Saturday, September 19, 2015

mars needs guitars!

The Hoodoo Gurus turned their bittersweet blues into a primitive powerpop paradise with the death defying diversity of this wonderfully weird wipeout.    The strength of their debut album 'Stoneage Romeos' had sparked interest for the group on the college circuit.  They cut loose drummer James Baker and replaced him with Mark Kingsmill from The Hitmen to record their next album.  'Mars Needs Guitars!'  was recorded with producer Charles Fisher and engineer John Bee and features Clyde Bramley on bass and backing vocals;   Dave Faulkner on lead vocals, guitar, and keyboards;    Brad Shepherd on lead guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals, and harmonica;   and  new addition  Mark Kingsmill on drums and cymbals.   

Shepherd says:    "The recording of it was just kind of workman like, and we just went up there at 301, here in Castle High Street in Sydney… and got through it fairly briefly. My recollections are that we started playing that album, we started playing the songs a whole lot better actually when we were on tour for that album. That’s my strongest recollection, that we were very busy in the wake of Stoneage Romeos. The record did quite well for us. We were busy out promoting it and we were touring a lot, and we really just set aside a short amount of time to cobble songs together and record it, and we didn’t really do demos as such, or even work too hard on our parts. We got the basics, but we were still sort of unfamiliar with the material, and just went in and recorded it. It worked out okay but I remember thinking ‘I’m playing this a whole lot better now’ a couple of months into the tour, and I wished I was this familiar with the material when we recorded it. That’s what I remember thinking. So a little bit of regret that we weren’t afforded the luxury of more time to concentrate on our parts and the arrangements...It is kind of a pop album, I suppose so. And maybe that had partly to do with the production as well, I think. Certainly we had Charles Fisher do that for us and despite the fact that Charles arguably is… I won’t say arguably, but for me the record that I think of with Charles Fisher that he did, he produced Radios Appear for Radio Birdman. The thing he also did… was the debut for Moving Pictures. So he gets around, and I guess he probably found his feet as a producer more than anywhere else in the realm of pop records, stuff that can easily get played on the radio. So maybe that’s part of what you’re hearing. But we love that record."

Faulkner:    "When we commence the sessions for 'Mars Needs Guitars!' we had a brand new drummer, Mark Kingsmill who altered our lives forever with his distinctive explosive style. At the same time I vowed to myself that I would write less comic narratives and try to express my sentiments in a more forthright way. I feel I succeeded with 'Bittersweet' though at the time I didn't think that a) the band would want to play it and b) our audience would want to hear it. I was happily wrong on both counts ... 'Mars Needs Guitars!' was a turning point for me as a writer. I started being more personal in my lyrics, not just writing colourful stories ... The final straw with A&M was for Mars. We gave them that, and they were like, “Oh yes, ‘Bittersweet,’ we love that song! But it’s completely wrong.  You’ve got to have a chorus that’s fast enough and all that, so we’re gonna show you how it should be.” The A&R guy took it into a studio in L.A., remixed it and chopped it up, and did this hideous abomination to the song. Because he thought he could do better than us, how to write a song. When we said, ‘Get fucked, you can’t release it like that!’ they dropped us. That was because it was his thing: he was going to make ‘Bittersweet’ a hit record. Of course, to this day, people would laugh at the idea of you changing that song at all.”

'Mars Needs Guitars!'  charted at number one hundred and forty on the US Billboard 200 album chart,  five in Australia (where it has been certified platinum), and number one on the US college album chart.

"Bittersweet" reached number sixteen in Australia.

You are my sword.
Your love is its own reward.
My heart, I have found,
Gets carved surely by the pound.

God knows. I tried,
Tried to hold you with all my might
But time has won,
And I could never be that strong.
(Don't cry) I couldn't be that strong,
(Don't cry) That used to be my favourite song.
(Don't cry) Tears so bittersweet
Fill my eyes whenever we meet,
It's always bittersweet.

I cut and I bleed.
You seem to find that so hard to believe!
That's just too, too bad.
You could never touch the love that we had.

(Don't cry) For the love we had,
(Don't cry) Sometimes we try to take it back.
(Don't cry) Tears so bittersweet
Kiss my cheeks whenever we meet.
It's always bittersweet.

(Don't Cry) For a love-gone-wrong
(Don't cry) That used to be my favourite song
(Don't cry) Tears so bittersweet
Kiss my eyes whenever we meet.

We've grown and times change.
When we meet now it feels so strange.
I hold you like a sword
You won't cut me like you did before.
It's always bittersweet.

"Like Wow – Wipeout" went to number fifteen in Australia.   Faulkner:   "We recorded thinking that we could make a bit of racket and have some studio fun ... as a b-side but producer Charles Fisher thought it 'had something' and should be included on the album. No-one was more surprised than us when it became the second single and our biggest hit at the time. We just liked it because it was noisy."

"Death Defying"

'Mars Needs Guitars!' 
full album:

All written tracks by Dave Faulkner unless otherwise indicated.

"Bittersweet" – 3:44
"Poison Pen" – 4:09
"In the Wild" – 3:07
"Death Defying" – 3:21
"Like Wow – Wipeout" – 3:09
"Hayride to Hell" – 3:15
"Show Some Emotion" – 2:56
"Other Side of Paradise" – 3:31
"Mars Needs Guitars" (James Baker, Clyde Bramley, Faulkner, Mark Kingsmill, Brad Shepherd) – 2:52
"She" – 3:28

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