Halloween is coming soon, perhaps in proximity to East River’s debut LP Where’s The Medicine Man? They’re not really sure about a release date. These luminaries of Lewisham living are on the bill for Skydreams Festival this Saturday September 8th and I met with them late last week to discuss Tom and Patch’s 10-week sabbatical in California and Central America, the record and whatever else in the East River universe. Our meeting came a couple days before their great opening set at The Laurels’ LP launch at the Annandale on Saturday 1st. So you know, in the video below, that’s Drew on organ, Tom on drums and Patch on guitar.
Nick: So where did you go on your trip?
Tom: We started off in San Francisco and then went down all the way to Panama City.
Drew: Tell him about Panama, and how it was created.
Tom: Well apparently America created Panama to build the canal there. It used to be Colombia. But then they just decided they would recognise that Panama is a country so then it became a country. But Colombia wasn’t very happy about it, they didn’t recognise it as a country until 20 years ago or something.
Nick: Yeah really? Well Colombia’s just heaps pissed with the United States in general.
Tom: I think Cuba’s pretty pissed at America too.
Nick: Did you go to Cuba as well?
Tom: I did not. Well Mexico’s pretty pissed off with America too probably.
Nick: Biting political analysis here.
Tom: Not to mention a lot of those countries that were a part of the banana republic they’re probably pretty pissed off with America.
Drew: I think everyone’s pissed off with America but there’s nothing you can do because America …
Tom: America created us.
Drew: … yeah, yeah. They’ve got the guns.
Nick: So did you play much music on your travels?
Tom: We bought a little travel guitar in Guatemala, it cost thirty bucks, and so we just kind of bashed around on that for a while. It just had nylon strings and was quite small, maybe like a child’s guitar, but then we accidentally left it in San Francisco. We just left the house without it and went to the airport.
Nick: Ah damn.
Tom: By the time we got to the airport we were looking around like ‘Where is it?’
Nick: So did you write many songs on the road?
Tom: Not really, we kind of got into the swing of the local culture and just blasted Bob Marley all the time.
Nick: And did you meet interesting music folks in San Francisco or any places?
Tom: We saw some cool bands in San Francisco. Not really music folk though.
Nick: And Drew, what have you been doing music lately?
Drew: I guess just fucking around, kind of like vaguely writing songs by myself.
Nick: Organ songs?
Drew: Ah yeah, pretty much. Not much musically, I haven’t really done anything (laughs).
Nick: And what records have you been listening to lately?
Drew: I haven’t been listening to any music, I really haven’t.
Nick: What have you been listening to then?
Drew: I’ve been listening to myself play the organ, ah! (almost falls off dodgy broken chair) Here’s Patch.
Patch: How’s it going? Oh you have a dictaphone.
Nick: Ah yeah, so how was your trip man?
Patch: It was wonderful. Very fun.
Nick: How long were you guys gone for?
Patch: Like two and half months.
Nick: That’s crazy good.
Patch: It was pretty good, it was all for a wedding.
Patch: Yeah my brother’s.
Nick: Oh yeah, where was the wedding?
Patch: In Sonoma.
Nick: Where’s that?
Patch: In north San Francisco.
Drew: Yeah you were away for five months all up for the year right? And you haven’t been home in three years! (laughs)
Patch: Five years! (laughs)
Drew: Fuck, it’s been that long.
Patch: You’ve known me for five years.
Drew: When are you going home?
Patch: Hopefully November.
Drew: I think I’ll come with you.
Patch: We’ve discussed this.
Patch: So you’re just busy organising the festival and stuff?
Nick: Yeah, it all just happened all of a sudden, it was suddenly upon us like a month ago.
Patch: Who else is helping you organise everything?
Nick: Ah, do you know Max? He used to play bass in the Chargers and stuff.
Patch: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Drew: Fan of the week, 2012, co-with Nicky Hannan.
Tom: Yeah Maxim Skilbeck-Porter Nicky Hannan Blues.
Nick: Oh yeah I’ve heard that song, that’s good.
Patch: He was strolling in the park walking his dog at two in the morning.
Drew: The park near central? I think he was on a date, he was having like a creepy date in the park and with his dog, and we were just in the corner of the park. (laughs)
Tom: How big is this jumping castle gonna be?
Nick: I have no idea, pretty big I’m guessing.
Drew: What’s the deal with it?
Tom: Conor said that we were looking after it.
Drew: I told him that. I said that after we play we’ve got a contract where we have to work the jumping castle. Man the jumping castle for half an hour each. (laughs)
Nick: Yeah I don’t know that doesn’t even seem real to me anymore. We had that idea so long ago, that was one of the first things.
Drew: But is it happening?
Nick: Yeah it’s happening.
Drew: Oh crazy, I can’t wait.
Nick: It was one of the first things we thought for some reason, like within the first ten minutes, ‘Jumping castle, definitely.’
Drew: And is this one actually marketed for humans? And how big is it? And is there a space for it?
