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LUKE

For the last year or so, I’ve been working with artist Adam Huntley on a comic book submission. I haven’t mentioned anything here for fear of jinxing it, but now feels like a good time. versa-8Early concept art

The idea came one slow afternoon at work after a couple of Red Bulls. I dashed it off and emailed it to myself in an over-caffeinated burst. Much of it has been re-worked and refined subsequently, but the energy of that original premise remains.

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Some character sketches adorning my walls.

Here’s an excerpt from my pitch:

Versa Vice is a superspy series, a melange of balls-out action and goofy hijinks. It’s about making something audacious – the kind of comic that can have both six-barrelled revolvers and homages to Van Gogh. It’s a salmagundi of the high and low-brow, a violent and funny book where everything is turned up to 11.

 Versa Vice is the story of soldier-of-fortune Versa Vice (probably a codename), and rookie FBI field analyst Bea Honest (unfortunately her real name).

Versa Vice is a full-on, fast-paced, funny caper – a comic book that feels like an over-the-top action movie. It’s arthouse action, like Crank written by Godard.

I’ve written scripts for the first two issues (which combined complete the first story), and the outline for the first six. Once I had these written, I set about finding an artist.

After a few missteps, I found Adam on deviantart.

Out of hundreds of artists I looked at, Adam instantly stood out. There’s a plethora of good pin-up and sketch artists but dramatically fewer that have experience doing full pages of sequential art. Adam is equally adept at both – I wrote to him pitching the story and he immediately wrote back.

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His style is perfect for the bright, pop tone of the story. His work jumps off the page – to me, it’s in that sweet spot whereby it’s realistic without being gritty. It’s heightened, kinetic super-fun like some beautiful amalgam of Darick Robertson, Mike Allred, Phillip Bond. And his art moves – it’s visceral in a way that’s hard to explain or teach – none of his panels feel static. It’s the same type of smart-stupid as a good blast of punk rock.

Working together on it has been a protracted process, with life frequently getting in our way – Adam’s gotten married and I’ve become a father since we started. We’ve still never talked (Adam’s in California) but we’ve exchanged dozens of emails. In between the work back-and-forth, we update each other on our lives and have gotten to know each other (we’re both beardy comic and music nerds so there’s that!). It’s like having an old school pen-pal, which has been one of the most satisfying (and unexpected) parts of the process.

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A panel from Page 13

To say I am excited about this is an understatement – beginning with The Phantom when I was in primary school, comics have been an enduring passion of mine. And this is a story, while being far-fetched and wild, that has got a lot of me in it.

All art by Adam Huntley.

Last year Alison Procter put a call out for filmmakers interested in doing a short documentary featuring her sister Suzy. Nick responded, bringing me on board to direct.

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We met with Alison and Suzy, and Alison outlined her idea. Suzy has cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability, and doesn’t communicate verbally. As a result, it can be tricky to know how best to interact with her, especially upon first meeting. Alison wanted to film a video that outlined some of Suzy’s quirks and idiosyncrasies so people know what to expect. It’s a great idea, and the video ended up being a mini-profile delving into Suzy’s likes, dislikes, eating habits, and other personal information.

Alison was very conscious this subject matter is often tip-toed around, or conversely, dealt with in an overly clinical manner. She didn’t want to create ‘inspiration porn’ (her term), or kid-glove some of Suzy’s more difficult behaviour. The video had to be irreverent and funny, while still being informative. She sent Nick and I the following for inspiration – she loved the tone, and the way it treats a light-hearted subject seriously (our mission was to do the opposite essentially).

Nick took all this away, along with some other information from Alison, and wrote a script – a ‘how-to’ guide on becoming friends with Suzy. Early on, Nick had the idea of having Suzy’s ‘voiceover’ performed by a deep-voiced man (I think we all had in mind Morgan Freeman). This would set the tone from the get-go, and let people know we were taking a less precious attitude than your typical film featuring the differently abled.

