78 Saab Rock The Bells
News posted Thursday, October 4 2007 at 10:00 AM.
Related: 78 Saab.
When Sydney’s 78 Saab released their second album, Crossed Lines, in 2004, frontman Ben Nash was disappointed that it had taken the Canberra expatriates three years to follow up their debut set, Picture A Hum, Can’t Hear A Sound. He was also adamant that that would not be the case next time around. So here is the quartet’s new disc, The Bells Line, arriving just… three years after the last album.
“It’s pretty disgraceful,” admits the ever personable Nash with a laugh. “This time it wasn’t about waiting for record contracts or anything, it was just a matter of us being lazy. The recording was as quick as we’ve ever done – two weeks with Wayne Connolly – but with Nikolai [Danko, drums] playing in a bunch of bands and some of us getting a bit jaded by the end of the Crossed Lines run, I didn’t want to be playing rock & roll just for the sake of it. Personally I had to recharge the batteries and then you reconnect with the muse and you’re off again.”
The Bells Line is worth the wait. The four-piece’s ringing folk-rock is as melodic and allusive as ever, with urban and rural landscapes alternating as settings for a tangle of memories and moods. Nash’s relationship with the muse is as solid as ever, even if she wasn’t as prompt as producer Wayne Connolly would have liked.
In the studio a Connolly and Nash conversation would go like this: “You know what, Nashy, sometimes you’ve just got to push it,” Connolly would say. “I’m waiting for the muse to kick in,” Nash would explain. “We don’t have fucking time for the muse,” the producer would reply.
On the circular, urgent ‘Kandahar’ Nash sings about David Hicks, charting his journey from the Adelaide hills to Guantanamo Bay, where he’s “Trumped up and ready for a kangaroo court”.
“The sentiment came to me after reading a couple of articles by Paul McGeough in the Sydney Morning Herald,” explains Nash. “I wrote a few lines and just took it from there. It’s pretty rare that our music meets up with right wing shock jocks, but if Alan Jones wants to play the song on his show, I’ll be listening. It would be great APRA income and I’d love to hear the talkback callers afterwards.”
The spread of 78 Saab’s career means that they’ve been almost ever-present on the roster of Ivy League, the increasingly well-connected independent label that is currently celebrating 10 years of operations.
“We were their second release: the John Reed Club seven-inch was first, then our ‘Whatever Makes You Happy’ single,” recalls Nash. “We’ve been great friends with them since 1996, so from that angle it’s been great to put records out on a label that respects what you do. They leave us to ourselves and we haven’t abused that trust too much. There’s a little more infrastructure – in the old days it ran on the smell of an oily rag, but the sentiment hasn’t changed. They only put out stuff they love.”
The group has the same relationship with their fans. After introductory shows at the East Brunswick Club in Melbourne and the Hopetoun in Sydney, 78 Saab support Josh Pyke later this month on a national tour.
“We have a loyal Melbourne and Sydney following, even though we pushed a lot of new material down their throats at the last shows,” Nash says. “Some of them have been around for a while – we haven’t really interacted too much with the teenage market recently, so our crowd is a little more thoughtful.”