Spring Creativity

Slowly feeling more at ease in this city again, after the ravages of winter drift away, and sprigs of spring shoot up and through the ethnically diverse array of plant life in my area, over days and weeks and sometimes hours, the sky opening and closing according to the whims of Antarctic wind and whatever else influences the weather here (will I ever learn, it’s been nearly 7 years??)… I wander around, mostly non-shivering, re-acclimatizing to a mostly sunny world outside of my bedroom and my workplace and my layers of winter clothing. And I take my camera out too, because there is plenty to be documented, if only to satisfy my own need to capture the fleetingness of inspiration and expression, whatever happens around me that I’m worried I’ll forget, or even to capture the aspects of the culture I know and understand, the culture that nurtured me, the one that keeps me here for the time being…

This weekend I took some photos of a two-day album recording session.

It hasn’t been very long since I took photos of a recording session. A few weeks ago I dropped in to a studio in Coburg, a real nice one I can’t remember the name of, and snapped for around 20 minutes the improvised drone sounds of First Response. Apparently I will be featured on the album as something like: “additional footsteps by Tahl Palm”. Lucky the band was too loud to have my camera snaps recorded as they played. Camera shutter but Tahl Palm. The photos looked good, though. I had to leave quickly; that project is an intimate experience between the two players that I could not comfortably be long a part of.

But before that time, it was aaaaaaages ago: WASP, the band that Poiter Bibby played drums in back before he left for tour and things and decided that Melbourne was too cold and grey and nice-beach-less for his sunny-boy disposition. That band he played drums in was a great band, (this video features their stand-in drummer because Pete was on tour) and all the players are fucking sweet (and are also going on to do some interesting things, more of which will mostly likely be documented too, unless it involves me going to a city nightclub in which case SORRY LOUIS NO WAY but, John, I would watch you play anywhere because I’m fucking glad you’re writing your own songs now xxx). I followed them (WASP) to Sydney earlier in the year – that was a mind opening and friendship discovering time, a very interesting and fondly thought of time – and then they recorded once they were back in Melb but no release as of yet, as far as I am aware… and I’ve still got all the footage for a documentary ready for when I’ve got some free time… but yeah, that was ages ago. Seeya next week Peeta!

So I found myself back at The Bank, same place as WASP recording, but different and bigger room; a room that has been the host of many-a-night spent watching friends play music (ey, Perth, Lalić is one of those bands, they’ll be back your way very soon) surrounded by wonderfully like-minded humans in a place where liquor licenses and security guards weren’t a thing, until the council cottoned on and now it’s back to purely artist studios and recording spaces and darkroom (and legit council approved domicile)… Oh, Bureaucracy, the bane of my existence; both as a word to spell and a system to live under. Sigh. You’ll die soon, I’m sure of it. No one has the stamina anymore; there are far too many variables these days.

But this one! The band are called Drug Sweat.

I posted like four photos to my instagram account, that’s how excited I was about it. Because IT’S GONNA BE A FUCKING GOOD ALBUM DUDES. Really good, musically fuckyeah, punk with excellent guitarists and hectic vocalists and electronic beats as well as real drums, all very catchy and driving, good shit. There are songs about drugs and songs about chodes. One song even sounds like a VB commercial. We all got pumped about making a music video for it, though I’m not sure it will be me they choose to make it.

It was the first time I’d encountered a recording session that wasn’t completely live. Or even, it was the first time I’d sat in on one for more than a few hours. I think it was about 11 hours in total I spent sitting there and walking around and taking photos and rescuing beers from the fridge to be given to the hungry mouths in the room and also helping feed when the Japanese food shop was closed and also contributing to the layer of smoke that hung in the air and observing quietly and also being a nice friend to whoever wanted it. And I learnt things too.

I learnt about drum recording techniques, and I learnt about the humans who were playing and recording (three of the five band members I had never met before, except for one briefly, who’s keyboard I confiscated from the bar at my workplace after it sat there for fkn ages as humans drank far too merrily around it for it to be safe from harm), and I learnt about what Ableton Live looks and works like thanks to Liam’s acceptance of my seating position behind his Recording Boss computer screen, I watched hard at what he was doing, it was good. That guy teaches me many things in all kinds of ways without even meaning to.