The script called for Suzy to interact with a variety of her friends. For the filming, Alison graciously hosted it at her house (fabulously situated in the Scullin Cultural Precinct), and invited several people to come along for Sunday lunch. Everyone was incredibly generous with their time, patient with the film crew (i.e. me) and magnanimous about being filmed.

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The actual filming was chaotic – from kids (being kids) to changing light, to just figuring out how best to film so many people in such a small space (we filmed in a one room ‘chalet’ in Alison’s backyard). I had prepared a shot list, but barely got time to look at it as I ran from one thing to the next. The most reliable part of the whole day ended up being Suzy. She is a natural in front of the camera, and indefatigable. Directing is an endurance sport – you are typically the first to arrive, the last to leave, and the one with the least downtime during the day. But on this shoot, I had Suzy with me the whole time as well.

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When I found out Suzy also regularly goes dancing, I felt that should be represented in the movie. The following Saturday I attended the Belconnen Arts Centre and filmed her class going through the motions (that’s a dad joke, but I’m allowed now).

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The film was accepted for Belco Flicks and will have its debut – appropriately enough – at the Belconnen Arts Centre. I think this is a great place to debut the film as it is really imbued with a sense of community, those that gather round and support not only Suzy but her family too.

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To complete the film in time, I ended up doing the voiceover myself. I don’t think my voice, lugubrious as it is, sufficiently conveys our comedic intent – it will be interesting to see and hear how an audience reacts to it. If it falls short, we’ll experiment with other voiceovers ahead of releasing the movie on the internet.

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As part of the shoot, I filmed interviews with five of Suzy’s friends – there must be about 45 minutes of content, of which only thirty or forty seconds end up in the film. That’s often par for the course (and I’d much rather shoot more than I need than find myself in the opposite situation). A lot of the interviews dealt with peoples’ first impressions of Suzy, what kind of reaction they and Suzy get when out in public, and times when they’ve struggled to understand or deal with Suzy. Alison and I have talked about using the footage for some other project – the flipside to this essentially, something less about Suzy and more about the people around her. It’s a good idea, and would provide a nice contrast and balance to the existing film.

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The other weekend Faux Faux Amis launched the cassingle for our song 50/50.

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Photo by Laura Milkovits.

 

It was a long time coming. We originally recorded the song with producer Nick McCorriston in January 2014. Nick was kind enough to invite us down to record with him in Melbourne. The band at the time was the OG crew – myself, Chris Gleeson and Kevin Lauro. We cut two tracks that day, 50/50 and Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn ended up remixed before being released as a video in August 2014. However, 50/50 was always meant to be the flagship release. It’s one of the best recordings I’ve been involved in and one of the purest distillations of the default sound I keep in the back of my mind. I’m so glad it is now out in the world.

We had a great experience down in Melbourne with Nick. His studio was a granny-flat-slash-garage behind his house. It felt cosy before we loaded in our amps and drum kit – combined with our four bodies and mid-summer temperatures, it was steamy. But Nick had a warrior-like focus and immediately got us down to the task at hand. I remember spending most of our time on 50/50, but I don’t remember playing it that fast – the recording is pure fire, and I reckon the song’s current gig tempo is at least 20% slower.

Nick was a producer in the classical sense – he especially did an amazing job getting the best out of me. Two stories:

  1. The guitar solo was brand new and I hadn’t yet played it for the rest of the band. Nick took a couple of listens and zeroed in on a section that sounded ‘busy’ – it was his suggestion that particular refrain not be played on the guitar, but instead chanted by the band. That’s what you hear; we added in the call and response backing vocal to the middle of the solo. It’s the kind of genius moment that once heard, you can’t imagine doing it any other way. I wish I could take credit for it, but it was all Nick.
  2. The last thing recorded was vocals, and particularly on 50/50, Nick pushed me. I don’t think I’ve sung it better before or since, and certainly not with the same intensity. Nick was consciously aware of crafting a performance, getting me to pull back from my go-to gravel in the verses before unleashing on the choruses (on the second chorus you can actually hear my voice pop). It was really fun to have someone that invested in my vocals (always a self-conscious thing for me), and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.

