In Conversation with… Sabian Wilde

Marketing Lecturer. Writer. Music Bod. Claims to have coined 'Perthonality'

Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

In conversation with… FLETCHER

leave a comment »

Originally published in the print version of  X-Press Magazine.

To Sur, With Love

https://www.facebook.com/benfletcher

Fletcher

Upon Ayr is Australian-born musician Fletcher’s first solo album after years with Bluebottle Kiss, his own band The Devoted Few and a couple of years playing in the backing band for his good friend Sarah Blasko. Signed in the UK to Mike Batt’s Dramatico label, Fletcher speaks to SABIAN WILDE for it’s Australian release.

            In Jack Kerouac’s novel Big Sur, the writer is in seclusion in the majestic forests of Big Sur, seeking isolation and time to reflect after the madness following On The Road‘s publication. For Fletcher, the book had a special resonance as he wrote his album, alone amid the forest of people that is London.

Big Sur is such an intense novel and it really spoke to me,” Fletcher says. “I felt I understood it because it really makes you question what you’re doing; what friends and family mean. A big thing for me on this album is, ‘what is home?’.

“London is amazing if you have contacts, but otherwise it’s just a cold, dark place. I mean, obviously it’s cold, but their music industry can be very cold too, stand-offish,” he says.

“They just don’t have much time for anyone — especially if you’re an Australian singer. It doesn’t matter how big you are back home — they’re like, ‘We’ve got seven of you’.”

Upon Ayr was written and recorded as part of a demoing process, started using using stolen time and facilities in a university dorm that his friend had kept a keycard for after completing his studies.

“There were a couple of hairy moments of sneaking around, hiding from security guards,” Fletcher laughs, “but in retrospect, they probably wouldn’t have cared or known as long as we had the keycard. It was just a funny way of starting to make this record.

“A lot of what you hear on the album is from those three or four nights — just relaxed, first-take vibes. The album as a whole just came about over a year as I kept building on those demos before making a ‘proper’ album.

“I toured with Paul Kelly last year and he kind of blew my mind when he told me he never demos. He writes the song on a piece of paper, takes it into the studio and records the song. He doesn’t go through the act of demoing, which makes sense now, but blew my mind at the time. My brother always demoed before recording, so that’s just how I thought it was done,” he laughs ruefully.

“I always loved my original demos more than the finished products, just a little bit,” he admits. “I didn’t think of Upon Ayr as recording a record so much as just making demos until Sarah Blasko told me, ‘This is totally fine. This is done’.

In addition to playing in her band, Fletcher says Blasko is one of his best friends, and that the two of them communicated regularly while writing their albums; he in London, she in the UK seaside city of Brighton.

“It’s a cold, dark place there as well,” he laughs. “It’s hardly a beach, it’s horrible, and it has the saddest seagulls anywhere. But it was good to get Sarah in for my record, in particular on this duet called The Simple Life.

“We both moved over to the UK about three years ago and it was kind of a tumultuous time for both of us. You spend a lot of time either touring or head down writing and then you look up and wonder, ‘What am I doing with my life?’

“She was in Brighton and I was in London, so there were a lot of texts back and forth where we were both wondering… Maybe I should just become a teacher? Surely it would be nice to have a simple life? A house? Kids? Suburbs?

“I think artists throughout the ages have both loved and loathed that situation, which is kind of how I played it in the song, casting Sarah and I as a sort of suburban Bonnie and Clyde. I was really glad I was able to sing it with her on this record.”

            Fletcher admits that his circle of musical friends and the social aspects of touring provide a form of friends and family, “but only to a point”.

Here, Fletcher moves to another literary giant, author of You Can’t Go Home Again (1940), Thomas Wolfe – not to be confused with Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of the Vanities, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test).

“There’s a song called Open Up which is influenced by You Can’t Go Home Again,” Fletcher says. I really felt like I was becoming the book’s main character, Eugene Gant, who was essentially Wolfe. Especially when I come back to Australia and realise people are moving on with their lives. Things happen in your absence and it’s not the same.

“The death of relationships always freaks me out,” he considers. “Friends of mine had been dating for twenty years and then one day, the guy wakes up and says he feels like he’s sleeping next to a stranger. That sounds like a horror movie to me.”

True to it’s story-telling form, Upon Ayr features a song titled Strangers Sleeping in the Same Bed.