Thanks Liam. Thanks Drug Sweat. Thanks Zen. Thanks nature. Thanks culture. I’ll let y’all know when the album comes out.

Unsent Letters and a Three Day Rager

I can’t stop listening to this song on repeat, you know when that happens? It vibrates through me, and I’m still not sick of it.

Unsent letters; I’ve got a few in digital and milk-crate storage. The things I’ve felt over the years, ohhhhh boy do they stack up on top of each other in all of my notebooks. So many threats of paper cuts, so many attempts at origami, splashed in spilt red wine and dusted with cigarette ash.

I heard the song for the first time in years and years and years the other night, when I was catching up with a friend who knows me real well at a bar I rarely go to, and Tame Impala was being played over the sound system a whole bunch of times and so was Radiohead, and I was feeling very, very nostalgic, and sad too, and then this song came on and it was perfect. I googled it when I woke the next morning, hung over for the many-th day in a row, luxuriating in tired melancholy, looking forward to therapy, exhausted from three days of a loud and sweaty and masculine driven music festival at my workplace (they called it a “rager”)- two days/nights of those were very exhausting working times, the last day was a non-working wind-down in the scene of the crime, but with my camera in tow, waiting for the sunglasses to come out, donned in doors at night after more intoxication and more aggressive partying, of which I was taking no part in.

I got a much needed massage today, achey as I have been from the bar work and emotional stress, and as I layed face down on that table in my friend’s bedroom, his hands working gently the muscle around my crooked and twisted spine, I stared sleepily at his carpet and wrote a bunch of little letters I’ll never send to the people that swam through my brain.

On that last day of the Rager, I thought about writing a book about my workplace, about the humans that come in there, that work there, that play there, the situations that make a bouncer quit in rage, the social dynamics and complex community hierarchical structure, all of it with narratives that don’t take long to find if you keep your eyes open long enough before you get too drunk to remember how much fun you had, or didn’t have.

I wonder if I will ever write that book? I think I need to figure out a three-month block of near-solitude somewhere near the desert again, but this time where I don’t have to do any work except write the dang book. These days I’ve found I can’t write in this environment I want to write about, the one where some asshole wearing a patch-covered cutoff denim vest yells at me for not playing The Ramones, the one where people cut their hands and the blood doesn’t get cleaned up for ages, where people stage dive in to bottle bins, where I can play Electric Wizard through the bar speakers and it’s totally acceptable, where some of my favourite Australian musical acts play regularly and I get paid to watch them and serve them booze, all the shit and fun things that come with living on the angry boozey fringes of society.

That book, if I write it, will be another letter, and sending it, well, that’s different.

Before I got the massage, I wrote a letter to someone, an email, but it wasn’t sent. It just sits there in the drafts folder, hoping not to be found again, little wordy head hanging in shame about its shape, its messiness. I wrote the letter the morning after a night of drinking because I tried to start writing the book I mentioned previously, and got stuck at two pages because I fell in to conversation with someone who’s likeness will appear in that story I was struggling to write; I decided to slam the book shut and get more ethnographic on that shit instead.

That’s the story. That’s how I’m telling it now.

Today’s letter was a different story, though it has to do with the book story, in a way. It was a story of my emotions, a garbled collection of old triggers and scars that have been rearing their painful heads in all kinds of ways recently, so it was an attempt to sort through the thousands of pages of scribbles in my heart, hoping for some self-organisation, some resemblance to coherency… but I doubted that would come across to the intended reader, I haven’t had much luck with that so far, so I didn’t send it.

And that’s okay, I think. Unsent letters are sad if you want them to be. But maybe they mean you’re thinking clever too, in that moment that you make the decision to not send. But all of those letters put together would make for interesting reading, one day, for someone. I guess that’ll have to wait.

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