We got asked by Jesus from Acuarela Discos in Spain to contribute to a compilation that he was putting together for his label way back in 2004 (I think). The theme for the collection was watercolour (like the label name). We wrote this song and recorded it at home.
The song ended up becoming one of our favourites and we would often include it in our live set. It developed over time and for some reason it felt incomplete and worthy of another look. We realised that the song fitted well into the new collection so we took the opportunity to reshape it and work on some better arrangements. The addition of viola by Jenny Thomas and guitars and keyboards by Greg Walker really brought the ending to life.
Although a couple of the songs from Little by Little were written during the Reservations sessions, Habits was the first completely new song we worked on. The words and the atmosphere of the song set the tone for rest of the album really, with its mix of light and shade, openness and claustrophobia.
The song tells the story a guy coming to terms with getting older. He feels as though he’s losing himself as life keeps knocking him around. But instead of trying to live through it and understand it he lashes out at his partner and drags her down with him.
I first started thinking about the lyrics that would become Three Sins a long time ago. I wanted to explore what makes some people act on certain dark urges, while others don’t. It’s incredible to me that what we are willing to do and how far we are willing to go is often so dependent on the truths or lies that we tell ourselves.
I started picking out a few chords on the guitar with these thoughts in my mind and soon the melody fell into place. And as I got under the skin of the characters, the stories flowed out. I just wrote down what I saw through the eyes of the characters and by the end of the night the song was done. I was surprised where it went… but sometimes a song carries you away and you have to just hold on for the ride.
When I think about this song, the imagery that comes to mind is of a teenage boy running through broken down streets at full speed. He pushes people out of the way, runs out in front of traffic, across parkland and down onto suburban train tracks.
Letting Go is really a very simple song about adolescent anger, frustration and confusion. It’s about that heightened moment when all the emotions bubble up and become impossible to control.
Growing up on the coast in Perth I always had a lot of friends who were keen surfers. They spent hours and days out in the waves and had this amazing connection to the water.
In a lot of ways surfing is very much like playing music. It’s a way of life that demands total commitment (if you want to be any good, that is) and it’s also a way of interpreting and appreciating the world. However, like any idealistic pursuit, it gets messy when it comes into contact with real life. As you get older, the pressures and contradictions of everyday life, family and work come into the picture and that youthful ideal has to become something else to survive.
I wrote this little story while thinking about my relationship to music and how it has changed from pure youthful expression to a more meditative form where I can reflect and attempt to make sense of things.
This song is really about unrealised dreams and how we often refuse to accept that the path we’re on is no longer the right path. Most of us charge ahead in the blind pursuit of whatever life or career goal we defined for ourselves when we were young. We forget to stop along the way to reassess and question why we’re doing what we’re doing, or if what we’re doing is really the best thing for us.
We take pride in our persistence and determination, focusing all our efforts on some elusive prize. But in reality we never actually ‘arrive’ anywhere. The journey is the only real reward. Nothing ever turns out the way we expect so if we’re not enjoying the journey, we’re wasting our time.
I grew up in Bangladesh and moved to Perth in Western Australia when I was 13. The shock of moving from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest was profound. The clean streets, beautiful houses and pristine beaches seemed out of this world yet the city was a long way from the paradise that it first appeared to be.
Not long after we arrived in Perth my mother started working with local people who were battling drug and alcohol problems. Over time they became a bigger part of our lives and I saw the same desperation and hopelessness that I remembered from the slums of Dhaka – only this time it wasn’t a symptom of abject poverty but the consequences of poor life decisions, sexual abuse and inter-generational addiction.
I was a teenager trying to make sense of the world around me but it all seemed so violent and out of control. People were dying, hurting each other and themselves, and were passing their problems onto to their kids. Walking Bones is a reflection on that time.
This song is a sister song to Letting Go in a way. The lyrics are more abstract and atmospheric, and the slow, uncomfortable introduction is a reflection of the tension between the two characters in the song – a young couple on the brink of breaking up who are trying to communicate but don’t seem to have any way of getting through to each other.
On the Stage
I always liked the melody to this one and when Pete added his bass line and Marty threw in that rolling beat it all fell into place.
At its heart, the song is about the feelings we all have when we’re out there in the world on our own, a long way from the people we know and the places that are familiar. The sense of adventure and freedom that comes with travelling is amazing, but there are always those quiet moments when the emotions rise up and you wish you could just reach out and touch home.
A few years back, after nigh on fifteen years living in the inner city of Melbourne, I moved with my family out to the country. We left behind the noise and grey concrete of the city and embraced the sense of space, the trees, and the abundant local wildlife in the hills. But living out there I also got an understanding of the harsh realities of the Australian summer, of bushfire season. Every summer, as the temperatures began to soar, a familiar sense of anxiety would creep in.
There was one particular summer that had everyone on edge. It had been a good five years since the Black Saturday fires but the days were hot and the fire warnings kept coming. Our place wasn’t far from where a lot of homes and lives had been lost.
I wrote the lyrics for Saturday’s Ash that summer. I guess it was my way of reflecting on what the locals had been through and trying to understand what it must be like to have to pull yourself up again after losing so much.