Cash Savage & The Last Drinks
Have you ever had one of those years where the highs and lows have been so extreme it’s difficult to digest? Cash Savage, Melbourne’s favourite purveyor of brooding twang, had one of them last year. Among other things, a family member committed suicide. On the flip side Savage was twice married to wife Amy Middleton, the super-sharp editor of Archer Magazine. The first wedding was a big bash with friends and family in Australia (albeit non-binding because our government can’t get its shit together), and the second was a legal one in Vegas. In an effort to make sense of these extremes Savage took the grief and the ecstasy and shaped it into One of Us, her third album with band the Last Drinks.
You better brace yourself for all the feels with this one, because One of Us belts you right in the chest. Savage confirms that this is consistent with other feedback. “The last album [Hypnotic] got very similar stars to this one, across the board, but this album seems to have struck more of a chord,” she says. “There’s more of a connection here that wasn’t with the last one. I couldn’t say that I’ve put more of myself into this album. Maybe I was having a time in my life that is relatable to people. Also, One of Us doesn’t approach grief with that heavy sense of loss, it’s also approaching it from the view that it’s very good to be alive. I think that is maybe the spot where people think, ‘I can allow myself to sit in the grief with this album,’ because it’s not a sense of everything is lost.”
Does writing about the events of 2015 somehow abbreviate the length of time it takes to process them? “The short answer is yes, because I find it quite cathartic to write like that,” Savage says. “It does help me along the road of grief, to write about it. Having such wonderful times at the same time as being acutely aware of how precious life is goes hand in hand for me. As it’s such a big juxtaposition, it makes you appreciate that as well. For me to be living the life that I was living last year, knowing that life is so precious, made it even more special.”
That makes sense, but query the consequence of recording such intensely personal songs. For instance, the title track One of Us is about Savage’s cousin taking her own life. Does recording it bear the risk that it’ll be like worrying at a scab every time it’s played? “It’s much more like letting a wound heal,” Savage muses. “It’s sort of like forcing myself to process. As open as my songwriting might sound, I’m not actually that open as a person. I like to process things on my own before I talk about them, but in those instances, I’m almost forcing myself to process it.”
There’s always fallout from emotional tumult and we’re left changed as people. Savage, for instance, has become more fired up since 2015, particularly in relation to the important issue of marriage equality. “I’m tired of watching society make people fail,” Savage says. “There’s no way to actually win. That’s why I now give less fucks, because I can see that we’re all set up to fail. You might as well enjoy yourself and your life and if you can take it to the man, even if it’s just a little bit, you should. Being married is probably what led me to being so angry at society. Because I can’t get married. When that human right is taken away from you, you don’t exist in that society anymore.”
In the last year, Savage has also seen the band’s fans continue in the vein of outrageous behaviour, which is no small feat given that previous examples of crowd misconduct include a woman flashing the band. “We’ve had some pretty outrageous crowd behaviour,” Savage confirms. “It’s all been in good fun, but there’s definitely been moments where the eyebrows of the band have been raised. For instance, in Adelaide the other weekend, there was a girl going around kissing the shoes of audience members. She was lying on the ground, kissing her hand and touching the shoes – she wasn’t exactly putting her mouth on the shoes, but the gesture was there.”
Other fans are less out there, but equally fervent. For instance, when they were on tour in Europe last year, Savage and co. came across a fan who made his own merch and followed their trail of gigs across the continent. “It’s pretty humbling,” Savage says. “You get a lot of reward out of that. I like to know that people have connected with the songs. I got a really lovely bit of fan mail last night and I really thought about how I was going to write back to it. It’s not easy sometimes to say thank you and actually sound sincere, but I was genuinely sincere about how wonderful it was. It’s nice getting to the other side of the world and having someone say I really connected with you and I couldn’t buy a T-shirt because of where they were, the store wouldn’t sell them aT-shirt, so he made his own. That’s pretty wonderful.”
BY GEM DOOW
CASH SAVAGE AND THE LAST DRINKS will launch One Of Us at The Croxton on Saturday August 13. One Of Us is available now via Mistletone.