Thursday, March 31, 2011


I began this song trying to copy Grant Hart. It was influenced by a song called No Promise have I Made from the great 'Husker Du' record Candy Apple Grey. In the end, as usually happens when I try to impersonate someone, it sounded nothing like Grant Hart. The idea ultimately grew to centre around having one chord constantly droning throughout and a bass line that (once again) drove the melody. I added a bit of keyboard using the casio-tone my children play with.

I like the song and the sentiment. It's like a rally call...or maybe it is just a song trying to throw its arms around the world.

After the Christchurch earthquake the lyrics took on a different meaning. I really like how songs do that to themselves. Once you have let them go, they become what they want to be.

The original intent of the lyric was very personal.

Now when I sing it I see the streets of Christchurch.

Here is the original 8-track demo I recorded for the idea and a live version recorded with 'The Dickens' in May 2011. It was its debut live performance.

If you're feeling dislocated, you're not on your own...

Dislocation (8-track demo)
(Words and music Andrew Savage)

Dislocation (Live May 2011)
(Words: Andrew Savage. Music: Savage w/ Adams, King, Rhoades and Henderwood)

If you're feeling dislocated
Come out of the cold
If you're feeling sad and lonely
You're not on your own
When the streets have changed their landmarks
Now you're unknown
All your friends have left the city
Can't find your way home

This is the darkest night I've seen
Punching holes in the darkness
So I can breathe
Let the silver stars fall down
Like rain
I've found the start
It's at the end
It's hidden in the shades of grey

You're not on you're own

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When you're a boy (Cured)

It is time to release the bats. Deep in my archives I have come across some footage of my first real band. We were called 'The Enormous Crocodiles'.

This footage comes direct from Rotorua in the early 1990s. We were all underage (I was 15 years old if my memory is correct), and were lucky enough to have scored a support slot with 'The Exponents'. This song celebrates all that is good and bad about teenage bands. Overthought arrangements, desperate angsty lyrics, bad hair etc.

I remember this night we had discussed what clothes to wear. By day we wore the 1990s opshop uniform: paisley shirts, cardigans, corduroy jackets, and Doc Marten boots. We had seen the video for the single Helpless by 'Sugar' (more on Bob Mould another time) and decided that we should take a few fashion tips from them. The reality was, we didn't want to be targeted for being different in a club notorious for not tolerating those 'alternative types'. We figured that wearing similar cut t-shirts would make us look 'less gay'. That was the idea anyway. Looking at the footage now, it seems like strange logic indeed.

I hope you enjoy this clip. It is a testament to the naivety of youth. We were sure we were going to be the next U2...turns out we weren't.

Me. Sheesh.

On drums is our old friend Steven Field.

Playing the guitar is Leon Schulz.

Cured (Live at Ace of Clubs)
(Words: Andrew Savage. Music: Schulz, Savage & Field)

The time has come to put away
All your thoughts of yesterday
Feel the silence
Touch the noise
Lounge in all your useless toys
Feel the rights that have no wrong
Stop singing someone else's song
Asking questions
Asking how
Stop thinking about yesterday
Think about now.

Note: Some of you following on email have indicated that you do not receive the the songs and videos when the updates are sent out. Just click on the title of the post (it is probably blue) and it will take you to the page where the songs and videos are playable.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mono / Carry On

Martha Davies of 'The Motels'

I have been obsessed with 'The Motels' song Total Control for too many years now. There is a restraint about that song which creates a palpable tension. The lyrics are obsessive in the best kind of way and the mood projected by the vocal suggests that the protaganist is about to shatter into pieces, melt away and drag you down too. The target of the singer's obsession is a a victim of a reckless passion. The music is like a juggernaut driving the tale onwards, suggesting an inevitability and a less than happy ending.

Obsessed. Obsessive. Obsession. I used all those words in one paragraph...

The idea you can possess someone is at once exciting and terrifying. And ancient.

I loved it when Morrissey sung I won't share you I knew exactly what he meant.

