Are Friends Electric?
Intrigued by their frequently-played, Paul (Rocket Science) Maybury-produced, new LP, "Sideways Changeling", and given that they're playing Adelaide this week (The Metro on Friday and the Crown and Anchor on Saturday), I thought it might be a good idea to ask Melbourne's psychedelic space rockers The Electric Guitrars a few questions.
After all, they're on a national your to launch this, their second album, and are, or have been, playing shows with luminaries like The Scientists and Tumbleweed.
In typical high-energy "you can go your own way" style, they ignored every question put to them and, instead, wrote a track-by-track dissection of the record. Here's the result:
Tracked mostly live at our preferred volume (excruciating to most, soothing to us), we set up Amp Henge in an attempt to capture the white noise swirling around the spaces between our brain cells.
Ben almost quit the band during a dispute about preferred takes. Dave almost quit the band because of the same dispute. Skull was almost kicked out of the band for unrelated matters.
A half hour drunken jam we did with recording engineer, Paul Maybury on drums was recorded.
After several of Richard’s album cover design submissions were rejected by certain art-lover/s within the band, the final LP cover was designed by Trev Comley, Dave’s high school friend, whose band he joined before he could even play the bass.
THE ELECTRIC GUITARS – ‘SIDEWAYS CHANGELING’ TRACK-BY-TRACK
1. Sideways Changeling 1:01
A tense and moody instrumental theme from an imaginary film noir that would, if it existed, follow the adventures of a supernatural sleuth named Changeling Moraine. Played entirely on a Casio MT-65, then flipped backwards, the tune has an epic quality that is best listened to at the top of a mountain, with fists raised, challenging the cosmos and any omniscient beings that may hang out there.
2. Three Body Problem 6:02
A long dirge that, lyrically (and probably musically as well), explores the joy of revenge. A long, meticulously planned, all-encompassing retribution that first destroys the sanity of the protagonist, then the victim, and then everything else. The title refers to a physics and quantum mechanics problem that we came across while looking for a title that was less lame than "The Butterfly Effect", a concept that features in the lyrics. And it fit more perfectly than we could have hoped.
As they are everywhere on the LP, the guitars are tuned to the cosmically resonant frequency of 432Hz, rather than the lifeless and stagnant 440Hz that has infected popular music for the past century. We tried using it to shift tectonic plates or planets during the extended drone & feedback fuelled outro.
Nick Potts, who was in The Moffs and is, nowadays, in The Gruntled, plays a couple of ancient reed instruments (a rauschpfeife and dolçaina, since you asked) on this. It’s also the A-side of the first single from the album, released in limited numbers on 7” vinyl in late 2017.
3. Sadistically Speaking 4:00
Another in our seemingly never-ending catalogue of revenge songs but this one’s really just a simple tale of love gone wrong between a sadist and a masochist, where nobody’s sure if what’s going on is revenge or just confused violence.
Purely by accident, the guitar feedback squawks at the start sounds like Gamera, and the stuttering bass feedback at the end sounds like King Ghidora.
4. Velvet Hell 6:47
This one is more inscrutable and can’t really be discussed here, or anywhere.
We had lots of help on this one: heaps of evil chanting by the satanic choir of Mara and Victoria (of The Pink Tiles), Amy (from Tender Bones) and Anita and Adele (from Les Minijupes), and a deep, DEEP, bass synth line played by Leif, from 2 Litre Dolby. There’s also some fake mellotron from a phone app, tuned timpani, and, during the recording, Dave couldn't hear the drums because the amps (two for each guitarist) were so loud that he went out of time but we kept it anyway. Wizard engineer Paul Maybury added some authentic tape phasing which made the whole thing swirl most sickeningly.
5. Circuitry for the Devil 1:17
A bit of synthesizer noodling in a place (on the vinyl LP) where no bit of synthesizer noodling should be. If there’s one thing we understand and embrace, it’s pointlessness.
6. Postcard from the Deep 4:33
Written by Dave, with vocal melody assistance by Rocket Science bandmate Kit Warhurst, the lyrics describe the pseudomystical experience one may expect to attain through the ingestion of psychedelics. Kit came in to blend his blue-eyed soul voice with Richard’s red-eyed howl and, for added oomph, sat opposite Craig in a dual drum duel.
Accompanying the hard-panned double drums, Dave’s lysergic nursery rhyme glockenspiel motif peers longingly through the hazy din, while frantic Hanna-Barbera-style bongos hearken back to the days when a generation of eyeballs were hypnotically super-glued to TV screens while purple gorillas in overalls chased hippie biker bears across an ever-repeating background of palm trees and granite couches.
These nostalgic sound effects provide contrast to Ben, Richard & Dave’s typically sulphuric wall of fuzz, echo and wah wah.
7. Nitro Venus 4:08
An old song of Richard’s that had been lurking in the Cellar of Lost Ideas for years got a new lease of life with this stellar and moving performance. It also got “improved” lyrics which are actually worse than the original ones. Something about a beautiful lady speedway driver from outer space? But really she’s just a symbol for disenchantment and lost youth.
Leif helped out again, with the sound of a synth being boiled.
8. Eternal Life Crisis 11:50
As close as we get to political commentary. It’s very vague and none too deep but implies that greed and power are pretty pointless pursuits in a universe which is so immense, with so much happening, so much unknown, and goes on for so very, very long.
The second part of the song contains some Gnostic chanting and a sample of a mantra (which loops eternally, or until your stylus wears out or the electricity is cut off, on the vinyl album) by the Gnostic teacher, Samael Aun Weor, the vibrations of which are meant to help you “detach the connections that exist between the physical and astral bodies” and to astral travel. The words are based on ancient Egyptian and it is believed to ALSO help astral travel if you concentrate on pyramids, so The Electric Guitars all do this when we play this song live in an attempt to shift the entire gig into the astral realm. So far, without success.
If you haven't figured it out yet, The Electric Guitars are loud, sonically bent and determined to shift your innards to another dimension. I've seen them once, as a support act, and I'm looking forward to watching them let rip in Adelaide next weekend. Seat belts? Nah.