Cordrazine first appeared in Melbourne with their 1996 EP ‘Time to Leave’. Introducing the exquisite voice of Hamish Cowan and four beautiful, classic pop songs with flourishes of gorgeous Fender Rhodes, subtle jazzy hues and powerful moods, the EP set the scene alight.
The band released their only album, From Here To Wherever in 1997. Debuting at number nine on the ARIA Album Charts, backed by phenomenal reviews, vast radio airplay and television appearances, it featured the still astonishing ballad ‘Crazy’ – reputedly played at just as many funerals as weddings. The raw emotion and open-a-vein honesty provoked the kind of obsessive fan reactions, journalists’ personal intrusions and self-reflection that Cowan admits were actually too much for him to deal with. “I was being asked questions in interviews about what my childhood was like, things like that, and you’re going ‘OK, you’re kinda digging a bit deeper than I’ve probably even dug myself’.”
After a spell of touring in Australia and the USA, Cowan put his band on ice towards the end of 1997. ‘Crazy’ then landed in the Top 20 of Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 1997.Breaking up before they could even fully break through, Cordrazine undeniably had so much more to offer.
For the time being, Cowan had other creative pursuits to follow, alongside his consistent day job in crisis psychiatric management. During 1999-2002, he worked with producer Bryan ‘The Spiritualist’ St James on the Hamish solo album, Homesick. Hamish supporting Dido and Spiritualized, with various appearances at club DJ sets, turning up as a band on the ABC drama series Love is a Four Letter Word and recording a version of U2’s ‘With or Without You’ for the Australian film Looking For Alibrandi. A remix by Our House of album track ‘Life Song’ reached number 2 on the USA club chart, number 4 in Canada and number 17 on the UK club chart, peaked at number 4 in Australia. Further remixes achieved similar smatterings of club hits around the globe.
Throughout the mid-2000s, Cowan travelled the world extensively, culminating in mountain climbing in the Himalayas, for which he went into serious tri-athlete-level physical training. More clubland adventures awaited with producer Mark James – ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ in 2007, and the track ‘I Want You’, co-written with Cordrazine’s Sam Holloway. Remixed by legendary techno maestro Carl Cox, he played it to open his Ibiza summer season in 2008. ‘I Want You’ stayed at number 1 on the Australian club chart for 7 weeks and hit number 2 on the European club chart. Cowan would perform the song live in front of thousands at summer dance festivals in Australia. It was not until 2007, that the seeds of a reunited Cordrazine were planted, as Cowan started writing songs with old musical sparring partner and schoolmate, Nick Batterham, and the band debuted new songs at two sold out shows in Melbourne and Sydney.“A song is an emotional snapshot of a moment in my life, it is really no different to a photograph,” Hamish says. “It’s just that my life needs to turn into a train wreck before I can write. Without the intensity of experience, it’s as if I have no voice, nor motivation to even pick up an instrument. But who wants to hear some git singing about how happy they are all the time, anyway?”
Now galvanised, the band set to recording the songs that make up Always Coming Down.“For Nick and I to have this chance to finish our unfinished business was truly special. For myself, Sam and Rohan we also had unfinished business musically. We’ve had the time to develop our friendships without the stress of music. We also discovered something amazing, which is when we play together we don’t sound like anyone else, nor does anyone else sound like us. It is hard to explain how lucky it feels to achieve this.”Tracking was done over two days at Melbourne’s Sing Sing Studios, with guitars and vocals added at guitarist Nick Batterham’s home studio, and strings recorded and final album mixing at further Sing Sing sessions.“We approached the tracking in a very different way,” Hamish explains. “Recording sessions traditionally seem to take on a cult-like or mystical environment, and often you end up losing all sense of perspective. So we threw the doors of the studio open and invited all of our friends to come on in for a two day party to celebrate and enjoy the experience with us. We created memories for ourselves and our friends of fun times recording our music.”As a counterpoint to this recording phase, Hamish and Nick worked together on the vocals in an atmosphere of rare intimacy known only to friends of twenty years standing, to capture Hamish’s spine tingling voice.“As a singer, I have to be comfortable enough to be vulnerable, without fear of embarrassment. Sounds easy, however it’s very hard. For Nick and I this was a privilege, and I can say no other person on earth could have captured what he did for me vocally.”As for the suite of tender, expressive love songs that Hamish has given us, he simply says,“If there is one thing I always hope my songs will achieve it is to offer a sense of comfort. Songs to keep you company when you have no one else, to keep you warm, to look after you, songs for those moments in a person’s life where they do not want to talk to anybody, however they just want to know someone else out there understands what they are going through.“I think of my songs as an unconditional friend.”
In 2010 Cordrazine return with the sublime album, Always Coming Down. A suite of tender,...
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