This last week has been quite surreal in its way. Far more has gone on than my average week..
Last Wednesday, Bek, the drummer from my band, returned from her month-long working holiday interstate. Pretty much the first thing she did upon getting back was head on into the studio where we're recording our LP, to finish some vocals for songs we'd started before she left. I turned up to the studio after work, five hours after the session had begun, to find a rapidly fatiguing Bek and a very stressed looking producer, working their way through endless vocal takes. Richard, our producer, is a rather stressed fellow at the best of times, mainly due to a mixture of having no money, being overworked, eating next to nothing and being a career smoker. He was on to his third packet of the day within an hour of me arriving at the studio.
Due to the rather bizarre mood in the studio I came home earlier than usual. I rang up my ex-girlfriend, and ended up on the phone to her for over two hours, in a phone call that ended in her deciding that the only way she could get over what happened between us was for us not to see each other at all anymore. Even now, I still don't know how I feel about that. I certainly don't feel nothing, but it's hard to see whether in the long term I'll think it was the right decision for her to make.
Thursday was a far better day. Earlier in the week I had taken one of the finished tracks for our LP to be mastered, and I had a few CDR copies of the song. I had organised with Bek to meet her at 3RRR, a Melbourne radio station, with the CDR so she could pass it on to a few DJs she knows there. The reason we were so keen to get it to radio at this time was that our song was a cover of a track by the Magnetic Fields, and they were touring Australia at the time. In fact they had their first Melbourne show that evening. As chance would have it, Stephin Merritt himself was at 3RRR at that very moment, doing a pre-recorded interview with 3RRR mainstay Karen Leng. I spent a bit of time hanging around and feeling very nervous indeed until the moment when I got to meet the great man, and give him a copy of our CDR with our version of his song. He was very, very shy, and so little, but he was also very polite and accepted the CD with grace. He even posed for a photograph with me. I felt like such a little groupie.
Friday, as well as being the 21st anniversary of Ian Curtis' death, was pretty crappy. Work was bordering on the unbearable. I was off to see the Magnetic Fields that night at the Continental cafe in Prahran, and while attempting a parallel park, there was an incident involving the power steering in my car and the kerb. Needless to say my car was going to require an urgent service. At that point I didn't really feel like the evening could get worse. The Magnetic Fields were wonderful live, but the crowd appeared to be less than interested, except for the one or two songs they knew, which they proceeded to sing along to at the top of their voice, when they weren't talking all the way through it. Why somebody would pay $45 a ticket for a show they don't really care about is beyond me. The biggest relief of the evening, which I didn't realise until the following night, was that I should have got a parking ticket for where I ended up parking, but didn't. The saving grace of the evening.
Saturday was a lot better. I called up a mobile mechanic quite early because I didn't much fancy the idea of my car being out of service for any length of time, in addition to the fact I was going to need it on Sunday. It managed to set me back a delightfully large sum, but I also discovered that what happened to the power steering could have happened at any time, so I found some consolation in the fact that it occurred at a time I wasn't far from home and didn't need the car the next day. I spent the day relaxing with a couple of beers in preparation for the second Magnetic Fields show.
An e-mail buddy of mine from Brisbane, Rachel, was down in Melbourne for the weekend for a work conference. She had arranged to come to the Magnetic Fields show on the Saturday night with her friend Mandy as well as myself. I hadn't actually met Rachel in person before and I found myself quite pleasantly surprised at how much like her online persona she was IRL. She told me she was quite shy and found it hard to talk to people but this certainly wasn't in evidence in the conversations we were having.
The Saturday MF show was heaps more enjoyable than the Friday show. The support act, Darren Hanlon, was far less irritating, and the crowd was heaps more attentive, and were even calling out for old songs (even though Stephin had stated that requests would not be honoured). The fact that I was not there by myself made the evening a lot more enjoyable as well. After the show I dropped Rachel and Mandy back to where they were staying, the Nunnery in Carlton.
Sunday was another day in the studio. Bek and I had organised a cellist, Kirsty, to play on a couple of our songs. Kirsty had worked with Richard before so the day was quite relaxed. There were still a heap of takes and I could feel musician and producer fatigue approaching but we managed to get all the parts done and sounding very lovely indeed.
We had to finish earlier than normal because Tugboat were playing a gig that night, at the legendary Punters Club. We were second on the bill, which was a small step up from our usual bottom of the bill spot. Once I arrived at the pub with my gear I proceeded to drink myself confident, which I have to say worked rather well. The first band of the night was Cartwheel, who I had built up a bit of a rapport with. Later in the year I will be releasing a green vinyl 7" of theirs, as the first release on my new label! Their show, although a bit rough, was still very endearing, with lots of analogue bloops and bleeps and charming indie jangle.
I couldn't tell what the audience thought of our set because I was a bit too drunk and happy to care, but damn it felt good on stage. It had been six weeks since our previous gig and we hadn't rehearsed in that entire time so it could have been a shambles, but we got through our entire set without too many mistakes, and for once our vocals were almost totally in tune the entire time. I even relaxed sufficiently to banter with the audience and jump up and down (in a Bis stylee) during a couple of songs.
Royalchord, the headline act, who are also quite good friends of mine, didn't play their best show ever, but were still very appealing in their surf-pop-country way.
On Monday I organised with Rachel to go to the pictures in Carlton, near where she was staying. We went and saw this atrocious Australian film "The Monkey's Mask", which on first impressions felt like a lesbian porno film with a tacked-on plot about the murder of a teenage poetess. The film would have made me wince even if I was on my own, so seeing it with someone I didn't know that well made it exceptionally difficult to relax. After the film we went and had pasta in Lygon Street and I walked Rachel back to the hostel, chatting all the way. I received an email from her the next day, having arrived back in Brisbane, apologising for not being a great conversationalist, which I really have to say I saw no evidence of. Normally with someone shy, I go completely mute, but that just didn't occur.
Tuesday was nothing special, other than receiving a whole stack of records I'd ordered over the 'net, which I spent my evening working my way through, in between watching The Bill and Absolutely Fabulous. It's back off to the Punters' Club tonight to see Kirsty play a solo show, and have a few nice relaxing beers. I can't think of a better way to spend an evening.