if I move i’ll fall like I’ve been shaken loose inside / trying to remember a dream that died / the moment I awake I’m watching it dissolve a split second at a time / here’s my paper back I wrote my name but then I changed my mind / I want to go where there are no dreams / where there are no dreams / by the water’s edge we watch the icebergs flow / they can kill us in a blink although they move so slow / we tried to shoot them up and bomb them / we painted them black / they didn’t break or melt or even acknowledge our attack / by the water’s edge we watch the icebergs flow / they can kill us in a blink / we tried to shoot them we painted them black / they did not acknowledge our attack / the biggest things move slowly you don’t notice them arrive / they’ll dispatch some danger and they’ll sail on by / on patrol there’s too much to know I’ve got too little to lose / I want to know where there are no dreams / I want to go where there are no dreams / where there are no dreams
tomorrow never knows (beatles)
home age ep / the dirty room, brisbane / red zeds brisbane / august 1999 / magoo
t : when we went to record home age we thought it would be fun to do a beatles song. it was going to be rain, but we then decided it would be a little less obvious to do a song with more room to move, and to have kellie singing it. magoo had so much fun with his space echo machine on our version of sun ain’t gonna shine any more, that he and our engineer for the session scritch really decided to crank it on this track. and what fun it was. the tinny sounding drums were recorded from a walkman-sized baby’s toy drum box. other jangly toys made appearances throughout, as do the sounds of drumsticks hammered against guitar strings. kellie’s pitched-up voice can be heard teasing dean right at the start too! kellie laid down about 5 or 6 vocal tracks late at night; we came in the next morning ready to listen through them all and magoo just said “let’s use them all!”. it was very easy and fun to record this track, we didn’t have to do much work really, most of it was looped and assembled, so we just had to make a bunch of weird sounds, play a few bars of the song, and leave magoo and scritch play with the space echo for a few hours. one of the most sonically pleasing of our songs, ever. I played bass and kellie played guitar on this recording and whenever we’d play the song live, which wasn’t very often, as it was to easy to get lost amongst the crazy backing track noises.