Where are you currently based?
Sydney. Marrickville. Coogee. Ashfield. All bases are loaded.
What’s been happening recently?
Our debut single If I Knew has landed and we’re very glad that we get to share something new and exciting. On the back of that we’ve been finishing clips, building websites, and all the associated behind the scenes stuff that you need to do to be a band.
Your new single ‘If I Knew’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for this track?
We’d gone into the studio on a Saturday morning, and by Sunday afternoon we had the beds down for 10 songs. If I Knew was almost an afterthought, and made it 11. After waiting so long to record an album, the sound of If I Knew is the sound of us making a jubilant, celebratory, messy noise and loving every minute of it. We kept getting to the same point in the song and grinding to a halt, but each time we honed the emerging vision and got closer and closer to nailing that down. The ‘train track riding’ rhythm of the guitar only came out as we were doing the early takes, so each time we stopped it was a chance to really capture that seat of your pants chaos and energy of a song still forming. We’d played the Sebadoh song Magnet’s Coil in the studio, just as a reference for the energy we wanted to capture, and we feel like we got that, and possibly more. The recording is the sound of three friends celebrating the sheer joy of playing together, trusting each other, and having a tonne of fun on the way.
Once the beds were down we did some guitar doubling, and then for the outro, added the duelling guitar lines and counter vocal melody. Josh sang lead and Eliot sang killer harmonies that really kick the song into another realm. Nick joked that what had started sounding like the Verlaines had ended up sounding like the 3Ds.
How did you go about writing If I Knew?
The song had been kicking around for a while – in its previous incarnation it had a feel like Iggy Pop’s the Passenger – so much so that we’d do the La La La bits at the end. It had almost been dead and buried but some songs dig in their hooks and don’t let go. The week before we were due to go in and record we started messing around with an alternate time signature and an alternate feel, but it really wasn’t until we got into the studio that the song found its way. Watching Wilco tear apart songs in the doco I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, and the love of jamming through different incarnations of an idea gave us the freedom to just try different things, which is a real theme across the whole album. If an idea worked it stayed. If it didn’t, it left.
Lyrically, the song was also a rebuild, with the final lyrics only being completed on the morning the vocals were recorded. It had been another song about escape – but nothing that had been particularly coherent. Whilst that would have been something we’d settled on in the past, the opportunity to record doesn’t happen often enough for us to just waste the chance, so we set about tweaking, tuning and weaving a narrative in the verses, and leaving the chorus untouched. It’s now a song marking how lucky we are to have people in our lives who encourage us to play music, and to be there through all the twists and turns of a long partnership. So in a small way, it’s still a song about escape – that we get to play in a band and live in an alternate universe that’s not plagued by the logistics of jobs, and kids and dishes. It was also a chance to sing in honour of a Fugazi first date.
Where and when did you record/produce/master and who with?
If I Knew is the first single from our debut album You Don’t Have Time To Stay Lost. We recorded the whole album with Tim Kevin, whom Nick had played alongside in Knievel, and we’d all known to varying degrees through mutual friends. Tim has recorded Youth Group, Holly Throsby, Peabody, Toby Martin, Buddy Glass and stacks of other great records that we really loved. His Tempe River Studios is not in Tempe, but it’s close to the Cooks River and is located in a building adjacent to an old Holden Factory. It has great lino floors, and a hallway that people occasionally walk through as you’re tracking. We can and will always recommend people work with Tim – he’s talented, patient, kind and diplomatic – all qualities a great producer/engineer needs. We started recording in late 2018, and we mixed in 2019. The album was then mastered by JJ Golden in California. JJ’s a second generation mastering engineer, who has mastered albums by Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Soundgarden, Neko Case, Calexico and loads of others.
What programs/instruments did you use?
The sessions were recorded using Pro Tools, with a stack of analog gear to warm things up at all stages. Tim has some beautiful ribbon mics, a collection of fine sonic toys, and some great tricks up his sleeve. Josh played a 1960s Fender Jaguar throughout the whole record, and it ran split through an old cream piggy back Bandmaster and a Vibrolux. He used the amp in Tim’s Ferrograph Tape Machine for the breaking up slide sound, and his Princeton amp to run a Hotcake through for the other outdo line. Nick played a very fetching green DW kit with Meinl cymbals, and had a second floor tom that feels like a truck veering off a highway when hit. Eliot played a Fender Jazz Bass running straight into a DI and then re-amped through a Hi Watt Head and speaker box with a touch of fuzz.
How did you approach the recording process and did the single turn out as you first imagined?
Across the album we had an almost even split between songs we knew really well, and songs we didn’t. Consequently, there was a real sense of tension and of exploration. By the time we hit Sunday night, and If I Knew, we were really firing on the enthusiasm and confidence we’d built up over a weekend of tightrope walking. Everything we knew was going to work had, and the stuff we hadn’t know would work had locked into place too. It was one massive exercise in trusting ourselves, and each-other. We were also safe in the knowledge that if it something didn’t work, it really didn’t matter. This was all about having fun, recording some tunes and making good on a promise we’d made to each other a long time ago.
In terms of If I Knew, it turned out WAY better than we had imagined. Just before we mastered it, Eliot made the call to kick the song off with the snare roll it now starts with, and that was that.
What do you like to do away from music?
Hang out with our partners, our kids, our friends, our pets. Laugh, and love. Watch films. Eat cheese. Try not to despair when reading the news. Go swimming. Go walking. Talk politics. Talk music. Read books. Rediscover hope.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Big Thief. The Beths. Field Music. King Gizzard. Talking Heads. Aldous Harding. Tropical Fuck Storm.
What’s planned for 2020?
Ha! Who could have planned for 2020? Our plan is to (hopefully) release three more singles, and then our debut album You Don’t Have Time To Stay Lost in August.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Vietnamese. Mexican. Thai. Home. In a rehearsal room. In a cinema.