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Commentary

 
 

 
In this section I will go through the songs on the new album one by one and tell you what they're about.
 
1. I'm So Happy
I wrote the lyrics to this on March 6th 2004 while I was riding a train to Frankston. At first it was just going to be a song about how I'm so happy, sung in a non-sarcastic way. But as I continued, I found it would be more satisfactory to write a song about happiness being the result of delusion. I recently read a book called "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn about how the human race is headed for disaster if we continue the way we're going, because of the way we consume natural resources and destroy the environment. I don't know if I really believe what he wrote, but I figured it would be cool to take a similar point of view, that our modern lifestyle is unsustainable so therefore it will all fall apart sonner or later. On another level, the song is promoting the opposite view – that technology will be the answer to all our problems. I read a book called "The Spike" by Damien Broderick who suggests that the human race will ascend to a higher state of existence within fifty years as a result of technological advance, and I found his arguments to be fairly convincing too. This song also has a message about the war in the middle east, reminding us that our high standard of living in the first-world comes at the expense of poorer nations and we try to distract ourselves with new technology to avoid thinking about all the human suffering that's going on abroad. So basically this song is saying "Maybe we're headed for disaster, and maybe the aesthetically pleasing milieu of the city is just a faηade to hide a deeper malaise within the human psyche – I don't really care, but at least I'm aware of it, as we all should be."
 
2. What Was Once Exciting (Is Now Depressing)
This is a brutally honest song about how I'm withdrawing in disgust from the music industry. I don't play gigs as Apathy's Child anymore because the problems of live performance outweigh the benefits. People often tell me I shouldn't give up – what they don't realise is that the end doesn't justify the means. It's much harder for a socially impaired person like me to get gigs, and the rewards are much smaller. I tried it back in 2001, without much success. By the third gig, the excitement had been drained away from Apathy's Child and it just became depressing. Also, in my case I need to think about why I'm making music – it's not for the sake of fame or glory or money, it's just because I have songs inside that I want to express. As long as they're heard by a few people around me, my mission is fulfilled. The last line of the song expresses a more general wish to be not "part of the whole big scene" – it indicates a desire to withdraw from society altogether and remain alone, which is something I've been feeling increasingly.
 
3. Quit Your Job
This is an anti-work song, attempting to persuade the listener to do what the title suggests. It's addressed to the person who hates their job in a stereotypical way, and has a dream of what they'd rather be doing. In this way the lyrics are rather irresponsible because quitting a job might not lead to happiness and fulfilled dreams – it might just lead to increased poverty and depression. Sometimes a person needs to have a job in order to support their children, or just to feel a sense of social acceptance. I guess I wrote this song just because it sometimes irritates me when I see people doing jobs they hate, because they're addicted to the salary, and they tell themselves that the job brings them freedom because the money brings them freedom, but the truth is the job makes them less free because they have to obey all these extra rules and give up so much of their time to this job so that they don't have enough time left to properly appreciate the good things in life. Of course there's also the argument that some people waste their minds in the wrong job – like, there might be a great writer who doesn't have time to write their great novel because they spend all their time cleaning toilets and such. The issue there is that they could be depriving the world of a masterpiece, something that would enrich the lives of other people. I don't really ask the question "Am I making the best possible contribution to society?", though, since I don't regard society as being a worthwhile thing to contribute to. In this song I just want to disgree with a couple of popular misconceptions, 1. That unemployment leads to homelessness (maybe in the third world it does, but not here, if you know how the system works), and 2. That rich people are happier.
 
4. Beautiful Sunset
On December 29th, 2000, I took a walk along St Kilda beach and sat down on the sea wall to watch the sunset. A man came and sat down beside me. He spoke to me for a long time, saying many things, but not saying anything about the beautiful sunset, and that's how I knew he had no artistic tendencies. He seemed nice and friendly but a little shallow. I hope he doesn't hear this song or read the lyrics because it might cause him offence, and some of the things in the song are a little exaggerated.
 
