HOW THINGS ARE, ANDY WHITE’S ELEVENTH STUDIO ALBUM, IS RELEASED ON MONDAY. HERE, WE PRESENT AN EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT FROM HIS LISTENER’S NOTES FOR IT. SO – IN HIS OWN WORDS, ANDY WHITE ON HOW THINGS ARE…
OUR STORY STARTS IN A HIRE CAR ON A FAR-OFF FREEWAY, SKIDDLING ROUND A BEND AS IT HITS A PATCH OF RED DIRT.
An amp, an acoustic guitar and a drumkit career from side to side in the back of the wagon as Andy cranks the stereo. It’s sometime after the end of the last album, SONGWRITER, and it’s still to be seen whether our driver has learned the lessons contained in his book 21ST CENTURY TROUBADOR.
Meanwhile, deep in the outback, a space shuttle blasts off to the sound of a funky sitar and a drunken Shakespearian actor reciting lines from THE TEMPEST. U2’s on the stereo, playing the theme from BATMAN. The orchestra sweeps across distorted guitars leaving a mangled wah-wah pedal in its wake. The back wheels are out of control now, sliding across the centre line. DRIFTIN’.
I made it back to the city I’m now calling home, Melbourne. Where your tyres get caught in tramlines and lead you towards basement rooms you thought you’d never revisit. I wrote this one evening, a big moon hanging low over Separation Street, Brunswick. I tried to stop the car to take a photo, but I couldn’t capture the scene or the feeling – so I wrote this song and recorded it later that night. SEPARATION STREET.
YOU GOT ME AT HELLO goes right back to the start. Memory plays tricks on me – I tend to only remember the good times until things fall apart. I wrote this album in my studio, high on a hill. It’s called The Growlery (Dickens fans, take note). I’d just broken up with my wife of nineteen years. She walked, and I’d lost my best friend, lover and companion. Other friends disappeared in a cloud of smoke, invisible as the ghosts of the good times. Writing these songs was my way of coping. All of the songs are intense, but it’s not all a sad story. Love at first sight? Yes, that Romeo and Juliet moment does exist. I know how lucky I am that it happened. Even just once is amazing.
Similarly, in my personal universe, BAND OF GOLD is reaching out for beauty amongst the pain of a major break-up. For each one of us, our story of love is the greatest ever told. Let’s celebrate it, even after its demise.
And – above all – let’s dig the bass sound right after the first drum fill.
Escape is a glorious thing, or so JESSICA SAYS. I remember hearing a legendary record producer saying that rock’n’roll music should be made to play in the car at the start of an evening out. You’re full of anticipation, looking for a good time – on a date, with friends – and you’re blasting the stereo. That’s how this particular evening felt.
Although the two couples involved aren’t or weren’t together at the time, for me there’s such a buzz involved in picking up a hire car on a summer night, buying cigs and booze, driving around on the edge of a beautiful island (Vancouver, in this case) and checking into a hotel to spend the wee hours playing music and drinking on a balcony, that this goes down as one of my favourite ever nights.
Tim Finn arrived in Melbourne. We caught up over coffee and drum kits, in town and at home. Instantly sympathetic, Tim is someone who understands the value of sentiment and sentimentality. That the ability to hold something precious in the palm of your hand is a wonderful thing. I tried describe the new-found situation I was in, and he immediately came back to me with the first two lines of this song.
If you’re reading this outside Australia, you should understand that when it’s hot, it’s hot – and when ALL IT DOES IS RAIN, it doesn’t always stop.
After he escapes for the first time, our hero longs for more. The thrill of being out on his own, in the middle of a world of emotions, Darwinian complications and triangles drawn from a French film, attracts him. Every time he crashes and burns, he comes back for more. In the process, he comes to realise that the caste system of romantic arrangements rivals that of the hierarchy of rock’n’roll for complexity and irrationality.
It’s obvious there’s only one man to turn to – the guy who understands it all. The message is clear and simple – SHAKESPEARE TAKE MY HAND.
EVERYONE’S IN LOVE. The delays and echoes in this song are all there for a purpose. A press roll on the snare starts up a machine which won’t stop till the last heartbeat fades to black. A lot of the action of these songs takes place on a sofa – and not all of it as cosy as that sounds. This was written on one, sinking softly but surely into its cushions as the clock ticked and a faraway voice on the radio sang “I want you to stay”. Listen carefully and you’ll hear it.
You’ll understand CLOSEST THING TO HEAVEN and THANKYOU immediately, so I’ll only say that I have spent the past couple of years closest thingimploring artists I’ve produced to tear their chests open and tell us what happened, and what’s in their heart. Sharing feelings and thoughts, with as much honesty and passion as possible, is where it’s at. I’ve never been much good at making it up.
I guess that since you’ve reached this deep into the album, it’s making some kind of sense for you.
PICTURE OF YOU. More sofas and paintings. The album could have stopped before this song, but a young friend of mine heard it at the mix and made me promise to keep it on the album. He said it really meant something to him.
(WHO SAID WE’RE GONNA GET ANOTHER) LENNON
“War is bad and love is blind”. Respect to Ringo, David and Marc too. Fandom is a great way to be.
See you on the other side,
Andy White’s new album HOW THINGS ARE is released on Monday by Floating World Records. Order direct from his online shop, here. Our review of HOW THINGS ARE was posted here. A year ago White appeared in an edition of The Mouthcast, recorded in a car outside a venue before a gig! Listen again here.