Finding comfort in connection with Cash Savage and the Last Drinks

There are few bands in Melbourne – and, indeed, all of Australia – that are as busy a touring act as Cash Savage and the Last Drinks. Hell, there are probably some bars and pubs that don't even bother taking their name off the “What's On” chalkboard, as they know they'll be right back.

The folk-rockers have been on and off the beaten track since the release of their third studio album, One of Us, in July last year – and it doesn't seem like that momentum has dropped back even slightly into 2017. “The year has gone so quickly,” says Savage (real name, no gimmicks), who first started performing with the band some eight years ago.
“The first gig that we played this year was at the Sydney Festival back in January, and that honestly feels like it was fucking years ago. We sold out the Spiegeltent in Hyde Park for that, and it was great to be playing for such a massive crowd.
“We also had the pleasure of getting to perform at Golden Plains this year, which was quite a different experience to the last time we were there [the Supernatural Ampitheatre]. We played Meredith years ago, and I remember shitting myself before we went on stage. This time, I had no idea how I'd feel until right up to showtime – I remember turning to Kat [Mear, fiddle] and saying, 'We're gonna smash this.' We went out there, and we had so much fun.”
The band's upcoming dates in May are in support of the final single to be lifted from One of Us, entitled Run with the Dogs. A stomping, rootsy number, it's a perfect showcase of what The Last Drinks are all about and an excellent way to close the chapter of One of Us as the next cycle for the band begins. “Writing the last album was a really heavy experience for me,” says Savage.
“I deliberately gave myself some time and space away from songwriting. I wanted to allow myself to enjoy it a little bit. Now that I've had that, I'm getting back to writing – although I'm not in a rush. I plan to record again early next year, but at the moment, I'm just doodling away. I'm sure the moment will come where I suddenly decide that I amin a rush, though. It happens every time.”
Listening to One of Us, it's hard not to see why Savage describes the writing process as a heavy one. It's a dark, emotionally-weighted LP in which Savage herself bares all. In that vulnerability, however, Savage finds comfort in knowing that others will get something out of what she's doing. The specifics are irrelevant – it's about making a connection, as far as Savage is concerned. “Once you start playing songs live, you're giving them away to the audience,” she says.
“That's nice, to give away everything that goes with a song that you've put into it – it doesn't feel like it's yours anymore. It belongs to the people you're playing it to. It makes it easier to perform the darker and heavier songs – about things like suicide, in particular – when there's an element of having already given that song to your audience. I think that's why I've always been a bit wary of what a song I've written means to me, because once someone else hears it it's entirely what they take out of it. Anyone's interpretation of my songs is just as valid as mine.”
The upcoming national tour in support of Run with the Dogs culminates in Savage and her Last Drinks playing the biggest headlining show of their career. Yes, the little band that could have made it all the way to Richmond's Corner Hotel – and if you don't already have your tickets by the time you're reading this, there's a very good chance that you are out of luck. Savage is still in a quiet sense of awe when broaching the topic – to her, it still doesn't entirely feel like it's actually real. “Playing the Corner is one thing, but we're going to sell it out,” she says incredulously.
“It looks like it's going to sell out really soon. There aren't many musicians in Melbourne for whom that wouldn't be a dream for. It feels pretty special to us – it's really crazy that it's actually happening. I guess it's not something you really think about until it's dawning on you. We've always been the type of band and the type of musos that just go from gig to gig.
“I honestly feel lucky – and if there was a better word than 'lucky,' I'd use it. You'd never expect for something like this to happen, really.”
Words by David James Young
Image by Ian Laidlaw 

Cash Savage and the Last Drinks will perform at Corner Hotel on Saturday May 6 with Jacky Winter and Jade Imagine.