Flesh & Blood (2014)

- posted in Studio Albums
Tracklist
1. Spring to Come – 4:13
2. Livin in the City – 3:28
3. Cold Wind – 4:57
4. Bullet Girl – 5:20
5. Devil Woman – 3:00
6. Blame It On Me – 6:08
7. Only One – 3:39
8. Young and Wild – 5:36
9. Wings Are Wide – 5:51
10. How You Sleep at Night – 4:13
11. You’re Free – 5:33
Personnel
Released 7 February 2014
Recorded The Compound, Fremantle – 2013

John Butler – vocals, guitars, Wurlitzer, E-Bow
Bryon Luiters – bass, vocals, Moog bass, synths, organ, Wurlitzer, clavinet, upright piano, Rhodes
Nicky Bomba – drums, percussion, vocals, steel pans
Grant Gerathy – drums, vocals on track 10

Recorded at The Compound, Butler’s studio in Fremantle (Australia), FLESH & BLOOD took a mere 20 days to record and though beautifully structured in sonic terms there is a rawness and honesty to the album that reflects the brevity of its laying down.

There’s something really exciting about that moment when you’re writing a song and it’s flowing and you stand back and look at it and hear it and feel like it explains things that you’ve been trying to explain all your life, or it expresses something that feels universal,

After contributing a large portion of work towards the album, Nicky Bomba eventually left The Compound and the Trio to focus on his own Melbourne Ska Orchestra project and was replaced by Grant Gerathy. Flesh & Blood was produced by Jan Skubiszewski and features a vocal duet with Ainslie Wills.

Butler spoke about the song process in an interview during the band’s US tour:

But a lot of these songs on this album I kind of magpied. Magpies are this bird in Australia that takes shiny things from anywhere and builds its nest, and so that’s kind of what I do. I’ll take a little of my own experience of having some heavy party time with certain friends, and then I’ll hear some other stories about addicts or other intense relationships. I’ll put them into the mixing pot and make up these characters to explore different possibilities and emotional landscapes.
Of the approach, Butler says
We wanted the grooves to get deeper and thicker and as a songwriter I wanted the songs to be a lot more guttural and fleshier. I wanted to smell it and feel it a bit more. And my voice to be more convincing.

JB’s Track by track introduction to the songs on “Flesh & Blood”

Blame It On Me started out as Lay It on Me, as in ‘give me your truth’ but I couldn’t get enough traction with that to reveal the bones. So it changed to Blame It On Me and I kinda wrote from this point of view of a deity speaking to humans going, ‘how is it that you believe in me when it’s all working for you but when it’s not, you blame me? When really, you make your own bed and you need to sleep in it’.

Bullet Girl is about a couple who are in that stage of their life where everything is hot and heavy. And dramatic. And angsty. When it’s good, it’s good and when it’s bad it’s bad. But at the same time they are catalysts for each other; the chemistry between them is like a hot fire. It burns bright and it’s exciting… but it’s destructive and they look back with some regret.

Cold Wind was inspired by a 4WD trip I took from Freo through the guts of the desert to Uluru, where we stayed in an Aboriginal community called Mutitjulu near Ayers Rock. I’d seen footage of a man named Uncle Bob Randall, an indigenous elder who is a great thinker and philosopher who was a member of the stolen generation. We met Bob and his wife Barbara and stayed in a caravan for a couple of nights and listened to his stories, of being taken away from his mother, the hardship and things that he came up against as an individual, of indigenous inequality and injustice.

A really cold wind would come across the camp every morning at 8am – really hard and relentless. And he would say, ‘leave! Pack up and get out of my country!’ (laughs). The mixture of those two things made Cold Wind.

Devil Woman sprang up from a jam period we had for a month where I didn’t bring any of my songs to the table, we just threw musical ideas into a very open and fresh pot. Nicky came to this one jam with these Ethiopian rhythms and instantly Africa was in the room. It blossomed into this African/R&B/bluegrass thing. Devil Woman? I found another guy in the bed and this woman is killing me. I want her to get away from me before I do something I regret.

How You Sleep at Night is probably one of my more exciting songwriting moments. I wrote it and was having one of those, ‘this is one of the best things I’ve done’ moments. I was quite chuffed with myself. Then I had a dream where I’m playing the song to my manager Phil, just on GarageBand, but there’s a full video with it and the production is completely different, there’s the same melody, but different chords. So I’m listening to this song that I was so happy with, that I had written over the previous three months completely flipped and I just wake up and go, ‘wow, that was cool’. So I got up and worked out the chords. So the next day we’re at rehearsal and we were going to do the original version but Grant and Byron were like, ‘no man, let’s do the dream version first’. Four takes later it was done. It came up like the dream and where it didn’t, it was better. It never happens like that; I worked on the previous version for months. Then this dream version, in four takes, was done. It came out of the ether.

Living in the City is one of those songs that just really came out of my mouth, really. It’s just about a cat who’s gone to the big smoke to make it big and realizing he’s in the rat race. He’s in the system and he ain’t happy about it.

Only One is saying, ‘I’m a flawed human being, with a lot of shit (laughs). Somehow, you see me and you love me. For that, I love you right back and you’re amazing’.

