INTERVIEW: Cash Savage & The Last Drinks

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LOVE, POLITICS AND LAST DRINKS

On an autumnal morning in Prague during her European tour, Cash Savage discusses the songwriting shift on her new album Good Citizens and talks with Chris Familton about the importance of her band The Last Drinks.

The lead-up to the release of a new album can be a tricky period for an artist to negotiate. Some take it in their stride while others ride the emotions of anticipation, self-doubt and excitement. Cash Savage had of course been through album releases before but this time around it felt different given the shift in her songwriting to address socio-political issues that she felt she could no longer avoid.

“Never more so has it been such a relief to have a new record out. This album is really different for me. Through interviews I’ve had the opportunity to self-analyse that. The day it came out we got a four star review in the Guardian and a real weight lifted off me that day,” Savage reveals. “I didn’t realise I was carrying that at all and then I was floating around the rest of the day once that happened.”

Heading into the writing of Good Citizens, an album that addresses the marriage equality debate, moral decay and the inherent problems with male dominated societal structures, Savage knew that it was essential that she start writing about those issues while also still grounding many of the songs in the world of love and relationships.

“I wanted to make the album a real snapshot of how I felt at the time and part of that was that I was (and still am) in love. I knew it was going to be more political but I didn’t ever think it wouldn’t have a couple of love songs on there too. These love songs are political too, because of who I am,” she stresses, before adding “I didn’t really ever see there was a point for me to write songs like this before. I was quite happy to have drunken rants about political systems with my mates down at the pub, but I didn’t see much point putting it in my music. This time I didn’t see there was any other way around it. I had never thought I would ever write a political album so it was surprise for me!”

Making a foray into writing about these kinds of issues begs the question as to whether the process acts as a way of Savage dealing with and processing her feelings about them. “Those issues are frustrating full stop so I don’t think the songs made it more frustrating. It definitely helped for me to write about them. I’ve actually quite enjoyed contemplating the different questions that I get asked about those issues, from different people from different walks of life. For me I guess I’ve found it quite healing.” 

Over the years Savage’s band The Last Drinks have been an integral part of the sound of her records and the power and passion of her live performances. The lineup has changed as members have taken temporary leave for other musical pursuits (guitarist Joe White is a member of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever) or for family reasons (guitarist, banjo player Brett has recently become a dad) but Savage believes the flexibility and nature of the band is its strength.

“The band has always been so organic with its changes that its never felt like it’s one sound. To have a genuine shift has given us a lot of freedom and we’ve had to re-work some arrangements. We’ve been playing some of these songs for a long time and it’s nice to mix them up a little bit. It doesn’t feel different and it does feel different at the same time. It’s been quite nice actually. There is such a camaraderie within The Last Drinks. We’re just a really good bunch of mates and there’s so much fun had on and off the stage. They’re a phenomenal live band and to be able to stand in front of them is just fucking incredible.”

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LIVE REVIEW: The Goon Sax @ Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney

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The Goon Sax, Gregor, Married Man
Petersham Bowling Club
23 November 23rd, 2018

As The Goon Sax made a hurried dash from Newcastle after their flight from Brisbane to Sydney was curtailed, Married Man opened the evening of outside guitar pop music with a set that showcased the songs and voice of Sarafina Pea. Vocal effects were employed to songs that took in dream pop and post punk. It was blurred music with jagged edges courtesy of the rhythm section and in Pea, a voice that rises above the music quite impressively.

Gregor was up from Melbourne and like the headliners he too was celebrating his recently released album Silver Drop. If Married Man used the standard rock n roll components then Gregor (in duo format) delved further into the world of deconstructed pop songs by utilising a drum machine, endlessly inventive bass playing, washes of sound and deadpan vocals with filter-free diary-entry lyrics. It was a fascinating mix that took a few songs to adjust to but across a full set it all made total sense as sad confessional songs to dance to.