Mono was written a while ago now. It is about possession and indecision. And wanting to own people. This version was recorded with Richard Wise. He wrote (and sung) an additional verse. The original song only had one verse and then the long drawn out ending. I always thought it embodied longing. I began to adlib over it by the time the song was being played live with 'Chopper'.

I would sell my soul for total control.

Carry On was penned more recently. It was late one winter night, I was sitting in the warmest room in the house and it was still freezing. I remember Helen was on the phone while I wrote it. It was a long call and by the time she hung up the phone, I had finished the song.

While Mono shares the theme of obsession with Total Control, Carry On was totally inspired by the music. I chugged away on the acoustic guitar and when I thought I had something I put it straight down on to my 8 track. Everything except the vocals is first take. All guitar lines were improvised. I cannot remember for the life of me what I was doing. Then, acknowledging Mono as her sister song, I dropped the melody from Mono's refrain into the chorus of Carry On. Siblings born almost 10 years apart.

This version of Mono was recorded by Richard Wise in his practice room. He played drums and Jared Schulz played bass.

(Words by Andrew Savage additional verse by Richard Wise. Music by Savage, Schulz, Franich and Wise)

I want to go out
I'd rather stay at home
I want to have friends
I'd rather be alone
I'm wanting to tell
I want you to hear

Let's be honest
I'm wanting to keep you
It's not your fault
But you know it.

Carry On (8-track demo)
(Words & music by Andrew Savage)

I've been away
I've been away
Too long
You're telling me right
You're telling me right
That I'm wrong

Carry on

The pages you write
The things that bring light
Are gone
I'm scared of the light
Maybe you've got it wrong

Carry on

Post script:

Leon Schulz

Trawling through all the old demo recordings I have for this blog has triggered a lot of memories.

Some bad.

Most good.

I have played music with lots of different people, but I would like to take this moment to pay particular tribute to Leon Schulz. He taught me how to play the electric guitar and made me sing in the bands we formed. He encouraged me to write songs. Then he tore them apart and made them better. Even now, every time I finish a song I still think, "would Leon like this?"

If you're reading this, thank you...In a strange way, you are still part of the process.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Walking with the Dead

I love the idea of a repetitive guitar line that develops an almost hypnotic quality and is underpinned by a moving bass line. The bass guitar drives the melody and the guitar and floats around it luring you in. This song was inspired by a melody that I thought I had ripped off a Bailter Space number, although I can't quite place which one. Any ideas? I love the feel of this song, but think perhaps there could be one more thing...although now that Mark Henderwood is playing violin in it, the chorus really soars. Sadly, I don't have a recording of that version.

Michael Desmond Spiers
When I wrote this song my grandfather had just been buried. He was a giant of a man and his shadow loomed large over the family. His stories and myths are part of our common vernacular. His voice and presence imprinted on us all. When we buried him it rained so hard that the hole that had been dug was beginning to fill. As the wind whipped around us and we lowered his casket I felt it was fitting for a man of such contradictions.

Kathleen Muriel Evelyn Spiers (nee Mitchell)

My Nana died more recently, and while she had developed dementia in her old age, her spirit remained unbroken. She turned me on to words and literature. She made me love history. She taught me that reading just one book on a subject wasn't enough. Her burial wasn't as dramatic as Pop's, but in their passing we lost two remarkable people. I hope in some way, I can keep them alive in my songs. This one is for them...

Walking with the Dead (Live Dec 2010 w/ The Dickens)

This was the debut performance of this song. In fact, we had only played it together at one rehearsal before this gig.

Walking with the Dead (original rough 8 track demo - every track first take)

This is another vocal recorded after the kids had gone to bed. I'm almost mumbling I am so scared of waking them up...

