Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Fauves Interview

The Fauves have a new album out called Footage Missing and true to form, it’s brilliant. I spoke to the band's singer bloke, Andrew Cox....

A Fauves album is usually a journey to far off places. And in Footage Missing you’ve left our shores to Frankfurt, The West Bank, Nairobi, Los Angeles…
“Yeah, this is probably our ex-patriot album even though we are certainly rooted here in Australia. I guess our last few albums have been full of Australian references. I don’t think there was a great plan or anything but it is true that there’s a lot of references to a lot of overseas references on this one.”

There’s a song by Big Star about going to India, drinking “gin and tonic and playing grand piano.” I liked how obviously the band didn’t seem to know where India was. I was reminded of the song with your line, “Jodhpurs clinging to the skin so tight. Quinine, gin and a head so light…”
“There is a bit of that. My existence wouldn’t be the most exciting life going around. It’s a way to take you somewhere more glamorous, mysterious or exotic. I’ve used song writing to do that all my life. It’s the most interesting part of my life. As soon as I put down the guitar, there’s a pile of dishes to do or I have to go out and walk the dog. So yes, I guess it’s a way of living out fantasies.”

On The Fauves website ( you refer to Collerige’s Byzantium, a poem which speaks of the grand, far off world.
“Yeah, it does indeed. You’ve made a nice little link there. The article’s writing itself.”

You were asked to write a press release, which never made it past the censors for Our First Day on the Run. I was lucky enough to read your obscene piece before it was shredded. Are you going to write anything to herald the new album?
“I have to tone it down. It’s a bit of a vexed issue, the band bio thing. On one level it’s not great to have to talk about yourself but on another level you really want to find somebody you can totally trust to present you the way you want to be presented. I end up writing a lot of that shit but its not a good idea. I couldn’t sit down and write that we are the most important band in the western world, which is what people expect from band bios but I can’t do it, even jokingly. I wish we could only record the album and put it out.”

Doing this interview is daunting because I know you could write this article better than myself or any other of the hacks you are going to speak to in the next few weeks. I remember there was a review in one of the streetpapers that you didn’t agree with so you wrote a review of the reviewer. I got to read that too and it was brilliant.
“Yeah, I remember that. But what was the question?”

What does the album title, Footage Missing come from?
“It’s probably more relevant to us because as you get older someone may be relating a story from the past and suddenly there’s a blank. That happens a lot with us when we are crapping on. Footage Missing refers to that blank spot in your memory. I don’t know where it went.”

And it’s not like they are going to release a DVD of your life and put in all that missing footage.
“(laughs) No. They certainly won’t. You would probably want Andy Warhol making one of those movies like Sleep, putting a camera on someone sleeping in bed for 12 hours. That would be as exciting as a movie of my life could get.”

You’re so self-effacing…
“No, I think I’m great but I’ve just had a boring life.”

I like how Yo Yo Craze talks about the trampolines, Hula Hoops, Rubiks Cubes, and footy cards of growing up in Melbourne in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
“It’s a recurring theme in my lyrics. You have to write about something that feels real to you. There are songs in this record that get away from that like we spoke about before but Yo Yo Craze is about something I can relate to.”

The Fauves have been topical in the past but the Doctor has pulled off a move of genius in Right Wing Fag by putting the Liberal Party and One Nation into a love song.
“He is one of the country’s great undiscovered genius’s. What can I say?”

Right Wing Fag is such a fantastic song.
“I love it. We put it last in the album. You know these days how people put their best songs up front. You have no faith that people will get to the end of a record and we’ve always tried to put a song that closed the record out well, not the worse song, at the end. You get hurt a bit by that. I think we have some great last songs on our records. Whenever people call out for them at gigs you know that 90% of the people didn’t get that far into the record. It’s kind of like a bittersweet thing.”

We grew up with vinyl and its two sides….
“That’s right. You get that break. I don’t think its any way passing aspersions on the listener but it is tough to get through 45-50 minutes of music especially on the first listen. With a record you play one side and it might be half an hour before you get around to flipping it over. You come back to it fresh again. I think it really has dictated the way albums are structured now. Now albums are structured in a lot more boring fashion. If the Beatles put out Seargent Peppers now they would have to open it with A Day In The Life because you couldn’t have it last because nobody would have got that far. It’s a shame.”

Yo Yo Craze also contains one of the greatest lines you’ve ever written, “Oh, the rusty springs are laughing.”
“(cacks himself) I’ve never pulled that line out of context but on its own, you’re right it sounds Shakespearean or something. You can see some bearded guy on a balcony bellowing it out to the stalls. (gets himself together) It’s a very un-rock’n’roll line, that one.”

I’ve heard some touching duets in my time but tell me about your duet in One Of The Girls.
“Ah, the one with me and Terry. That call and answer thing is out of Beverley Hills Cop. Eddie is in the strip club with the two straight policemen and they see two guys casing the joint. Eddie makes a pre-emptive strike and pretends to be a pissed dude, trying to put the guys off guard. That’s what it’s from. I thought it would be good to sample it from the movie but I thought there would be some legal problems. So I convinced Terry to play Axel Foley and I decided to play the uneasy criminal. Terry took a lot of coaxing to get into character but when he did, he really embraced it.”

I thought the album’s title, Footage Missing came from you guys annoying your record company with unfeasible ‘I’m on a mountain’ video clip ideas.
“That’s a more interesting interpretation of the title than I gave so I might use for interviews from now on. A lot of our ideas have bitten the dust. We usually have to scale our ambitions down. When we were on Polydor we found after awhile the bigger the concept, the more chance you have of getting them up. In Sunbury 97 we chartered a helicopter to Sunbury. We just threw the concept at them as a joke and the next thing we know we’re at Essendon Airport getting into this chopper. The next clip for Surf City Limits we joked about it being shot on Rene Rifkin’s yacht on the harbour and the next thing you know, we are! It’s so much about bluff.”

The line, “Royal Lanciers, pidgeon fanciers, pants men, croupiers, walking cancers,” scares me.
“I feel good that that line has never been used in the history of popular song. To me that’s an achievement. You have to take the victories when you get them. I wanted it to be a bit abrasive. There’s enough sensitive songs in the Fauves’ catalogue to set everyone right. It was time for something to ruffle a few feathers. I wanted to be a bit obnoxious. Once again, I was just wanting to be something that I’m not. That’s what music’s about for me.’