Nick’s mix was great – clear but tough. We got the track mastered by Bruce ‘Cub’ Callaway, adding a little extra crunch and space.

From the start, the plan was to release it as a cassingle – in fact, as our first recording. I specially ordered the cassettes from the UK (keeping the fifty-fifty theme, I found cassettes with different colours on either side), and was already talking up the release in March 2014.

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A couple of minor setbacks ended up derailing it – chiefly, I couldn’t find anywhere in Canberra that was able to dub audio cassettes any more (my fault for wanting to release in an obsolete medium). I looked into having it done in Sydney but the postage costs were prohibitive (they were close to being a ‘loss leader’ already). I bought a second-hand dual cassette deck and tried dubbing them myself but they sounded terrible. In the intervening months, Faux Faux Amis went on to gain two singers, record X, lose two drummers, and start making a lot of videos. The blank cassettes sat idle in my garage – in hindsight, I should have abandoned the cassette idea and released the song online. But you know, like John Lennon says, life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.

Cut to May 2016, and Kev asks, ‘Hey, whatever happened to 50/50?’. That set the wheels in motion again – this year I’d upgraded my digital audio interface and also bough a new cassette deck – the combination of the two meant I could dub the cassettes myself.

We finally launched the single on August 6th at the Phoenix, with support from fellow rascals Terrible People and Okinawa Girls.

I had a bit of fun shooting a quick stop-motion promo, and a lot of fun shooting a guerilla marketing promo that masquerades as a Youtube tutorial:

It’s the first bit of Youtube comedy I’ve done since One Pot Punk Rock and it really left me wanting to do more.

Being as it’s called 50/50, we tried to have some fun with half half / dichotomy / binary stuff. Firstly, all the cassettes are gorgeously half-blue and half-yellow. Next, half are in a blue case, the rest in a yellow case. And finally, they all come with an insert with the lyrics, but half the inserts have English lyrics and the other half have French (thanks to Karelle Duchesne for translating!). Oh, and we naturally only made fifty cassettes.

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The cassettes themselves are a thing of beauty, and I wanted to match that with something special for the online component. I tapped graphic designer Fiona McLeod to do some artwork for the Bandcamp page. The brief was a picture of a face split down the middle, each side showing one half of a couple, with splashes of the same colours as the cassettes. As you can see, Fi knocked it out of the park! She also did some stellar pictures of the cassettes which now adorn both the FB and Bandcamp sites.

Faux Faux Amis are getting ready to go back into the studio next weekend to record our next album (tentatively titled Beg For Merci Beaucoup). We plan to re-record 50/50, and I’m excited to see how it turns out in the hands of our new line-up, 60% of which didn’t play on the original recording. I am certain we won’t better this version, but I like the idea of a world where multiple versions exist, some on limited edition cassette. It’s the trainspotter in me.

Among many things, my dad is an artist. We’ve bonded over our love of painters for years now, trading stories of museum visits (I’m still jealous of his trip to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh), and discussing ideas and composition. Dad’s painting more and more at present – his workshop, formally festooned with power tools and equipment, is now stocked with paintbrushes and biscuit-joiners (he also makes his own frames). I was fortunate enough to commission a piece last year – following a cover version he made of The Night Café, I asked him to recreate one of my favourite Van Gogh’s (The Yellow House) from the postcard facsimile I brought back from Amsterdam. Both now hang on my wall.

