By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor
In February, the three members of Melbourne sludge chuckers BØG and recording technician Mike Deslandes holed up in a hall in the remote Victorian town of Barfold to lay down an album called JIM.
It’s called JIM because it was inspired by country supergroup The Highwaymen – conceptually, not sonically, of course. We’d best leave it to drummer Eric Stone to explain…
JIM reeks of hate and sonic ambition. What sound were you aiming for and how close did you get to that ideal?
It does reek. There is hate. A lot of indignant protest. An accumulation of weary wisdom and some real desperation. We’re all approaching this from different backgrounds and current interests, so our musical ambitions and ideals are really fucking mixed up, but that’s our thing and I think we had a good feeling on this one and ended up quite aligned with the sound we wanted. It’s always a strange brew. Apart from the diversity of musical opinions, we had limitations on how long and how much money we could spend, but we chose some really good help, and did it our way, which was the best decision. I think we’re all pretty happy with it.
What are these different backgrounds?
Tim [Jacka] the guitarist’s main thing previously was King Leghorn, a Melbourne thing that began based on mates and drunken noise rituals I think and turned into a pretty good punk band. They started in the eighties, broke up and then had a few different line-ups later on but dwindled off. Dain [Fewings] the bassist started in Perth and was in a few weird stoner grunge bands over there, one of which decided to move to Melbourne and then broke up, leaving him empty and bandless. I (Eric, drums) just fucked around with garage bands in NZ that you haven’t heard of because we just jammed or played parties for our mates instead of real shows, for the most part. When I got to Melbourne I joined a stoner rock band called System of Venus, and then BØG started.
Who is ‘JIM’?
The JIM thing started with an idea to do a cover of The Highwaymen song “Jim, I Wore a Tie Today”. That’s where the song “Peat for Scars” started. In the end we dropped most of the original and it’s not a cover anymore, but the idea of these old country dudes singing a song to someone who was already dead just stuck. JIM became a blank canvas on which to throw our spite, an empty vessel to fill with ideas or just bad bile. Who is JIM? He’s the guy you need, to tell the story to when no-one else is there. He’s not there, either, but you still need to tell it. Maybe you’re just telling it to yourself, but you don’t wanna admit or face it? Y’all need a JIM. Or at least The Highwaymen and BØG did.
Under what conditions was JIM recorded? Who helped out?
We took our gear and ourselves out to a small country hall near Kyneton. No one lives near it. Mike Deslandes brought himself and his gear out, and we set up and recorded it in three days I think, sleeping in the hall. We mic’d up the guitar and bass cabs in separate little rooms off to the side and put blankets around the numerous gaps to control a bit of the bleed. We put the drums in the main hall. We recorded the songs live then we did the vocals in the main hall. That hall is so fucking old, and it’s just designed for projection. We could work pretty late at night out there and that’s when a lot of the vocals were done. Getting Mike Deslandes to set up and do the recording was a very good decision. For that weekend he was the fourth member of the band, really. He mixed it with us over the following weeks, and Dav Byrne mastered it. We released it ourselves.
All three of you vocalise but who’s the best singer, really?
I think Tim is the best singer on the new album, he was in the mood and he aced it. Dain is consistently best overall though, live and recorded. I’m the best wildcard. I give it everything but blow my voice out all the time when we record or do a few shows in a row.
JIM is out now: