I’ve Been Training For Years: Peter Escott’s The Long O reviewed

peterescottThe solo album is a cliché

The ‘solo album’ is always sold as more personal, revelatory or heavy-hitting than what would have been recorded as part of a band. ‘The solo album’ cliché states that the recording is freed of any restraint that comes with collaboration. It’s thus sold as the ‘pure vision’ of the songwriter in question. In truth though, ‘the solo album’ is almost always less interesting than the collaborative one. It can be self-indulgent, containing the ideas that no one was around to shoot down. It can be bullshit. I generally dislike ‘the solo album’ as it seems like it only exists to be sold to me. Middling Australian rock bands have front-men that release solo albums which receive attention thanks to tightly crafted press releases. The mainstream music press loves ‘the solo album’ because it provides easy content. That is the level that ‘the solo album’ usually operates on.

Peter Escott has always felt like a solo musician

How the solo album cliché fits with Peter Escott is uncertain since he was releasing solo recordings before he started The Native Cats with bassist Julian Teakle. It’d be fair to use that fact to excuse all the connotations of ‘the solo album’ as it relates to The Long O, but the songs of the Native Cats are usually very Escott-focused anyway. It could be difficult to distinguish Escott’s solo work from his collaborative work since both projects have similarities, so it would be easy to ask why he’d go solo at all. It doesn’t take long listening to The Long O to see that much of the act’s feeling is lost in the transition to a solo project. Without Teakle’s bass-lines, there’s nothing around to drive the songs – they’re left weightless. The aspect of mocking faux-cool that comes with the guttural quality of the duo’s interplay is missing and you are left with something laid bare. The songwriting isn’t better nor worse on The Long O, but it’s interesting when it’s left to float off its anchor.

The Long O seems like it fits the cliché

The Long O has all the staples of ‘the solo record.’ For the most part, a grand piano takes the place of That Native Cats’ electronic oddities, but there are moments that tease the fact that Escott has come from a different realm. Some songs abandon the grand piano to briefly apply muted drum machines or burnt-out synths. Occasionally, these last for barely a minute. These moments feel like Escott didn’t want to completely let himself go into potentially hackneyed piano-man territory. Slices of hesitance that recall where he came from exist just long enough to distract the record from sounding like a freedom-reaching solo outing. It’s a solo record that occasionally teases itself for being one at all. These straying moments are important on this record.

Unfashionable contemporaries

If The Long O was entirely stripped back to a clean vocal and piano, then the closest contemporaries to Escott would be people as unfashionable as that-irritating-comedy-covers-guy from The Chaser, or some distant memory of Tim Freedman. Escott is a lot less forgettable than those two, even when the songs cross into awkward territory. ‘Angel’ feels like a comedy track in waiting, and it just as well could be. References to wizards, heroes and “the boys” paint a vaguely comedic picture, but there are no apparent laughs – more a sense of responsibility and broken spirit. It’s likely the worst song on the album, but there’s something to its awkward placement that’s weirdly affecting. It reminds me of the moments in TV shows like Welcome Back Kotter when it stops making comedy-fodder of poor kids from bad families and reveals a stark truth behind their livelihood. There are school-teacher evocations to ‘Angel’ because Escott’s voice often sounds very adult and sensible.

The need to interpret

Escott follows ‘Angel’ with a brief synth-reprieve, pulling back from the stark emoting with a fade out; a young John Travolta stares at his feet for a few seconds then someone cracks a joke and the credits roll. It’s a strange form of hesitance, but ‘O’ continues on the prior’s eeriness. “I think about changing sides,” Escott sings, with no signs of finality.

‘My Arm is True’ is an odd song that plays out as another with an exposed heart. Like an ode to the first realisation of love, or to that of a born child, Escott hums, “it’s a body that breathes / it’s a body that aches / and it’s yours.” It’s a sweet sentiment that rolls into a similarly toyish opposing sentiment in ‘I Believe in Devil World,’ likely a funny, incisive comment on imagined hells, but it’s sometimes easy to over-interpret the songs of Peter Escott. If anything came of Escott’s long-form explanation of the themes behind the songs of the Native Cats’ Dallas, it’s that I never had a clue of what he was  singing about.

Relatable voyeurism

By the album’s end, I feel like I know a lot about Peter Escott despite never having met him. This was a similar feeling I had after listening – somewhat obsessively – to the Native Cats past two albums. It’s what some of my favourite musicians make me feel – that their world is not inaccessible or unfamiliar. I want to relate.

