Sneeze: Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll (hac96)
One morning, during their disastrous '98 tour of the USA, Sneeze wrote Wu-Li, track 1 of "Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll". The preceding night Nic had fallen asleep rolled up in a sail he had found on Thumb Cove, Martha's Vineyard, after getting lost on his way back to the shack (the other guys had driven past looking for him at one point, but Nic had hidden in the dark). In the first light he made his way through the bushes and saw Tom, with a near-empty bottle of Sambucca and a guitar, sitting on the ground outside the shack. Nic sat down. They started to write a song.
What was on their minds? Was it how Tom had spent a night in a Boston jail after pissing in public? Or how earlier the same night, Nic had accidentally poured his beer into the mixing desk, forcing Sneeze to complete their set acapella plus drums? Or was it how Nic had played their first show in LA solo-Sneeze, after Tom had crawled out the backstage door and disappeared, only to wake up five hours later behind a dumpster in a Sunset Boulevard shopping mall?
The tour may have been a disaster, but at least they got some songs out of it. It wasn't all bad; Tom and Nic spent every other moment plugged into their Walkmans, listening to either an early '70s soul compilation tape or else Don Covay's "Super Dude 1" which had been introduced to them in Boston after their friend Winston had seen their show and heard Sneeze's Doctor Of Love and Too Much Man To Be My Woman ("I think you'll like this," Winston said, as I Was Checking Out, While She Was Checking In crackled over the stereo).
Sneeze are a band who have been characterised by their sometimes contrary love of variety - from the-41-songs-in-47-minutes debut album to their second album "The Four Seezons" which featured a nineteen-minute epic song on side 1. Sneeze are not a band you can second-guess, especially on stage. Their live shows are a minestrone of sweet sad soul, early '90s pop, psychedelica, punk rock rants and the odd piece of Australiana. Their variety is not just limited to the songs but to the line-up; guest singers pop up from the audience and Nic, Tom and Simon, the drummer, rotate instruments every second song. But with "Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll", Sneeze decided a more cohesive and focused effort was required to create, in their words, their masterpiece, "Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll".
Included on "Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll" are their original drummer/vocalist Lara Meyerratken, guest drummer Russell Hopkinson and their now-permanent drummer Simon Gibson. The four members of The Bernie Hayes Quartet are all over the record - Bernie, Jess Ciampa, Bill Gibson and John Encarnacao, who also arranged the album-defining string and brass parts.
"Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll" will be available on compact disc (hac96cd) from Monday 4th June on Half A Cow Records and distributed by MGM. Also available on double vinyl (hac96v ) with six extra tracks not on the cd version and distributed by Corduroy Records.