In cahoots with our producer and sometime guitar-slinger Christian ‘Scales are for Fish’ Pyle (aka C.P.), we’ve just mastered 13 tracks for the long-awaited, much-belated and very nearly evaporated new album, Inland Sea.
It’s been three years since Love’s Last Stand, also produced by CP, was released, and in the interim Leigh Ivin left the band, Dave Ramsey joined it and was promptly almost killed by an errant outback cow, Grant Bedford also retired, hurt, and a string of other great players had a crack at country rock and roll. We toured Canada twice, played over 200 shows in both countries and released an earlier, Canadian version of Inland Sea there. But here, finally, is a collection of songs, some old now, some written in Canada, Lismore and various other timeless states.
It’s got a different vibe to the other records, there are a lot of players’ signature sounds on it – from Phil Daniel’s keys and occasional banjo, Bryson Mullholland’s eerie throat and Hammond flourishes, Scotty Dog Bennett’s righteous drum pounding, CP’s menacing guitar lines, Grant Bedford’s pre-smash drumming and Tom Jones Junior’s post-Stax bass barrages to the unmistakeable imprint of original country rock and roll banjo pioneer Shaun ‘Uncle Burnin’ Love’ Butcher’s gittar and banjo ministrations.
Inland Sea refers to the mythical body of water deep in the interior to which our convict ancestors fled, convinced that there they’d find wealth, rum and happiness – not an entirely different set of delusions to the modern country rock and roll model.
As such the songs are mostly road narratives sweated out in semi-delerium – Othello’s P-76, a haunted dirge in the wake of John Howard’s ugly reign, or This Could Be Anywhere, a ballad for the lost, somewhere in the boundless depths of Canada, or is it Grafton, NSW? Pumulwuy is the story of Australia’s indigenous Che Guevara, concerning the black leader who successfully fought the British for 15 years before treachery and lesser men brought him down. 2nd Century plots a trans-continental love affair while Left on King laments the glory days of inner-city rock. Praise Be to the Rooster follows the fallen into hallucinatory hell in a wintry rural desolation. Copper City Motel is a rock and roll explosion in the grand tradition of Gold Wig and Bye Bye Byron Bay. The dark underbelly of Nimbin rolls, bloated, to the surface in Who Shot Johnny D? and finally, we cheer up in Darn Tootin’ in Saskatchewan. There’s more riotous carry-on in Tequila and Methadone, Lismore’s white-trash anthem, and a cheery litany of country-style loss and regret in Woke Up Sad, while Your Reward stomps on iridescent adolescents and Things I Remember, Things I Forget toasts the joy of selective amnesia.
I love it. CP’s knack for unique sounds and textures has separated it from previous recordings but kept it unmistakeably in country rock and roll territory. There’s enough banjo and bare-knuckle guitar here to soothe the savage beast, but more space and time.
The prodigious procession of players created some confusion and chaos in their wake but ultimately, contributed to a fecund and edgy record. It’s dark and spooky but often sublime.
We’re releasing it at a number of venues across the country, in a more leisurely and protracted series of tours than the usual Re-Mains road onslaughts. CP is coming on the road with us for extra grunt and cynicism.
The first of these is on May 22nd at The Grand Junction Hotel in Maitland, just about our favourite pub in Australia. Home to rock-pigs, cowgirls, bullshitters, serial twitters, ladies choirs, truckies, bikers and seldom-pikers, this is one of the last bastions of the old school, low maintenance, high fidelity country rock and roll lifestyle. Room 19 is a portal into another dimension and many have taken it.
Sunday May 23 we revisit a Sydney institution – the Botany View Hotel. Our shows here are always packed, stacked and never lacking incident.
June 18 is our North Coast launch at Federal Hall. A beautiful building across the road from my old house, this place was overflowing into the street and down the road last time we played here – mind you, Tex Perkins was also on the bill. CP’s band is playing with us, as well as Doug Lord with Till The Cops Come – probably a self-fulfilling prophecy.
On the 19th we roll down to Yamba to play the footy club there. Our mate Dave always puts on an unholy bash.
Melbourne, Bourke, Cobar and Nymagee dates are in the offing, as well as a possible jaunt to Darwin, where we haven’t been since the Meat Tray incident of 2007.
Pretty soon Inland Sea is going to be available for order from the website or iTunes, just as soon as we get it set up. Meanwhile we hope you’ll turn up to shows and buy one offstage, where Tom Jones will be happy to sign it in exchange for beer.