Ivy & the Big Apples

Ivy & the Big Apples

“Spiderbait is very much in essence three different creative forces coming together as a collective and supporting each other’s ideas,” drummer and vocalist Kram tells Apple Music about the Melbourne group’s third full-length album, Ivy & the Big Apples. “Ivy was probably the first time that we really galvanized that into a successful whole.” Propelled by singles like “Buy Me a Pony” and “Calypso,” the recording’s potent mix of trashy three-chord punk, sweat-soaked pub rock, and sweet pop melodies established the trio—completed by bassist/vocalist Janet English and guitarist Damian “Whitt” Whitty—as one of Australia’s biggest groups of the ’90s. Here, Kram breaks down some key tracks from Ivy & the Big Apples. Chest Hair “That’s written about an old housemate from hell. It’s funny because I remember not really liking that song, particularly my vocals, but listening back now I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s actually good.’ There’s not a lot in the song, it’s just one riff. Whitt was trying to play a cover and he kept stuffing up, and I started jamming along to his [mistake].” Hot Water and Milk “Janet was trying to give up tea. Some people try to give up drugs, others try to give up tea [laughs]. So she decided to drink hot water and milk instead. She has this wonderful ability to be macabre and sweet at the same time—the way she dissects a relationship premise in the song is really clever.” Buy Me a Pony “‘Buy Me a Pony’ is a very cynical song and very much about the bad side of the record business. All of those feelings I had about signing with a big label—which I know sounds not very important these days, but back then it was a really big deal for a lot of us indie bands, just hoping that things would work out—came out in the song. I was always a big fan of Roger Waters and Pink Floyd, and there’s a bit of his satire in that song in terms of the style of characterization I used.” When Fusion Ruled the Earth “That’s one of our favorite songs. It’s very much about the musicianship of the band, the three of us and what we can create. Me and Whitt [are] jamming along, and then Janet comes in with that slick electric guitar. It’s one of the few songs of ours where there’s no bass, she’s playing all of the more dreamy chorus guitar parts. I think some would say you should probably put that down [the tracklisting] on the record, but we’re like, nah, if you’re going to do a song like that, it has to be right up the top so that it just basically sets the tone.” Calypso “‘Calypso’ became our first Top 5 single in the mainstream charts. Whitt once said to me, ‘It’s really hard for us to fit all the different aspects of our band into the one song,’ and I said, ‘It’s actually happened maybe once, and that’s “Calypso.”’ Because it has the kick-in punk rock sort of trashy power of the band playing live, but it also has this very beautiful vocal performance and lovely guitar, and it also has Janet’s slightly dark view of the world. And there’s a sense of foreboding in that song that I think a lot of women in particular can relate to, but it also has a lot of hope and beauty in it as well.” Goin’ Off “I was playing an old nylon [string] acoustic guitar and just mucking around with this thing. I love how the lyric Janet came up with was just so unexpected. It would be so easy with a song like that to do something very twee or heartfelt or very love-oriented, and she chose to basically make a comment about the [bad] things that can happen to women at gigs. I also think it’s just so beautiful, her vocals are angelic. And it pulls you in all different directions at the one time.” Horschack Army “Whitt…was working a lot on a sampler he’d got. He’d written a lot of dance tracks, and he was really into loops and beats. And then he got me to muck around on a bass, so that’s me playing bass, and then he looped it. I still don’t know what the first sound is. It’s so bizarre. It’s like something out of a science fiction movie. Paul McKercher produced this song with Whitt, very much live-mixed the thing, so it was a real moment.” Joyce’s Hut “That’s actually a demo that Whitt brought in. He said, ‘I’ve got this song, we can rerecord it and change it,’ and me and Janet said, ‘No, no, that’s finished. That’s amazing. You can’t possibly change it.’ It’s very much a solo, introspective type of song of where he was at in his life at the time, and it’s a really beautiful diary. I just love the production on it and I’m so glad we left it. It ended up being the fourth single off that record.” Conjunctivitis “It actually reminds me of something off one of our earlier records. Just really trashy. We love playing it as fast as possible. It’s the only kind of song like it, and Janet juxtaposes that with this really lovely pop vocal. I think we tried another version of it which was a bit more laidback, but we liked the crazy one better so we went with that.”

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