Through the recent years of lockdowns and silence and having too much time to think, Tex Perkins always found solace in the company of song. Having his friend Matt Walker as a co-writer-conspirator, Perkins revelled in the experience which prompted the forming and recording of the first Fat Rubber Band album at Walker & #39’s Stovepipe Studios with bassist Steve Hadley, drummer Roger Bergodaz and percussionist Evan Richards. After such an affirmative and creative experience Perkins was itching to commence work on what has become the band’s second album, Other World.
“The first Fat Rubber Band album was kind of deliberately a little ragged. A bit fuzzy
around the edges” said Perkins. “There is a certain maturity that we now possess where ideas can be realised and take form very quickly. We’ve become a real band. I think what you heard on the first album is the band being formed.”
Eager to get the back-and-forth of song ideas going between Walker and himself,
Perkins presented Pretty Damn Close, a lyrically rueful blues number reminiscent of the late JJ Cale (the band was thinking Bill Withers) “That was the song I wrote just to kind of nudge him, just to say ‘okay man I got a song, the ball is rolling, time for you to reciprocate’,” Perkins recalls. “That was how the first album happened, he’d send me a song I’d hit one back at him, it was like a game of demo tennis.”
Walker offered the guitar bones of Brand New Man, the lyrics of which came to Perkins as he was driving to meet his grandson, Ernie, for the very first time. “I’m listening to Matt’s demo while I’m driving and these words are appearing,” he recalls. “I just started describing exactly what was going on, just to begin the writing process. But it led me straight to the chorus, the title and the central idea of the song”. Already a new live favourite, Brand New Man captures the wonderment of new life, but also speaks more broadly about the willingness to change.
With Pretty Damn Close and Brand New Man committed to tape, the ball was now well and truly rolling. Respected singer/songwriter Lucie Thorne gifted her newly written song, Around The World, after Perkins had complimented her on it at a gig. “For Lucie Thorne to give you a song… it’s a bit of a big deal, really,” says Perkins. “She’s very particular and protective of her music.” Working on the track, the Fat Rubber Band went about fattening it up to make it big, something Thorne herself had expected but Perkins wasn’t hearing it and suggested they ‘go smaller’. Walker put down several takes with a miniature hybrid four-string guitar; (it looks a lot like a ukulele) that was hanging on the studio wall. With a whole new tone, the song was almost there.
Listening to the playback Perkins had an epiphany. ‘It was really just a whim, but I said ‘It’d be great if we could have a saw on this track’. “Steve Hadley was lying there on the studio couch and without opening his eyes says, ‘I know a girl who plays saw. I’ll give her a call’. Charlie Barker came over later that day and put the saw track on it. I thought it was perfect, it’s a strange other worldly yet earthy old times sound and I suppose the first taste of why the album ended up being called Other World.”
While Around The World is indeed quite beautifully haunting, tracks such as Close To You have a rhythmic Sticky Fingers-era Stones quality, while This Monin’ induces a mood of paranoia and blind hope in the same prog rock swamp blues song and The Devil Ain’t Buyin’ - which may or may not be a sequel to the first album’s opening track, Pay The Devil His Due - provides a turn at the crossroads. “Matt’,” says Perkins. ‘keeps bringing me the devil!” Walker explains “He had a few lyrics, and I caught onto the idea of the devil ain’t buying. I wanted to take some of this idea of the mythology of how the devil buys the soul. Like the classic Robert Johnson story about selling his soul at the crossroads to the devil. I had this idea of what about if the devil suddenly said, fuck it, I’m not buying souls anymore. Don’t try coming here to make a deal’.” Walker’s guitar permeations offer sizzle and sauce throughout, leaning in, away and against Perkins dusty baritone and his simple but effective guitar parts. “But his solo!” exclaims Perkins. “It’s like Ry Cooder in ’65 with Captain Beefheart. It’s Matt’s solo that makes it a world-shaker!”
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