Thursday, December 15, 2011


 Dear friends,

The Dickens would like to offer you this early mix of 'Out of the Darkness' as a free download for Christmas. We are currently recording a few songs for an ep, and intend to have that ready sometime early next year, but until then please take this as a gesture of thanks for your support. Just follow the link below. Share it with your friends!

Merry Christmas from Andrew, Mike, Jonathan, Mark & Dan.

See you all in 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memories from live performances @ Happy and Meow 2012

The last two weeks in the life of 'The Dickens'

Can you believe it? Is it really that time again?

This is something special...

The women in both Dan and Andrew's lives are in the family way - and due in December. "How did that happen?" I hear you ask...
Well, this is not the time for details! Rather celebration...and we will celebrate in style.

So, the friends that are Coney Island Swamp Monster, Great Expectorations, The Dickens, Meghan Glue, Andrew Savage invite you to the first ever baby shower gig staged in Wellington.

Over the last two years, this community of musicians and friends have forged a relationship based on mutual respect and genuine appreciation of each others musical offerings.

We can't think of any other people we would prefer to celebrate with as we pave the way for our unborn children.

What's more, we want all of you there too. It has been your support of these artists that has made this year such a creatively rewarding and genuinely enjoyable time. Your commitment to those of us you have shown such faith in has been appreciated more than you imagine.

Your willingness to come out on a rainy evening and smile with us as we launch into another rendition of the songs we have carved from our memory and myth has not gone unnoticed.

And those songs are our children...conceived in passion, brought up and moulded, and let loose on the world.

What's more, they are your songs too. Whether you are like me and can't stop humming Meghan's 'Never change my mind' or Liam's 'Rivers of her veins', or perhaps find youself recalling Rupert's version of Twin Peaks...maybe you love The Dickens 'Out of the Darkness' or 'Walking with the Dead'. Whatever it is yours.

This may be the last outing for a few months as both Dan & I will endeavour to be good fathers for a bit before cracking out the guitars again...not too long mind you, but we would like to remember you and thank you.

So - it's a date.

$5 on the door, and bring a baby shower gift if you want to!

You will be treated:

The night kicks off with Andrew Savage of the Dickens playing a short solo set followed by the siren that is Meghan Glue. The Dickens will give you 100% after that, followed by Great Expectorations (do not miss this) and Wellington's finest: Coney Island Swamp Monster.

I can't wait...

The Setlist:

1000 NAILS

Out of the Darkness

1000 Nails

Walking with the Dead
Hello everybody,

Thank you for coming out last night and making a few myths with us. We definitely made a new country up!

If you want to see the Dickens again, or stay in touch with what we're up to, go to the link below and 'like' us.

As always, we are humbled by your generous support.


It is nearly upon us!

Romeo & Juliet, Brad and Angelina, Bonnie & Clyde, Wills & Kate, John & Yoko.

Farmer Maori & The Dickens?
On the 19th of November, the stars will align as Farmer Maori and the Maori Farmers fall in love with The Dickens. The marriage is at Meow. Be there early to witness the nuptials. The occasion begins at 8pm and the bride and groom will be welcomed in by the dulcet tones of Warwick Donald. Fresh from a tour of the dingiest cruise ships the world has known, he has witnessed the nervous couple first hand and is currently down at the TAB placing bets on how long the union will last.

The Groom (The Dickens) will arrive next. Dressed to impress and getting ready for the first night. They will sings songs of love and hate to their new bride over a 40 minute period, singing her down the isle...

And here she comes!

It's Farmer Maori and the Maori Farmers! Looking as beautiful as ever. A picture straight from heaven. Lulling us into her web.

Will this shrew be tamed? Will Farmer Maori take a new name? Farmer Dickens?

Come and find out...

Farmer Maori and the Maori Farmers
The Dickens
Warwick Donald


Be there early for a front row seat...bride's family on the left.

Black Dog


The setlist:

1000 NAILS

Monday, November 28, 2011

Last Dance


Last week at a gig, some one shouted out, "play something upbeat." I replied,"sorry, we we've done all our upbeat ones."

So I went home and wrote is as upbeat as it gets for me. The thing with upbeat songs is they just don't get their claws in deep enough. They last as long as a lollipop. So this has a sinister undertone for kicks.

 It reminds me a lot of the Stereo Bus. It may be pretty throw away, but in the best kind of way...This one goes out to the friendly heckler. Have a dance on me.