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We also share a long-running love of Jackson Pollock. Years ago, we went so far as to make our own action painting, standing side by side dripping paint over the canvas. It quickly took pride of place in the living room. Contemplating ways to decorate my soon-to-be daughter’s room, I thought a similar work, painted by her father and grandfather, would be a perfect addition. It’s a way of passing the baton, initiating her into our cult from a young age. And what kid doesn’t like a Pollock (or a well-intentioned knock-off)? It’s a style that fires the imagination, that has something interesting and different in every corner, that could be a forest, or a map, or a galaxy, all three and more, at the same time.

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The result now hangs above the crib. Our only concession to its setting was the palette – bright but soft, like melted ice-cream. We christened it Gold Poles (though Icy Poles might be more apt), and it reminded me of this recollection I wrote in 2008 after a visit to the NGA:

Pollock remains my guy. Or our guy. He’s our man on the inside, who somehow slipped past all the phonies and hustlers, and now he’s up on the wall. I’ve loved his paintings for so long I thought it might have been something I’d grow out of, like getting an undercut or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle soundtrack. But no, he’s still the Shit. Even at the NGA there is so much wank – you’d be forgiven for thinking half their collection was made by that girl in high school with the chipped black nail polish and a dream journal. But turning the corner and seeing Blue Poles still jolts.

“Expressive spontaneity as a means of bypassing the constraints of Western tradition”. Whatever. The fact is Pollock is no bullshit, zero pretension. He’s not being clever, there are no riddles. There’s no irony. There is nothing in his work that makes you feel dumb for not getting it. There’s nothing to get. It needs no explanation, it just stuns. It’s pure velocity.

 

Luke- We heralded the new year with the release of the music video for Worked Up, taken from our EP Forever Together.

I wrote our friend Tom Woodward into the video before asking him if he’d like to be involved. When I pitched him the part of a sketchy drug dealer, he immediately accepted, throwing up a stack of excellent wardrobe ideas, and in a huge commitment to character and authenticity (there are no small roles), he suggested he would even get a spray tan. I told him if he was willing to do it, our budget would cover his costs. The results speak for themselves.

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Speaking of wardrobe, Nick’s guideline for our clothes was ‘extreme normcore’. He mentioned he was going to wear an old torn-up t-shirt. I said I’d do the same – when I met him on the first day of shooting, we discovered both our t-shirts were torn in exactly the same place. Given the ease of the rest of the shoot, it re-affirmed my belief that these kinds of weird synchronous events are in fact a favourable sign from the gods.

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When I have the option I always like to shoot in Queanbeyan (it’s New York to my Woody Allen), and as self-appointed location scout, we filmed at my place (natch), Tom’s place (around the corner from mine), the Wallaby Motel, the local Hungry Jack’s, and the Donald Road Convenience Store (conveniently operated by my Faux Faux Amis bandmate Kevin Lauro).

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I’ve long wanted to film something inside Kev’s store – every time I walk in I think of the Quick Stop in Clerks. It’s like a portal into an American film universe – there’s even a slushie machine! Kev was incredibly magnanimous in allowing us to shoot there, even letting us do so while the store was still open (his equally patient customers stepped lightly over and around us, quizzical looks on their faces). That’s Kev’s son Alistair playing the role of cashier – not a huge stretch of his acting chops, but I reckon the kid’s got a bright future.

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Nick’s outline for the clip called for ‘dancers dancing in a dirty white void with sleazy lighting’. The first thing that popped into my mind was the brilliant video for Pusha T’s King Push.

It’s latter half (a pristine lit background, with Pusha in shadow in the foreground) was my jumping-off point. Once it was shot, I spent some time layering footage and blending it with different attributes, generating several unique looks. I settled on just two for this video (there’s already enough going on!), but I’ve now got plenty of ideas for subsequent clips.

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I’ll leave Nick to write about the hotel scenes, other than to say I was incredibly impressed with his fearless performance. Matt Lustri (aka Housemouse) was also a complete natural in front of the camera, and I was surprised to learn it was his first experience in a music video!

