Green Mules started out as a solo project after the break-up of my band, Shack of Bells in 2014. I’d written and roughly recorded a collection of songs in an unused storeroom at the school where I teach a few years beforehand, during lunch breaks and free lessons. They didn’t really fit the sound of Shack of Bells, so I posted them on a Myspace page and left them to gather digital dust.
Many years ago, I saw Mick Turner from the Dirty Three playing solo and sharing a bill with Papa M (aka David Pajo). Turner used a looping pedal to build layer-upon-layer of guitars and melodica. Shortly afterwards, while living in Japan, I picked up a copy of Papa M’s album, ‘Whatever, Mortal’ and its raw, homespun quality inspired me to write my own roughly-hewn collection of songs.
Chris joined me on drums in early 2015 and we recorded a five-song EP in a rehearsal room over the course of a weekend. The end result is Green Mules Play Labradorable. It was released just in time for a fifteen-band bill we’d organised called Happy Trails. Taking place in a disused railway shed in the small town of Creswick, fifteen minutes from Ballarat, Happy Trails drew together a diverse community of artists from Ballarat and Melbourne. We did it again in 2016 at the Eastern too.
We recorded our second EP, Tinyville, in January of 2017, but it wasn’t released until December of that year. Again, we recorded it ourselves over a weekend using very basic equipment. Most of the guitar parts were looped on the fly so we could save time.
We recently finished recording our third EP. It’s our most plaintive, introspective collection of songs to date, documenting the minutiae of outer suburban middle-age life. I invested in some recording software, so I was able to track the guitars and synths at home over a longer period than we’d usually allow ourselves to record. Chris’ drums, however, were again recorded in a rehearsal space over a weekend. For the first time, we invited friends and family to make guest appearances. My wife and daughters appear on the record playing flute, singing backing vocals and telling stories, as does our friend, Pete, who runs the rehearsal studio we use; he plays tuba on San Roque. Our friend, Brett mixed and mastered the album and he added some harmonica drones and guitar squalls too.
Sadly, Chris called it a day shortly after we finished recording. I’m currently making beats and rehearsing a solo iteration of Green Mules so I can play live shows.
Green Mules’s tracks