Escott has a way of delivering his words that makes it feel like they could be about you, which is probably why it’s so easy to over-analyse and misconstrue the song meanings. On ‘A16’ he sings, “I took solace in my studies / they said you can’t get that spark from a laboratory / but then the grids and patterns opened up in front me.” I immediately interpreted this to be about general introversion, or obsession in the workplace because I realte to that personally at the moment. Yet that may not even be the case. Just because I feel shut off from the world, it feels as though Escott is shut off from his too – you hear what you want to hear.


Peter Escott’s The Long O is available through Bedroom Suck Records. He will launch it in Brisbane on August 22 with Melt Unit and Fatti Frances, among others, at the 4ZZZ Happyfest.

New Music

Listen: Peter Escott – My Heaven, My Rules


Peter Escott is one half of Hobart duo The Native Cats. Not only that, but he’s also a comedian with good taste in video games. Lately he’s been writing player guides for video games that don’t exist, which is an idea I’m incredibly bitter that I didn’t think of first. Army of War is an amazing name for a fictional video game.

Following the mainstream success of last year’s Dallas, Peter Escott is releasing a new solo record through Bedroom Suck later this year. While I’m not certain that ‘My Heaven, My Rules’ will feature on the record, it appears on a recent Bedroom Suck Sampler so it’s at least representative of how Escott is sounding nowadays.


Scratch Act: The Native Cats interviewed


As one of Australia’s strangest pop groups, The Native Cats are unusually generous in interviews. Peter Escott even offered a track-by-track breakdown of the Hobart duo’s most recent album Dallas, describing it as “a state of mind,” so named so that he can “remember never to repeat it”. The duo released their debut record Always On in 2010, which was followed by a string of 7 inches (one split with The UV Race, another on their lonesome) and then 2011’s Process Praise. Since then the band have attracted the descriptor “electro pub rock”, a reference to the group’s odd mixture of deadpan, matter-of-fact lyricism with stripped back electronic instrumentation.

In the lead up to a national tour in support of the record, the duo discuss – separately – the origins of the group, the different reactions they elicit in a live situation, and how to deal with being at parties alone.

I’ve seen the Native Cats play shows in Hobart on two different occasions. Is there a difference between playing internationally or in other states, versus playing in your hometown? 

Julian Teakle: There didn’t seem much difference playing in the States, because we played gigs mainly in bars, galleries and house shows like we do here. [The main difference was] playing to new people and sometimes having no idea where we were. We have a pretty small, regular crew who come see us in Hobart so there definitely was a novelty looking out to the crowd at our US shows and not knowing anyone.

How do you feel your Hobart shows and reception have changed throughout the years?

JT: I don’t think things have changed a whole lot for us in Hobart. We’ve never been a “big” band or huge crowd puller, there has just been a semi-regular crew who come to our shows. More people will come out for the record launches or when we had a fundraising show for the tour. I’m not fussed. A lot of other people in bands down here get all indignant that people don’t come see their shitty bands every week they play, but there’s not enough people down here to sustain stuff like that all the time, and well, their bands are shitty.

The Native Cats’ lyrics seem to deal with several themes – personal, political, historical. But there’s something uncannily Australian about your songs, particularly on Dallas. Julian, would you say that you are an inherently ‘Tasmanian’ band? And how have your themes and ideas evolved over time?

JT: Yes and no. We don’t sound like what people may know as your usual underground Tasmanian band, if they’re familiar with the history. It’s usually guitar-y music in all its permutations. For me on a personal level we are Tasmanian, but Pete may feel differently cos he doesn’t have as much of a history with the “scene” as me. I’m still trying to figure out the nature of being a music person in Tasmania, though I feel I have a cultural identity aligned with the music and art that goes on here. It’s not unique but there’s not many people here that would have it, except maybe a hundred local art weirdos. I feel lucky to have this identity as it has shaped my life and approach to music in a mostly positive way.

I guess we’ve always tried to do something better than what we’ve done previously. Getting to know each other over the years has given us an understanding of where the other is coming from musically.

Thanks to the instrumentation (bass, drum machine, electronics) some of the songs sound really bare: there’s a sparseness to them that couldn’t be achieved with the use of guitars. Is your musical setup a conscious exploration, or more a condition or circumstance?

