Track x Track: Jack Davies and The Bush Chooks - ‘the nighttime, the wind, the crocodile’
Several years in the works, acclaimed singer-songwriter takes us through his highly anticipated debut album track by track
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It’s been nearly five years since Wyalup/Fremantle-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jack Davies and his band The Bush Chooks released their debut EP Cleaning The Dishes, instantly propelling them as a band to watch if you even had a passing interest in indie-folk and alt-country sounds.
Now after countless tours and live shows, numerous awards (including taking out 'Best Folk/Singer-Songwriter Act' for four consecutive years since 2020 at the WAM Awards), a few more EPs and a string of awesome singles, the wait for a full-length Jack Davies & The Bush Chooks LP is finally over, with the band just releasing the touching, tender sounds of the nighttime, the wind, the crocodile.
Featuring previous singles The Highway Is Stained and Clothes Peg, the nighttime, the wind, the crocodile sees Davies showcase his songwriting prowess across eleven tender & intimate compositions, showing a deep respect and knowledge of traditional folk while keeping things fresh with the injection of modern pop sensibilities. Featuring visceral and compelling storytelling, the record cements Davies as one of the country’s most exciting original songwriters.
Davies explains the inspiration behind the album, "'the nighttime, the wind, the crocodile' is set in a nighttime scene. A crocodile descends from the sky like an apocalyptic cartoon, hungry for guts. The listener sits below, hands over their ears and their eyes closed. The trees sways, the moon watches. I think the idea of the album is to open your eyes in that scene and witness the crocodile. To remember that morning is around the corner, and darkness around the next. To attempt to keep looking long enough to see the colours shift, the crocodile disappear, reappear; and find beauty in the never-ending psychedelic whirl of fears and changes that we are plunged into as thinking, feeling human beings."
To celebrate the release of the nighttime, the wind, the crocodile and take us even deeper into the record, Jack was kind enough to take us through the story behind each and every song - have a listen and get to know!
Hey, it’s Jack here. Thanks for checking out the album! It was a long time in the making, recording during a big and difficult year. I recorded this with Broderick Madden Scott at Tunafish Recording Company. We live-tracked the skeleton, used lots of room mics and had just about no reverb on this record, so it’s upfront, dry and a little wonky in places. We hope that you find something nice in the wonkiness and something comforting in the words.
My Hard Times
This song wasn’t really meant to be on the album but we recorded a live demo of it for fun and liked it enough to keep it on. I wrote it in my head whilst driving the car on a particularly tough day. The song starts as a cheery sing-along and breaks down into some sort of cacophonic mess of notes at the end, musical tears maybe? I don't know. But it’s about singing through the hard times. It’s fun to play. A happy song about sad feelings. I like laughing at myself in times of sorrow, it seems easier that way.
I wrote this song very late at night, sitting on the steps out the back of the house. The irony is that I was really struggling to write any songs for the album; they were all really sad or boring I thought. So, I ended up writing a song about not being able to write songs, and somehow that broke the block. Anyway, the colours are all the feelings, that’s the metaphor. It’s meant to be a cowboy-esque song about getting bored of losing my mind to all the inconsistent, confusing, sad, happy and scary feelings, about struggling to make any sense of the world and how I’m feeling. It also has a cowbell! And a theremin!
My old writing desk faced out into the backyard, there was a tree, a few broken chairs and a washing line, all framed by this big ugly wall of the new development being built behind us. I guess it was a confusing time, I wanted to figure myself out a bit better. So unsure what else to write about, I ended up musing on the clothesline and the clouds. Relating them to feeling lost, I suppose. I like the line about the clouds. I think clouds are very pretty.
This Highway Is Stained
To me this was the most meaningful ballad on the album, but it was also a very difficult, and sad song to write. Growing up in a privileged, white suburban environment, the insidiousness of the commonwealth and our land’s history is hushed away. This song is about the realisation of growing up and seeing the colony revealing itself. That these cities are filled with statues of racists, that the roads and towns and pubs we grew up around are named after murderers and people who inflicted genocide. That those wounds continue to grow and inflict pain while we have our backs turned. There were specific places in mind, one of which was a highway, which I won’t name because I don’t think those names deserve to be mentioned. But these names are commonplace across a country that still fails to hold itself accountable for the suffering it continues to perpetrate against First Nations peoples.
