Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
He Danced Ivy – Silent Machine by Twelve Foot Ninja
Dear Silent Machine,
A lot has changed since you first waltzed proud and manic into our lives. We’ve lived a lot, moved a lot, heard a lot of whack tunes and recorded some of our own madness too but you’ve remained a rare constant for us, and for Good. Bloody. Reason.
What other debut album this side of the Pacific could have dreamed of influencing heavy music the way you did? Like a lunatic on a typewriter you pushed every button imaginable, and some other ones that haven’t even been discovered yet. The sound was spectacular, a total last-minute-late-to-work breakfast smoothie mashup of metal, funk, reggae, punk, pop and anything else left lying around. Frankenstein-esque, we’d call it, and all drizzled with unbelievably tangible humour. It was pointless to try to predict what musical misdirection would happen next, and we loved every freaking second of it.
Twelve Foot have been with us longer than we have even been a band. I sung their early single ‘Dark Passenger’ in a band with a guitarist named Nat Sherwood. I wasn’t very good. Nat went on to produce and record He Danced Ivy’s first record. Oh, and the first time Sean, Mitch, Josh and I were ever in the same room? It was in the Coffs Harbour Hoey Moey, watching Twelve Foot Ninja tour with Dead Letter Circus. I got you to sign my busted up DC shoes. Mitch and Josh got pictures together at the front barrier that were so overexposed it might as well be TMZ paparazzi snaps but neither knew who the other was yet. Sean fanboyed his heart out in your little hotel room and he and Stevic bonded over extreme guitar nerdery. You brought us all together and we didn’t even know it yet.
If this happy coincidence was the gravity for us four first colliding, the music of Silent Machine was the glue. ‘Coming For You’ was a revelation in how heavy could meet funny and be translated visually without the two sides ripping each other’s heads off. All the stories put to screen were brilliant and fun but also carried the same amount of weight as the music and made a damn tasty meme. Feeding a psychotic troll fanboy to Misha and the Periphery boys? Yeah, can’t blame you. What a collab.
Your musical manipulation is unmatched in Australian music. Tracks like ‘Shuriken’ and ‘Vangard’ could conjure a zen-like peacefulness only to be utterly shattered by the weight of demonic fiends purging the shrine with fire spewing six-strings and thunderous drums. Others like ‘Luna’ could show off a unexpected but much loved sensitive side. But I think the thing that always drove the whole package home was the personality on display, completely uncompromising and thoroughly entertaining.
You might remember when we were a hair away from breaking apart, desperately trying to cling to creating what we loved but were battered by set backs, knock backs and just being told ‘no’, that the style that we were trying to forge for ourselves wouldn’t work. But time and time again, we’d remember that night at the Hoey Moey when a little band from Melbourne who had the stones to stare the music business right in the eye, kick it, slash it, throw a shuriken at it, slow dance with it, and take over the world. The next time I saw TFN was on the national headline tour at the Zoo in Brisbane. The 500 capacity room was completely packed and I can’t think of any band more deserving of the raucous reception the boys received.
We love you Silent Machine. Thank you for reminding us that it’s all possible.
He Danced Ivy’s new EP ‘Optimistic Cynic’ is out today. Stream it below.