Powderfinger’s first full-length studio album, Parables For Wooden Ears, came out on 18 July 1994.
Going into the Parables For Wooden Ears sessions, the band was pumped. Following their second EP, Transfusion, they’d signed with label Polydor Records. And for a bunch of young guys from Brisbane in the early ’90s, this was definitely something to be excited about—a dream come true.
But Parables For Wooden Ears didn’t go exactly as planned. As Powderfinger admit, they were a little overawed and anxious to impress. They went into a big studio for the first time (Metropolis in Melbourne), hired producer Tony Cohen (Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Cruel Sea), and really wanted to make a great record. They just weren’t sure how yet.
Parables For Wooden Ears sees a band experimenting and taking risks—throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks—which is what a lot of people love about the album. There’s certainly no shortage of ideas here: the songs are littered with time-changes and complex guitar riffs. But it was a definite departure from their first 2 EPs, and it seems that listeners—and even the band themselves—didn’t quite know what to make of the new direction.
Darren describes it as ‘a band still trying to find their own feet, finding their own voice.’ Powderfinger were finding out who they wanted to be, and Parables For Wooden Ears was a hugely important part of them working out their sound.
Three singles were released from the album: Tail, Grave Concern, and Save Your Skin. And while many Powderfinger fans look back romantically at these songs and this period, at the time they didn’t make the impact Powderfinger were hoping for.
There are some great moments on Parables For Wooden Ears—even some strokes of genius—and it gave listeners a tantalising glimpse of what was to come. (Although, no one quite expected what was to come on Double Allergic.) But before they could make their second album, new record label Polydor suggested Powderfinger make an EP. So the band started work on Mr Kneebone.
Next release: Mr Kneebone