Following the release of their debut Cheers, alt-country / Americana six-piece Holy Moses Heartache are preparing to unleash their massive sophomore effort You’re Welcome. And we’re not using the word ‘massive’ arbitrarily, this is a double album. In a landscape where most people stick to releasing multiple EPs, it’s refreshing to see this momentous effort come to life. You’re Welcome will be released officially launched this Saturday February 20 at The Toff in Melbourne, but you can listen to this monster of an LP right here. Wade Piva and Luke Winterton from the band took some time out to walk us through the album, so take it away gents.
Get a hefty does of Americana and alt-country into your system courtesy of Holy Moses Heartache’s sophomore double LP You’re Welcome.
We recorded all of the basic tracks for You’re Welcome at Pearwood Studios (a friend’s house that was being renovated up in Belgrave – thanks again Peter and Amanda) over four days in December 2014. As with the first album, we produced it ourselves and our bandmate Rob engineered the whole project. We then did overdubs here, there and everywhere, from the end of January to July last year; and while most of these were done quite quickly, between the six band members each balancing full-time jobs, family commitments, personal lives and other musical projects, before you know it six months have gone by.
It then took four or so more months of stolen moments in post-production, before handing the tracks over to Adam Calaitzis at Toyland Studios for mixing, and he smashed it out in less than six days (it was all we could afford and he kept it to budget while doing a cracking job – thanks again Adam).
We always set out to record a double album because why not? We began recording with 28 songs in mind, which then got narrowed down to 24 during the overdub phase, and then whittled down to the final 23 following the mixing. Luke and I wrote all of the songs, and we comment on each below, but the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts, and each song really only comes to life with the collective arrangements and input of Holy Moses Heartache.
Wade: Our Tutti Frutti; our Be-Bop-A-Lula; our Da Doo Ron Ron; our Do-Waa-Diddy-Diddy; and so on and so forth. We hadn’t really rehearsed this one much beforehand and I was tempted to not even record it, but I’m glad we did. I think this was the third take, after a few drinks; pretty much recorded entirely live except for some percussion and the harmonies.
Luke: Fun fact. That’s Wade’s original vocal from the live recording. It was only meant to be a guide vocal but he nailed it so well it was kept.
Luke: Inspired by the documentary The King of Kong, about two opposing men and their battle to become the world record holder of the famous arcade game Donkey Kong.
Wade: One of the longer tracks on the two albums and it was a bit of a challenge to get down the basic tracks live, especially without the use of click tracks, which we wanted to do without (I’m pretty sure Rob was cursing everyone’s name in post-production).
Just a Man
Wade: If George Jones was still alive, it would be my dream to hear him sing this song. It’s an old school country song, in the best sense of the genre, but you could just as easily hear someone like Ray Charles – if he was still alive – doing a soul version. I’m rarely, if ever aware of what inspires a song. Either words come in the shape of a melody, or a melody comes in the shape of words. I just try to capture them (which, thanks to smart phones, is now much easier to do).
Wade: Ain’t love grand? Like almost all of our songs, based on true events. I get a sense these days that there are some people who have this attitude that love songs have been overdone or are unoriginal or lame, but I don’t know if those people truly appreciate the breadth of the genre. Nick Cave once presented two wonderful lectures titled The Secret Life of the Love Song, which I recommend everyone listen to or read, irrespective of how you feel about the man’s music.
Mama, Call the Doctor
Wade: Following a fall that caused his stomach ulcer to rupture, Gene Vincent reportedly lay in his mother’s arms and said, “Mama, you can call the ambulance now.” He died shortly thereafter. What more do I need to say? Good tune.
Luke: Note the beautifully humorous horn line in the first verse. If it doesn’t make you smile there may be something wrong with you.
One More Drink
Luke: Let’s face it, we all don’t mind a drink. You know when you wake up in the morning after a night out and do the frantic look for your wallet and phone? And you have that nagging hint of regret in the back of your mind? Then you get over it and do it all again the next weekend.
Wade: I have no idea what Luke is talking about.
Wade: And who says romance is dead? Most women I know have come across this guy at least once in their love lives, and most men I know have been this guy at least once in their love lives. Mind you, to be fair I’ve met a good share of women who have been this guy as well.
The Ladies Man
Wade: We’re bringing a certain version of sexy back (and what better way than with a helping hand from the late, great Errol Brown and Hot Chocolate?). So many of those 70s and 80s soul singers, and so many more recent hip-hop artists, have done those tracks where the singer/rapper is simply bragging about their grandiose abilities as a lover, and I guess this is Holy Moses Heartache doing the same (let’s face it, we’re dickheads).
Shit, Cigarette Butts & Saline
Luke: An ode to the not so pretty aspects of our great town Melbourne. She’s a beautiful old girl and we love her.
Wade: Again, we didn’t really rehearse this one much at all before we headed up to the hills to record. I think its evolution since the basic tracking has been one of the greatest, with Rob’s piano part and Luke’s additional percussion really giving it that something special.
Big Old Moon
Wade: The eternal struggle between light and dark; good and evil; Neighbours and Home & Away; Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. We’ve opened a lot of sets with this one, as the harmonies in the introduction tend to get everyone’s attention (I actually think it’s one of those ones where it sounds better live than what we managed to get on record, but it’s still good – I think you can actually see a clip of us doing it live on our Facebook site, so you can be the judge, if you could be bothered).