Walking with the Dead
(Words & Music: Andrew Savage w/ Adams, King, Henderwood and Rhoades)

I was watching, you were talking in your sleep
Your eyes, never closing
You said,
"There's a dollar, and a demon in her bed"
You're a liar
You know you're not welcome here

You've been walking with the dead

So you rain, down on us
We're still here
If you are a father, then where are the children?
And I wish you were still here
I wish you were still here

You've walking with the dead

All you ever wanted means forever
Things like this don't go together.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Out of the Darkness

When I was 15 years old I saw JPSE play. It was both inspiring and devastating. Ever since then, every band I have played in has in some way attempted to capture the power and beauty that they seemed so effortlessly to manage. I sometimes wonder, almost 20 years later, whether this song is part of that venture. I definitely don't think it sounds like JPSE, but the bass playing was unashamedly inspired by Dave Yetton.

 The first version of this song was called 'Into the Light' and it was in a different key to the one it has finally settled on. I think this is due to the fact that almost all my attempts to write songs these days start after the children have gone to bed. That means I sing very quietly and playing in certain keys encourages that. It is when I play it to others that I then realise that the 'low versions' have no balls.

While the arrangement has matured, the lyrics have not changed at all. I sung these words directly over the chords as a way to remember the melody in the original acoustic demo sung into a dictaphone. I was just singing whatever came in to my head. I didn't think those words would become the final lyric. This is a song I would love to record properly...what do you think? Is it too long?

So, to track how the song grew up here are a few versions. A live version played with 'The Dickens' in December 2010, a link to another live version played with 'Savage Adams' in early 2010 ('Savage Adams' is Dan Adams on guitar, Simon Eastwood on double bass and myself), and an early 8 track demo.

Out of the Darkness (Live w/ The Dickens 2010)

Out of the Darkness (Savage Adams version)

Into the Light (very rough 8-track demo)

Out of the Darkness
(Words & music: Andrew Savage w/ Adams, King, Rhoades, Eastwood, Henderwood) 

Out of the Darkness
Into the light
I’m still
Wanting to find you
Make it alright
Don’t you
Hear all the words I
Throw at your feet
I’m still
Wanting to find you
It’s been time to meet you
In your way
you’re still here
It’s ok
I wanted to tell you
My children are here
Then so are you
All that you’ve done to
Make it appear
I thank you
It’s all you want from me
It’s all I’m giving to you now
It’s what you want from me
I’m giving it all
So you can tell
If it’s love you want
It’s love you'll get
If you can’t forgive me
Don’t forget me

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Girls With Broken Wings

Girls With Broken Wings is another 'automatically written' song. I remember mumbling lyrics into my portable recorder while I strummed those very simple chords in Island Bay during the summer of 2008. I actually don't know what the song really means...but it means something to me. Perhaps it is a reflection of the helplessness I remember feeling when reading about another violent assault on a young woman in small town New Zealand. Whenever I sing it, it makes me think of that feeling. This version is played with Simon Eastwood on double bass and Mike Rhoades on tamborine and backing vocals. At the end we perform an excerpt of Bjork's Hyperballad. I like doing that. It is kind of like a quote in an essay - a footnote acknowledging sources.

Girls with Broken Wings
(words & music by Andrew Savage)

Girls with Broken Wings
They don't get too far
And those of us who sing
We know it isn't fair
To shower them with words
And arms around their necks
Leave them just to cry
Hope they come home in the end

So shine on broken wings
I wish that you could dance
And sing without the fear
That your hunters are still here
If I could take you home
You could show the way
I would give you more
But I don't know what to say

In the end

1000 Nails

I wrote this song when I lived alone in Lower Hutt. I remember it was raining extremely hard and the drains were beginning to flood. I was sitting on the window sill and plucking away on the guitar, sub consciously humming. I was listening a lot to The Byrds and CSN&Y. I loved the guitar work on Guinnevere from CSN's self titled album, I think this song reflects that interest a little. 1000 Nails was a song that I wrote first take, lyrics and all. I don't know, but it seems all my best songs are 'automatic writing'. It's like they make themselves up out of nothing.

This version is played by 'The Dickens' live at Happy in May 2010. It was the first song in our set and our debut performance. Jonathan King and Dan Adams play guitar while Simon Eastwood and my brother-in-law Mike Rhoades fill out the rhythm section. Simon has since moved to London and I moved on to bass guitar. I am very proud of this band. Great company, great collaborators.