Last Dance (demo)
Words and music: Andrew Savage

You make me lean
Into you
And back again
It's not your lies
It's too much truth
And I could leave you
With no excuse

This is the last dance with you
And I'm not going to call again

I like this scene
But I can't begin to breathe
With her
staring through my head
I thought I'd left her
Left her in my bed

This is the last dance with you
And I'm not going to call again

Friday, October 21, 2011

Skeletons (Two Face)

Firstly, apologies for not meeting my post a week goal. The Dickens have been busy recording a little demo/ep and I have been quite busy at work. Forgive the brevity of this post then!

I have a goal of trying to make the skeleton of at least one song a week. This discipline means that sometimes you get an ideas worthy of investment, sometimes you just get a headache. I panic a bit if I don't have new ideas each week. I wonder if songwriting is a finite resource in each person. I can't tell anymore if I am writng good or bad songs. They just are what they are. I keep pressing in. I hope it will result in something I can proud of. I just can't tell...

This song comes from one of those weekly panic sessions. Here is the process:

1. Pick up acoustic guitar.
2. Strum away until I hum a tune
3. Quickly record it onto my phone so I don't forget it
4. Set up my archaic old zoom 8-track
5. Lay down a quick drum pattern to play along to.
6. Record bass, and two-three guitars
7. Throw some words down
8. Post it here

Remember, everything posted here is a skeleton. Nothing is finished. Only started. It is here to track the progress. They are genuine demos. Moments of my Sunday afternoon or evening pasted into memory.

Two Face (Demo)
(Words and music: Andrew Savage)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Three for one (Modern Man, Lose the War, You don't have to hide your face)

I've been thinking a lot recently about the inevitability of failure and disappointment and its relationship with aspiration, vision, and hope. It's the old cliche. The higher you aim, the further you fall. The stakes just become more attractive. And more terrifying.

But I can't stay still.

It's ok.

These are just wolves on my trail, waiting to cut me down. I know they are there. So I keep watch! I own them. Feed them. Tame them. Keep them at bay as along as I can.

I wear my shirt down to the bone. Aiming to be a transparent as I can. Inviting accountability.

And so I have come to accept that hypocrisy is inevitable.
Corruption can creep up on me.
Integrity will  be fleeting.
Fear will win by default.
Shame is a cell.

This song is called 'Modern Man'. It is a few months old. When I first made it up, I thought it was very throw away. But I will put it here for posterity. It is about a man who has all the right rhetoric, reads all the right books but fails to deliver to those closest to him.

Modern Man (demo)
(Words & music: Andrew Savage)

I opened the door
You close it again
When you tell a joke
It's like the walls cave in
I'd give anything
To change your hand
It's not what it means to be a modern man

And when she comes back to haunt you
How will she understand?
That the tears she shed
For the book you read
Doesn't make you
A modern man

You leave her waiting
On the edge of a knife
For the rhetoric of your principled life
When the levee breaks
You put your head in the sand
It's not what it means to be a modern man

And when she comes back to haunt you
How will she understand?
That the tears she shed
For the book you read
Doesn't make you
A modern man

'Lose the War' is an intensely personal song. It is about personal failure and the need for redemption. I will let it speak for itself. I haven't shown this to anyone before. I don't think I would ever take it to a band. It served a purpose though, I suppose.

Lose the War (demo)
(Words & music: Andrew Savage)

You and I were a house of cards
We were always going to fall
I spent forever in your back yard
Waiting for the sky to fall
And I'm going to lose the war
I want to go home

And I'm going to lose the war
I made a promise that I couldn't keep
I was too young to know
We were playing make believe
I couldn't win
I couldn't win the war

And I want to go home
I'm going to lose the war

I want to go home
I'm going to lose the war

You know I never meant it
I wish that I could lose it

This song must be at least 6 years old. It is called 'You Don't Have to Hide Your Face' and it sounds to me much too close to a U2 song called Mother's of the Disappeared. It must have been in my subconscience, beacuse even some of the lyrics are the same...Well, I can't change that now, so here it is as it stands. I was thinking about the last supper and my two favourite disciples,Thomas and Judas. The doubter and the traitor. I love their weakness. I understand it. We are all Judas, we are all Thomas. We are not all Peter. So this song is about me and Judas, me and Thomas. It is about recovering from disaster. Toppling your shame. Rebuilding your integrity after losing it all.

