The Good Ship
Let’s get one thing straight: The Good Ship is a very bad ship. Drawing inspiration from fellow denizens of the deep like Nick Cave, The Decemberists and The Pogues, their pelagic folk rock charts some dark and dangerous waters, and a more mangy, cross-bred collection of influences, from gypsy to bush-band via cabaret, country and rock you’ll not hear. Meghan Player chatted to the band ahead of their upcoming tour to get the low down on influences, sea shanties and the new album.
-You draw influence from various bands/musicians [such as Nick Cave, The Decemberists, The Pogues] – what is it about these bands that inspire the Good Ship and your overall sound?
It’s partly the acoustic, folkish instrumentation, and partly the darkness and the intelligence of the songwriting. These are artists that are not afraid to explore the worst parts of humanity, and sing about them in ways that make you understand and sometimes even empathise with their fucked up characters.
– You describe your sound as ‘porno country folk cabaret’ – which is a varied, interesting mix – what led the band into making that sound and developing that ‘style’?
We’re drawn to themes of sex and debauchery. Like many people these are things that we talk about every day, the difference is we put our thoughts into song. There are so many wishy washy songs about love. Why not one about a woman who’s desperate for some rough dirty fucking? This is just as valid a topic for songwriting. The cabaret part comes in our live approach; we like to dress up, have fun, talk to the audience and get them involved. How or why we came to this style is a bit of a mystery, it just happened, it wasn’t deliberate. Sorry. Too late to take it back.
– There are nine members of the band – do your influences vary? Do you all come from different musical backgrounds?
Eight members in fact. The ninth member is just a disembodied voice that tells us to do bad things. We call him Shirley. We all have quite different backgrounds. There are a couple of proper musicians in the band, they can actually read those little squiggles and lines, while the rest of us are just lucky enough to be gifted idiot savants. Influences vary wildly from 80’s synth pop (James) to fey acoustic folk (Janey, Brett) to glam rock (John).
– Where do you draw influence from when writing a new track? [A song like, ‘A Harbour Fair’ sounds like it almost comes out of the 1800s].
We tend not to write songs about feelings and relationships etc, I think we’re all a bit old and cynical for that. Influences and ideas come more from exploring history, trying to evoke a sense of different times, places and cultures. Obviously we have a bit of a fascination with the sea and there is a bottomless ocean of possible stories and song ideas floating around there. Prostitution seems to weigh heavily on our minds too for some reason. But we also write about contemporary things, for example our new song “Grenfell” is about Daz growing up in a country town in New South Wales. There’s real emotion and sadness in that song.
– When listening to a few of your songs, there are a number that you know will sound killer live – how do you build on that energy and enthusiasm that started during recording? How much energy do you put into a live set?
We are proudly a ‘live’ band. Ultimately that’s what music is about for us, communicating our enthusiasm for the songs and showing the audience a good time. It’s very hard not to dance and possibly fall pregnant at one of our shows. Sometimes I can’t quite believe the energy some members put into our shows. As singer I’m often standing quite still at the microphone, but I glance around and various bandmates are doing the most outrageous things. We should bring out our own range of Good Ship exercise videos.
– How would you describe your live shows?
Like harpooning Moby Dick. We like to take the audience on a bit of a Nantucket sleigh ride. Lots of shouting, jumping, dancing, swearing, rubbing of crotches and the like. If you don’t have a good time there’s probably something wrong with you. It’s certainly not us.
– Your new album is currently being worked on – soon to be released I believe – what can you tell us about it?
We just finished! Time for a cigarette and a quick douche. It’ll be out in July and the first single is out now for free at www.thegoodshipcrew.bandcamp.com. It’s 11 tracks that range from sweet sounding country pop to driving rock to sinister balladry. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve made. The album still doesn’t have a title so if anyone has any ideas..
– Is it different to what the band has done previously?
The first album was very much a rollicking, frenetic monster that really represented the slightly out of control band we were two years ago. The new album is still energetic, but has a real richness and a slightly more considered approach to it. There are strings, there are masses of vocal harmonies, the songs are more diverse both in style and arrangement.
– Did you approach making this album differently to your debut?
Getting the energy of our live show into a recording is a challenge. We record drums and bass together live, with a couple of other band members playing along, to make sure we capture that energy. Then we build from there. This is basically how we made the first album, but with this one there were so many extra things to record that it quickly spun a little out of control. We were recording in friend’s bedrooms, loungerooms, wherever we could find a good space. We almost bit off more than we could chew, but it came together in the end, and our stoic producer Neil Coombe managed to bring it all together. Genius.
– Do you have a favourite track on the new album? Why that particular track?
If I had to choose it would be between “No Good Deed” and “Gentlemen Don’t Tell”. These are the two most morbid, sinister, evil songs on the album and I suppose they soothe my soul in a weird way. The former is about a dapper old fellow who hitch hikes then dispatches the kindly folk who pick him up. The latter is a piano ballad about the murder of a young girl. They’re both exceedingly creepy and give me chills.
– You’ll be heading to Sydney in April to play at the Vanguard – are there any other gigs that you would like to let our readers know about?
Yes we are on an East Coast tour for our latest single “Seven Seas”. Tour dates are:
Friday 13 April
The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW
With The Green Mohair Suits and special guests
Saturday 14 April
The Grace Darling, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 20 April
Beetle Bar, Brisbane, QLD
With Rattlehand and Astrid & The Asteroids
$12 presale/$15 door
Saturday 28 April
Royal Mail Hotel, Goodna, QLD
Thursday 3 May
Sol Bar, Maroochydore, QLD
With Mick Thomas
Many thanks to the band for taking the time to answer our questions.
For more information about the band, head to: www.thegoodshipcrew.bandcamp.com