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The Goon Sax should probably have been playing a larger venue with a proper sound system, given that the show was sold out and the sound was under par. It was no fault of the sound-person but the drums weren’t mic’d and with drummer Riley Jones’ often light touch they lacked impact in the rhythmically driven songs. The bass was shortchanged as well, leaving the songs sounding a bit hollow and missing depth. All that aside, the band dug in and tore through a set that drew mostly from the new album We’re Not Talking but dipped into their debut, the super catchy Sweaty Hands a particular highlight. Sleep EZ, Make Time 4 Love and the Jones-sung Strange Light all stood out. 

As a band they clearly have the songs and have developed into a fascinating triptych of quirky and slightly awkward individuals (think Talking Heads) but the gnawing feeling still remains that Louis Forster needs to take the lead on more songs. There was a noticeable lift, clarity and drive in the songs that he helmed and the audience responded as a result. Jones’ vocal cameos were also a welcome addition to the set. In all this was a good show, not the best they’ve played in Sydney but good enough to warrant the acclaim and growing fanbase The Goon Sax continue to receive. 

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Casual Male – Takin’ It Easy

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Casual Male are a band out of Brooklyn, NY led by Tim Lappin. They’ve got a new EP out called EP and it finds them dialling into the kind of indie sound that embraces rhythm, clever lyrics and plenty of sharp turns and infectious melodies, not dissimilar to the route well trodden by Spoon and The Walkmen.

‘Takin’ It Easy’ is a moody slow stagger of a song that whispers in your ear and weaves a gritty guitar sound around a sparse framework. It’s all in the feel.

Check out the EP on SPOTIFY and Bandcamp.

 

NEW MUSIC: Interbellum – Ready To Dissolve

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This is most likely the first music we’ve featured from Lebanon and it’s a wonderful slice of downbeat indie guitar pop courtesy of the group Interbellum. ‘Ready To Dissolve’ comes from the recently released album Dead Pets, Old Griefs and is primarily the work of songwriter Karl Mattar (aka Charlie Rayne) as well as multi-instrumentalist and producer Fadi Tabbal and other musicians from the Beirut music scene.

‘Ready To Dissolve’ bears some hallmarks of the NZ indie music scene in it’s relaxed feel, gentle jangle of guitars and understated vocals. It’s a familiar and comforting sound that wraps itself around with its pastoral shimmer of a sound.

sun goes black
the picture cracks
and folds with the falling ceiling
echoes crawl around what remains of the walls
and I can hardly describe the feeling

everything tastes like ashes
the very sky could crash
it’s strange to watch the day slip
we’re going where the wind blows
out of the hatchback window
cars in the tunnel look like spaceships

and we’re speeding away
I can’t hear a word that you say
catch anything your glances imply
the tail lights dance before my eyes

I watch the air glow and the particles decay
still and all I wish I’d stayed

kiss my eyes and sing me to sleep
we won’t be around within weeks
hold me through the fog and the fall
I’m almost ready to dissolve
we haven’t learned much of anything at all

NEW MUSIC: SHON – A Crack In It

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SHON is a Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist who released an EP called Made As It Drifted, earlier in 2018. ‘A Crack In It’ is one of those textured and layered tracks that recalls the inventiveness of Radiohead and the willingness to place real instruments in digital environments. SHON uses an art-rock and post-rock  palette of sound and it works wonderfully on both sonic and songwriting levels.

NEW MUSIC: Umifozi – Asterkross

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Umfozi (Elias Araya) hails from Sweden and is the former drummer for indie band Junip. His solo project sees him channelling self-confessed influences such as Alice Coltrane, Neurosis and Sylvester and creating these hypnotic instrumental pieces that are built on percussive elements yet they possess floating, drifting avant-jazz and electronic qualities that take the pieces to quite interesting and subtle places.

You can listen to the rest of his EP Asterkross on Spotify.

NEW MUSIC: Niki Moss – There Must Be Something In The Water

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Plenty of cosmic twists and turns in this track, the second taste of the solo work of Portuguese musician Niki Moss, who previously has worked with the band Savanna. ‘There Must Be Something In The Water’ drips with psychedelia and a kaleidoscopic quality that sound like a futuristic Doors if they were on different drugs.

Moss’ debut album Gooey is slated for release early 2019.