It's quite a trick to be the perceiver, the perceived and the perception itself. Some say to pull that off is enlightenment or something awfully close. So I write this in the blur of oscillation between the poles of making the record and then describing the record and the hows, wheres and whyfors. First of all we made the stupendous decision of just making a record of the sort of music that would be fun to play and listen to. I know that sounds incredibly obvious, but you'd be surprised, honestly.
We had Gavin MacKillop producing and recording with us and Gavin is a fairly left-of-center kind of bloke. He only wanted to make music that he dug and wouldn't stand for any silly compromises that were intended to steer us toward the marketplace. One of his earliest comments that endeared him greatly to us was after first having heard a rough version of "Chaos," he said, "If you're gonna call it 'Chaos,' it should be a bit more bloody chaotic than that," which I thought was cool seeing as how the song is essentially guitars feeding back for 15 minutes or something. I thought he did a nice job with Melt for Straitjacket Fits and he's got a list of credits on albums for people who are just too famous and cool to have their names mentioned here.
If being self-indulgent is spending three months jamming and writing songs with three other musicians whose playing you really love and coming up with a whole lotta stuff you actually get pleasure out of listening to, then I plead guilty to self-indulgence.
This is our first record with our new member, Jay Dee, who played not only drums and percussion, but bass, keyboards and vocals. Marty came back from his gig with The Eves (All About Eve) and had a volume pedal which he had been getting seriously into. This was enabling him to swell up and die, appear and dissolve in strange and unusual windows in the sound. Peter became a huge background and an intricate embroidery at the very front and the two of them together sometimes sounded like an orchestra of screams, sighs and voices of beauties and beasts. Jay Dee played his drums savagely yet precisely, like he was taking a slow but pleasurable revenge upon the songs. The three of them made writing a very easy and inspiring process. For months we alternated between a rehearsal studio and a small recording studio. Everything happened in Sydney, for no particular reason.
Every day we'd get together and start simply improvising. First day, first try we wrote "Lustre" and "Disillusionist" one after the other straight off. Not the words just the music. "Call it 'Lustre,'" Marty said after it was done and so set the style of naming the songs as soon as they were freshly writ and the names, usually suggested by Marty, were just the first impressions, his interpretation of what the music was getting at, if indeed music does need to get at anything. Because, really, music exists solely for a listener's pleasure and need not be explained or justified. We were interested in dissonance and beauty and combining them and letting it flow and following after it to see where it had taken us. We wrote tons of riffs. A plethora of chord sequences, boxes of intros and outros. We soared and we struggled and we threw away hasty masterpieces. We hammered away on silly and sad flights of fancy.
All our guitars and drums and gadgets and we, were in this room making all the noise we liked and playing some very pleasure-inducing bits and pieces. It was not hard work, writing this album. It was discovering new twists and turns on a highway you thought you knew pretty well but which began leading you to places you wanted to go and hadn't been able to. Songs just evolve, it's hard to say how it happens, it just does.
So when we'd gotten satisfied that we had the odd decent tune we clambered into 301 Studios in downtown Sydney, where we had done every other album except Starfish and G.A.F. (Gold Afternoon Fix). The place is swimming in memories, what can I say? We recorded the songs. Some took longer than others, some were literally first take. The music was beginning to sound mellifluous and took on a life and identity of its own. The music became something no one individual member had envisioned. I mean, I don't know if Marty, Peter or Jay, had actually thought the album would sound like this, I hadn't. I know that in this random and absurd universe, I approached this and all other albums randomly and absurdly and the music became what it wanted to become.
The music does not mean anything, but it is certainly not meaningless. We made the music we loved to play and that was basically it. When a track had been instrumentally completed, I usually ducked into a vacant studio and dreamt up the words. The title I knew already. Ideas had formulated over the recording of the music. Phrases had insinuated themselves against chords and spaces. Stories were being suggested in there, inside the pulse and flicker of the guitars, whole cities full of people and animals, waited to be mapped or just hinted at.
The words are impressions of the music, they are its counterpart in language. They are rock songs, and they are content to be rock songs. They are vague and opaque and they are a quick amalgamation of people, places and events. They are about things that could have happened but did not, and things that did happen but could not have. If you think that last sentence is silly, chances are you probably won't like my words much on this record.
I don't exactly know where all the lyrics come from, but I trust myself implicitly, that there is a reason for them. And if I don't understand them, someone else might. The title is an equation. It's a meaningless equation. Yet now you have given it some thought, perhaps there is some meaning after all, something lurking in there somewhere. It's all a very serious joke. It's all a sad laugh. We enjoyed making this record like you wouldn't believe. If you enjoy listening to it then no one could ever ask for more than that. Oh, and going platinum could be almost as good, too. Ha, let's see!