Nick: Ah yeah we think so. There’s a big square outside Hermann’s Bar, like a big grassed area, so we figure it’s going to fit somewhere there.
Tom: Could you hear the bands from there?
Nick: Yeah easily. But yes, that’ll be strange. I dunno, I guess I’ve always just wanted to see that happen.
Patch: I almost break my neck every time I go on a bouncing castle.
Nick: Seems like everybody I know must have been on one, when they were a kid, but no-one has for like ten years or something.
Tom: I try and go on a jumping castle at least every couple years.
Nick: How do you manage it?
Tom: Oh you just find them around the place. Every time you see one just go and try and have a jump on it.
Nick: I never see them. Actually they have one at Marrickville markets but there’s always little kids on it.
Tom: Just get your way on there.
Nick: I think there’s no way to go on a jumping castle now without directly denying a three-year-old from doing it at that exact moment.
Tom: You just have to take your shoes off, that’s all.
Nick: I wonder, I reckon kids would just run towards one if they saw it. Instantly.
Drew: What a jumping castle? Naturally.
Nick: They’d just run at it, ask questions later.
Drew: But kids can’t go on this one?
Nick: Nup, no kids.
Drew: I just don’t know if … like I’ve never done it so I don’t know, if mixing adults, beer and hyper-activity and a jumping castle, if that’s a good idea. (laughs) Like you could have people going crazy and jumping at each other and head-butting each other and knocking each other out.
Nick: I think I should say that we’re covered by the jumping castle company’s insurance, and the venue. It’s got nothing to do with us. We just booked it. I should think so.
Nick: So have you guys recorded your record already?
Tom: We did it just before we went.
Nick: With Dan Poulter?
Tom: He’s the guy. He did a good job.
Drew: It was actually recorded on maybe four different tape machines because they just kept on breaking and we just had to keep on a really weird process of recording. Cause we recorded, and then for some reason we were getting all this weird stuff like old bass lines coming through.
Tom: Phantom bass … and phantom organ.
Nick: It was on the tape still?
Drew: Yeah and just slightly off, so you hear in the first track, when it’s counting in you can hear me starting the song from another take.
Nick: So did you leave that in?
Drew: Yeah just that one at the start and then we changed the tape machine and recorded it again.
Tom: Yeah all the songs have gone through like four different tapes.
Drew: It was really hard, everything just kept on breaking.
Nick: And how long was the actual recording? The playing …
Drew: Ah, like 16 minutes.
Nick: Oh really? All on one day?
Patch: Three days in total wasn’t it?
Drew: It was one day we recorded and then Dan came over the next night or maybe a couple of nights after, he got a different four-track and then we did some overdubs and then the day before they left Dan came over and they did the vocals and stuff. And then they left the next day.
Nick: Really? The very next day? So you finished your record and then left.
Drew: It’s the only way to do it.
Tom: The first we heard of it was when we were in Nicaragua on the internet on youtube. And then we came back and listened to the whole thing a couple days ago.
Nick: Yeah so you guys wanna talk about making a movie, video clip thing for the album?
Drew: Yeah (not wanting to), I’m just having trouble finding all the props and stuff I need. It’s probably going to be a big job.
Patch: I heard there’s a hold-up with the ping-pong balls.
Tom: High quality ping-pong balls are needed.
Nick: And you guys have a sweet gig with The Laurels on the weekend?
Nick: When was your last show?
Drew: At the Sando I think, we played with Los Chicos.
Patch: They were from Spain and people weren’t expecting us to play.
Tom: Last minute throw ins.
Drew: Yeah we were on the bill as Kill City Creeps as they got booked and they said no to that show, they printed the ads and Dan was like ‘I’m not playing that,’ you know, I don’t think he could play it so he called us up. When we told the door guy he was like ‘What! There’s heaps of people here to see Kill City Creeps! And you guys are playing?’ We were like ‘Sorry,’ it was pretty funny.
Nick: So this is your first show in ages.
Patch: Yep, I can’t even remember when that was. Like four months ago.
Nick: Laurels show should be a good gig, there’ll be lots of people there I reckon, Annandale.
Drew: It’s probably a bad gig to jump straight into. (laughs)
Patch: Yeah I’m looking forward to seeing The Laurels, haven’t seen them all year.
Drew: But ah, more importantly it’ll be one of those nights where everyone’s around, you know, it’ll certainly be a party I reckon.
Nick: So did you say the record’s 16 minutes long? So lots of two and three minute songs?
Tom: One and two minute songs.
Patch: There’s only one three minute song on it.
Drew: I think a short record’s good because that’s how long it takes to get places here. If I was to take a train to the city right now I could listen to that album and it’ll finish just as I get there.
Nick: That is awesomely short for a record.
Drew: You know there’s just not enough time these days (laughs) you’ve gotta just compress everything.
Tom: It’s a fast paced world we live in.
Patch: It’s a marketing strategy we’ve developed.
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