5. Happy Happy Death Death
This song is a fictional story about a guy who tries to drown himself in the sea. But in the midst of the suicide attempt, he chickens out and comes up for air. Humbled, he goes back to the shore and promises to try again later. The next day he finds out that he's about to receive a large sum of money from the estate of his deceased grandmother. He is glad to receive the money, because it will enable him to take an overseas holiday like he always wanted. But by and by, we realise that he's still planning to commit suicide, just in a more expensive way. The song ends on a happy note, though we're still not sure exactly where the guy is going to go or what form of suicide he's going to attempt next. We also don't really know why he's suicidal. But the point is, whatever his reasons, he remains suicidal despite being rich, thus challenging the notion that money is important enough to provide a reason to live. This song aims to be different by making suicide sound cheerful and pop-musicky. Some people might think this song is about me, considering I've attempted suicide in the past and I recently received a large sum of money from a deceased grandmother's estate. But it isn't – I've never tried to drown myself in the sea and I'm not planning any sort of suicide attempt. I'm just a guy who is interested in the phenomenon of suicide and likes to read about it and write songs about it. Some people might say that this song is in poor taste, making light of a serious subject. But I don't think it would be offensive to someone who's been suicidal – I know what it's like.
 
6. No Tears Left
This song is an expression of the fact that I used to cry a lot when I was a child, some would say too much, but in the past eight or nine years I haven't cried at all. It suggests that this is because I'm not sad anymore, and this lack of sadness is due to increased apathy, i.e. when I don't care about anything, there's nothing to be sad about. It hints at the fact that this makes me less than human (since humans traditionally show signs of weakness and fallibility, according to the dictionary), but I'm saying in this song, hey, if that's being human, to care about stuff, then I don't want to be human.
 
7. I Have Too Much Money
After I received a large sum of money from my grandmother's deceased estate, I was discussing with my sister what I should do with this money. I couldn't think of anything in particular that I wanted to spend it on. My sister said maybe I should invest it. I replied, "Well, what's the point of investing it, to make more money, if I don't know what to do with the money I have?" This is what led me to the odd concept of having too much money, and thus writing a song about it. Of course, in reality I don't have too much money – that would be impossible. It's good to have lots of money – just having it there in the bank account brings a sense of security. And of course I found plenty of things to spend my inheritance on in the end, just little things that added up to large amounts when combined. The song goes "Low income is where I'm supposed to be" – this refers to the fact that I'm unemployed and everyone expects an unemployed person to be very poor. But I've noticed that I have more money than most of my friends who have jobs. This is because I'm always very careful with spending and I avoid all advertising wherever possible so I'm not brainwashed into desiring things that I don't need. The bridge of the song contains the central message – that I don't want to be like everyone else, and that maybe I'd be even happier if I give up more material possessions. This serves to intensify the non-money-desiring state of mind that I wish to encourage in myself, in order to achieve greater happiness.
 
8. Life Under Glass
This was written back in 2001 (one of the rejects from my previous album) so the lyrics are not so deep or logical. It's a song about glass, basically – in the first verse it explores glass's magnifying properties ("we gotta blow it up now" = we gotta enlarge it). The second verse talks about windows, how they look nice on a house but if you don't want people to see inside your house at night you have to block them off. The rest of the song talks about how glass can protect you from the weather and perhaps also protect you from other sorts of danger, but a protected life is not necessarily a good thing because it makes you less free. So in that context glass could be a metaphor for other types of protection that people use in their daily lives to shield them from unpleasant things.
 
9. Dead Eve
This is a true story about Eve Von Erdmannsdorff, otherwise known as Ginkgo, author of the personal web-site/masterpiece at www.jade-leaves.com. She was a very talented person who produced some brilliant creative works in the domain of interactive multimedia and she has been a role-model for me ever since I discovered her in 1999. Her work was hampered by severe depression in 2000, and she ended up committing suicide at Halloween of that year. I wrote some more stuff about her here.
 
10. Dude, It's Not A Chicken
When I was studying graphic design in 2001, one of the assignments we were set was to design a set of advertisements for a product called "Nothing". The idea was that it doesn't matter what the product is, a good advertising campaign can sell anything. Anyway one of the ideas I came up with was an ad that said, "Nothing. It's Not A Chicken", and it would have a picture of a chicken in a circle with a line through it. This memory came back to me when I was trying to think of a title for this song which is mostly about nothing. So I decided to call the song "It's Not A Chicken" and I added "Dude" onto the beginning of it to make it sound funnier. This is a self-referential song. I thought of the central riff when I was walking home from a course interview last year in a state of high energy, so the rap section is partly about what it's like to walk down the street in the city and see various things along the way. It sort of gets into the idea of donating to charity, but that's a red herring – in the bridge it starts to talk about the silence which will follow at the end of the song, and measuring the worth of the silence as compared to the song. Then it descends into boasting about how the song is so powerful, as is typical of rap-music, and finally it admits to being only an emotional front before collapsing into na-na-na-nas as if to say well, I give up on writing lyrics.
 

 
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