JT: I’d played guitar a lot with my previous bands and wanted a change within my musical means. Pete had been left with a mutual friend’s bass with the thought of learning how to play it, and I guess I appropriated it for the first bunch of demos I recorded at my folks house in Claremont, which became Native Cats songs. I was also soooo over loading and unloading heaps of gear, so as we developed the songs some loose “rules” in regards to instrumentation were put in place for how we would do them. It was a practical thing as well because neither of us have cars. When we started, the songs had more stuff going on, with backing tracks and such, but we went more minimal when Pete bought the drum machine. We discarded things [and they] became direct and stark. It wasn’t a huge plan with flowcharts, it was just how we developed as co-composers over time with the usage of the drum machine and the Nintendo Korg DS-10.

Pete, are your lyrics confessional, a cathartic experience or an expression of relief? Listening to your words always feels like an intimate experience, as though you are speaking only to the listener. Is this your intention?

Peter Escott: When I was much younger I’d often get quite annoyed at lyrics that were anything less than literal statements. “If nobody knows what you’re singing about, what’s the point?” But after I started writing songs I began to understand why there’s this space where one is encouraged to be a touch oblique. You can spend a whole song orbiting a central point without coming to any firm conclusion, you can explore irrational and illegitimate feelings that you’d have no hope of directly explaining to anybody. And with any luck you end up a bit further ahead with whatever is on your mind than you were before. And as a bonus you’ve got a new song, which is always handy for filling in time at shows and on records.

That’s why I’m grateful to have this outlet. Every idea I put into a song is an idea I have no other way of expressing. If something is on my mind and I know all I need to do is talk to my wife about it, then I just do that, because it’s a lot more efficient and I only have to do it once.

I wanted to ask you how your experience with comedy plays into your musical performance – I’ve always seen you as a very brave performer, but there is a cool calmness to your delivery that is not often seen elsewhere. What would you say this confidence is a result of?

PE: I’ve got a few answers to this. The simple ones are experience and a supportive home crowd. For the first year or so of the Native Cats I didn’t want to commit too fully to my performance and thus be open to ridicule, but I got over it. Though in a different city (and without the Teakle Seal of Approval, which is like diplomatic immunity in Hobart) I might have been mocked mercilessly and quit in shame early on. Who can say?

The other factor is that I’ve always found “fitting in” so difficult as to be exhausting, which was a liability in high school but has worked out in my favour here in my nearly-completed 20s. If I look like I’m too confident to care what anybody thinks of me it’s only because I’ve tried it and always failed.

Lastly: modelling myself quite strongly on Moodists-era Dave Graney. I’ve always been an introvert but I didn’t want to be a wallflower on stage and trying to be Nick Cave (i.e. the main option for a dude in our region) would have just been overcompensating. Graney’s been a legendary performer for decades now but his Moodists act in particular was a good fit for an aspirational shy boy.

I can definitely relate to what you say about respecting and modelling yourself on the more introverted performers. The last time I saw Dave Graney perform he had this sly giggle or smirk on his face and I spent the whole show wondering exactly what he was thinking about. Would you say that in the act of performing onstage you have to push yourself to do something you normally would never consider doing because you ‘have to’? When have you been the most comfortable and confident, and the most afraid and insecure – if you could pinpoint a time?

PE: The most comfortable and confident I ever feel is when the Native Cats play house shows where I hardly know anyone, which is ironic because the least comfortable and confident I ever feel is at parties where I hardly know anyone and the Native Cats aren’t playing. Near the end of our US tour in 2012 we played in a garage at a sharehouse in Oakland, and the rest of the night felt like all those parties I foolishly attended in my late teens and early twenties, except instead of sitting on my own feeling miserable and watching everyone get drunk, I had strangers starting up conversations and thinking I was really interesting (admittedly just because I was from another country), and also I’m married now so I didn’t even have to be anxious about girls or anything. And of course with house shows in general it’s a thrill to be in such close proximity to the audience and to have the drum machine plugged into a double adapter that is also servicing a microwave.

The only times I ever feel insecure on stage is when we have equipment issues. Even when it’s not our fault it’s still shameful to be reminded mid-song that we can’t do what we do without y’know “an amp” or “a functioning mic cable”. The things our prehistoric ancestors put on very successful gigs without.