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Parts remind of those music videos cobbled together from tour and behind the scenes footage… except we filmed it all specifically. Nick and I are both fans of ‘music video logic’, which adheres more to the rules of cinema than television, and prizes mood and texture and novelty and style over the straightforward delivery of information. In my opinion, the more we could leave unexplained, the stronger the impact. To do this but still maintain some coherence was a challenge. My solution was to edit the story beats sequentially and then to layer other footage over the top. That way there is still a throughline (from diner to store to Tom’s to studio to motel) with flash-forwards continually hinting at future scenes. I’ve had one person tell me it’s too busy but it’s a favoured style for me and I think the juxtaposition of shots and rhythm and lyrics adds several other layers of meaning than if it was cut in a more undemanding manner.

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As always, Lou was the unsung hero of production, manning the camera and doing everything else from applying make-up bruises to operating the disco lights. Plus, she is seven months pregnant! She is far too good for all of us.

The clip ends with a coda of Nick and I carrying our gear (and drummer – the redoubtable Grahame Thompson) off into the night. The music playing is a snippet of Defenceless, another song from our EP and our next video. In a grindhouse flourish, I originally had the clip end with a freeze-frame and the text ‘Babyfreeze will return in Defenceless’ superimposed. At the last second, like Coco Chanel’s advice, I took it off, letting the music speak for itself.

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Nick- The steady development of Louise McGrath into a full-blown film-maker has leveled up the whole Lick Nuke operation. I feel like we’re finally hitting 100% of what’s in our heads and it’s great that the first fruits of that is in support of Worked Up, a track that’s gotta be in my top 3 Luke McGrath compositions.

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I’ve become disgracefully reliant on the shorthand of reference and sensibility between Luke and myself. I’d previously written fully-blown scripts for the videos we made together, conscientiously putting everything down in professional script format (Courier New and everyfing!). This time I just wrote a half-page treatment for my idea and then we talked it over for a couple months. Central to my concept was fulfilling my years-long ambition of getting legendary Phoenix-dancefloor-star Robbie Karmel to dance in the clip (he’s also an amazing artist and you’ll be checking out his stuff right now). Once he was locked in we rounded out the dance troupe with the immortally fierce Emma McManus and Lisa Divissi (Luke and my dancing got cut).

WORKED UP - Robbie 2A lot of my favorite hip hop and pop vids bounce confidently between seemingly unrelated settings and narratives, tied together by the sense of the performers identity. I also love the way a music video can endlessly call back to moments once they’ve been established. With those two elements in mind I came up with three separate ‘story strands’, each of which we shot as aggressively linear and coherent short films in their own right. Then I asked Luke to throw narrative coherence out the window and use the footage as raw material for a dizzying mood piece, cut to the music above all else.

WORKED UP - lisaMy original concept for the hotel scene was way more explicit and more in line with the homoerotic lyrics of the song, but turning it into a solo ‘date night’ streamlined the visuals and created a great set-up for Housemouse’s star turn. It’s funny that sexualised male nudity (and sure, masturbation) in video clips is still a relative novelty, but in this case it was a simple matter of following the implications of the song. WORKED UP - luke and nickIt’s also funny that this video crystallizes the notion of Babyfreeze as a two-piece just as we’ve morphed into more of a collective. The next video will certainly reflect that change!

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Babyfreeze SF 9For those who have been tracking Babyfreeze’s life as band, playing at a Warhol-esque performance art party within a roiling sea of burlesque artists, dancers and poets probably seems like the logical conclusion of something. Even by our standards this gig was on the fruity side, and one of the funnest we’ve ever played.Babyfreeze SF 4

Sound and Fury is a semi-regular series of nights curated by the indefatigable Chenoeh Miller, an ACT arts producer of singular focus and sensibility. Sound and Fury takes place inside the Nishi Gallery at At New Acton and it’s core audience are used to a dizzying array of performance that ranges from the frantic to the ruminative.Babyfreeze SF 13

