‘Tonight…Us’, ‘Bring Back Pluto’, ‘Too Cool For Tracksuit Wednesday’, ‘No Mercy On the Unsuspecting Dancer’.
Potential Powderfinger album titles? Actually they were more of an indication of the atmosphere in the studio. Making the music for Golden Rule on occasion, seemed secondary to the pure idiocy and twisted comedy that occurred during its recording. Of course, with Nick Didia back at the helm it’s hard to imagine anything else.
‘Adult Baby’, ‘Romancing the Poodle’, ‘Slightly Broken’.
I walked into the studio one day while the boys were working on the guitar solo for Jewel and this is the explanation I got: ‘Ok... the solo starts and you wake into reality with a thump…. you’re sitting next to JC who’s flying a helicopter that’s spinning out of control… you turn to him… he smiles wryly as he morphs into the devil… who in turn bursts into ear splitting laughter… and down you go (crazy drum fill, spiralling solo and devil-inspired backing vocals precede the climax of a gun shot)’. ‘What the hell is going on?’ I thought. But when I looked at them, the rest of the band that is, they all burst out laughing. Oh, it WAS funny, but to a certain extent they were actually serious. In fact, the surrealist imagery that the songs themselves created was just as important as the humour this time.
‘Heavy Metal Cardigan’, ‘Raising Squid’.
It’s hard enough to get six people to see eye to eye when recording together but when you imagine yourself at sea, adrift on a ghost ship, fighting a violent storm, with Sail the Wildest Stretch as your soundtrack, things become a little easier. Hey, the roll of the waves inspires even the drumbeat. The eerie opening atmospherics and the Onidin Line string progression were just an extension of the feeling of bittersweet regret that the lyrics detail. El Camino de la Muerte (The Death March), which was written as an introduction to the song Golden Rule, and subsequently became the album opener, is indicative of the visual approach that we employed this time when communicating our ideas to each other.
If the songs that follow represent parts of our lives flashing before our eyes then the next song and first single, All of the Dreamers, is the rebel in each of us while Burn Your Name is the most euphoric experience of love in that lifetime. A Fight About Money is a wry, energetic look at the confusing nature of the business world and Poison in Your Mind is the farewell bookend to a relationship dissolved.
On side two Iberian Dream and Jewel are urgent proclamations in the form of desperate rock while Think It Over is a behemoth that begs for everyone to join. Listen out for the 30000 strong backing choir at Splendour in the Grass who did an amazing job of instantly learning the song and singing the biggest backing vocal part in history. Stand Yourself and Awake explore new ground and the song Golden Rule is the closing chapter that employs epic string lines that recall Air and Pink Floyd.
Here are the tangible facts: we started writing Golden Rule at the start of 2009 with absolutely no idea of a direction. We didn’t even know if we were going to get along like we used to. Eventually though, we agreed that any idea was an acceptable starting point and we trusted each other. If anything, having no direction seemed to free us up to embrace the unknown. We rehearsed at home in Brisbane for six months recording demos that had life. That is, we made sure the songs sounded good as a live rock band before they got to the studio. We caught up with Nick on June the 22nd for two months in Byron Bay at Studio 301. Unfortunately, living on the beach in Byron was tough, so tough in fact, we had to go busking one night in front of the Great Northern Hotel (to test the earning power of the new songs of course). The $80 helped pay for our 'organic' doughnut addiction. The last two weeks were in Sydney mixing and schmoozing publicans for cheap drinks. By the way, if we’d known schmoozing for cheap drinks could inspire someone to simultaneously hump your leg and smash wine bottles on the floor (no injury recorded), we might have thought twice. Eventually we escaped the studio around mid August with Golden Rule.
Jon 'Cogs' Coghill