On Dallas, how would you say your themes have evolved? The lyrics really stick with you after repeat listens, and kinda echo around, ‘I Remember Everyone’ in particular. How would the mood of say, that song, relate and compare to the instrumental track ‘Hit’, or the non rhythmical ode ‘Pane e Acqua’?

PE: If there’s a theme tying all the songs on Dallas together – and almost by accident, there is – it’s the business of trying to understand people, and trying to be understood. Finding ways to be in the same mental space as somebody else, whether by coming to them or inviting them over to you. I think I buried myself in social obsession on Dallas to such an extent that I’ll need a wholly unrelated topic for the next album. Suggestions are welcome.


The Native Cats’ Dallas is available now through RIP Society. Tour dates below:

The Metro
Friday 20th of September
with Major Crimes and Wireheads

The Gasometer
Saturday 21st of September
with Bitch Prefect, Sarah Chadwick and Exhaustion

The Alliance Hotel
Friday 27th of September
with Four Door (NSW), Multiple Man & School Girl Report

Red Rattler Theatre
Saturday 28th of September
with TV Colours (ACT), Four Door & Ruined Fortune

Brisbane Hotel
Saturday 5th of October
with Dick Diver (VIC) and Heart Beach


The Native Cats’ Peter Escott on ‘Dallas’


In a special feature, Peter Escott of The Native Cats (pictured left above) discusses in detail the duo’s new record’ Dallas’, which is available now through R.I.P Society. It was originally published on Escott’s blog.

Part One: The True Personal History Behind the Mysterious Title of the Third Native Cats LP

Dallas? Dallas is a state of mind, man. Wait, where are you going? Come back…

The Native Cats toured the United States of America in September-October 2012. We didn’t play Texas, but Dallas Fort Worth was our point of entry into the country. In the months leading up to the tour I had a strong feeling that we were going to be turned around at the airport and sent straight back home. This wasn’t a completely illogical fear – who hasn’t had stories drift sadly past their eye about visa mishaps causing an international tour to be compromised, postponed or cancelled entirely – but it also spoke to a refusal to fully accept that the tour could actually happen, that the idea of it could cross over from daydream to rough idea to itinerary all the way to reality. The phrase “too good to be true” in its purely defeatist form. Dallas is where all thoughts and visualisations of the tour were frozen for months. Dallas is an aggressively pessimistic state of mind which was soon proven wrong.

(I explained the above to Julian when I suggested the title for the album, and he in turn suggested that the inside of the CD booklet contain his photograph of a big, sloppy beef burger, his first meal inside the United States after almost 18 hours of sleepless flight. I suppose it represents the victory over pessimism, the beginning of things turning out alright after all. However, I take this opportunity to apologise to our vegan fans for what you must find a sad and repulsive sight in an otherwise gastronomically unthreatening album. I myself am not a vegan, but I have always defended you against ignorant jokes based on the false premise that you are weak and exhausted all the time, to the point where many people consider me quite humourless as a result.)

When I was 11 I read The Winning Touch by David Hill, a book about a struggling school rugby team and their fairly standard Mighty-Ducks-esque rise to victory. There was a kid on the team named Dallas, and to the best of my recollection, his entire story during the course of the book was this: Dallas joins the team, shy and nervous and oddly bruised; everyone finds out right before the final that Dallas’ dad beats him up; Dallas starts going out with The Most Popular Girl In School.

There are regular childhood daydreams I can recall more vividly than most true memories. From about age ten onwards they were mostly based around being pitied: fantasies of being beaten unconscious for no reason by a group of older kids at assembly, of returning to school at the start of term having lost an unhealthy amount of weight off my already skinny frame, of having cruel messages about myself painted large on school walls, of fainting inexplicably and being rushed to hospital. They started well before I read about Dallas, but I certainly imagined these things a lot more often afterwards, and most of all, that’s where I developed the poison idea that pity was the way that girls form an interest in you.

I never made any attempt to bring these fantasies to life, unless you count slouching around the school grounds almost every day for years, looking miserable, though never more miserable than I actually felt. But undoing the psychic rot took years. Starting the Native Cats was an early step in learning to project a basic degree of self-confidence and never trying to attract pity again, so it made sense to name an album after Dallas the city, and after Dallas the kid.

Dallas is a state of mind, and I’ve named it so I remember never to repeat it. Dallas is a place where you mustn’t ever win.