Babyfreeze SF 7Many of the acts were scored live by a quintet of string players from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and I was very lucky to wangle my way into singing a couple of numbers with them. Sitting atop a podium for the first two hours of the night, cutting a figure of inconsolable misery, I periodically broke into ultra-bleak torch favorites from the history of pop such as What Now My Love and Hopelessly Devoted To You. This simple SadSinger character is one I’ve had in the hindbrain for a while and this was a crazy-fun way to roadtest him for future use.Babyfreeze SF 16Babyfreeze SF 14Babyfreeze SF 15Playing things ultra-sad for that long meant that when I moved from the podium to the stage, introduced Babyfreeze and then kicked into our mega-banger Christmas Number One with FULL STRING QUINTET ACCOMPANIMENT is was an instantly floor-filling moment, and maybe as close as we’ll ever get to a movie-style set piece (though not if I have anything to say about it). We vaulted from that straight holiday uplift into one of our sleazier and sketchier sets to date, and the beautiful crowd went right along with us. The whole thing was a real Yuletide Gay.Babyfreeze SF 10Photos by Chenoeh Miller, except for this one of me doing a headstand by Andrew Richey:Babyfreeze SF 2

 

Digby and I performed our Words On A Wire piece last Thursday.

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Entitled EP42 (Elvis Has Not Left The Building), it takes the form of a pseudo-lecture, backed by downtempo and acid tracks.

 

The genesis of the piece was the phrase ‘Elvis has not left the building’ getting lodged in my head. I began riffing on different ways this sentence could be true – commercially, culturally, metaphysically, et cetera. I didn’t know where I was going with it, but after about five build-ups, I knew the payoff had to be big. And then it hit me – the reason Elvis had not left the building was simply literal – he was there that night and ready to perform.

 

In the whole piece, but especially this overture, the writing is as verbose and flowery as I could manage. I was aiming for Humbert Humbert, and trying to evoke the same sense of overkill as the first chapter of Moby Dick, where Ishmael lists example after example of how humans are drawn to water (if you haven’t heard Tilda Swinton read it, do so now).

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From here, the piece goes into a tangent on where Elvis Presley has been post-1977, mixing conspiracy theories, facts, actual recordings, Cold War paranoia, and a large measure of the absurd. In short, I play a journalist who invents a hoax around Elvis’ death, before I slowly lose my mind and convince myself my made-up conspiracy theory is true. The twist comes at the end when I reveal that I am in fact Elvis Presley – it’s left open whether this is true (at least true for the story-world), or another example of my fractured consciousness.

 

It’s a post-modern conceit, and I sought to make it work on multiple levels. Take this excerpt:

Far more appealing would be to enter the mind of the paranoid fantasist, take a theory at random and argue its validity, to systematically prove it possible and thereby show how porous the border between fact and fiction actually is. My goal was for the reader to enter the article with a sense of incredulity, and then over the course of the piece, turn their mind from ire to wonder, from refutation to speculation, before finally, I would admit the entire exercise to be itself an elaborate hoax.

 

This is what my journalist character was seeking to do within the story AND also what I was trying to do reading aloud the piece on the night. It’s something I’ve inherited from some of my favourite authors, like Jorge Luis Borges and Grant Morrison, and is showing up more and more in my writing (my murder mystery musical is another meta-piece where the night goes off-script and someone starts literally killing the band, before it concludes with three possible endings and leaves it to the audience to decide which one is true).

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Digby was a great collaborator and mega-supportive of the concept from the get-go. We’ve become good friends – in fact all six of us performing that night have bonded and begun hanging out. Digby’s music provided a lavish counterpoint to the story, and subtly gets darker and trippier as the story does.

 

When I started the writing, I hadn’t solved how (or even if) Elvis Presley was actually going to perform that night. That came after talking about it with Lou and we hit on the idea that I could reveal I was Elvis. It was perfectly ridiculous and cracked me up just to think about it – I took it as the endpoint and started working backwards. That’s how this piece came together – the beginning, then the end, and lastly I filled in the middle.

