Track By Track: Mess O? Reds
Hobart band Mess O? Reds churn through cathartic, distorted post-punk on their self-titled first album, which includes a ?Batrider ripoff? and a nod to Touch & Go Records, writes guitarist/vocalist NICK DI FALCO.
Another instrumental track called ?Intro? in a lineage of instrumental tracks called ?Intro?. There really isn’t much to say except it prefaces the sonic template of the album: mid-tempo, shouty, white-boy aggression.
Together with some juvenile existentialism, this is my interpretation and exploration of the phrase ?ignorance is bliss?. There’s nothing unique or overly incisive about saying the world is generally a fucked place, but it still amazes me how the overt fuckedness somehow manages to not register with many people. There’s no firsthand experience of prejudice or disadvantage so they can’t understand that their privilege is not universal. It’s simply outside of their sphere of existence. To a degree I guess it’s an attempt to examine my own privilege and how I express and am shaped by it.
It seems to be a recurring theme of Hobart bands to write a song about Hobart. This is a skewed ode to the place, expressing sentiments along the line of ?You might be a shitty place but you’re my shitty place.? Reluctant parochialism, if you will. Others have expressed similar sentiments more coherently and insightfully than I ever could but, to me, Melbourne never seemed like the greener grass. It just seemed as mired in scene politics as anywhere else. Plus, as a rule, Melbourne bands generally suck.
?Water for Coffee?
I read an article ages ago which proposed a biological reason for teenagers? fucked-up body clocks. A theme throughout the album is the notion of being constantly tired and how it impairs how you operate day-to-day. I used to do this thing where if I ever produced something substandard (school work or a creative pursuit) I would say to myself, ?Well, I could have done better if I wasn’t so fucking tired.? I realised how fucked a mentality that was, but I didn’t even attempt to change things. I’m working full-time now, so I guess the fatigue thing continues to be relevant. I just operate with it better.
A song using metaphors about drinking. I don’t actually drink that much but I seem to consistently reuse it as a theme. It seems interesting as a cultural symbol. It’s that Australian thing – consumption choices as cultural markers. Also, you know, legal reality alteration. Sonically, this is a [Batrider](/search/?q=batrider) ripoff and I’m OK with being transparent about it. Lots of bands tend to be derivative and then keep a straight face in denying it. Saying that, I still have internal tensions about where I draw the line between homage and derivation. It’s an ongoing struggle that I think most people who make music or art can identify with – how do you transcend your influences and make something truly idiosyncratic?
?The College Poet?
The oldest song on the album. It’s a romanticised and embellished story which uses similar themes as ?Water for Coffee? and intertwines it with the notion of the educational system sometimes being mechanistic, monotonous, repetitious and sometimes plain shitty.
A lot of our songs only use two to three chords and a single repeated musical idea, but it’s not as overt as the usual Ramones-esque punk conventions (?Learn three chords, make a band?). Don’t tell anyone, but technically we suck as ?musicians? (ergh). People usually construe this as a breakup song, but it was never really intended that way. The lyrics deal with my experiences of relationships, romantic and platonic. It seems like an embittered affair and I probably was when I wrote it, but the truth is it’s a snapshot of past history which doesn’t reflect my current feelings. Shit changes, people move on, art stays – for better or worse.
?Touch and Go?
?Touch and Go? is noteworthy because it was completely improvised. The version you hear on the album was the first (and effectively last) time we ever played it. And the irony being it’s probably our most naturally developed song. None of the changes seemed overly forced and the interplay between instruments is a testament to us as a musical unit (and good ol? buds). The title is a nod to the [record label](http://touchandgorecords.com) of the same name.
####?Mess O? Reds? is out [now](http://messoreds.bandcamp.com/album/mess-o-reds) on CD and vinyl through Right Wing Comedian. The band plays tomorrow (March 15) at The Brisbane Hotel in Hobart with Lucky Dips and J Robert Youngstown.