Spring to Come evolved from a guitar riff that has been around for about five years wanting to come to light. Then on a camping trip at the Blackwood River the lyrics decided to come to the party. For me it’s a song about dealing with depression and having the faith that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In the midst of winter, spring will come… (laughs) but how fucking long does it have to take?

Wings Are Wide is about my grandmother Phillipa passing away. She is the matriarch of my family, the one who passed me down the Dobro guitar that once belonged to my grandfather John, whom I’m named after, when I was 16. She’s the reason why I play music; the cornerstone. It’s about her going to see her man again, after all this time.

Young and Wild is kind of like an extension of Bullet Girl, but this couple is a junkie couple. They’ve gone deep… deep into each other. I’ve had my own things with addiction and hung around circles of addiction, so this is a combination of stories that I’ve magpied from everywhere to create this couple.

You’re Free is talking to the devil on my shoulder and going, ‘I see you there, and I hear you. Thanks for your time, but I’m right now, you can go. I need to get on with my life now without you on my shoulder’.


Spring To Come

Lost my love, lost my light.
I can’t find them anymore.
If there’s something i could give,
I would’a given it before now….because…
I came back a little broken,
Things don’t fit anymore.

I wait for spring to come.
But how long, tell me how long.
Cause i wither at my post.
I’m walking like a ghost, alone
So how long tell me how long

So somewhere out there on the horizon
Maybe theres a glimmer of hope
Maybe it’s just a mirage
Cause ya never know

Maybe things have changed
Storm clouds pass take their re(a)ins
I wait for spring to come
But how long, tell me how long
Cause i wither at my post,
I’m walking like a ghost, alone
So how long tell me how long


Livin In The City

Bells are ringing on your alarm clock
It’s six in the morning man the race don’t stop
It’s shit, shower, shave, just make it to the station.
Waiting for the train… goddamn train late again.
Hit the streets and they are seething,
Ducking, weaving, begging, stealing
Got you kneeling and your feeling
That you wanted more.

That’s how it goes living in the city
Everybody getting down to the nitty griddy
They don’t look back, they don’t take no pity.
Hey ya know i never said it would be pretty.

Well i get to the office and delete my spam,
Delete me, delete my plans.
Working everyday for the goddamn man.
Sometimes i wonder just who i am.
Well i’m gonna go postal,
Gonna have a death toll,
Be the head hunter
Then i’m gonna move coastal
Everything’s gonna be just fine.
Working everyday on my “gold mine”.


Cold Wind
Cold wind it blows
Blowing through like Sunday morning.
Chills my bones, take me home, take me home.
Home’s where the heart it,
But my hearts been truely stolen
Cold wind it blows

Fire in my gut

Reminding me that yes i’m inna,
Great big rut, great big hole
Great big hole
No-one knows
Can tell me where those chains begin
Fire in my gut

There are places you will never go
There are things that you will never know
All depends on which side of the road.

Hole in my soul
Makes me feel like i am floating
Far from my place
I got no land, got no place
Tell me Mr. what’s a man supposed to believe in?
Hole in my soul

Gun in my hand
Tellin’ me that i’m meant to obey
Laws of your land, of your land, of your land.
But you don’t follow rules of the silly games you play
So gun in my hand, in my hand, in my hand


Bullet Girl
I can’t believe what happened here tonight
I know the things i said
You know those things were not right.
Anger coursing through my blood
and corroding all my veins,
I’m hanging on for dear life
I’m just trying to find my reins.
Cause when you left there
Baby lying on the floor.
Festering like a bullet wound
That i caught in a civil war.
Ever since i’ve known you girl
You’ve been always on the run.
Yeah you are the bullet girl
and you know i’ve been your gun.
You are the bullet girl.
And you know i’ve been your gun

Ooooh, don’t go, counting on ya.

Wish i could just get a grip
on the hour glass of time
Turn that baby upside down
Watch her sliding in rewind.
Cause the truth of it,
It is pounding down my doors.
Revelling like a renegade,
I can’t hold it back no more.
Revelling like a renegade
I can’t hold it back no more.

Ooooh, don’t go, counting on ya.

I can’t believe what happened here tonight
I know the things i said
You know those things were not right.
Ever since I’ve known you girl
You’ve been always on the run.
Yeah you are the bullet girl
And you know i’ve been your gun.
You are the bullet girl
And you know i’ve been your gun


Devil Woman
Hey ho
Baby get away from me
Cause i’m losing my mind, my head
Another man in my bed.
So go and run
Before i leave to regret
What i’m gonna do to you
Cause i’m just about to lose my mind.

Devil woman get the hell away from me x 3
Tell me why your so mean?

Hot, red, flame
Tell me know what’s his name,
and what he got, what he got that i have not?
I know those plates
of the truck skiddin’ out my gates
So boy, go run
Cause i’m gonna grab my baseball bat.
CAUSE I GONNA GRAB MY BASEBALL BAT.

Devil woman get the hell away from me x 3
Got me on my hands and knees.