Alive & Well
Wade: Like many a poorer, more handsome but hopefully less wise younger man, after a night on the turps I would often walk much of the distance home (often because I was broke and couldn’t afford a cab). This was one such walk. There was another time after drinking tequila, which ended with me falling over a fence and onto a car, setting off its alarm, all while holding McDonalds, which I then ate while crouched in the darkness behind some strange block of flats, and then arriving home to remove all of my CDs from their rack and dropping them onto the floor before going to bed. That was the last time I drank tequila.
Luke: Another string to Holy Moses Heartache’s eclectic bow. Mariachi meets folk meets rock n roll. Who’d have thought?
Hey, Hey, it’s Saturday Night
Wade: A friend once questioned why a lot of the songs we wrote seemed to be quite sad and /or dark, and suggested that we write something a little happier. This song was the result. The djembe work by Sam is worth the price of admission alone (and the interplay between he and his brother Jake on stage during this one is always unpredictable and a lot of fun).
Luke: The kind of song you’d hear on a Corona beer ad. Hopefully they’ll be in touch.
Wade: And this is probably one of those sad / dark songs our friend was referring to. It’s not healthy to drink alone. Also, on a personal note, this song features some of my favourite – all too brief but beautiful – trumpet work from Mr Jake O’Brien, and that’s saying something, as his work throughout the album is absolutely stellar. Another one I don’t really remember rehearsing before Belgrave.
Under City Skies
Wade: The abridged story of my life – up to a point – in three acts; Demo is still a good buddy of mine and I won’t say what happened to the girl in the song, as that would leave less to the imagination. The first act is set in my hometown of Home Hill, the second and part of the third are set in Brisbane, and the last section is Melbourne. This was probably the closest to being our White Whale during the initial recording. With most of the songs, we’d get the take in two or three passes max, but I remember we had to come back to this one and got the keeper on about the fifth or sixth.
Luke: A song that we all wanted to do justice, and we didn’t settle till we got it right. Lump in the throat stuff.
Not So Country
Luke: A happy-go-lucky city lad sits down to write a country song. The son of a dairy farmer with milk flowing through his veins. Even so, the result is not so country.
Wade: In many respects Luke’s life story up to a point.
Mary, Queen of Hearts
Wade: A couple of the recurring themes throughout these two albums are honour and honesty, and hopefully there is also a sense of humour apparent. Like most of our songs, I don’t remember writing this one, but I know it was floating around for a couple of years and I wasn’t sure if Holy Moses Heartache would want it or if it would work. They did and it does. Cheers.
The Other Side of Hell
Wade: One of the earliest songs from these albums; written around the time of our first (and I think on the same day as Draw Blood, which sort of makes sense). I changed the lyrics to the outro about three or four times before I settled on what we recorded, and we had to add some last minute tambourine at the end of the mixing stage, because you can never have too much tambo. You’ve all met, know or have known the protagonist in this song.
Wade: We grew up Catholic but needless to say, we are no longer practicing. There were a couple of songs on the first album which Luke and I both sung on, and I really wanted to have at least one like that on these albums. I think Luke had the original idea, which he then gave to me to finish off.
Luke: Once the original theme was given to Wade he took it to a new level and created a beautifully disturbing narrative.
In My Belly
Wade: Not the most uplifting song; I see this as a film; possibly set in some nameless Latin American village; and directed by Steve McQueen perhaps. I don’t remember if this was written before or after my daughter was born, but I’ve no doubt that that was playing on my mind in a roundabout way.
Luke: Featuring a lovely outro from Rob and Ovenz with their intertwining guitar and keys.
Luke: A theme song of sorts. If Holy Moses Heartache were a footy team running out onto the MCG, this song would be playing. Then after our victorious game, we’d throw beer over each other instead of Gatorade.
Wade: I think Luke had been throwing beer all over himself when he wrote this.
Wade: Just a happy little ditty to help balance the ledger; written shortly after the birth of my daughter. From memory, it was written as quickly as it takes to listen to it. I think I even sent the original version to all the guys straight after writing it, so if any of them kept that text, they’d be able to tell you when that was. Because this one doesn’t really have anyone but Luke on tambourine, it wasn’t recorded in Belgrave, but was done during the two sessions when I did my vocal overdubs at the end of January 2015.
Vision of Death
Wade: Since becoming a father, the shadow of Death seems to loom ever larger. It’ll happen. I don’t know what else to say about this one. The middle section regarding the recurring dream as a child is one hundred percent true. The only other recurring dream I distinctly remember is of falling from my Nonna’s balcony next door, and then landing awake in bed. This is ultimately another good song amongst two albums chock-full of them, with some very tasty country-funk organ courtesy of Ovenz.
Luke: Even though the song has dark undercurrents it gives me the urge to dance. And dance I will god damn it!
How I Wish You Were a Stranger
Wade: Sometimes a friend can just give you the shits. I don’t really like some of the lyrics in this one but who cares? I think most people can relate to its sentiment on some level, and it’s a fun song and a good time when playing live.
Luke: Yeah, that Wade really gives me the shits sometimes!
Be sure to head down to The Toff In Town this Saturday February 20 to see Holy Moses Heartache launch You’re Welcome!