While most Victorians enjoyed the short working week that was Melbourne Cup week, some, like Cash Savage, don’t care what day it is. If Cash is working on a new single, then she’s working on a new single: “You know, the rest of the world doesn’t really take [Cup Day] off and I don’t really give a shit about horse racing,” Cash said. “We’ve actually got a single that’s about to come out and I don’t know if you’ve ever been involved in the process of editing a film clip, but the back and forth just takes so long that if I take a day off, then we’re a day behind.”
That decision has paid off handsomely and Cash Savage and The Last Drinks released their new single, Rat-a-tat-tat, on Friday. “The recording process was pretty intense,” Cash says. “We were there for two days, and only left the studio for food and more drinks. We slept in the studio. We all went a bit nuts.” The song was recorded at Golden Digital No’1s, and was engineered by Amak Golden. It also used the same post-production team that they used on The Hypnotiser, Nao Anzai and Nick Finch.
Rat-a-tat-tat is a song about insomnia, and ever since Cash was a kid she says her heartbeat has kept her awake. Cash Savage and The Last Drinks have recently returned from their European tour, and while touring, the song became their unofficial tour anthem: “One. More. Night. Awake.”
“We were in Europe for the first time this year which was awesome. We toured The Hypnotiser a lot [around Australia] and then took it to Europe. Now we’re back and we’re about to record again but we did some recording while we were in Prague. We had two days off between shows so we found a studio, and yeah because of that we’ve got a single with the obligatory live footage and touring footage film clip.”
“It was actually incredible. We had no idea that we had any fans over there and the shows were packed. They knew our songs and they cheered at the start of songs and they sang along in bits and we had no idea. We would have been just as happy for a few people and a couple of beers, but it turned out that it was lots of people and lots of beers, mind blowing actually. It was really humbling to go over there and have people whose first language which is not English knowing the words to your songs.”
The band funded the whole tour from money made from their own live gigs, with no assistance from any organisations or government funding. They did their fundraising the old fashioned way, and within four Australian gigs Cash Savage and The Last Drinks had made enough money to take all seven members to Europe.
Although other international touring opportunities have presented themselves to Cash Savage and The Last Drinks, I for one am glad to see them back in Melbourne performing for the Australasian Worldwide Music Expo at Max Watt’s in the CBD.
“We did play AWME a couple of years ago and it was an awesome show, so we’re pretty stoked to be playing it again. It’s our first show back, so we’re all sort of coming together now to get that show happening and it’s pretty exciting. I mean, we were all together in Europe, played a million shows for a month and were shoulder to shoulder in a bandstand and then I disappeared for two months and that’s our first show back and we’re pretty pumped for it. We do love our small stage gigs and we love our big stage gigs and we always have lots of fun at our show back in Melbourne, our hometown.”
Cash Savage and The Last Drinks specialise in a sort of gothic approach to country/blues/rock. Cash says she didn’t have an interest in being in a country band, and she was actively opposed to the idea. “It was just sort of somewhere I went. I don’t think it’s uncommon for us 90s kids to go from smashing out grunge tunes you know to playing country stuff in our mid to late 20s.”
This attitude is something I have heard a lot about from country music bands here in Melbourne – country music seems to have always been ‘music for grownups’ and then once you’ve ‘grown up’ it starts to click with you. I mentioned this to Cash and she laughed.
“Yeah, I know. It is actually adult music, my dad is a big country music fan and I think for me it was a bit of a rebellion to be like ‘I don’t want to listen to your stinking country music, I want to do my own thing.’ But then I started doing my own thing and all of a sudden I was in a country blues band.”
Cash’s latest album, The Hypnotiser, feels like real drinking music – it is a darker strain of country music to the Hank Williams and Steve Earle that I usually get drunk to, but there is a certain element to it which makes me want to pick up a whisky or rum and just sort of sway and sing along.
“That’s great to hear. We get that comment a bit. We got an article written about us in Germany and I can’t speak German. I asked someone what it translated to and they said that our music is ‘music to fall down drunk to.’ We like to have a drink and it doesn’t surprise me that you would like to have a drink [to it].”
Does that come into the writing of it? I mean are you sort of drinking at the time of the writing?
“Nah, honestly these days, I like to put myself in all different states to write in. Sometimes I don’t get much done if I’ve been drinking. Sometimes there’s a lot of drinking going on and sometimes not at all. Sometimes you’d be surprised that I was sober when writing. You know like I go into a studio once a week now and sometimes I get my partner to drop me off and I take my electric guitar and a six pack and sometimes I just take the guitar and nothing. So it sort of depends how I feel but if I’m drinking I tend to get a lot more music written and not a lot of lyrics so there’s sort of a balance between the two.”
Cash comes from quite a few different angles in her song writing – some of it sounds directly linked to her experience and some of it sounds like other people’s experience. One of the most interesting songs on The Hypnotiser, 95K to Sandy Point, is written from the perspective of her friend who had picked up a hitchhiker, and found out later that he had been the person responsible for setting the fires that led to the Black Saturday bushfires. “It wasn’t too hard to put myself into his shoes, because part of the reason why I started talking to him about what he was doing on that day, was we were actually both on the same road. We were both driving to Sandy Point but his story was a little bit more serious than mine. He just happened to pick up the guy who lit fires hitchhiking and I didn’t, so you know there was a line there for me to sink in that story on my own.”
She is able to immerse herself into all situations and come out with amazing poetry. I asked about her writing process.
“I smash away on the guitar with music and then I listen back to what I’ve done and then be like that’s got legs, I should write lyrics to that. I’m not one of those people who can write by just by sitting down and forcing myself to write … I write stuff that’s real to me, because in my previous bands I just sort of wrote and the songs were OK but I got sick of playing them. They didn’t mean anything to me. There was nothing after a while so I worked pretty hard to just write about things that meant stuff to me.”
You can really feel that personal connection coming out in her singing – it’s evident in the new single, and I’m sure will carry through the rest of the upcoming album.
Cash Savage and The Last Drinks have two more shows to close out this year, so be sure to get along and check them out if you’re in Adelaide or Melbourne.
Australasian World Music Expo (AWME)
Max Watt’s House Of Music – Melbourne
Friday November 13
With Henry Wagons and The Only Children, Ruby Boots, and Raised By Eagles
The Wheatsheaf Hotel
Sunday November 22
With special guests Hana and Jessie-Lee