Ill At Ease Recording Insights [Part 1]

A historic insight on the Ill At Ease Recording Sessions

Greetings, to celebrate the new TMOC website I said I’d write some notes on how some of the songs were developed and then recorded during the Ill at Ease sessions and it’s a long time ago but I will try.

Interloper

I do recall writing this and it was when we were practicing at a rehearsal room down at Port Adelaide, maybe 93/94? It was a basement arrangement, roomy but beneath the street. There were some rehearsals that was just me and Aaron working on riffs I had, as I think Kim was either interstate a lot or working or both.  As part of it I would also play the bass, and we’d just “jam” on riffs. I have no idea how the opening riff for Interloper emerged on bass, I do recall running the third fret to second fret staccato on the high G and Aaron doing a bap de bap de bap, bap de bap bap – drums to it – already sounds familiar doesn’t it…but the main thing I recall was coming up with the hangs that occur in the beginning. When Kim was at next practice we just ran the riff over and over and built up the beginning, and then the G and A riff just seemed natural as the vocal part.

I also had the opening guitar riff, A-sharp back to A on the third and second fret of the G string – a twangy western sort of sound, which leads me to the next bit…

I am really fond of Westerns. John Ford (Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), Sam Peckinpah (Ride the High Country), Henry Hathaway (True Grit, How the West was Won), George Stevens (Shane, Giant). I’m still a sucker for them – anyway – one of the main descriptions you’d often read in Western movie summaries was “ An interloper rides into town…” so I often had this “who made you the interloper” thing in my head – like, who the fuck are you to get involved in my business, stay the fuck away! Ironically the anti-hero was often the interloper, so I’m echoing the town villain sentiments to some extent here…so maybe sometimes I wear the black hat…

So, it was all a bit organic to be honest and came together quickly once I had Kim playing the bass line and then it devolved to a G to A riff.  That opens into the guitar just playing E over that bass line with “You ought to know what a liar I am, I laid my cards on the table” which explores the idea that I thought you accepted me faults and all, and of course that includes lying, so why are you complaining now and getting in my space! By the way, it’s not about me ok!?

I like the fact we stop after first verse and chorus and it sort of tries to start as if getting a stuttering engine to turn-over, and then it begins again.

Story about this rehearsal space – One afternoon we were practicing at this place, and Aaron has some crackers he smuggled in from who knows where – not having seen them for many years as Fireworks Night was banned during our youth due to so many fuckwits blowing their fingers and hands off, and sticking crackers up cats arses, that it was ruined for all of us. I loved Fireworks night. Anyway, we lit the crackers, little Tom Thumbs which you pretty well can hold between your fingers to show you are a tough hombre – anyway, I think either I threw one at Aaron, or he threw one at me (you can see why they were banned), and when the cracker exploded it set some weird straw shit that was part of the door insulation on fire and it went up pretty quick, next thing the rehearsal studio was on fire.

Luckily Kim drove a VW Wagon, and since VW’s are well known for bursting into flames if they roll, and you know, well, it was Kim right? – So he had a fire extinguisher on hand of course. He raced up the stairs, grabbed the extinguisher, ran down and put out the flames. Of course now the entire basement reeked of smoke and was full of that white powdery crap the extinguisher put everywhere. We managed to extract the burnt pieces of straw insulation material, whatever it was from the door and wall, so you couldn’t see the burnt versions, and then cleaned up. The owner came by to lock up and instantly was like “what’s that burning smell” so we were caught. Minimising the whole thing by utilising shrugs and mutterings like “er small fire, it’s out”, we seemed to get away with it. Maybe it was being surrounded by 6 foot guys saying “forget about it” was enough for him to…forget about it.

Did we demo this song? I’m sure we did – I need to find out from someone. When we recorded it with Tony Nesci and Rollins in ‘95 it was already a staple part of the live show so it went down easy. Not much to tell – we did drums and bass beds first, with guide guitar and vocals, then went back and did guitar and vocals later. Mixed it with Rollins and Tony.

The end of the song were it stops a second and the guitar re-introduces things I always really liked – I wanted it to sound like a freight train on its way to deliver you unto God…something like that, then it goes into a half time drum beat with the guitar and bass echoing that G and A and the long “Interloperrrrrrrrr” to the end.

Still really like playing this song.

John Scott