A R T I C L E
'Ruined Redbirds for Fugitives': What would Inchworm's next album have sounded like if they hadn't gone their separate ways?
Inchworm held the torch for indie-pop in Hamilton in the mid- to late-nineties. Their debut EP, ‘Looper’, was released in 1994, and they followed this up with the albums ‘Shiny’ (1996) and ‘You Are Only Here’ (1997). By the time the latter was released, the sound of the band had evolved to an extent where it was felt that they might be on the edge of something bigger, and that they might gain some well-deserved national respect. In 2000, however, Scott Brodie (bass, vocals) and Rob Talsma (drums, vocals) left for the UK, in the expectation that Justin Harris (guitar, vocals) was to join them and that the band was to continue. Harris, instead, went to Japan, and the band effectively ended.
But what if it hadn’t ended there? What if Harris had moved to the UK, or if all the members had stayed in New Zealand? What album might have they created next?
It has not been uncommon for this question to be posed for other bands, such as… The Beatles. Which tracks from the solo outings or other projects would have been suitable for inclusion on a future album that never happened? So, ignoring the fact that Inchworm spent time at The Porch Studio in 2016 recording new songs for a potential future release that hasn’t happened yet, we peruse the post Inchworm releases of the three members to create an album the band might have released in the 2000s; 'Ruined Redbirds for Fugitives'.
Ruined Redbirds for Fugitives
Track 1: 127 Seats (Inchworm; 2007, 2016)
Okay… so this was recorded by Inchworm, probably in 1999, but it didn’t get an actual release until post-2000, firstly on ‘Tapeworm’ (an obscure release by the band on cassette in 2007 on an Italian label) and eventually digitally via the 2016 Hamilton Underground Press (HUP) compilation ‘Life Beneath a Gravel Streak’.
Track 2: Lift (Elider; 2017)
From Harris’ 2017 solo album ‘Redbird’, this song makes another appropriate bridge between Inchworm-past and future. This, perhaps more than any other song from later projects, harks back to the final Inchworm sound; it was a previously unrecorded Inchworm song, and besides Harris fronting, it features Scott Brodie on bass.
Track 3: Pink Shirt (Grok [UK]; 2008)
Perhaps Grok’s poppiest number, this track was released on their 2008 ‘Ruined Music for Everyone’. This version of Grok – the UK based Grok - features both Brodie and Talsma.
Track 4: Hand Model (Five Second Burn; 2015)
The mid-point of past Inchworm albums were commonly dominated by Talsma-fronted songs. ‘Five Second Burn’ was another London-based project of Rob Talsma, along with English guitarist Chris Ayles (who also featured with Talsma and Brodie in Girlinky and the UK based-Grok).
Track 5: It’s Times Like This (Elider; 2017)
Moving away from the more overtly poppy openers, this was the first track from Harris’ 2017 solo album Redbird; this is another strong track from what was a pretty solid album (go and listen to the whole thing, if you haven’t already).
Track 6: The Thrill of the Caucasus (Grok [UK]; 2016)
Recorded with Brodie, Talsma and Ayles in the UK in 2013, this is an as-yet non-album track, to date released only on HUP’s ‘Life Beneath A Gravel Streak’ compilation. This song is an ode to Mikhail Lermontov, the Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes referred to as "the poet of the Caucasus".
Track 7: Difference (Elider; 2017)
The start of side B, perhaps, this is a return here to some more straight-out pop. Coming in at only 47 seconds, another great track from Harris’ Elider.
Track 8: It’s the Sugar Rush (Girlinky; 2005)
This was the last of Girlinky’s four singles, released on 7”. Girlinky existed between 2001-2006, and featured Talsma, Brodie, Chris Ayles and Sarah Ferguson (who was a guitarist and vocalist in Hamilton’s Tobermorie and Inspector Moog, before also leaving for the UK).
Track 9: Transmission from a Dying Civilisation (Grok [UK]; 2008)
Inchworm had some fantastic closing songs on their albums; Wish on ‘Shiny’, and You Get to Me on ‘You are Only Here’. The same applies to the albums the members went on to, and so this Inchworm fantasy album closes with a couple of those. Again, from Grok’s ‘Ruined Music for Everyone’ album, ‘Transmission from a Dying Civilisation’ was the fantastic closing track from that album.
Track 10: Your Silent Face (Elider; 2017)
Finally, the closer from Elider’s ‘Redbird’ album. Again, magnificent, and an appropriate closer to this fantasy ‘what-if” album.