“The death throes of relationships, even though we all go through it and we all come out the other end; when you’re in it you can’t believe it’s happening, you feel like you’re on another planet. But there’s a great feeling when you realise you can never really run out of love.

“It’s a very romantic notion to think that your heart has been broken into pieces, but I think there’s an inextinguishable light, that never goes out — until obviously you die,” he laughs. “But even when you’re heartbroken, [love] doesn’t run out. It’s not a battery, and that’s kind of nice, I suppose.”

At this point, we return to the loving/loathing of deceptively simple concepts such as the heart and home. Fletcher agrees that artists sort of add to this contradiction by writing songs of isolation and loneliness that inexplicably comfort the listener, reminding them that loneliness is itself a shared part of the human experience.

“That’s definitely how I feel, but it’s hard to explain to your mum or your sister who think that you’re going crazy and want to kill yourself,” he laughs. “Leonard Cohen has some of the most deeply troubling and depressing themes, but obviously, we love it. That is some hardcore shit.

“Robert Smith is always ‘woe is me’ and black eyeliner and shit, and I loved that too… I always used to tell people I was the only ginger goth in Bondi. Then I realised that even goths hate gingers,” he laughs warmly.

And there it is again; that recognition that even in the home he sometimes longs for, he began as an outsider.

“It’s a mystery to us… the simple life,” he says happily. “Something that pulls us towards it even though we feel we can never have it. London could be my Big Sur. Kerouac was mostly homesick for alcohol and parties, missing all the things that were killing him, so I guess you can be homesick for different things and different reasons, but it feels the same.”

Written by Xab

Friday, April 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm

IN CONVERSATION WITH… Ennui

with 3 comments

As will soon be obvious, I’m not in the best mood today…

Download the AUDIO, courtesy of RTRFM.

_____

Yesterday a man gave a speech about a world
In which we wouldn’t have to live in fear
Of nuclear attack…
And it was nice, yeah it was nice
And meanwhile North Korea’s launching
Invisible satellites, and they are nice…
A little harder to see…
If you don’t believe me,
Just ask the Japanese, ‘cuz
They are nice,
Just ask the whales,
Second only to Sea Shepherd
For having tall tales…

If there is a point to all of this
I hope I’m not a realist
I hope there’s still hope to be had
I hope that life ain’t all that bad
I hope the earthquakes go away
I hope the missiles do not stray
When cynicism is the norm
It makes you wonder why we’re born…

A cynic is a person who just cannot see the good
In humanity; It’s history cannot be understood
In terms of nice… Don’t ask me why.
It’s like emos who can cut themselves but never seem to die
It isn’t fair… so much despair
And nothing good to show for it but really cool hair.

If there is a point to all of this
I hope I’m not a realist
I hope there’s still hope to be had
I hope that life ain’t all that bad
I hope the earthquakes go away
I hope the missiles do not stray
When cynicism is the norm
It makes you wonder why we’re born…

But if I had to guess…
That even cynics  just like sex… a little too much.

Stop procreating
We could have a new world order
If we’d all skip a generation.

Gamer’s Anonymous – The Parisite Response

with 14 comments

Geez, the internet is great… I’ve been outed as an addict.

A Gamer Addict… By my friend the Parisite.

He has this to say on Gamers Anonymous [to which I don’t belong – in fact, we merely speculate at its existence].

Are the twelve steps something like: ↑, ↑, →, ←, □, ○, x, L1, R2, ↑+□, R2+x, ↓ …?
— The Parisite

Ah… chuckles…

I hope he tells his gaming problem story on his blog soon.
— The Parisite

Well, probably not in detail – it’s kind of embarrassing. Not to mention that I get the ‘urge’ just thinking about it. I’m not fussy… in times of desperation, once I noticed that Windows Solitaire numbers each ‘random’ hand, I started to play them sequentially and got to 200+ before I stopped.

I first realised I was an addict while playing ‘The Sims’. I was congratulating myself on teaching my avatar to get up, go to work, pay the rent and maintain a relationship, when I realised I was late for work.

Two days late.

And I hadn’t paid the rent either.

So how did it begin?

I still remember playing one of the early arcade games ‘Maniak’ (?) in the downstairs room at Papa’s in Fremantle – where the illicit gambling is alleged to have taken place.

Yep, it was a den of vice, waiting for me to fall in. Figuratively, that is, I do remember being able to negotiate the stairs without incident. I was hooked.

