Last week, when The Nature Strip unveiled their new EP Past Pacific, we were immediately roped into their bright acoustic energy and strong vocal hooks.
The EP is packed with truly addictive tracks that we’ve been hooked on ever since they dropped. So we caught up with the band for a track-by-track run-down.
Fresh off the release of their new EP Past Pacific, we caught up with The Nature Strip’s two songwriters John Encarnacao and Peter Marley for a track-by-track run-down.
JOHN: We released an album in 2016, Presents, and an album in 2017, Beetle Bones – 25 songs in a year and a bit, and the cupboard was pretty bare. But then I came up with Push The Past Away and we started doing the Models cover and it seemed like an EP might be a good idea. So Pete wrote Dirty Looks pretty quick and we were away.
Push The Past Away
JOHN: I wrote this one around Christmas last year. Like sometimes happens, I woke up with the first couple of lines in my head and finally got up when I had too much to remember. It was one of those half-an-hour and it’s done jobs, the lyrics pouring out in a first draft that I didn’t have to touch and somehow dictating the music.
The Paul McCartney concert I saw in November was still buzzing around in my head a bit and the chord progression and verse structure of Push the Past Away is a tiny bit like The Beatles’ You Won’t See Me. But it’s one of my punk/pop/new wave things like other Nature Strip tracks Beyond The Nether. Starting the arrangement with a bass synth sequence is a bit of a nod to Kids in America – no idea why my brain put these two songs together. I hadn’t heard Kids In America in years. I guess Push The Past Away is kind of about a nervous breakdown and people’s reaction to it…
PETE: we don’t have sequencers, so Professor Matt has to do all that keyboard throbbing by hand. He’s only got three good fingers left after playing this live the last few months.
Just Like You Do
JOHN: Pete and I wrote this together, though Pete had a lot of the music to start with. This was years ago, but neither of us were that fussed with the lyrics. Pete wrote a whole new set of lyrics in the lead up to recording the EP. It features the mandatory Marley reference to outer space – there seems to be an unwritten law that there’s one on each album. Our keyboard dude Matt Langley gets to take a solo on this one.
PETE: There was a newspaper article about a couple in Florida who were selling golden tickets to heaven for $99 a pop. They claimed to have met Jesus behind a dumpster, who told them to sell the tickets and they wanted to get to a planet made of drugs. They ended up getting arrested and had about their persons drugs, loads of cash and a baby alligator. “That’s a song,” I thought.
Store of Tomorrows
JOHN: This is one where Pete had sent me a few ideas on a CD or something and I used a couple of the chord progressions to kick start this song. One of those fun ones where the lyrics are more about the sound of the words than the meaning, but they always end up meaning something. The bridge reminds me a bit of some of the acoustic-oriented tracks on Ryan Adams’ Love Is Hell album, which our drummer Jess Ciampa and I are big fans of. I wrote a chart for our good friend Anthea Cottee, who plays cello with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Such a beautiful tone, it adds so much to the track.
PETE: The crazed wailing guitar that opens the tune and appears throughout is really evocative. When it’s playing with the cello, there’s a strange, beautiful magic there.
JOHN: Not sure what Pete’s on about in this one. But I like playing the curly lead guitar lines through the choruses.
PETE: It’s a lot like…..I don’t really know. Good and bad bits of a relationship I suppose. Some strange lyrical territory there. And it’s got a tempo change in the middle section – always wanted to do that – that adds some extra curry. Listen to your minty sea-shells y’all.
JOHN: Pete and I and Michael de la Motte of our old band The Flies were huge fans of the early Models stuff. They’re a Melbourne band, and maybe one of the most original bands of the early 80s. They lost it a bit when their keyboardist Andrew Duffield left them, but the first three albums and the Cut Lunch EP, which Atlantic Romantic is on, are amazing. Sean Kelly, what a unique singer and guitarist. It’s heaps of fun to play this one, and hopefully with the crazy jam at the end we’ve made it a bit our own. Jess’s backing vocals on this (and Push The Past) are tops.
PETE: In that jam section towards the song’s end, I always think of the guitar and keyboard at each other like kids in the back of the car, while the rhythm section’s driving gets more and more intense until the whole machine reaches its final destination. Are we there yet?
Georgia’s In Town
JOHN: To come clean, this one was a bit of a problem child and got scratched from Beetle Bones because we just couldn’t finish the recording to our satisfaction. We always thought it was a good song – kinda like a standard that Tony Bennett might sing or something, but written by Colin Moulding of XTC, probably one of our biggest influences (if you couldn’t tell). Anyway, we really stripped back the mix and Pete did a new vocal and its come up trumps.
PETE: I was watching the movie Ray, the Ray Charles bio-pic, and of course there’s his song Georgia On My Mind, which starts with that one word “Georgia”. So, I had a name, morphed it into an old flame who I wrote bad poetry for, and that was pretty much the song. I usually start writing a song with a couple of musical ideas, then when I’ve got the right lyrical concept, the rest of the songwriting goes pretty smoothly.
Catch the band live at their EP Launch show on October 5th. More info here.