Despite an extraordinary touring schedule by a band, hive-minded and rarely apart, the writing process for The Amity Affliction’s latest album begins quite humbly and solitary with guitarist Dan Brown.
“I live on a laptop and I do everything with a bunch of plugins…. I use Pro Tools, using predominantly the Prominy V-Metal plugin, it’s a guitar sample bank of sounds, they have the ESP Flying V – it’s got that EMG sound, and I run that through a normal guitar amp software, then I program drums, synths, piano.”
The process continues with creating fully realised demos in MIDI (“because I get it down to exactly how I want it”), then for the band to re-track everything over the MIDI bed.
“That’s pretty much it start to finish, it sounds simple”, laughs Brown. “That works for us, most of the time. We tour so much, and with children, family’s become so much more important to us, so if we’re not writing on tour it’s just wasting time.”
Brown honed his meticulous process via studying an audio engineering degree at SAE Byron Bay. He describes his main marker for great Amity Affliction songs plain and simple.
“You want to impress the rest of your band with what you do. That’s our main marker, if the rest of the band like it, we go from there.”
Despite not being in the same room, intuition heavily plays a part in their writing process. “Yeah for sure, I know… I’ll write a part, (Ahren’s) gonna love this, I make sure I take a lot of melody out of the instruments. Because I know, he’ll love that part, he wants to sing there. We all trust in each other’s ability, to know it’s not going to be an issue, that the other guys can trust I’m going to do the music and it’s going to be fine. There’s never an issue where we think it’s not up to scratch.
After working with Will Putney on the acclaimed one-two punch of 2014’s Let The Ocean Take Me and 2016’s This Could Be Heartbreak, the band dabbled with a new sonic palate on their previous album Misery. They’ve re-teamed with eclectic American producer Matt Squire (Ariana Grande, Panic at the Disco, Underoath), an inspired move after powerhouse performances on new tracks ‘Soak Me in Bleach’ and ‘Born To Lose’.
For Brown, opening track ‘Coffin’ set the tone of the album. “(Joel) backed off his screaming for Misery – yet he wanted to return to it with new insight. Hearing Joel’s voice again and watching his confidence with it in the studio helped step up the album this time.”
The band aren’t interested anymore in trying to predict what and where the audience will be in mentally reconciling new material. “With each album, when we go into the studio, we’re closer and closer to the final product,” Brown explains. “We’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t. We get the demos pretty close, but once we get in the studio together, all the brains come together.
“At the end of the day, we’ve started to just do what we want to do, it’s genuine and that shines through more than any other decision. If you try and adapt to what people will like, and they don’t like it, then you’re in trouble. We’re playing to our strengths.”
Everyone Loves You…Once You Leave Them is out Friday February 21 on Pure Noise / Warner Music Australia.