My family never had much money, but somehow Mum scraped enough together for a second-hand Vic 20, but it wasn’t too long before I’d disappear to go to friend’s houses to play C64, then Amiga or even the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (ah…. Elite!).

Years later, Timezone opened across the road from Papa’s. I was a high-school drop-out by 16, at which point the manager offered me a job, on the basis that I was there all the time anyway.

Skill puts the cost/minute ratio in the gamer’s favour, and I had already started to get hooked on pinball games as they didn’t ever ‘end’, making it possible to play a single game for up to 45 minutes or so, all the time racking up free games…

I took the job, thus radically reducing the amount of time I had to spend playing games – a fourteen hour shift every two days meant that while I thought I was getting every second day off, it was more like working all day, sleeping for a day and going back to work…

This may have contributed to my surly disposition towards customers, but it was just as likely to be the frequent death-threats I’d get from bogans somewhat outraged by the fact that a geeky kid like me had the keys to all the games in the place.

I won’t tell you why I was fired, but I will say that the manager’s daughter had this tattooed on her ankle.

Classy place, classy company.

Next stop – servicing arcade games for an independent opeartor, and eventually building juke-boxes and other amusement machines… this is at about the time PCs started to become more common, but seeing as I was pseudo-homeless for the next year or so, I had neither the money nor anywhere to put one.

On the other hand, I did learn to play guitar. A real one.

I’m learning Rock Band now.

I ended up working with the independent operator, using the sideshow alley stalls he ran at the Royal Show (WA), the Ecka (Brisbane), Moomba (Victoria), Luna Park (Sydney and Melbourne) to travel the country a bit, but mostly based out of Melbourne, where I ended up running one of his juke-box hire companies, where I convinced him he really needed internet.

Next step – completely addicted to ‘Sanity’s Edge’ – a text based MUD (Multi User Dungeon) with a cyberpunk theme. People I met only as words on a screen, some of whom I am still acquainted with today. [Fuck me, it’s relaunched. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Just when I had learned to have a real job/life/wife. FUCK!]

Do they introduce themselves using their handle/avatar, “I’m Draganslya44 and I’m a game addict”?
— The Parisite

They’re not all that self-reflexive, but it’s kind of true.

During the height first extended period of my addiction, I had many friends whom I knew only by their ‘nicks’ (who says ‘handle’, anyway?). I was friendly for years with a guy I only knew as ‘Bug’, whom I had ‘killed’ because he was true to his name… he was bugging the buggin’ bejesus out of me when he joined up as a ‘noob’.

In Sanity’s Edge, ‘death’ meant being saved at the last minute by paramedics, who would then rob you and throw you out of a moving ambulance into the centre of town. Moments after I killed this annoying newcomer, a voice came over the (text-based) radio…

Now I am small and have no pants.
— ‘Bug’

In a world that pre-dated massively over-hyped pieces of video software that ask you stare at the shallow gryrations of a half-dressed elven women avatars being made to dance by their presumably less desirable overlords, a statement such as ‘Now I am small and have no pants’ simply meant that the guy had a good sense of humour and knew how to take a joke.

I don’t even know how to explain Bug’s friend ‘Hadley’ except to say that it looks like growing up in Canberra fucks you up… in a kind of amusing way. Put it this way, I just tried to track down Hadley and he’s left this up on a forum as his supposed website address… It’s like he doesn’t want me to find him. On the other hand, my signature file on that forum contains the following Fight Club parody, which is strangely appropriate to this discussion.

You are not your magic fireball,
You are not your fancy costume.

The crudely animated MUDs soon followed, which is about when women who had liked MIRC started to play games too. Shortly after this, cybersex started to become commonplace, although I didn’t realise this for some time… I’d be happily hacking some computer-generated foe to pieces, quipping for my life when I realised that the rest of the party was being suspiciously quiet. This is because gamers can use ‘scripts’ which tell their character what to do so they can gain experience while simply ‘chatting’ on ‘intimate modes’.

No, I don’t cyber. I have counselled lonely would-be cybers but that’s a whole other post, which will probably be called, ‘It sure is dark in this dungeon… wanna cyber?’. Nope. My character would be out the front, killing and joking, with an entire party set to automatically ‘follow’ and ‘assist’.

The internet is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it
— William Gibson

I should also point out that these games were fun and more importantly, absolutely FREE.

Anyway… as some of you may know, I ended up being a pop culture reviewer for X-Press Magazine, where I suggested I write a computer game review section, which was transitioned into an X-Press offshoot magazine, ZebraPerth.

And that was pretty much the beginning of the end…

I had achieved Gamer Addict nirvana… Years before Tripod wrote Gonna Make You Happy Tonight, I actually said something like:

I’ll be in later baby, I have to finish this level…
No I won’t come now.  IT’S MY JOB!!!!
I don’t tell YOU how to do YOUR job!

Under the guise of ‘reviewing’ I had free games coming in from developers which I argued I was morally obliged to finish before I reviewed them. Unlike some music reviewers, I liked to watch the whole gig before making comments. Same with my movie reviews… And if the game says it offered 60 hours of continuous gameplay, I owed it to my readers to make sure that was true.

That’s what I told my girlfriends and that’s what I told myself. Even after the girlfriends left.

My wife was the most significant of these girlfriends, and she will quite happily tell you that at various stages of the last ten years, my addiction to computer gaming has threatened to kill our relationship.

In November 2007, I killed my computer by chainsmoking for two weeks playing World of Warcraft next to a PC without its sides on while my wife worked on an extended campaign. The motherboard is apparently coated in tobacco resin and cannot be fixed.

Which brings me to one of the Parisite’s other observations:

Do they need to stay away from pretty much any electronic device because that would be an enabler?
— The Parisite

I no longer own a PC.

I no longer own a PS2, and I never bought a PS3 or an X-Box.

I’m glad I never bought a Dreamcast, and I’m sorry for those who did.

My phone only has one game on it. I have finished it probably 100 times.

I still play free online games when my wife isn’t around.

I’m not proud.

But I’m happily married, I pay my rent and I get to work on time.

Except for when I’m trying to blog in the morning.

It’s for the readers…

Believe me?

IN CONVERSATION WITH… Gladiators

leave a comment »

I believe that ordinary people can be quite extraordinary
Looked at with a fresh and open mind
And the concept of celebrity preys on our insecurities
And sends our confidence into decline

I believe reality TV is somehow fundamentally
Unable to allow us our pride back
‘Cause it feeds into celebrity by letting all the ordinary
People prove on TV that they’re hacks

And that is why of all these shows, Gladiators is the best I know

If you think you have a right to be in my loungeroom, on my TV
I think it’s only fair you try your luck
Against silicone and steroids wrapped in skin and lycra leotards
You get what you deserve, you stupid fuck

I admit that there appears to be an element of bravery
A test of skill, and we can see you’re tryin’
You’ve forgotten the psychology – we head out to the Colosseum
To see Christians get fed to the lions

And that is why of all these shows, Gladiators is the best I know

I believe it isn’t spurious (although it makes me furious)
To claim it’s a social experiment
If that’s the case, let’s step it up, yes let’s overfill the cup
This idea is just, but kind of bent

Housemates this is Big Brother, it’s time to meet the next intruder
Well, to tell the truth, in fact there’s ten (seriously)
Yes last week we brought in Corey, this week in a blaze of gory
Gladiators in the house, my friends…

Housemates, it is time to go,
Gladiators are the best I know
You beefcake boys and bimbo skags
Eviction now takes place in body bags
Housemates, it is time to go,
Gladiators are the best I know

IN CONVERSATION WITH… Thailand

leave a comment »

We’d been in Bangkok for all of fifteen minutes, took a taxi from the airport
Screaming down the freeway, at one hundred and thirty kay
And the lines that made the lanes up didn’t seem to mean that much that day

My wife leans over, takes my hand and asks me, if I am afraid..
Yes I am, but no I won’t, ask the driver to slow down
I’ve got a feeling he won’t kill us just as long as we can let him CONCENTRATE

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Let someone drive, who doesn’t care if you live or die…
Why don’t you let a Thai drive…

High on our list of things to do was seeing tigers outside of a zoo
A Buddhist monk teased tiger cubs as wild pigs ran through the underbrush
The guides claimed it was safe enough to give the bigger tigers belly rubs

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Why don’t you try lying down with a big feline
Pat a man-eating feline

Our bus ride didn’t go to well, right through the night, perhaps through hell
And then a ferry to Koh Tao, it’s paradise, but before we can settle down
We’re given homework in the hope that we might learn how not to drown

We’re going to learn to dive, a husband/wife team tryin’ to stay alive
All it takes is complete trust, communication and other stuff
You’d think a marriage was made of, well here’s a way to see if it’s enough