Part Two: The Origin and Intent of Each of the Seven Songs which Together Comprise the Third Native Cats LP…

(…with the exception of one lyric, which I was planning on writing about, but I’ve seen a few quite dark interpretations of it in the last couple of months, and in this particular case I’d rather take the credit for an unsettling idea than write about the very ordinary place it came from.)

1. Pane e Acqua

Julian wrote the bass part, recorded it on his phone and texted it to me. The next day I wrote the words, sang them into my phone, and texted them back. Then he texted me to say that he liked what I’d done and that we should keep the song without any beats. That was the entire creative process. Have I mentioned we live 20 minutes’ walk apart?

When I was eight I really liked the young rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg (or whichever songs from Doggystyle were played on Triple J, at any rate), and refused to accept what I would hear on the news about him possessing marijuana or carrying firearms, because why would he, if he was such a good musician? 20 years later I don’t feel like my position on drugs and music has advanced much further. In my whole life I’ve only ever been sober, because nobody has ever made even an hour of any alternative look or sound appealing to me. But that’s just a gap in my comprehension. So this song is about a lifelong teetotaller trying to find a clear point of identification with his favourite drug musicians. I think I managed to fit into the song every confused and conflicted idea I had in the space of an afternoon.

We like to start our albums somewhere unusual — ‘Water Down’ on Always On, ‘The Singer is Dead to Me’ on Process Praise — and as the first song we’ve ever written without a beat, ‘Pane e Acqua’ certainly fits the bill. We’ve started opening our live shows with it sometimes too, the theory being that it kills chatter by being the quietest thing that happens all night.

The title is Italian for “bread and water”, and is, as I learned from a documentary aired during the final act of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, a slang term for cyclists who don’t use performance-enhancing drugs. The first of the album’s many little jokes.

2. Hit

A total mystery. I’ve been using the Korg DS-10 (a Korg MS-10 emulator for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming system) since 2009 and I don’t know when I wrote ‘Hit’ or why I saved the program under that title, though I think I meant it in a physical sense rather than a sarcastic “that’s the single!” sense. One day I played it at a rehearsal, Julian wrote a bass part, and it became a Native Cats song. I’m a Fall obsessive with a wide range of live bootlegs, and heaps of them from about 1990 onwards start with the band playing a moody instrumental for a minute or two (‘Theme from Error-Orrori’, ‘Zagreb’, ‘Tunnel’) before Mark E. Smith comes on and does his “Good evening, we are the Fall” bit. Though my insistence on putting two versions of it on the album was less about This Nation’s Saving Grace and more about my favourite album of all time, the second Tindersticks album (with the accidentally perfect cover photo of Neil Fraser being fitted for a suit, the great signifier of stoic masculinity dissected and laid bare), with the instrumental ‘Vertrauen II’ all tension and fury and chaos, and ‘Vertrauen III’, much later on the album, the same tune but utterly emotionally drained.

3. I Remember Everyone

All the beats on Always On were presets on various keyboards. Almost all the beats since have been mine, but Julian wrote this one, and full credit to him for doing so, as this is the song that gets people goth-dancing when we play it live. The final mix of this song was the last of many genius moves by our producer Anthony Rochester. Neither of us could articulate what was missing but he filled it in for us anyway.

I used to write a lot of songs about people I didn’t want to think about anymore, the trouble with that habit being that I then have to think about the person every time I’m on stage singing the song. So I wrote this song about remembering everyone I’ve ever met while singing this very song. It’s a Dave Graney move. See ‘Playin’ Chicken’.

I was thinking about a spy breaking into a government facility by pumping a non-lethal amount of chlorine through the vents, just enough to make everyone in the building remember swimming pools and get distracted from their security duties by long-forgotten teenage body shame. It’s a scene from a TV series I’ll never write. But I got it into a song.

This song also marks the first appearance of our friends Claire and Emma, dual lead singers in the great new Hobart band Catsuit, and in Claire’s case also co-up-the-front of the great new Hobart band Heart Beach. ”Ksh ksh.”

4. Cavalier

This song is about being 21 and single and not especially confident and trying to build a self-concept practically from zero. For bonus verisimilitude a lot of the words are even lifted from another song that I wrote at that age and within that thrilling life situation.

I have no time for “mash-ups” and never have, but I will happily make an exception should anyone feel inspired to combine our song with the not entirely dissimilar – and, I should stress, more recent – ‘Fluorescent’ by the Pet Shop Boys.

