The Scare - Chivalrous Nights
Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, 5 November 2007
Unlike so many of their young rock and roll peers, The Scare have released a debut album, Chivalry, of disparate tunes that all rock damned hard without rocking exactly the same. Their uncompromising onstage presence has already landed them slots at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in the UK, showcases in Los Angeles and a steady string of dates in Australia, including Homebake and Pyramid Rock Festival this summer.
Guitarist Brock Alexander Fitzgerald describes the show as chaotic. “I never see anyone when we’re playing; I’m just in my own little world. I’m sure everyone else feels the same way. When you hit the stage you get in the zone. You can’t remember it afterwards, you just do it. I’m usually drunk and so is everybody else. We just go for it without holding back. The music we play is the kind of music where we don’t have to hold back – it is balls to the wall.”
Between Brock and Liam O’Brien, both on lead guitar, the music seems to stretch and pull back into itself – both personalities clashing, melding and meshing. “Our old stuff used to be two lead guitars crossing over, it was really chaotic. This time it is more thought out and worked out. We are able to say, maybe you should do that part and I’ll do this part later.
“I had lessons early on and took it from there. I was a drummer originally, so maybe I had more rhythm. Liam has these quirky little lead parts, I don’t know how he comes up with them, but he does. He hasn’t had a lesson in his life, and this is the only band he’s ever played in, but he’s turned into a guitarist.”
Liam says he doesn’t strive to be obscure, “but I express myself through my guitar playing and I’m an obscure person. So I put more of an edge to it. I’m there to make us a little more unique. We still write songs with a pop element, but I add this obscurity to it that people can grab hold of. All new bands, if they want to be exciting, you need something special that people haven’t heard before. That’s a hard thing to do, but I think it’s still possible.
“A lot of jaded people will tell you that everything’s been done, but not every person has done it. The less you know, the more exciting it is because every time you discover something yourself it’s incredible. You can give it your own name; you can make up your own chords, even if they already exist. You can appreciate it more if you discover it yourself.”
“We just jam,” says Liam of the band’s writing process, which can be as random and exciting as their shows. “Sometimes one of us will write a whole song and we’ll say, guys, this is how it’s going to be, it will be perfect and everybody play it my way and we’ll all cooperate. Other times someone will have a riff and we’ll focus on it and then someone else will find a nice chorus or a verse to complement it. We just jam together all the time.
“Sometimes we’ll just jam acoustically if someone has a whole song together and Brock, myself and Wade will go through all the parts. Sam, our drummer, has the gift of arrangement. He is really good at putting things in their place. It’s a real collaborative effort – everyone pulls their own weight; nobody is just along for the ride. We’re all really adamant about having our 1/5th of the writing input.”
Released on their own imprint on Below Par Records, OK Relax, the album was recorded at Scott Horscroft’s Sydney enclave Big Jesus Burger Studios. Liam says they wanted their own label to dissociate themselves one degree from everything else Below Par is doing, and also to allow them to sign other bands down the line.
Somehow, Scotty and the band managed to walk that razor thin line, capturing that high golden noise between a glossy production that would not have worked, and the band’s own shambolic live charisma. “He’s amazing,” says Brock, “he’s a fucking genius. We’ve recorded EPs before with a producer who sat at the desk and pressed record, but with Scott he came in and we did pre-production. We’d never done that before. He got involved, he was the sixth member of the band and he got inside our heads. He is insane. He’s one of those guys on the border of insanity and genius, and he added a really nice element to the record.”
Liam reflects on the toys the band was able to play with for the first time under Scott’s guiding hand, and how much they contributed to the sound of the album. “He has a lot of really nice equipment in that studio. We used old tube amps like vintage Silvertone, Vox and Orange amps. He got all his friends to lend us guitars. He let us try everything out while we were doing the live takes. That way we worked out what we wanted for which parts. It was a massive collage of different sounds. He let us have free reign, but put in his own input too.
“Sonically, it’s Scott’s genius with the tones and everything. Brock and I have never had much of an opportunity to work with a vast array of equipment. Scott gave us the ability to do that and then showed us the light in some areas.
“I had an original Mustang with little ivory knobs from the sixties, which I used on some of the more surf-sounding riffs. We had this old Vox guitar from the seventies with its own built-in strobe effect and distortion, which was really peculiar. I had an old SG, a really big, proper cherry-coloured Gibson SG from the sixties. I think that was all I used. We put them through this old strange Korg digital modulator thing to get some really spacey sounds with strange reverb and analog delay.”
WHO: The Scare
WHAT: debut Chivalry out through on OK Relax/ Below Par Records / plays the Gaelic Club
WHEN: Out now / Saturday 10 November