Here is another live version played by 'Savage Adams' - which is essentially 'The Dickens when people are sick or away'

1000 Nails (Savage Adams version)

1000 Nails
(words & music by Andrew Savage w/ Adams, King, Eastwood, Rhoades and Henderwood)

You take the rod, I take the staff
You take the words out of my mouth
I made these days, out of mud and clay
My nails broke and bent,
Then he turned them away, and you can’t explain
You turn them away

It hammers down
It's a thousand nails
my arms outstretch like yours
Praying for the rain
but you can't explain

It comes down so hard
I feel it through my clothes
I can feel, invisible hands
on the back of my neck
turning it around again
and you can't explain

turning it around again

But still you come
and still you come
still you come
talking straight to me
still you come
talking straight to me

I'll Get You

Here is a cover of The Beatles song I'll Get You. I re-imagined it as a stalker song. I was listening to The Bad Seeds record Kicking Against the Pricks. I loved Blixa's guitar playing and was trying to channel him a little. However, I think it sounds more like the Edge from U2's earlier records - I particularly liked a song called An Cat Dubh. The lyrics are pretty sinister if you ask me...

I'll Get You

Imagine, I'm in love with you,
It's easy 'cos I know,
I've imagined, I'm in love with you,
Many, many, many times before.

It's not like me to pretend,
But I'll get you in the end,
Yes I will, I'll get you in the end
I think about you night and day,
I need you and it's true.
When I think about you, I can say,
I'm never, never, never, never blue.

So I'm telling you, my friend,
That I'll get you, I'll get you in the end,
Yes I will, I'll get you in the end
Well, there's gonna be a time,
When I'm gonna change your mind.
So you might as well resign yourself to me
Imagine, I'm in love with you,
It's easy 'cos I know,
I've imagined, I'm in love with you,
Many, many, many times before.

It's not like me to pretend,
But I'll get you, I'll get you in the end,
Yes I will, I'll get you in the end


Kinder was another song from a long time ago. This one began as a rip off of a Kristin Hersh song called That's All You Wanted and turned into a desperate love song. I still love it, even 10 years after first writing it...
Like Still Have Faith in You, it was played in 'Chopper' and owes a lot to Nick Franich, Leon Schulz and Richard Wise. This version was recorded in Richard's practice room over a morning with Leon's brother Jared Schulz on bass and Richard on drums. It is not a definitive version, but is still beautiful in its own way.

(Words by Andrew Savage. Music by Savage, Schulz, Franich and Wise)

Sinking is a bliss
I sink further into the core
That is what I live for
To sink further into the core
And you pull me in
Sweeter, deeper

Never end it
Like all my dreams coming true
That is what I live for
To sink further into the core
And you pull me in
Sweeter, deeper

Making me crave it
Making me crave you

I Still Have Faith in You

I Still Have Faith in You was written in 1998 or 1999. I was living in Lower Hutt and was obsessed with the idea that all the best chords only use two fingers. The music to this song came about because I was determined to write a song that used two strings and two fingers only. I failed in that goal (which was, let's be honest, a bit limiting), but ended up with this.

My friend and collaborator Leon Schulz has to take the credit for making this song develop into something  worthwhile. The first time I played it to anyone was to him in my kitchen. As always, his ears and knack for arrangement came to the fore. We went on to perform it in our band called 'Chopper'.

The video above was recorded live at Happy in December 2009 by Dan Adams. It is a solo performance. In 2010 I re-recorded it in a couple of hours with electric guitars and my friend and ex-Chopper bandmate Richard Wise on drums. Listen to that version below:

I Still Have Faith In You 
(words by Andrew Savage, music by Savage, Schulz, Franich and Wise)

I still have faith in you
I don't understand it
I don't comprehend it
but I still have faith in  you
I still have faith in you

You turn it on
You turn it on
You bring me home

I still have faith in you
But all the things you say
Cut me in too many ways
but I still have faith in  you

Like I'm meant to.

P.S. If Nick Franich is reading this, you can still call this one Aurora if you like