Number Crunching

1 August 2012 | 9:23 am | Samson McDougall

Ferny Taylor doesn’t fuck about. Six months after ‘forming’, his new band, Forty Thousand Sisters already have a record, Goodbye Broken Sled, and it’s bloody 14 tracks long.

“I met my songwriting partner Dyana [Gray] on the tram one day, she was a bit of a fan of an old band I had and we got chatting. I didn't see her again for a few months and when I did she said, 'Why don't we get together, start having a bit of a jam and do something?' I had a bunch of songs and a record contract, so there was some money there for me to go into the studio and we recorded an album within three or four days. It's the way it should be done. These days a lot of bands are too precious, take too much time.”

Ferny Taylor doesn't fuck about. Six months after 'forming', his new band, Forty Thousand Sisters already have a record, Goodbye Broken Sled, and it's bloody 14 tracks long. The thing's like a jumping bean, folk balladry one minute and howling punk the next. It lacks cohesion, but that's what's so good about it.

“We wrote a lot of stuff on the fly,” he continues, stating the somewhat obvious. “Tinker I'm Lost [the last, and his favourite, song on the album], we wrote when we were drinking too much on the last day in the studio, listening back to songs. We smashed the song out in literally five minutes. I had this riff and Dyana just started singing this lyric: 'Daddy, I want to be a star', and it just worked perfectly.” It's a punk-rock ideal (“A very ambiguous term”, according to Taylor), and could go either way. Thankfully the riffery is simple and solid and, in places, the lyrics glimmer ('Everybody wants to grow up fast/Fake your ID and smoke some grass/It won't change' from What Is Punk?) – a winning combination.

The record displays influences proudly. Hints of Sonic Youth (apparently Taylor was listening to them a lot during the writing of Goodbye Broken Sled), Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Modest Mouse and even NZ's 3Ds seep through, and Taylor is happy with the comparisons. Where the thing lacks is in the length of songs, which often fall well under two-minutes. As a listener, you find the groove of these numbers, and there is plenty of groove to be found, and often you're left hanging as the disc bounces on to the next track.

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“I just wanted to experience every feeling of a song,” says Taylor. “I've been writing songs for a long time now and I noticed in my songwriting there was a lot of choruses involved over the years. Songs are very standard; you've got your intro and your chorus so people can sing along. I wanted to kinda get rid of the chorus quite a bit instead of having this dynamic that's in your face… I thought there would be some criticism, which is fair enough. I also think that's how life is sometimes. I've had a lot of people in my life who've gone very fast – died quickly or left quickly or relationships have broken up – and I wanted to relate that to song. Things end quickly.”

The strongest single element of the listen is the vocal dynamic achieved between Taylor and Gray. The songs being already well formed was an obvious advantage they had when committing to recording at such an early stage, but for Taylor to meet the vocal Yin to his choral Yang on a tram, that shit's just freakish. “Dyana's got a great voice that complements mine, she's a way better singer than me. I don't know where she is at the moment… She's got this real edge to her where she lives the artistic life… She's very aloof and I haven't seen her actually for five, six months, so we don't talk. Hopefully we can get together for the show,” he laughs. What is punk? Indeed.