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The Rizal Fountain Raps were originated by the Arts Crew know as Too Many Weapons- Dave Finnegan, Georgie McAuley, Sam Burns-Warr and Jordan Prosser. They were in Manila working on a script called Battalia Royale, which would become a show, which would become a national phenomenon, which would become an international controversy, which would become a show.

But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about the night they went to the Rizal Fountain, a rather garish construction in honour of Philippines national hero Jose Rizal, and filmed themselves doing some spoken word pieces.

Powered by nothing other than the annoying quality level of the artists involved, the Rizal Fountain Raps have become a series that has bounced between Melbourne, Sydney and Manila an sucked in a dozen other artists, including myself.

Myself, who of course had never done a performance poem or spoken word piece or the like before. Relying on nothing but my competitive instincts and a some things I really really wanted to talk about quite urgently, I wrote and performed this piece during what was already the most artistically hectic week of my life (this was filmed about five hours before I performed New Love Universe as described in the previous post).

I’m very close to this one and it’s slightly nerve-wracking to share it, but more importantly, here is the link to the rest of the Rizal Fountain series. These guys are some of my favorite artists and favorite people in the world. See if you can judge which of them I shamelessly aped the most!

 

 

 

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I walk around with a list on my head of the types of songs that I will one day write.

Back in August of this year, my close friend Nick McCorriston and I found ourselves part in Quezon City taking part in devised theater show based around a fictional cosmology of love that we barely understood. I for one felt completely out of my depth, and so fell back on my most reliable nervous compulsion- pop songwriting. And the list.

NickaMc and I had played in bands and done music stuff together over the years, but had never written together before. With only electronic instruments at our disposal, I knew NickaMC was going to have to do all of the heavy lifting on the production side. I told him I wanted to do a Euro-Dance anthem called Love Universe, I wanted it to have lyrics in english with a super-earnest english-as-a-second-language vibe. He came back half-an-hour later with the chords in a sequence on his ipad.

In that moment, I was anxious. I hadn’t expected him to write the chords. What kind of chords did NickaMc write? I had little reference to know. What if they weren’t powerful enough?

He played them to me and I realised that I had the name of the song wrong. These chords were so powerful, they clearly existed as herald to something bolder than life and newer than love. New Love Universe. I wrote the melody and lyrics in about twenty minutes. The saga of the song then proceeded through the rest of our time in Manila.

The head of the Sipat Lawin Ensemble, the beautiful JK Anicoche, was very magnanimous when we informed him that we’d written a song for his deliberately non-musical show. He was downright saint-like when we got him to translate the lyrics into tagalog and record an alternate lead vocal for us when he was supposed to be getting the cast ready for the test audience.

I recorded my vocals in a booth made of mattresses in the apartment of Sipat’s other company head Sarah Salazar, in the sweltering heat, under NickaMc’s demanding gaze. The gorgeous backing vocals were provided by Sarah and her fellow Sipat-ers Joelle Yuvienco and Meila Romero.

We ended up performing the song as the climax to the final night of LoveNot, in an extended version that featured JK  and also my stupendous White-Leg compatriots Jordan Prosser and Sam Burns-Warr on the inevitable rap verse. I will agitate NickaMc to release the extended mix.

The performance took place overlooking a balcony overlooking the pool that LoveNot took place in and is one of my most treasured moments as an artist.

My MOST treasured moment as an artist, however, happened a couple of months later. JK was in Australia, taking part in a panel discussion at This Is Not Art in Newcastle. I was in the audience as he briefly discussed the way that LoveNot had been designed as a precursor for a Sipat musical called Love. JK, a man who is never lost for a winning turn of phrase, referred to Love as an attempt to create a New Love Universe.

I did a little air punch in my seat.

We’ve worked up a couple of covers to include at Faux Faux Amis’ next gig.

I don’t have much experience with bands and covers – I can exhaustively list it in a paragraph.  It makes for an interesting potted history:

  • Before Chris joined The Missing Lincolns, Nick and I bolstered our duo set with You Really Got A Hold On Me24 Hours To TulsaWe Can Work It Out (I got to sing John’s bit), and Apple Blossom.  While I like all these songs, I have no recollection how we arrived at them.
  • Post-Chris Lincolns, I remember playing one cover – Paul Simon’s I Know What I Know.  We spontaneously launched into it, on a remarkable night at The Phoenix where we could do no wrong and played a bunch of encores (one of my top five favourite gigs).
  • The Michael Jackson Pollock Experience, in our sole appearance, performed I Wanna Be Your Dog.
  • Cool Weapon covered Suicide’s Ghost Rider, and TV Rock’s Flaunt It (I’m going to confidently state we’re the only band to play both in the same set).  We also spent a lot of time rehearsing EMF’s Unbelievable, but it never made it out of the jam room – instead, it’s now my go-to karaoke song.
  • The Bluffhearts disastrously covered John Prine and Iris Dement’s In Spite Of Ourselves – we played it once when Na and I drunkenly launched into it without bothering to tell the band, or having rehearsed it.  Unsurprisingly, that was the first and last time.
  • Lulu & The Tantrums covered Ramones’ I Wanna Sniff Some Glue on Collective Unit Negation Theory.  The three note solo made it the most complicated song on the album.
  •  The Vindications, my Scottish quintet, covered both The Gories’ Sister Anne (my choice), and Ray Charles’ Hit The Road Jack (Jasmine’s choice).
  • And now Babyfreeze has had a crack at Ramones’ Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight), and Prince’s Lonely Christmas (which has become one of my most popular videos on Youtube).  Speaking of which, Nick has done some incredible cover versions with Prom, including (off the top of my head) Prince’s Dirty Mind, Talking Head’s Nothing But Flowers, and PJ Harvey’s Big Exit.

I also covered a couple of KISS and AC/DC songs with ‘The Dull Thuds’, a band put together with some work colleagues for a charity talent show.  I only mention it so I can run this photo:

Queanbeyan Rock City

Choosing covers is a weird art – there’s a lot of variables in locating that sweet spot between too obvious/obscure, too reverential/antagonistic, etc.   I’d been toying with including an Iris Dement or Tuff Darts song, but these first Faux Faux Amis covers fell into our laps – I want to get out playing them while they still has some of that fresh energy attached.