“It definitely feels like forever,” says Sophie Hopes, the band’s vocalist and rhythm guitarist. “After we signed to Dew Process, the plan changed to just putting out a couple of singles and figuring out what we wanted to do. We had this whole new team behind us, so we were working out a plan and approach. If we were independent, like we used to be, we could have easily just gone ‘Okay, we’re recording next weekend, we’ll mix it and then we’ll put it out whenever’. With this deal, there were just so many things that we had to prepare. As it turned out, I think it was for the best that it took as long as it did. We were really able to develop these songs, and it feels like it mapped out to the right time for all of us.”
Dumb Days was recorded earlier in the year at Perth’s Blackbird Studios. Working on the album was the studio’s in-house engineer, Dave Parkin; as well as Violent Soho frontman Luke Boerdram, making his production debut. “Luke was talking to our A&R guy, John, at Splendour last year,” Hopes explains. “Luke had mentioned to him that he was looking to get into producing more music. We were brought up because we were demoing for the record at the time, he liked what he heard and the rest is history.
“I suppose we were a bit like his guinea pigs,” says Hopes with a laugh. “It was so natural, though. We like the same bands; we had the same vision. It was really rad to have someone that was on the same page as us. Because Luke hadn’t worked with anyone else before, he didn’t really have any expectations, neither did we, because we’d never worked with a producer before at all. Neither of us had a comparison point. We were just totally open to letting the record find its own path and run its own course. I’ve gotta say, Luke has set the bar pretty high for us going ahead. It’s really rare to be able to make that kind of connection with someone outside of your band in relation to the vision for the music itself.”
The environment in which Dumb Days was written and recorded was an inherently positive one, and certainly allowed for the band to be as productive as possible, while ensuring that their debut LP was all that it could be. Of course, like with any first-time experience, the process wasn’t entirely smooth sailing – particularly for Hopes, who sought to give her all as a vocalist in the recording booth; for better and for worse.
“’Where Were You’ was a tough one,” she says. “There’s a bit at the end of the song where I’m just belting out this line, ‘GOD HELP ME’. I was in there just screaming for ages. After every take, I legitimately thought I was going to pass out. You’ll hear on that track that I was really pushing myself to my absolute limits. I’m glad we got there in the end – you really have to believe in yourself that you can do it, you can’t psyche yourself out.”
The album sees Hopes go from the aforementioned agony to the pop-oriented harmony of ‘Fresh’, which has her voice replicated and layered into a miniature army of sorts. It’s borderline ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, and certainly far removed from anything the band has attempted previously. Truth be told, they’re still navigating its live execution. “We’re working on it,” says Hopes. “I was trying to train Nick [Vasey, bass] to sing it, but I think his voice is a bit too low on the register to hit the higher notes. We might use a sample pad or something. We’ll figure it out.”
Dumb Days is out on Friday September 15 via Dew Process.