Meeting you was like a lightning bolt
No matter what my friends said
I could see no fault.
But now i see you’re a snake in a tree
And your poisonous apples are killing me

Devil woman get the hell away from me x3
Tell me why your so mean?


Blame It On Me

Blame it on me….
Here’s a trip for the new folk.
Coming down the line.
Being born in this heavy,
Heavy times.
I know it ain’t perfect
But it gonna have to do.
This, the world, you inherit.
It is up to you.

There comes a time
When you gonna reap what you been sowing
And all the shit that you fight about
It’s overflowing
And all the words that you’re saying
Now they don’t mean nothing
You gonna blame it on me???
There comes a time
When you gonna see what you be made of
Flesh and blood?
Or just the stuffing
That they filled you full of
And all the while yes the world
Yes it keeps on turning
You gonna blame it on….
Blame it on me……


Only One
There’s something haunting me
Running on thin ice.
It’s nothing you can see,
I do all i can to hide.
And all the rolling days,
All the lonely nights.
You don’t know your place,
All the fights.

I keep on reading the same chapter,
I can not breath,
Holding, hiding truth.
You always know when
Just to say “let go”….

(Chorus)
To me you are the only one,
Who can help unwind my tangled mind.
I am the seed, but you’re the sun.
I’m tellin’ anybody, tell everybody.
Doo doo doo doo…

Did they tell ya man that you can’t fly?
Did they clip your wings when you did try?
Did they say you could now when you can’t?
Did ya build your castles out of sand?

I keep on reading the same chapter,
I can not breath,
Holding, hiding truth.
You always know when
Just to say “Let Go”….

(Chorus)
To me you are the only one,
Who can help unwind my tangled mind.
I am the seed, but you’re the sun.
I’m tellin’ anybody, tell everybody.
Doo doo doo doo….


Young and Wild
Tell me where life goes in such a rush,
Like the melted snow in your blue eyes
No one ever could try to tell us
Both were young and full of all our lies

We got in real deep, they all could see
Running from the sun, casting our shadows
No one trusted us, not even me
We hung ourselves to rot upon our gallows
Lies
We built our castles high upon the rise

Ooohhhh, so young, young and wild

Tell me where life goes with some old friends
Cause we don’t see each other anymore
All candles do melt, we burnt both ends
There is nothing left we have in store.
Down
I saw myself there lying on the ground
You blew your breath
Deep into my soul
Where we have been
None will ever know
Where we have been no one will ever know.


Wings Are Wide

The wings are wide
So cover me, come cover me
Beyond the great divide…
Too long i’ve waited,
My colours are now faded,
I’ve come to be at your side.
Beyond my brain
So rescue me, please rescue me
of flesh and flawed design.
I want to go, so let me go, like melting snow
The shell it now resigns.

(chorus)

Hey how ya doing my love
Finally came up above
(oh I’ve missed your touch)
All of the kids are now grown
They got kids of their own
(oh you missed so much)
Oh but i always stayed true
Yes i waited for you
(but i’ve been alone)
Without you i’ve no home

Free at last
Through stormin’ seas and broken masts
I lay my final anchor
Relinquish pain and anger.
Face to face,
I long to be in the same place.
Our love letters i’ve burned
To you I must return.

(chorus)
Hey how ya doing my love
Finally came up above
(oh I’ve missed your touch)
All of the kids are now grown
They got kids of their own
(oh you missed so much)
Oh but i always stayed true
Yes I waited for you
(but i’ve been alone)
Without you i’ve no home
/ Now i’m coming home.


How You Sleep At Night

You left your mark on me.
I’ll leave my mark on you.
This war we fight you’ll see,
Scorches all but the truth.
Suffer now will the fool
How long you think this lasts?

Do i dare to believe in something more?

Than what you’re telling me,
Cause all i see is lies
Dressed up in fantasies,
Traveling in disguise.
So Mr won’t you please,
Look me in the eyes,
Tell me how you sleep at night?

Who’s right and who is wrong?
Chasing our tails again.
What side the fence you on?
True colours show their skin.
Now what are we to do?
Now that we are,
Neck deep in this mess???


You’re Free

When things are dark
I hear your call
You always come when no ones around at all
Whispering your poison
Burning my brain
Separating you from me
Driving me insane

You always know
The right words to say
Sitting over my shoulder
Trying to navigate
Get the hell out my mind
No I don’t got no time
You’re making it hard to think
You’re not a trusty navigator
Just a hungry aligator
Trying to hold me down and make me sink

And all that’s come
Has been in spite of you
The lies you spit
I fight ’em all so they don’t come true
And i found out everything i know
Has been one big fat old lie
And i ain’t just on a tread mill
I’ve been taken for a goddamn ride

I say you’re free
and i want you to know
Yes you’re free now
Get the hell out my door
You’re free
Best be going home
Yes you’re free now
And alone i gonna roam without you now

Little man in red
with the horns on your head
Sitting on my shoulder
Trying to heavy, my load
As i’m walking down the road

Like a fifty thousand pound boulder
Saying “Listen to me boy, nothing for free”
It’s just fear around every corner
Trying to heavy, my load
As i’m walking down the road
Like a fifty thousand pound boulder