Motor Ace: Chase The Ace.

26 August 2002 | 12:00 am | Brett Collingwood
Originally Appeared In

Laundry Service.

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Motor Ace play the Troccadero, Surfers Paradise on Friday and the Arena on Saturday. Shoot This is in stores now.

Chatting to Motor Ace’s drummer Damian Birchall Costin (or Damo, as he tends to be called) was a most pleasant experience. The man possesses a cracking, bone-dry wit and a complete lack of pretension that’s instantly endearing. Though he obviously doesn’t take himself too seriously, Damo is fiercely proud of the band’s just released second album, Shoot This.

The disc represents a quantum leap for Motor Ace in almost every department, whether it's the production, song-writing, arrangements or performance. Where their debut Five Star Laundry showcased a razor-sharp rock band, Shoot This finds them easing off the throttle a little. This more subdued approach, along with a richly-textured production aesthetic, results in an album that’s more diverse and at the same time more cohesive then the band’s debut.

If Motor Ace wanted to surprise fans and casual observers alike with the new album’s change of pace, they couldn’t have picked a better first single than Carry On, a yearning, string-laden ballad that you could almost imagine waving your lighter to at Wembley.

“Carry On is just one taste of the record,” Damo says. “You know, it is overblown, it is massively overdone, but you want something to stick out, you know? You listen to the radio and it’s Super-stank and Hooba-back, I mean, they all sound the same to me, it’s just really fucking boring after a while. And I’m sort of proud of us in that regard, that we feel sort of empowered to go and try something a bit different.”

So is the lusher, more reflective sound of the album something you set out to capture going into the recording?

“Totally, I think the last one was just like a live record and just straight-up rock songs. Getting into the studio, I suppose we were just tired of - those songs that were on Five Star, we’ve been playing those songs for years, and as much as it was fun to make them, it was quite easy considering we’d been playing them live for that long; we didn’t want to do that again. So this time we went into the studio with a batch of new songs, and I think we’d only played one or two of them live.”

The band worked on Shoot This with producer Chris Sheldon, who had a hand in the sound of their previous disc as well.

“On Five Star he just sort of mixed it,” Damo states. “When we mixed (Five Star Laundry) in London with him that time he was like, ‘you could have done so much more with these’ and he was probably right, but we didn’t necessarily know how to achieve that. He said ‘next time you do a record let me know because I really want to be there’ so we were like ‘cool, talk to you later!’ So he was really involved from the first step. It was really fun to do as well; we’d never really worked with a producer before. It was really good to have someone interested in everyone’s little parts, especially pushing Pat (Robertson) with his vocals.”

Indeed, all the live work the band’s undertaken really pays off on Shoot This. The performances of each member, while never overdone or flashy, are quite superb; the arrangements meticulously thought out. Damo agrees Motor Ace have never sounded better as a band.

“We’re like a full-on fucking band now, we’re right into it, it’s really serious,” he says, sounding almost surprised. “I think (bassist) Matt’s playing really well, he’s so solid, and (guitarist) Dave’s great, he’s always coming up with these colourful little parts, I think if it wasn’t for Dave it would probably sound really bland and boring, without wanting to offend anyone. Everyone plays their part, you know, whether it’s with their own instrument or not.”

With their fortunes only improving here in Oz, surely it’s time for Motor Ace to think about taking on the rest of the world.

“We just went to do one of those showcase things in America and tried that on for size,” Damo reveals, not exactly sounding over-excited. “Those things are weird, hey? You’re never gonna know how you’re going. We’ve got aspirations - I know we’re getting released in Japan which is exciting. That kind of appeals to me more actually, you know, eight hours up the road, those guys are really into music; they either really dig you or they don’t and there’s not much bullshit in between.”

So you don’t have a grand scheme for world domination?

“We haven’t got plans for world domination although it is in the back of my mind,” he laughs. “It is a plan to get overseas, but we’ll just wait till the Australians get sick of us. We’re in no big rush. I think we’re worthy though. Give us a ticket! Give us a ticket to get in the ring and we’ll beat ya!”