In contrast to the communal enjoyment of a pop hit, albums are experienced in quite a personal way. You can get 100 people in a room whose favourite album is The Beatles’ Abbey Road and they’ll all love it for a different reason. Having lived with Blue Planet Eyes for almost a year, have you thought much about the multiple identities it’s taken on based on different people’s experience with it?
It’s definitely taken on a lot of different lives in different countries. [In Australia] there’s a parochial sense of support that you can only get from your home country, where people are aware of you on a different level – and we feel that people are proud of us for going overseas and doing that stuff. That might sound a little bit coy, but people overseas don’t know about us and we’ve done four tours there in the last little while and we’re just kind of chipping away. Being reminded of where all of that hard work counts – it doesn’t really mean anything if you haven’t got stuff to play for people that they really enjoy. ‘Is This How You Feel?’ is almost like a little cult thing that we have around us, where people might not know who we are, but they know that song when they come to the show.
We’re really grateful for the fact that people responded to that song the way they did. We felt really good about it and we knew we had something that was really different. [It’s different] from the songs that we’d written even six months beforehand, and even up to the point where we were making the EP; there’s a totally different bunch of songs on that record. ‘Is This How You Feel?’ was kind of the little afterglow of having done all that stuff and it came really easy. It just happened in exactly the right moment and that was a big lesson for us to learn, whether we were aware of it at the time or not.
Between your early demos from 2011 and your second EP (Is This How You Feel?, 2013) you experimented with a range of different sub-genres, from alt-country to classic rock and glam pop. Then between the EP and the album, there were some further shifts in the band’s sound. When you were making Blue Planet Eyes were you still basically experimenting with styles and seeing where it would lead?
It’s always going to change, what our identity means to us. That’s what it means to be a band, I guess. It’s one thing to be a band in the world right now – bands are so old-hat, guitars suck, people don’t give a fuck about the stuff that they used to care about in the ‘60s. It’s impossible to ignore where we are. We’re always looking at what we are in the face of people that we really admire who are making music these days. That’s what happened with the album, that’s what happened with ‘Is This How You Feel?’
We found something in [‘Is This How You Feel?’] that we could really put around ourselves as a framework to view the rest of the stuff that we do inside of. That’s what the album was really about, and I think that’s what we’ll probably keep doing until maybe we can’t push ourselves anymore as a group. But who’s to say when that will be.
When it comes to making your second album, is there anything you’d really like to do differently?
Hopefully we can cut ourselves out a bit more time than we had with Blue Planet Eyes. It took six weeks or something to make that album – three weeks of tracking, a week and a half of overdubs and another week and a half of just getting everything together and having mixes coming back from other people and doing mixes myself. Trying to create your debut album in a vacuum like that at the time was really daunting. We all felt pretty shattered and we couldn’t really stretch out.
You’re the band’s in-house producer. With some extra time up your sleeve this time, are you inclined to plan out what sort of album you’d like to make? Or is that a prospect you don’t find particularly interesting?
I don’t necessarily plan it, because I’m co-writing and co-producing. Izzy [Manfredi, vocals] and I, and to an extent Gideon [Bensen, rhythm guitar/vocals], we’re always co-conspirators on what we’re up to. It’d be out of step with the working relationship that we’ve developed to suddenly swoop in and say ‘I’ve got a plan.’ Though, that’s not to say it couldn’t happen in the future if there’s a really good idea. That’s one of the lessons we’ve learnt – if there’s a really good idea, then it doesn’t matter where it comes from.