5. Scratch Act

A character piece. Self-explanatory. The second appearance of Claire and Emma. Spot the tribute to Jessie Ware’s ‘No To Love’, from her flat-out incredible debut album Devotion, which I suspect not nearly enough people in our furious little corner of the music world are listening to.

6. C of O

I first heard Broadcast when I was 17, thanks to a private file-sharing server operated by my small group of American internet friends. When people talk about the life-altering possibilities of music piracy, they’re talking about kids like me. My taste in music was mostly limited to some pretty decent Australian rock (Rocket Science, Spiderbait) and the genre I even briefly and somewhat absurdly tried to build my personality around, UK “chillout” (Groove Armada, Kinobe). Then one of my friends uploaded The Noise Made By People, and that was the window into everything I know now. At first I only liked a few of the more openly rhythmic and melodic songs (‘Papercuts’, ‘Come On Let’s Go’, ‘City In Progress’) but the rest was so foreign to me that I kept playing the whole album repeatedly for answers. I had never heard a voice like Trish Keenan’s, I had never heard such fractured, unearthly noises put to such beautiful ends, I had never heard an album start in a place like ‘Long Was The Year’. But now I had.

Broadcast blew my head open wider and wider for years to come. I remember the moments: the tonal impossibilities of ‘The Book Lovers’ and ‘Pendulum’; the freeform God-knows-what of ‘Hammer Without A Master’, the euphoria of Haha Sound occasionally interrupted by dark scuttling madness that I eventually learned to love; the piercing minimalism of Tender Buttons; the astonishing discovery years later that Tender Buttons was just a bunch of demos that the two remaining members were originally intending on playing with a full band, until they heard how extraordinary it sounded already. I remember listening to the legally purchased CD of early singles compilation Work and Non Work for the first time, and being nearly brought to tears by the ghostly minute-long instrumental at the end of ‘The Book Lovers’, which was missing from the .mp3 I’d been listening to for the last three years. Even as recently as a couple of weeks ago I was suddenly completely floored by a lyric I must have heard a hundred times previously, from ‘Lights Out’: “I remember your excitement, choosing pictures for your wall. But now you’ve seen them all so often, you hardly see them anymore.”

My memory of the day I learned of Trish Keenan’s passing was that I had never felt this particular kind of grief before and didn’t have a chance to express it. My son had only been born a few weeks prior, it was becoming clear that one of my responsibilities as a father and a supportive partner was to stay strong and generally keep it together, and on that day it meant heading out to the city for some shopping and a nice lunch and not being a bawling wreck.

I felt sick and confused about Trish and unable to listen to Broadcast for over a year. I thought my inability to process the tragedy and move on was due to having suppressed it on the day, but I came to realise it was much simpler than that: I just didn’t know how. She was a voice to me, not a human being; her lyrics gave no clear insight into the life she had lived. I still had recordings of her music but I had no way to carry her spirit with me in my life. So I tried to write a song for her, out of desperation rather than inspiration.

In an interview with The Wire in 2009 (which I still haven’t felt able to go back to, so I’m going from memory here), Trish spoke about her childhood love of film scores, and how she would record the music from films like The Wicker Man by holding a cassette recorder up to the TV, only to become disappointed later in life upon hearing the official soundtrack album and hearing nothing but the tunes, no dialogue, no doors opening, no footsteps. You come back and it’s just music, you come back and it’s just noise, and all the people have gone.

It’s still all I really know about her outside of what she made.

‘C of O’ is “constellation of Orion”, a lyric from ‘Arc of a Journey’, my favourite of a hundred-odd perfect songs. I liked the sound of the abbreviation. A little bit “C of E”. Vague astronomical imagery and vague religious imagery from someone with little knowledge or understanding of either.

The arrangement of the actual song was a hell of a thing to try and put together. It’s the most complex piece we’ve ever recorded. Top marks to Julian for writing several beautiful bass lines; and to Anthony for making sense of my instructions, frantic, unclear and uncertain as they were; and to Claire and Emma, the astral choir, who of course we didn’t summon all the way out to Rokeby just to sing one line and impersonate a drum machine hi-hat.

Nothing about the song sounds particularly like anything Broadcast ever did, save for the sound at the very end, which was meant as an approximation of the synth tone they used on Tender Buttons, and also as a kind of ascension. That speckled wave. So long, stranger.