 

The piece concludes with me singing Are You Lonesome Tonight? under a lone spotlight. I gotta say, it was one of the best singing experiences I’ve had. I added in some understated Elvis vocal inflections and mannerisms as the song progressed (an upturned shirt collar, a shake of the knees). The audience reception was fantastic. And getting to be the King? Even if for just one song? Incredible.

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If you’d like to read the story, it’s available here:

EP42 (Elvis Has Not Left The Building) by Luke McGrath

Best listened to with some Bottlebrush playing.

As a post-script to the whole month of workshopping and performance, it wasn’t until yesterday that I came across this article on Orion, whose tale is nearly as crazy as the story I concocted. I’m looking forward to the upcoming documentary!

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Lastly, I was fortunate enough to have small roles in the other two productions on the night – including dad-dancing/blissing out to Fossil Rabbit. A magnificent night.

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All photos by Adam Thomas

 

I was elated to be asked to participate in the Words On A Wire series being held at the Ainslie & Gorman House Arts Centres. The event involves pairing a writer and a musician to create a twenty minute collaborative work, to be performed live at the Ralph Wilson theatre. It’s inspired by the rise of storytelling podcasts and other mixed-medium formats.

Luke McGrath - photo by Adam Thomas

I’ve been paired with musician Digby Tomes. We had not met until onstage last week, where we (and the four other participants in this series) shared a short example of our work. I read a short story I wrote while in Edinburgh, heavily inspired by Lorrie Moore and Richard Brautigan.

Digby Tomes - photo by Adam Thomas

The program director also provided each coupling with an image from the Ainslie & Gorman House Arts Centres’ archives, a ‘provocation’ to use as a starting point for the piece. Ours is a still from a 1988 production of The Emperor’s New Clothes, by the Canberra Youth Theatre.

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I’ve begun work on an exciting idea, and I’m especially keen to see how it works with Digby’s music.

Oh, and this is the photo I sent them for my writer’s bio…

Luke McGrath Words On A Wire

Behold – Faux Faux Amis’s video for our cover of Stenxh’s You Know.

The track was intended as part of a compilation of acts on Early Music covering each other. That album never eventuated, but we pushed ahead and finished our version earlier this year. Catherine suggested You Know and I loved the idea because it’s so far removed from our typical sound. We take several liberties with the arrangement – in particular, returning to our straight-ahead punk leanings on the coda. Catherine delivers a towering performance on lead vocals; however the true MVP is our multi-talented drummer Darren Atkinson. Not only is this the first recorded piece we have with Darren on the skins, but he also produced the track, arranging and performing most of the instrumentation in the blissed-out second section (and contributing some killer vocals at the end). Plus, he let me loose on the melodica – something few producers have been game to do before! I love the texture the melodica brings, lending an ethereal atmosphere to the song.

A track with such an otherworldly vibe required a matching video. There are very few ways to up your production values without spending any money, but one is to make use of any exotic locales you might come across. So far, I’ve filmed an episode of One Pot Punk Rock in New Zealand, and the Faux Faux Amis’ video Holiday Inn in Brooklyn. For this clip, I took my camera out on our first night in Marrakech, exploring Jemaa el-Fnaa square.

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The square is surreal, a swirling carnival of snake-charmers, games of chance, musicians, monkeys, colourful characters, eateries and throngs upon throngs of revellers. Anywhere else would hold an event like this as a yearly festival, but here it happens every day. The camera was a magnet for hustlers and touts, but I just pinballed around all night, swept up in the dazzling and disorienting sights we witnessed. I double-downed on the kaleidoscopic feel by mirroring  the footage (also effective at obscuring my shaky camerawork). Between the track and the video, I feel it’s the most psychedelic thing we have done yet.

You Know - Faux Faux Amis