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Rising Again

20 August 2014 | 12:48 am | Steve Anderson

“It’s usually just a litany of complaints about the way that people treat each other or treat themselves"

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For a band cobbled together as a side project over 30 years ago, The New Christs have sure had an eventful journey to date. The brainchild of Radio Birdman frontman Rob Younger – the band’s only constant member – the band’s ranks have included a revolving cast of some of the biggest names in Australian rock’n’roll, and accordingly they’re responsible for some of the best garage-punk to emerge from the country.

New album Incantations is no exception. A heady mix of killer riffs, robust grooves and expressive imagery, it’s seemingly the product of one of the most stable line-ups in The New Christs’ history.

“We let it run its own course and have its own way with us, if you like,” he smiles. “The very nature of the new material is governed by all sorts of factors – external and internal – so to me it’s always been pointless worrying about that sort of thing. You shape it as it goes along, and try to ensure that you like what you’re hearing at each stage of the process. That’s the way we operate by necessity – we don’t have a big budget, so it’s not like we can block out four months in the best studio in Sydney, banging cocktail waitresses two at a time.

“You might be more adept at refining a process, or your methodology might be more incisive and more efficient, but that doesn’t infer that what you’re doing is necessarily inspired. It comes down to the material – there’s no rule to it. I find [songwriting] easier now than before, except you run out of things to write about. I think I just write about the same shit from different angles basically.”

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Hence there’s no lyrical theme or motif running through Incantations, just an overarching tone of eloquence.

“It’s pretty glib,” he chuckles. “It’s usually just a litany of complaints about the way that people treat each other or treat themselves, or I go into part and blather on about something I’ve done but pretend it’s some other slob that’s done it. It could be about anything. I’d like to be more concise, perhaps even more of a narrative writer – telling a story that’s not only instructive but entertaining – but a lot of those people just sound like journeyman dickheads, that whole world-weary, rustic blues traveller paying his dues and all that sort of shit. I wouldn’t want to get into that territory.

“The lyrics aren’t the main thing to me anyway – I like the tune and a good beat, and if the lyrics aren’t completely bloody stupid then I’m happy to listen to the music on that basis. It doesn’t have to be high art. It doesn’t have to be literature. You want it to hold together, that’s all, and if it stands the test of time or has some insights in there or it’s just beautifully wrought phrases – whatever it is – then it’s justifying itself.”