You Don't Have To Hide Your Face (demo)
(Words & music: Andrew Savage)

In the upstairs room
Taking bribes
Bits on the side
You're my heartbeat
In my heartbeat
I fell for you on your hanging tree
Your tongue says the same as me
You're my heartbeat
In my heartbeat

We're one
The same
You with your coins
And me with my shame

You don't have to hide your face
We carry on
We carry on

Dipping bread in red wine
I play the fool
You play the liar
You're my heartbeat
In my heartbeat

Take the hand of my brother
Take the hand of my sister
And run
And run

You don't have to hide your face

We carry on
We carry on
We're one
The same

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Just a face

For a long time I worked in music retail. First, I can vouch for this truth. It was nothing like the movie Empire Records. We actually used to have people coming in asking for jobs because that is how they though it would be. Unfotrunately, I didn't work with a perfect cross section of musical tastes and current fashion. It was nothing like this:

The best thing about it was access to new music. Something that I don't have on tap anymore. The problem with working in a music store was that you had to play music that would not be too challenging for the customer browsing to deal with. That meant two thirds of my favourites were not appropriate. To make it worse, in some places I worked there were absolute rules about what would be played during different hours of the day. I therefore hated the lunch rush. The rules then were "chart music only". Cue Ricky Martin and audio suicide. Sometimes I would try and sneak in Nick Cave or Patti Smith only to have the manager rush out, tell me off publicly and repace it with Back Streeet Boys or Mariah Carey. It wasn't that those groups were intolerable in short bursts, but regular rotation was say the least.

Every now and then, you would discover a record that you could play at lunch time which would also become an all time favourite.

For me, one of the best was Twilight as played by the Twilight Singers. Beautiful songs, great cover art. Total package.

The Twilight Singers were Greg Dulli from the Afghan Whigs new project, and I still love that record. In fact, the Twilight Singers went on to become one of my all time favourite acts. Along with the Afghan Whigs.

I have music retail to thatnk for that one.

This song is called Just a Face. I wanted to write something that I would have played at lunchtime. Something not offensive, a bit hypnotic, understated. A desert road song.

It is no more than two hours work last Sunday. I came up with a little guitar cycle and decided I didn't want to change chord until I had to. This is the result. A Sunday morning song that will be forgotten in a month, but brought me a little joy while I made it. Take this as is it is. Nothing more, nothing less.


Just a Face (demo)
(Words and music by Andrew Savage)

If you want to fall then let me know
a dream to weave and breathe and leave in tow

You may have a voice
to shatter time
You may have a mouth that tastes like wine

You're just a face

You may have the waist
worn like a crime
it soothes the edges
Supples the vines

You own the room
It moves with your will
Hanging on your wrists
We drink our fill

You're just a face

But when we untie
the strings that hold you hostage to desire
We turn to stone
We turn to stone

Saturday, September 10, 2011

the word 'it' (Heart & Soul)

I have decided that the word 'it' is the best asset I have in my lyrical tool box.

'It' can be anything.

When you are writing songs that have perhaps too much personal meaning, or maybe involve someone you know or have observed, or cast doubts upon your personal integrity, the word 'it' comes to the rescue.

'It' could be love.
'It' could be death.
'It' could be betrayal.
'It' could be hope.
'It' could be God.
'It' could be hate.
'It' could be grief.
'It' could be jealousy.

etc etc. etc.

Perhaps I also think that the songs can become a little like a choose your own adventure book. Just add in what you want 'it' to mean and make the song yours.

This song is called Heart & Soul. It sits firmy on the fence for me. I can't decide if it is good or bad. I was playing around on a 12-string guitar and just recorded the result. The 12-string makes it automatically 'generified'. In may mind I can hear more distortion and chaos at the end. It makes me think, "who do I think I am? Neil Young? Pink Floyd? Mr. Big?"

Try replacing 'it' in the song with a word of your choice. It might be the making of this one...

Heart & Soul  (rough demo)
(Words and music: Andrew Savage)

See how quick it comes
No regard for what you've done
And when the branches start to break
We're just left with the shape
You carved out

And when
The toll collector comes
She won't 
Count your setting suns

It always preys on us who wait
And choose to take too long
We protect what we keep 
In the myths that we make
For you

And you ask why
When the toll collector comes
She won't 
Count your setting suns

She just cuts away the coal
This is heart and soul

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yesterday's Sun

On my fourteenth or fifteenth birthday my father bought me a copy of REM's Tourfilm. I remember watching  Michael Stipe perform poetry in between songs and I fell for it immediately. He has this knack of capturing a sentiment in a sentence and then weaving enough mystery into it to leave you wanting. We watched the concert film in the backgroung during the birthday party. I was enthralled. There was drama about it. And it made me start to really think about the lyrics of songs.

My favourite line of poetry from the film was:

Pacific Coasts: The closer I get, the further away I feel.

