Track By Track: Kirin J Callinan
Several years and versions in the making, KIRIN J CALLINAN’s debut solo album ‘Embracism’ is finally ready to share with the world.
A duet with a mate. Like ‘Money 4 Nothin’’ on Brothers in Arms. Only A. Akers [from Forces] is my Sting, and I’m his M. Knopfler. Kinda. Lyrically, this one’s threatenin’ to be prophetic, which was possibly the plan all along. It represents my own mild schizophrenia and, along with the cover art, ‘Halo’ is the album's introduction & welcoming address. It is also the first song that Kim [Moyes] and I started working on, and the last one we finished. A fitting opener.
This one happened quick. Instrumentally, we built it in our spare time – the bass & the kick & the guitar & the synth were all conceived and recorded in an afternoon between workin’ on more laborious tasks. And then we left it for a while. When the lyrics came, by surprise, on a lonely flight from NY to LA some months later, they flowed equally as quick and I performed ’em the day I got home, deprived of sleep and lacking in sanity.
I guess I was kinda tappin’ into a couple of unique experiences I had whilst growin’ up in a territorial beach ’burb; but more broadly it was inspired by the macho competitiveness that exists in spades in Australia, and what it means to be a man here. More specifically, I was enjoying a book of homoerotic pics by Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger, of local boys ‘n’ some girls too, in Zurich, Basel & Luzern in the late 1950s, early ’60s. I was also angry about being betrayed by love and faith and other immeasurable things, so drew a line in the sand & pitted these ill-defined ideas against what I actually perceive every day in the physical world by my five common senses, in an attempt to reclaim my own identity, independence and belief system.
Depending on my environment & the circumstances, this recording still seems to bend time for me, changing its tempo according to my moods.
‘Come On USA’
I love The Boss. I love America. Was romanced by both. I bought into it and believed it. And, by choice, I still do. The US is as familiar to me as Australia is exotic. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed & afraid though.
The words were written after my first LA adventure, late 2009/early 2010 – about the idea of freedom or ‘The Land of the Free’ versus the startlingly obvious and much dimmer reality. It is also about my nostalgia and the longing I had for a place that I had no blood connection [to]. It is also, in a way, about my festering paranoia – spending my time in LA penniless & online, addicted to researching Freemasons, reptiles & the chemtrails in the sky outside my window (and everywhere since). It’s about the overbearing & insatiable sexual appetite of US culture, about the Caesars of Rome & a crumbling super empire, about my love of American people, my own American dream, and the ironic & counterproductive longing I had to just be back with the girl I loved in Oz. It was originally titled ‘Cum on USA’. Over three big dumb chords. Then Kim made it fun.
I have a habit of indulging in irrational romance and sentimentality. I wanted this one to be as romantic, sentimental, dramatic & bombastic as possible. It’s an older song, coulda been a Mercy Arms tune. Was written as a confessional and as an admission of guilt. When I can’t say something I sing it.
A love/hate song. Trying to convince myself that I was over it, and that I missed my car – my beautiful ’91 Nissan Pintara auto off-white station wagon that broke down near Blacktown on the M4 – more than I did her. Turns out it’s mainly about obsession. Musically it was inspired by some sonic therapy she gave me while it was bucketing down in the mountains. The lyrics were written on the back of the same page, on the same emotional & productive NY to LA flight, that ‘Embracism’ splattered out onto.
At the time of writing I was curious ’bout sincerity and honesty in songs. This is a mix of fiction & nonfiction, and my memory of what was real and what wasn’t is now hazy. Kinda wonder how it affects its sincerity, if at all. I also just wanted people to feel as sad as I did.
More broadly, this is about bein’ reckless and emotional. It’s about my childhood best friend, and it’s for the U15 Div 1 Hawks boys, class of 2011, on the mountain. Pride is burning strong in Hazlebrook NSW.
‘Stretch It Out’
I examined myself, rather pretentiously, as if I was lateral, a geographical landmass, every inch, every strength ‘n’ weakness of my being as physical matter. Like a giant muscle, or a city or a planet. This seemed to work best over a demented aerobics soundtrack. Turned out supa weird but kinda pop.
‘Way II War’
Paranoia & loneliness, Ver2.1.
Is ironically about water, H20, the essence of wetness. Tis also touchin’ on my idea of reincarnation & the afterlife, or a place between lives, and has some fun water wordplay like “birthing at the Doc” and “banks closing in” and “tied to the sea.” But it was mainly inspired by YouTube, actually.
Indulgent sentimentality, earnest naivety and a delay pedal is how this song was spawned. It’s the oldest on the record, and the oldest song I’m likely to ever release. I feel it’s an appropriate closer, the swan song of this chapter (finally).
Because of its age it was a challenge to connect with the source. The mini-masterstroke came when I turned the delay off. It was like hittin’ the refresh button. It became exciting for me again. Sorry if ya miss the delay. I don’t.
‘Embracism’ comes out Friday (June 28) in Australia through Siberia/Remote Control. Pre-order it here. Launch tour dates below. Canninan will also tour nationally supporting Midnight Juggernauts in August and September.
Wed, June 26 – Yours & Owls, Wollongong, NSW [w/Standish/Carlyon + Horse Macgyver]
Thurs, June 27 – Terrace Bar, Newcastle, NSW [w/Standish/Carlyon + Horse Macgyver]
Fri, June 28 – The Standard, Sydney, NSW [w/Standish/Carlyon + Horse Macgyver]
Sat, June 29 – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD [w/Standish/Carlyon, Scraps + Per Purpose]
Thurs, July 4 – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC [w/Standish/Carlyon + Jonny Telafone]
Fri, July 5 – Jive, Adelaide, SA [w/Steering By Stars + The Scarlet Ives]
Fri, July 19 – The Bakery, Perth, WA [w/Usurpers of Modern Medicine]
Sat, July 20 – Mojo’s, Fremantle, WA [w/Usurpers of Modern Medicine]