7. Mohawk-Motif

This would be the actual tribute to the music of Broadcast, then. “Mohawk” is the name for the track and “Motif” is the name for the lyrics. It started with me inadvertently setting up a drum sequence that sounded just like the song “Hawk” (hence the title) but overall it’s more of an attempt at a ‘Hammer Without a Master’ style tightly-wound freeform epic. The first time we ever played it live was in January 2011 at an outdoor afternoon MONA FOMA event down near Princes Wharf. I walked to a bus stop in the city as the next act was playing, a solo singer-songwriter on acoustic guitar. I could still hear him as I approached the city centre, and I tried to imagine how many people not even attending the event our 10-minute noise fit must have reached.

What you hear on the album is the first and only time we played it in the studio. We had our obligatory little chuckle – you know, “that’s the single!”, ho ho ho – then each independently listened to the rough mix compulsively on repeat and decided that it had to go on the album. I said it in the press release and I’ll say it again: there’s meant to be somebody around to veto that sort of decision, but nobody did.

I can’t even tell whether this is a shameful admission: I listen to ‘Mohawk-Motif’ a lot. At one show I even recorded us playing it on my phone and then listened to the recording on my walk home. It sounds narcissistic (though my vocal part is mercifully short) but really it’s just that whatever it is that we do on this song, this kind of repetitive crackly electronica where the textures keep shifting and a few extra noises whizz around, is the most directly pleasurable form of music to me, and I haven’t found nearly enough of it. Suicide playing ‘Mr. Ray’ at CBGB’s in 1978. Harmonic 313. Shit and Shine’s ‘Bass Puppy’ 12″. Antipop Constortium’s ‘Human Shield’. Autechre, occasionally, when they’ve got the attention span not to go jumping about all over the place. Though Julian takes it more into ‘And This Day’ territory. And that’s how we fell in with the rock weirdos rather than the glitch-hop go-gangers.

The words: one day you find you can hear the musical score of your own life, specifically the leitmotif that accompanies a single repeated bad habit or unwise decision, and the shame comes more than anything else from just how simple your life is, this life you had thought was unmappably complex, like the Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz, but no.

So side 2 of Dallas is in memory of Trish Keenan, and also Brendon Annesley, responsible for the Negative Guest List zine. He asked me to write reviews for NGL, which I did for about a year, and in the process I got turned onto a lot of incredible music – Los Dug Dug’s, Gun Outfit, Lumerians, Sun Araw, the aforementioned Shit and Shine 10″ – way outside my usual frame of reference. We never met and the only communication we ever had, the initial writing offer aside, was him sending me music and me sending him reviews. I had no reason to even think of him directly as a human being until I heard of his passing. You get to be so many things to so many people in your life and you never even get to know the half of it. Sometimes you’re a friend and sometimes you’re an obstacle and sometimes you’re a faceless conduit for life-altering ideas. That’s what Brendon Annesley was to me and I never thought to say thank you.

We recorded heaps of other songs along with these ones (it would be impolite to say how many) and they’ll all come out in time.

The idea that you would have read this far without having heard our record is hilarious, but nevertheless:

Buy the LP from Ride the Snake (U.S.A.)
Buy the LP from Repressed Records
Download the album from our Bandcamp
(we made a CD as well, honest we did, though I don’t have a clue where one gets it)

Word count before announcement of word count: 3191. Jeez I do bang on a bit. Thanks for reading.

New Music

Listen: The Native Cats – I Remember Everyone


The Native Cats are an acquired taste. A couple of years ago when their debut record Always On came out, its dry instrumentation and incredibly deadpan delivery disgusted me in some innate way. I couldn’t even put words to it: tasked with reviewing that album, I actually just didn’t.

Several years down the track, I’ve found the perfect environment in which to enjoy The Native Cats: terribly drunk and alone. This is not an instruction by any means, but if you find yourself unmoved (or even repulsed) by The Native Cats, I would advise giving it a go. Because there’s a kind of plainspoken profundity to this band. When they’re described as an electro-pub rock band, this description isn’t just literal.

Because listen to the reverb on Peter Escott’s voice: it’s applied in a manner that recalls some regional go-getters on a stage adjoining the pokie room at the Wagga Wagga RSL, probably on a Tuesday night. It sounds like he’s singing to an empty room. And the accompanying music is that empty room. When the lovely synth chimes kick in towards the end, you know someone’s just won the jackpot.

The LP from which this is taken, Dallas, releases in July through RIP Society.