Children Collide heading to Byron
WHEN esoteric wizard, Arthur Waite, penned The Pictorial Key To The Tarot back in 1911, it’s unlikely that any three-card spread could have predicted his book would inspire an Australian post-grunge band’s second album a century later.
Moreover, it’s doubtful the theoretical physicist John Ellis could have hypothesised that his 1986 Theory of Everything – which explains the fundamental interactions of nature – would one day inspire the title for that same album.
Leave it to Melbourne band Children Collide to meld the ambiguous and the academic to create their sophomore album The Theory of Everything, which was released last week to critical acclaim.
Blending opposing paradigms is nothing new for the power trio.
“We’ve had a little of that going on since we began writing songs,” explained vocalist/guitarist Johnny Mackay on the eve of the band’s Byron Bay concert.
“Alchemy and chemistry, reason and religion, love and logic. Art and music are so often about tying opposing forces together into a contentious dualism. Contradiction is a big part of what we do.”
There’s no doubt the follow-up to Children Collide’s 2008 debut album The Long Now contradicts music industry superstitions of the ‘second album variety’.
Working with producers Rob Schnapf (Beck) and Paul Annison (Cabins), The Theory of Everything blows away any fears of the band being a one-album wonder.
And don’t be fooled by the touches of the occult: The Theory of Everything is no arcane jam session.
“The record is in no way based around any single concept,” Mackay explains in reference to tarot card influence.
“Nor is the artwork (album cover art) a nod to any other genre or movement, unless, perhaps, it contains a lute and a recorder.”
Mackay hopes that listeners will draw their own conclusions from the collection of songs, in the same way a tarot reader ‘reads’ the cards.
“The tarot idea is all about using the imagery to tie the songs together and to reveal facets of meaning that won’t necessarily be present when purely listening,” he says.
“It’s really about the personally interpretive nature of both a collection of songs and a collection of images.”
The band has assigned a tarot card to each of the 13 tracks on the album, and will be giving away specialised artwork with each CD.
In place of The Hermit tarot card is the album’s opening track, Future Monks, which Mackay says is ‘about that space you can get in with another person where they’re the only one who seems to get you; like a secret society or club with a membership of two’.
The Hanged Man and The Fool tarot cards are replaced by the tracks, Jellylegs and Loveless respectively.
“I’d been through quite a painful break-up and these two songs are very similar and sit next to each other in my mind,” he says.
Much like the tarot cards, illumination is all in the eye – or, in this case, the ear – of the beholder. The best way to get your head around Theory Of Everything is to let it wash over you.
After all, you can’t always trust a fortune-teller to give you the straight story.
“Once a gypsy came up to me and told me I was a part-wolf, part-hawk,” Mackay recalls.
“Then she started stroking my hair saying I didn’t belong here and that my destiny lay in the mountains. I’m yet to understand what that meant but I have a feeling it will all become clear the second I arrive at the astral milkhouse.”
Children Collide, Hotel Great Northern, Byron Bay, Saturday, September 11. Tickets $28.60 from www.oztix.com.au. From 9pm.