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Take your wife underwater and pick a fight
OK — sometimes I’m not too bright

But –

I’d like to breath, under the sea,
but I’m wasting oxygen while trying to scream
It’s clichéd crap, I just wanted to see the map
While she was navigating to safety

I’m blowing bubbles and heading for trouble
Yes I am sure lucky she loves me

I guess she could have left me there, screaming and running out of air
But she did not, I think that’s hot,
I deserve less than I have got
Or perhaps I’m off the mark
She’s waiting till the next time, when there’s sharks…

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Just risk your life patting tigers, or let Thais drive
Why don’t you let a Thai drive?

IN CONVERSATION WITH… The Cheese MonkeysPlanet Books

leave a comment »

What do *you* think it is?

What do *you* think it is?

Imagine you’re a boy, in the US in the fifties
Escaping suburbia by going to university
Your carefully chosen subject is exploring creativity
When you enter a hellish realm where the overlords appear to be
CHEESE MONKEYS

In the foyer there’s a pillar made of plaster and pretext
It’s the base of a modern sculpture that does not even exist
A card that reads H Dodd says that the work is merely an extension
Of the artist and materials used are bags of pretension

And now the boy has to know
Who the hell is H. Dodd — And how far does this art thing go?

Signing up for Drawing 101 is kinda easy
In the class he meets the elfin dilettante Himillsy
Yes she is H. Dodd and at first their friendship’s flimsy
But when they try graphic design that’s the end of the whimsy

Every boy like me loves a girl like Himillsy
Intelligent and unstable, but mostly unattainable
So here we have the premise of an art and life awakening
But really it’s a pretext for the gifts that the Cheese Monkeys bring

It’s a book and it’s an object written and designed by Chip Kidd
Who illustrates book covers for some very famous authors
Put this book upon its side, you’ll see it’s better by design
There are hidden messages on the reverse of its spine

It’s a novel and an idea that gives insight to a craft
A manic teacher shows the difference between good design and art
The students wail and crumble, the reader sometimes stumbles
Is it a lesson or a romance or just none of the above

Look at what this Chip Kidd did, he’s written out his own wish list
And made himself a novel that is drawing wide acclaim
The execution’s clever and the point’s as clear as ever
That great design lets cheese monkeys take over your brain

The purpose of design is to put an impulse in your mind
One that wasn’t there before and may have entered through a back door
That’s the strength of propaganda, don’t believe me have a gander
Double check what you believe after you’ve read the Cheese Monkeys..

In the end the purpose of this book is that the reader likes it
That’s not cynical or underhand but so I’m understood
I’d say that upon reflection that the power of suggestion
Made me think that it was great, when really it is simply just quite good.

IN CONVERSATION WITH… Juno

leave a comment »

I wouldn’t normally define teenage pregnancy
As fitting the criteria for champagne comedy
But that is just what Juno does
It’s cynicism seeking love
And showing in a cinema near you
Gestating a belly laugh or two

What do you know, Juno?
You know you’ve got a line in caustic wit
What do you know, Juno?
Well not enough to not be pregnant

Give up on your dark sarcasm
It won’t help to bridge the chasm
‘Tween your sense of being free
And the mandates of biology

Ellen Page, she really cuts it up
In the role of young Miss Juno, Juno MacGuff
In a film surprisingly directed by the son
Of the man who made Ghostbusters, Ivan Rietman

Jason Reitman made a splash with ‘Thank You For Smoking’
Now he’s back to demonstrate his talent’s more than token

What do you know, Juno?
You know you made it with a boy named Bleeker
Sitting in a chair
With no protection, to speak of

Witty dialogue won’t stretch ya
Half as much as your last trimester
Listening to early Stooges
Makes you hard without the bruises

So now it’s real she thinks it’s easy to decide
To keep the pregnancy but give away the child
To a couple who are desperate to be parent
It’s a choice that in a sense lays claim to innocence

Dialogue is half of it; the other is the casting
Dad is Jonah Jameson and Mum is from West Wing
How’s this for prospective parents?
Failed rock star and anal retentative
ALIAS and Jason Batemen
Superbad kid provides the semen

What do you know, Juno?
It’s got a lot of unexpected laughs
It’s kind of close to cool
But even closer still to being sad
Is it contemporary
Or life as we’d like it to be?