Track By Track: Brendan MacLean - funbang1 EP
Kinda like a director's commentary, BUT FOR MUSIC.
Hello and welcome to a track by track of my fifth EP, funbang1. Kind of like Director’s Commentary on a DVD but for an EP. It is on iTUNES so you should buy it, then come back here and hit play otherwise our charts will just be Meghan Trainor and no one wants that. Failing that you can also listen here on Soundcloud. Just lie to yourself like I do and say, “Well I’ll definitely buy it if I like it.” See? Feeling better already.
1. House Of Air:
Written by Brendan Maclean, Alex Suarez / Produced by Alex Suarez
Opening funbang1 is my personal favourite track on the EP at the time of release. To me it epitomises the spirit of the record: Fun, uplifting with an ultra queer Pet Shop Boys baseline and the “drop” at 2.45 is so good I actually allowed Alex to keep a “drop” in one of my songs. House Of Air is like my Xanadu. That place you go when you’re dancing, or stoned or eating a big taco or all three. In fact that is the recommended way to listen to funbang1.
FUN FACT: I often lie on press releases and say it’s the name of the studio we wrote the song it, but it’s not because I don’t think Alex has a name for his studio. But ya know - people love that shit.
Written by Brendan Maclean, Alex Suarez and Jenna Andrews / Produced by Alex Suarez
This is the first single I made with Suarez. Jenna from Island Def Jam is on the backing vocals too. She’s cool. She was like, “You should say, ‘tectonic’ a few times before each chorus.” You gotta pay that shit otherwise the song would have probably been called Closer Over Time, ick, sounds like an Angus & Julia Stone title.
We met because I was in New York on my first songwriting trip and my Universal Publishing sessions had really not achieved anything. They’re kind of like speed dating and most of the time people are just coked out jerks but then I met Alex – I ended up cancelling all the other sessions. He was a songwriter and bassist for Cobra Starship, he has a stellar solo project called Lefti and, my favourite thing - Alex has played bass on some of Carly Rae Jepsen’s tours. Fuck.
I was in a long distance relationship at the time. So it was a love song to him but by the time it was out we’d broken up. THAT’S LIFE MAGAZINE!
3. Free To Love:
Written by Brendan Maclean, Alex Suarez / Produced by Alex Suarez
So when I ruined that relationship (it was me) I was alone living in an apartment in Manhattan. It belongs to my mate and collaborator Lance Horne: an Emmy Award-winning composer, songwriter and arranger who spends a fair bit of his time on stage with Liza Minelli and Alan Cummings *CLANG*. Anyway, I was alone in his apartment all dumped and depressed but Universal had already booked in another writing session. So instead of killing myself, the original plan, I went to Brooklyn and was like, “Sorry Suarez, it’s gonna be a sad one today.” And he was like, “Oh yeah…” and whipped out some Nile Rodgers shit.
And Free To Love was born.
Written by Brendan Maclean, Paul Mac / Produced by Paul Mac
“You can’t make a record without P-Mac!” said Daniel Johns as I nervously interviewed him about his album Talk (the interview reads like a fan boy interviewing his idol which is really all it was). But it’s a sentiment I agree with. Paul Mac is an Australian music hero. We’ve done so much together: My first single Stupid, the EP Population, and being flown to Italy to play in a castle for fancy people.
Anyway, this was the last song written for funbang1. I took him a kind of indie-rock demo – more like The Black Keys. As is tradition, he threw out everything but a few well placed melodic lines hidden in my shitty demo and we went from there! After a few takes on the production it’s become one of the more progressive tracks on the record. Paul’s really been flexing his muscle lately with Ngaiire’s album going so well (he worked on it duh) so I’m not surprised by this beautiful result.
I also reference amyl nitrate in the track so that’s a thing.
5. Hugs Not Drugs (Or Both):
Written by Brendan Maclean, Sam Cromack / Produced by Stuart Stuart, Brendan Maclean
This one is tough to write about because it was written so long ago…
I made it with Stuart Stuart who produced that song by Sheppard. You know the one. He did a great job at taking my basic Garageband production and making me sound like Panic At The Disco. This was intentional and the desired outcome FYI. The video is great, and it lives in a nice place on the record but I can tell I wrote it two years ago on what is otherwise a very fresh feeling project.
If you want to hear where my head was at sonically check out this B-Side I made for Tectonic called Henry. You can hear it in the hand-claps and Super Nintendo synths. But ya know, it’s a good song and deserves its place in this pop section of my career. Oh, and how about that bridge into the double chorus ending? So fucking great right? Thank pop genius Sam Cromack for that!
6. Never Enough:
Written by Brendan Maclean, Lucian Piane / Produced by Lucian Piane
If Hugs... is the song I kind of lost touch with, Never Enough is the one that grew. It was produced by Lucian Piane who is Ru Paul’s right hand music man. I met him on my first visit to LA, I’m really not sure how, Twitter maybe? We threw down a track and did a bit of a thing with Superfruit (Aaron and Mitch from Pentatonix) but this one was the winner.
It’s pop. It’s so Katy Perry. I love that. Hooray for pop music and hooray for not feeling like I have to hide behind a word like indie-pop or alt-pop or some shit. I also sing my ass off in a register I really don’t usually sing it. Remembering how many lozenges it took to record it, you can probably put it down as “the big sing” of the record. I like to imagine singing this at the ARIAs and flying over people and vomiting on Xavier Rudd.
7. On The Door feat. Amanda Palmer:
Written by Brendan Maclean, Amanda Palmer / Produced by Paul Mac, Brendan Maclean
I wrote this on my phone during the 2014 Sydney Festival when I was supporting Amanda in The Famous Spiegeltent. (It’s also when we recorded our version of Laura, which came out the day before release! When it rains…) HERE IS PITCHFORK TALKING ABOUT SAID COVER.
I remember her phone consistently getting 700 texts before every show. At first I figured it was management but it was actually just people asking to be on the door-list every single fucking day, usually about 10 minutes before opening. So I turn to her one day and said in my most Daria voice, “Why don’t you just tell them they’re on the door, minus four.”
Amanda put down her eye-brow pencil and said in a very serious tone, “What the fuck did you just say?”
BAM. INSPIRATION. BAM. SONG.
I also love that the EP ends with a track I don’t sing on. Thanks PALMY.
“The answer’s no!”
Okay, that’s all. I hope you like it!