It seems to me like the speaker is celebrating what could be at the same time as grieving what has gone. I really like that idea.

Craig Ireson - Poet, striker, friend

My oldest friend Craig and I had lunch together last Friday. We had not seen each other for some time. But it was a sort of homecoming for me. If it wasn't for Craig, I don't think I would have been as involved in performance arts. He made me audition for plays. He made me play guitar in his super group CIAO (even when I didn't know a chord). He forced me to embrace my imagination. He could make the mundane seem important. Our schoolboy antics were always seen through a magnifying glass.

Over lunch we talked about all manner of things...including the Violent Femmes.

The Violent Femmes

Craig reminded me of their greatness. The way that they championed passion over production. In the 1980s, in the face of the all the studio trickery and the stadium rock juggernaut, the Violent Femmes kept our feet on the ground. As teenagers we ate up the nastiness and lust of Gimme the Car. We loved the evil that is Country Death Song, and the joy of American Music.

They seemed to swing on some crazy pendulum between adolescence and adulthood, lust and love, hurt and hope. Belief and doubt. Life and death.

It seemes to me like they embody the idea.

The closer they get the further away they feel.

So, courtesy of a lunchtime discussion, Michael Stipe's poetry and the stripped back vulnerability and vision of the Violent Femmes, here is a song that deals with those tensions. It is a theme I fear I will continue to repeat. It's all a bit earnest, but I can't help it. I'm just playing the cards I was dealt. I am what you get.

The song is called Yesterday's Sun. It was written and recorded on my 8 track last Sunday. The key line for me reads, "I cried a little bit, for the dream. I got by a little bit, on the dream." The idea is related to the realisation that it is hard to sustain yourself on hope alone. Sometimes you want something tangible.

Yesterday's Sun (8 track demo)
(Words & music: Andrew Savage)

I've been lying to yesterday's sun
And he reminds me of you
I've been crying for yesterday's sun
And now
I am corruption
So I cried a little bit, for the dream
I got by a little bit, on the dream

Now I am Jonah
Running off to sea
And the whale casts its shadow over me
The lines that your peddling
Cut me off at the knee
Yesterday's sun
Do you remember me

I cried a little bit, for the dream
I got by a little bit, on the dream

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cheese on toast...but I like it (Does She Want to Know)

Everyone loves cheese on toast. Even if you have tried to run from the golden goodness on crusty bread, you will one day return - like the prodigal son - to that hallowed staple.

Unless you are a vegan that is (hi Shannon). But we shan't include that particular cult in our discussion today.

There are unlimited varieties and combinations for cheese on toast. Different cheeses, different breads, different additional toppings. But it's all cheese in the end. And we love it.

Why is this relevant? Well, it is a very tenuous justification. But just as we all love cheese on toast, deep down we all love pop music. That's right. Stop lying to yourself.

I can't help but be seduced by a killer chorus or a hook. And sometimes I spend so much energy and effort resisting it. Why? I blame "Grunge". When I was a teenager, it was credibility suicide to admit you liked pop music. I had to keep my Kylie and George Michael cassette tapes safey hidden deep in the wardrobe.

Now, I'm not saying that they held a candle to those artists who truely moved me. But they had a place, and I wish I had celebrated it.

This song is called "Does She Want To Know". It is absolutely, unashamedly my version of a pop song. It was directly inspired by listening to the fiercely underrated band 'James'.

'James' are amazing. Great big chord progressions. shamelessly emotional and emotive lyrics, beautiful melodies. If they asked me to join I would (however, if Nick Cave wanted me to be a Bad Seed, or if Bruce Springsteen or Bob Mould called me up, I wouldn't say no either)


Does She Want To Know is a celebration of cheese. I am drowning in it in this one.

Check out this lyric:

Does she want to know about love ...ha ha. I can't believe I actually wrote that. But I'm going to wear it like a Verboom badge.

Enjoy this with your favourite topping.

I am.

Does She Want To Know (8 track demo)
(Words and music: Andrew Savage)

Our time
Is short
I am driven like the hail
Give me a warning
Let us know
how to fail

We set the line
We lend a careful hand
Then we throw you to the wolves
in a wasteland

And when you come
looking for reason in ryhme
we won't give you the time
you're just a number now

Does she want to know?
about love

I call
you in
Don't talk out of time
I'll shut you down
I'll cut you into four

You may
make sense
to the girl on your arm
But she 's never going home with you

And when you come
looking for reason in ryhme
we won't give you the time
you're just a number now

Does she want to know?

The night is just absence of light
Makes the shadows
The night is just absence of light makes the shadows