As a recording, we tried to keep it as a very stripped-back ballad, albeit for one instrumental section in the middle.
I feel proud of this song. It’s written about feeling in love, feeling scared, and also sort of inspired by one of my favourite songwriters Bill Callahan. The whole album is actually named after a line from the second verse. A line about the nighttime, the wind and the crocodile coming along and ripping me from the sweet loving daydream, coming to eat my limbs and guts. It’s myself trying to imagine the crocodile into nonexistence. Which, in a way, is what the whole album is about. The Crocodile. Fear. In all its shapes and forms. Living with it, running from it, closing one’s eyes and letting it pass. And in all that trying to find the sweet things, nice smelling orange rind. Car parked in front of the ocean, the warmth of each other. Not the big majestic things but the nice day-to-day things that are magic up close. Love lingering on in the smallest of moments.
This was a very fun song to record, a bit of a silly jam. A sarcastic blues rock song about running away from all your friends and all your problems, knowing they’ll eventually track you down again. The Fear is the Crocodile, the Crocodile is anxiety, slowly swimming towards you. Metaphors aside, George has some very cool guitar in this one and we had good fun doing the harmonies. Lots of giggles. Hopefully, that shines through.
This is our dance song. When I was 16, doing my first open mic, somebody yelled at me to play something they could dance to. 8 years later, I’ve finally done it, maybe. Anyway, I actually wrote the song because my tape recorder had this weird buzz in the key of B, so I started jamming some chords in B so that the buzz wouldn’t sound out of tune. Wrote some random lyrics about having an anxiety attack on the dance floor (I struggle with dancing). And I quite liked the demo. Later I added a capo and re-recorded it with the band!
Thinking About The Blues
This was my favourite song from the album when we finished mixing. It makes me laugh when I listen to it because the keyboard and guitar sound so silly. I wrote this song as an apology to my partner for being a grumpy bum all the time and not cleaning up or being helpful. The ending is a long jam section where I kind of just mumble yelled into the room mic like a drunken fool. Which is maybe how I felt when I wrote the song. Sad. And a bit of a fool. I like jam sections.
Pleased To Meet You
This song has brought me many tears, but I think the process of recording kind of detached me from it now. The recording’s a funny thing that way. I guess you need to detach a little to play songs over and over. The song is about trying to find my inner child, being self-destructive. Kind of a personal one.
You Deserve To Be Loved
The title kind of sums it up. I like writing songs in second person, but I guess I wrote it to myself originally, asking myself to reach out to friends. But nowadays, it feels nice to sing it to the listener because you all deserve love; everyone does. I hope everyone calls their pals and has nice meaningful cries with each other :)
I wrote this song about my partner Kelpie whilst we were sitting in the rain at night under some big old tree in a random empty car park behind the Merredin cinema, facing a palm tree growing out of the concrete. Sorry, that sentence was a mouthful. Merredin is a small town halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie. My partner was off busy someplace. The Kelpie was scared of the noise of the trees and curled up beside me. It was a sweet, intimate moment, huddled together in a rather strange, abstract-looking place. I had nothing else to do, so I wrote this song under the tree. The piano in the song is meant to kind of be like a little puppy jumping around.
- Jack Davies, 2024
Jack Davies & The Bush Chooks' new album the nighttime, the wind, the crocodile is out now
JACK DAVIES AND THE BUSH CHOOKS
'THE NIGHTTIME, THE WIND, THE CROCODILE' ALBUM TOUR
Tickets available via www.jackdaviesandthebushchooks.com
TUE 6 FEB | KING STREET, MULUBINBA/NEWCASTLE NSW*
WED 7 FEB | LA LA LA'S, DHARAWAL/WOLLONGONG NSW*
THU 8 FEB | THE GREAT CLUB, EORA/SYDNEY NSW
FRI 9 FEB | THE BRIGHTSIDE, MEANJIN/BRISBANE QLD
SAT 10 FEB | HOWLER, NAARM/MELBOURNE VIC
SUN 11 FEB | LION ARTS FACTORY, TARNDANYA/ADELAIDE SA
SAT 24 FEB | THE RIVER, WOODITCHUP/MARGARET RIVER WA*
FRI 1 MAR - SUN 3 MAR | NANNUP MUSIC FESTIVAL, NANNUP WA